AS an opposing full-back, Paul Robinson has been called all manner of names down the years by Neil Warnock.
Most, according to the Bolton Wanderers defender, are not printable in a family newspaper so, when the Leeds United manager came calling earlier this week, surely the 33-year-old must have been tempted to run a mile?
“Not at all, no,” says Robinson in an instant when asked the question by the Yorkshire Post. “In fact, I jumped at the chance as I have always wondered what it would be like to play for a Neil Warnock team, even when he was calling me every name under the sun.
“I have come up against the manager a few times in my career and there have been quite a few run-ins. Being on the flank near the dugouts means I have often been within earshot and let’s just say he had plenty to say for himself.
“He’d call me a dirty little git, or words to that effect anyway. That was probably the only printable one I can remember. But no matter what he said, I just laughed it off and gave him a bit back. You have to in this game because that sort of thing is part and parcel of football.
“People watching us back then might think it is strange to now sign for the manager but, when the chance to join Leeds came up, all I could think about was having the chance to play for someone who is one of football’s last great characters.
“That was something that appealed massively.”
Before signing for Bolton, Robinson spent six-and-a-half years at West Bromwich Albion. Not moving to the Hawthorns until 2003 meant he missed the infamous ‘Battle of Bramall Lane’ between the Baggies and Warnock’s Sheffield United when referee Eddie Wolstenholme had to abandon the game due to the home side being reduced to six men by a combination of three red cards and two late injuries.
Robinson was a Watford player at the time but, on on board at West Brom, heard plenty about one of the most extraordinary episodes the Football League has seen.
“It all kicked off that afternoon, that’s for sure,” recalls United’s new loanee with a chuckle when rememembering an afternoon that saw Simon Tracey, Georges Santos and Patrick Suffo red-carded.
“To me, though, that is what football is sometimes about.
“You have to go to the intimidating places and battle. I am sure Leeds under Neil Warnock will relish going to hostile places.
“And if there is a fight at the end, you all join in. As a team, you have to stick together and that is what Neil is good at – getting everyone together.
“He always has his teams as one, all ready to pile in together whenever needed. I love that, as it is how it should be. You look out for each other and I love that.
“You only have to watch the manager on the touchline to see what he is all about. He is up and down, kicking and heading every ball.
“That is what you want with a manager, for him to be vocal and expressive. That is what made my decision a lot easier to come here. I had always wondered what it would be like to play for Neil Warnock and now, hopefully, I will get that chance.”
Robinson, an unused substitute in Tuesday night’s goalless draw at Hull City, has joined Leeds on an initial loan until April 9 after falling out of favour at Bolton.
The switch represents a welcome opportunity to play some games, his last action in a Wanderers shirt having been an FA Cup third round replay win over Macclesfield Town on January 17.
His lack of games since the turn of the year came as a major surprise, not least because up to and including the Boxing Day defeat to Newcastle Robinson had missed just one Premier League fixture all season.
“This season has been frustrating,” said the veteran defender.
“I felt to be playing my best football in the first half of the season and was putting my body on the line for the club.
“But, obviously, Bolton felt differently to me and that has made life very frustrating. So, I am just glad to be out of the place for a bit.
“As for the future, I don’t know what will happen next, to be fair. I will just take it bit by bit. My family, who are in Birmingham, have to be taken into consideration so that is a decision I will have to make nearer the time.
“For me, this is a chance to get away from Bolton and to start enjoying myself again and make new friends. It would have been a quick turnaround to play against Hull and having watched how the team defended, I know I might have to be patient. But I am determined to take my chance.”
Robinson arrived at Elland Road with two previous promotions to the Premier League on his CV, West Brom having finished as runners-up in 2004 and then champions four years later.
Leeds will have all on to help make that it a hat-trick this season, Warnock’s side being five points adrift of the play-offs and all their rivals having games in hand.
Despite that, Robinson said: “A place in the top six is still there for the taking. Certainly, this is a squad with the quality to get into the play-offs.
“It will take a big run but whoever hits form right at the death is often the team that goes up because things are going their way. I believe in this group of players, it is why I am here.
“The move was one I had been reading about quite a bit in the ‘papers but nothing seemed to be happening. Then the call came at the start of the week and by Tuesday I was on the bench at Hull. Leeds have 11 games left and just have to keep going.
“They defended really bravely at Hull and that is what this league is all about, together with the quality that Ross McCormack, Danny Webber, Luciano Becchio and Rob Snodgrass all have.
“It is an exciting mix. The gaffer has brought me in to bring experience and help the younger lads feel more confident.”