NEIL WARNOCK has revealed for the first time how he nearly walked out on Leeds United this summer – but says the club’s fantastic supporters have persuaded him to stay.
The United boss, 63, is pouring all his energies into taking the club back to the Premiership’s promised land after a nine-year absence – but admits he harboured doubts about whether to remain after the collapse of the £400,000 deal to bring Joel Ward to the club at the end of May.
The failure to land Ward, who joined Crystal Palace, crowned a hugely frustrating early pre-season for Warnock, who failed to make headway for over six weeks following the capture of Jason Pearce.
But memories of the United faithful’s outstanding backing since he took over in February – particularly during the club record 7-3 home loss to Nottingham Forest in March – and the persuasive tongue of son James ensured he didn’t walk away.
And now the Yorkshireman is aiming to reward both, while achieving a record eighth promotion of his distinguished managerial career in the process.
Warnock, who has labelled the United job as his biggest task ever in management, said: “I was disappointed to lose Ward to Palace earlier on in the summer; in fact at that stage I’m not sure I was going to be here.
“There were temptations and I think it might have been easier to take an offer elsewhere than stay here. My son James lives here and he’s the one that over this summer – when it would have been easier to leave – who has pleaded with me to give it a go. Because he knows how desperate I am to get another promotion.”
He added: “I’ll never forget the fans’ support here last season. The one thing about the fans since I’ve been here is that they have been magnificent.
“I’ll never forget the Forest game at home in the last ten minutes of that game when I was talking to Ronnie Jepson and saying: ‘Let’s put something on this pitch next season for this lot to get excited about.’ And that’s what I’m trying to do.”