QPR boss Neil Warnock: Norwich City will fly high this season
Queens Park Rangers boss Neil Warnock believes the table flatters his Championship leaders more than their visitors on Saturday, third-placed Norwich City.
With another international break done and dusted, domestic action returns on Saturday as the Canaries look for a fourth league win on their travels this season.
But the trip to Shepherd’s Bush represents City’s toughest assignment since returning to the Championship as League One winners under Paul Lambert’s guidance last term.
Warnock said: “I think it flatters us a bit. We could have lost two or three of these games, so we’ve done well to get the points on board. We should all be together really, we’ve been a bit fortunate.
“And I don’t think it flatters them at all by what I’ve heard. From the reports I’ve got they are one of the best sides in the league and if you look at the team, there’s a number of players you would pick out if you are the opposing manager.
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“I think it’s exciting, me. There are about eight teams we thought pre-season (would be up there) and we thought Norwich would be one of them.
“So I think it’s great what they’ve done. I like Norwich, if I’m honest: good old Delia, the way they play. I think Paul, after their promotion, has signed some good players. His squad introductions were good and they’ve got some good players.
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“Ten games in usually gives you a pretty good idea, but I think if we were where Norwich are I’d have been quite delighted with the start.
“I think in two or three of the games we could have lost. We scored at vital times and the goalkeeper’s made saves at vital times. We beat Scunthorpe 2-0 but at 1-0 our goalie pulled two great saves off and that would have changed the whole game.”
Rangers sit six points clear of Cardiff in second, are unbeaten in the league and yet to concede a league goal at Loftus Road – while Norwich have scored in 32 consecutive league games away from Carrow Road.
Something has got to give on Saturday – and when it does, it will be in front of a bumper home crowd and a sold out City allocation of 3,100.
“I can’t see it being a goalless draw, put it that way,” said Warnock. “I would imagine there’s a good chance that Norwich will penetrate our back line but, having said that, we are always likely to score as well.
“I think there might be plenty of goals in it. I know we’ve done well results-wise, but I think it’s an open league, me.
“It promises to be the best crowd of the season and it’ll be a good football match because both teams will want to win it. No disrespect to your Scunthorpes, but Norwich will come to win it and quite rightly. That’s why it makes for a good game.
“It’s fantastic, it’s so much better when the away end is full. With it being an old fashioned ground, around 20,000 will make a fantastic atmosphere.”
Some City fans will best remember Warnock for gesturing at then-Norwich manager Nigel Worthington after Sheffield United’s defeat at Carrow Road in 2006 – something for which Warnock later received an FA charge.
“That was just ungentlemanly from Nigel,” said Warnock. “They beat us fair and square but he never bloody shook my hand. I can’t tolerate that, but that was the only spat up there.”
Warnock’s superstitious streak means he will not allow midweek interviews while his side remains unbeaten in the Championship: “We said lets leave it; I only spoke to you because I like Norwich,” he admitted.
But Warnock’s City soft spot could have become employment, if he had reined in his humour when interviewed in the summer of 1998 for the City’s managerial vacancy eventually handed to Bruce Rioch.
Warnock said: “In general I enjoy Norwich. I nearly took over once. I wasn’t offered it. I had the interview but obviously I wasn’t good enough.
“It was funny. I remember one of the old guys on the board asking me, ‘Do you think your style of football would go down well with the Norwich fans?’ and I just took a deep breath, looked around the table and said, ‘What do you mean, winning? Yeah, I think they’d enjoy winning games.
“I thought there and then, ‘Well, I haven’t got the job this time’. They didn’t ring me back.”