NEIL WARNOCK - the self-styled ‘Red Adair’ of football management - has arrived at Rotherham United for another mercy mission as he aims to fight raging relegation fires that only a man of hardened experience can usually douse.
It is the Sheffielder’s latest - and possibly final - port of call in a long and considerable managerial career which started out in non-league circles at the likes of Gainsborough Trinity and Burton Albion and went onto take in spells in the Broad Acres at first Scarborough and then Huddersfield Town before later linking up with his beloved Sheffield United and Leeds United - along with a host of other destinations nationwide.
Warnock, 67, has sampled promotion glory with the likes of the Blades, Town, QPR, Notts County and Plymouth Argyle - and the not-so-good, with a bitter Bramall Lane relegation to the Championship amid teeming rain against Wigan Athletic in the spring of 2007 being top of the list. Just don’t mention Carlos Tevez.
Here are five of Warnock’s ‘against the odds’ golden moments.
1987: Helping Scarborough become the first team to win automatic promotion to the Football League following the abolition of the re-election system.
Boro, after countless years of knocking on the league door, finished five points clear of Barnet and in his long list of accomplishments, Warnock still rates this as one of his biggest achievements in football with the likes of Craig Short going onto enjoy successful careers in the Football League.
Warnock’s side recorded two records in the process, going 23 league games unbeaten and winning 15 away matches - all this with a bunch of part-timers, with only one living in the east coast town.
1991: Back-to-back promotions with Notts County.
Warnock moved to Notts County in 1989 - replacing John Barnwell - and took the club to successive promotions through the play-offs as they climbed from the old Division Three to the top-flight.
Bolton Wanderers were beaten 3-1 on aggregate in the 1989-90 play-off semi-finals in the old third tier before goals from Tommy Johnson and Craig Short saw Notts sink Tranmere 2-1 in the final at Wembley in front of 29,252 spectators. Notts and Warnock then doubled up for good measure, despite a season of consolidation being the expected aim competing against a number of big-money clubs in the second tier.
A fourth-placed finish was recorded – largely thanks to a run of seven straight wins towards the end of the campaign. The momentum carried into the 90-91 play-offs and the Magpies booked another trip to London with a semi-final triumph over Middlesbrough – courtesy of a 1-0 home win and a 1-1 draw on the road.
A crowd of 59,940 then witnessed Notts make history with a 3-1 victory over Brighton, thanks to a Johnson brace and Dave Regis strike taking the East Midlanders back to the big time.
1993: A Great Escape at Torquay.
After paying the price for relegation at Notts in January 1993 after more than 200 games in charge, Warnock was quickly back in the game, responding to an SOS call from Torquay chairman Mike Bateson and taking up a role as ‘football consultant’ to help the Gulls avoid demotion from the Football League - and fulfil a Red Adair style brief in the process.
Bottom of the table after a New Year run eight defeats in nine games, Torquay lost only five of their last 15 matches.
The climax came on the penultimate weekend of the season when, still needing points to avoid the drop, Warnock took his team on their longest trip to face Carlisle at Brunton Park - and they won 1-0 to clinch safety with Halifax being the side ultimately destined for the drop.
Warnock joined Huddersfield in the summer following a joyous six months in Devon.
2006: Blades end their top-flight exile.
The 2005–06 season was Sheffield United’s twelfth straight season at in the second tier – and their longest spell in any division since 1934 - but it was joyously ended with a boyhood fan in Warnock at the helm.
After beating Cardiff City 1–0 on Good Friday and never being outside of the top two places all season, the Blades required only one point from their final three games to secure their promotion.
Results later that evening meant only Leeds United could in theory catch the Blades, but on the following day, April 15, they failed to beat Reading at Elland Road which saw the Blades promoted back to the Premiership to cast side countless disappointments in the years preceding it.
2010: QPR avoid the drop - and lay the foundations for a promotion charge.
Warnock moved across London from Crystal Palace to QPR in March 2010 with another survival mission to attend to, with the R’s in trouble towards the bottom of the Championship in 20th place in a turbulent season which saw them part company with owner Flavio Briatore, who stepped down as chairman of Queens Park Rangers Holdings in February.
The Yorkshireman rolled up his sleeves and safety was assured after a run of four defeats in their final 14 matches, with a 2-0 win over former club Palace at Selhurst helping them along the way as they eventually finished in 13th spot - with a volte-face occurring the following season when they stormed to the Championship title under Warnock.