Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Friends Reunited at Bramall Lane

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Friends Reunited at Bramall Lane

Article excerpt

Byline: By Simon Rushworth

As a wide-eyed trainee banging on the door of the Barnsley reserve side, Mick McCarthy had little in common with football league journeyman and veteran professional Neil Warnock.

Yet there was something about the straight-talking Sheffield-born professional which appealed to a teenage defender dreaming of making his name as the next darling of the Oakwell terraces.

Although McCarthy stops short of describing it as a life-changing meeting of minds, it is clear Sunderland's manager has much in common with one of English football's most controversial figures. The look of friendly familiarity at the mere mention of his name proves as much.

In the late 1970s, Barnsley was their mutual bond but more than 20 years later and it is the prize of promotion to the Premiership which brings together two of the game's more abrasive figures.

Yet McCarthy, for one, never imagined that today's top-six clash at Bramall Lane would be bossed by two single-minded Yorkshiremen reunited by management.

"The first time we clapped eyes on each other, I was 16 or 17 and Neil Warnock was an established player at Barnsley," recalled the Black Cats' boss.

"There was no indication he would go into management. Then again, I never asked him.

"I'm sure he didn't think I would become a manager - I wasn't even a first team player at that point - and I'm pretty sure he didn't think he would go down that road.

"Yes, I've known Neil a long, long time and he's done a great job at Sheffield United. You can only judge him on his managerial record and it's pretty impressive."

Warnock, of course, has won few friends during a confrontational career at the helm of six league clubs and it is rare that one of the game's lesser lights sparks such vitriol wherever he goes.

In an internet survey headed 1,000 people more annoying than Mick Hucknall, the Blades' boss polled thousands of votes. His forthright views on officials are the stuff of legend.

McCarthy might occasionally allow his emotions to run wild but Sunderland's no-nonsense manager has some way to go before he can be judged in the Warnock class. …

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