Neil Warnock: His bizarre Crystal Palace team talk based on wife's dream

Neil Warnock as Crystal Palace boss

Neil Warnock might have announced his retirement from management back in April, but his legend will live on for years to come.

The 73-year-old called time on his career having taken charge of 16 clubs across 42 years.

His last job came at Middlesbrough, with whom he parted company in November 2021.

Far more renowned for producing comedy gold on the touchline than his tactical brilliance, Warnock’s management style was unorthodox, to say the least.

During a recent appearance on talkSPORT, former Crystal Palace midfielder Darren Ambrose shared the story of a 2010 Warnock team talk at Selhurst Park that might well be among the most bizarre of all time.

Warnock once played a right-back up front based on a dream his wife described to him

“We were playing Wolves, we had come in, we all sat down, Ambrose explained, recalling Warnock’s half-time address with the FA Cup fourth round replay tied at 0-0.

He said ‘Right, my wife Sharon, she had a dream last night…’

Neil Warnock as Crystal Palace boss
LONDON, ENGLAND – OCTOBER 18: Neil Warnock manager of Crystal Palace looks on prior to the Barclays Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Chelsea at Selhurst Park on October 18, 2014 in London, England. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)

“No one really laughed when he said this because that was what he was like. He said: ‘She dreamt that my right-back scores the winning goal today. So Danny Butterfield, you’re playing up front.’

“He wasn’t even the right-back at the time, he was a fringe player because Nathaniel Clyne was playing right back at the time.

“We all started laughing then and he was like ‘No, I’m being serious.’ I was taking centre with him, and even then I was looking over to the bench thinking ‘Gaffer, is this a joke? Put him back to right-back!'”

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Warnock was in no mood to change his mind. Palace went into the final 45 minutes of the match with second-string right-back Butterfield up top.

What seemed a daring gamble soon turned into a managerial masterstroke.

“I think about 12 minutes later, he had a perfect hat-trick. Left foot, right foot, and header, we won the game 3-1.

You can check out the makeshift striker’s fairytale hat-trick below.

Video: Danny Butterfield lands perfect hat-trick after Warnock’s wife told him to play right-back up front

“Every team talk we had then, all of the fringe players were going ‘Gaffer, has Sharon had a dream last night? Am I in the team, am I going to score?’

“The guy was insane – old school.”

Video: Darren Ambrose shares his memories of Warnock’s most bizarre team talk

Butterfield never repeated the dose. In fact, in his eight seasons at Palace, he managed just 10 goals in total.

It shouldn’t have worked, but Warnock took a chance on his wife’s clairvoyance and it paid off in a big way.

Her prediction wasn’t a one-off, either.

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After Ambrose’s appearance on talkSPORT, former Sheffield United winger Paul Ifill took to Twitter to reveal that he had been on the wrong end of one of Mrs. Warnock’s visions while Neil was in charge at Bramall Lane.

“Been telling people about his wife’s dreams for years,” wrote Ifill.

“He once dropped me because of her dream the night before the Sheffield derby, he replaced me with Alan Quinn who scored the only goal! Madness.

“I was fuming. I was going to go in on the Monday to have a moan up, but his missus had nailed it!

“I just had to eat my s*** sandwich,” he joked.

If her husband ever does decide to venture back into the dugout, we reckon he could find worst assistants than Mrs Warnock. She’s clearly got a mind for the game!


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