12 November 2019 18:32

West Ham United F.C. Manuel Pellegrini Javier Hernández

Get the biggest football stories by email Subscribe Thank you for subscribing We have more newsletters Show me See our privacy notice Could not subscribe, try again later Invalid Email Neil Warnock is one of life's great characters and football will be poorer without him. Warnock, who is 71 next month, has had a wonderful career in which he set records as he became the promotion specialist amid the rows, dressing room rants and the manager every rival fan loves to hate. But Warnock perhaps endured more highs and lows in his last job with Cardiff City than with any of his other 14 clubs in his remarkable 39 year managerial career. His greatest achievement of all was arguably to lead Cardiff into the Premier League in 2018 because it epitomised what Warnock is all about. A no-nonsense old school motivator who gets the very best out of players, gets them to run through brick walls for him and they did just that because here was a Championship squad suddenly in the multi-million pound top flight.

(Image: PA) They gave it an incredible fight to stay up amid the most heartbreaking and tragic circumstances that Cardiff had ever known. The Emiliano Sala tragedy in January was something that rocked Warnock to the very core and, by his own admission, he came very close to walking away last season because he was so gripped by grief. Sala was due to be Cardiff's record signing, was joining from Nantes and yet was involved in a plane crash and the tragedy was felt by the whole of football. Cardiff was united in grief. Warnock has been a fighter throughout his career and yet, one cold Monday at the Cardiff hotel the club uses to train last January, he struggled to hold back the tears when talking about Sala.

Gone was the effervescent Warnock, full of jokes and a cheeky smile, the man who was fantastic company and always entertainment. Replaced with a shell of a man and it is a great tribute to Warnock that he was able to carry on through the tragedy and, in a highly-emotional parting statement, that was one of the first things he mentioned. It perhaps put life back in perspective for Warnock who actually retired but it was his wife Sharon who persuaded him to take another job because she could see he was itching to get back as she recovered from breast cancer treatment. Again, that is typical Warnock. He absolutely hates being out of football and, despite having said in August this would be his last year in management, there is still a few months left so don't bet against it.

And there is a reason why chairman and chief executives have kept turning back to Warnock despite his reputation for being old school, for digging out referees, for losing the plot on the touchline and for various televised rants at players. Warnock has set an incredible record of winning eight promotions, somehow building teams and a dressing room spirit to get players over the line. His career has, of course, had disappointments with the sense of unfinished business of desperately keeping just one of those clubs in the top flight. (Image: Getty Images) From Notts County to his beloved Sheffield United, later QPR and Crystal Palace and now Cardiff, his career has been full of achievements which deserve to be celebrated. But despite the relegations and setbacks, no-one should underestimate the feat of getting them there in the first place. Warnock is a great character and football will miss him. Despite the frustrations of this season, Cardiff fans were the first to pay tribute to one of English football's most entertaining and best loved managers. Cardiff City chairman Mehmet Dalman has told talkSPORT it was entirely Neil Warnock's decision to leave the club and says they are already close to appointing his replacement. Veteran coach Warnock departed his 'beloved Bluebirds' on Monday after three years in charge, with the side 14th in the Championship. The 70-year-old was in the final year of his contract in south Wales and had said he would not continue beyond the end of this season, but he has decided to call it a day early. Getty Images 1 Neil Warnock says his three years in charge of Cardiff were "some of the best days in my long football career" "It is a shared belief that this is the right time for a new voice as we believe this squad of players is more than capable of getting success," Warnock said in a statement. And Dalman has said he is 'very sorry' to see the manager leave, insisting he was not forced out of the club. Speaking to talkSPORT host Jim White, the Cardiff chief said: "I'm close to Neil and I'm personally very upset that he has decided to go. "At the end of the day it was Neil's decision. He felt the timing was right, he felt the club needed a new face, a new leader and he felt this was a good time to do it with the international break. "He's been a great servant to us and I'm very, very sorry to see him go." Charlton manager Lee Bowyer and ex-Brighton head coach Chris Hughton have been linked with succeeding Warnock in the hotseat, although talkSPORT understands former Millwall boss Neil Harris is the current favourite. BREAKING: @JimWhite understands that Neil Harris is Cardiff's number one choice to replace Neil Warnock. Listen → pic.twitter.com/UDkcZaWuej — talkSPORT (@talkSPORT) November 12, 2019 And, with the paint barely dry since Warnock's announcement, Dalman has revealed Cardiff are already close to making an appointment. However, he remained tight-lipped when quizzed about revealing a name. "That's a very long list and it's very impressive, there are some great names there," he said in response to the men currently linked with the job. "We are very keen to make an announcement sooner rather than later and we're almost there. "It wouldn't be fair to say who, but we've got it down to a couple of names now. "Vincent [Tan – club owner] wants to play a key role in this decision and we will proceed accordingly." Listen back to talkSPORT's interview with Mehmet Dalman IN FULL above