Crystal Palace boss Neil Warnock has revealed that he rejected the opportunity to manage Chelsea, despite being offered the job by former Blues’ chairman Ken Bates back in 1992.
The 65-year-old, who came out of retirement to take the Palace job in August, told reporters that while Bates’ plans for Chelsea were exciting, he was keen to stick with Notts County instead.
Warnock reveals why he snubbed Chelsea
"I got the Chelsea job offered to me. Stamford Bridge was falling to pieces but Ken came out with this model of the ground with skyscrapers and hotels," Warnock told The Daily Telegraph. "Ken said: ‘This will be it in five years.’ I said: ‘Ken, do you honestly think I’ll be here in five years working for you?’ He laughed his head off. Ken was good company.
“I was tempted by Chelsea but I’ve always been a bit loyal, daft as it sounds. I was at Notts County, I took the lads up from bottom of the Third Division in those days to the top flight in two years. It was a miracle really. They all came to see me and their families. So I said: ‘OK I’ll stop here.’ Six months later I got the sack!"
Warnock compares Mourinho to Clough
Warnock goes head-to-head with Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho at Selhurst Park on Saturday afternoon, and the veteran coach has nothing but respect for the Portuguese manager - and paid him the highest possible compliment by comparing him to his idol, Brian Clough.
"My idol growing up was Cloughie and Jose is the next best thing,” Warnock continued. “To get players on that sort of money, with those reputations, to run through a brick wall is not easy but Jose gets them to do it. He’s great for his players. He’s turned Eden Hazard into a world-beater.
“Jose’s smooth, good-looking, a multi-millionaire and he’s got fantastic players at his disposal so it’s easy, isn’t it?! He’s made mistakes like I have. We all say things we later think we shouldn’t have. But he’s so good for the game here. He nearly won the league without a striker last year – that’s how good Jose is.”
“Jose’s smooth, good-looking, a multi-millionaire and he’s got fantastic players at his disposal so it’s easy, isn’t it?!" - Neil Warnock.
Warnock praises Chelsea's transfer market activity
Warnock believes that Mourinho bought well in the summer transfer window and tipped Chelsea to win the league, with Diego Costa as top scorer, before the season began.
He also feels that Cesc Fabregas has improved as a player since leaving Arsenal. The Spain international spent three years with Barcelona before returning to the Premier League, but completed a shock move to Stamford Bridge after Arsene Wenger had made it clear that he didn’t need him.
“Fabregas was a great player at Arsenal but I think he’s matured since,” Warnock added. “He’s so much more decisive now, there’s an end product to his game whereas at Arsenal I didn’t think there was as much. He’s almost got the complete midfielder’s package now.
“This is the best team I’ve seen at Chelsea for a long time. It is easy to see why there’s such a good atmosphere at Chelsea and players like John Terry is revelling in it."
Can Palace beat Chelsea again?
Chelsea currently hold a five-point lead over the reigning Premier League champions Manchester City at the top of the table, with Palace in 15th position.
The last time the two sides met, back in March, Palace recorded a shock 1-0 win over the west London outfit courtesy of a John Terry own goal.
The Chelsea skipper will be hoping to make amends this weekend, as he leads the Blues out for the 500th time.