Farewell to football for ex-Sheffield United, Leeds and Cardiff man Neil Warnock - the manager who almost became Portsmouth boss in moment which changed Fratton history

Neil Warnock managed 16 clubs in 41 years and came agonisingly close to another job – Pompey.

Monday, 11th April 2022, 11:30 am
Updated Monday, 11th April 2022, 11:48 am

The 73-year-old has announced his retirement, with Middlesbrough representing his final club in November.

Overall, Warnock achieved a record eight promotions in English football, including at Scarborough, Notts County and Sheffield United.

He was also lined-up as Alain Perrin’s replacement at Fratton Park in December 2005, before Milan Mandaric’s late change of heart.

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Instead Pompey’s owner elected to bring Harry Redknapp back from Southampton for a second spell, a controversial decision which proved inspired.

Frenchman Perrin had paid the price for a poor start to the 2005-06 season, with the Blues fourth from bottom of the Premier League following two wins from 13 matches.

Sheffield United boss Warnock emerged as the leading contender, with Mandaric keen to recruit an English manager following failures with Velimir Zajec and Perrin.

The Blades granted permission for talks to take place, releasing a statement: ‘After a long discussion and careful consideration Sheffield United have reluctantly agreed, conditional on suitable compensation, to make Neil Warnock available to speak to Portsmouth.

Neil Warnock has announced his retirement from management after a 41-year career overseeing 1,603 matches. Picture: Mike Egerton/PA Wire.

‘The continued success of the club has been paramount to the thinking and in these difficult times it is imperative for supporters to get behind the club.’

Reportedly, compensation was fixed at £400,000, with Keith Curle sounded out to join Warnock at Fratton Park as his assistant.

Unbeknown to the manager-elect, however, Mandaric was also in talks with Redknapp.

In Played Up Pompey Too, Linvoy Primus said: ‘I was actually shocked when Harry returned from Southampton.

‘It’s funny, when I initially heard the rumours I said “No chance”. Besides, it was common knowledge Neil Warnock had been lined up. Looks like I was wrong!

‘At the end of that 2005-06 season, I appeared on Sky Sports’ Goals On Sunday, hosted by Chris Kamara and Rob McCaffrey, and Warnock was on the sofa with me.

‘In the green room beforehand he told me I was lucky he hadn’t come in as Pompey manager as he’d agreed with Norwich a swap for Darren Huckerby.

‘He told me: “I had the deal organised. Peter Storrie told me on the Friday I had the job and then on the Monday Harry was in charge. That’s football”.

‘And if he had got the job, I would have been out of the door!’

Warnock stayed at Bramall Lane for another 17 months, before departing in May 2007 following relegation from the Premier League.

As for Redknapp, during the next three years he pulled off the Great Escape, won the FA Cup, and led the Blues to successive top-nine finishes in the Premier League.