From Neil Warnock’s press conference ahead of West Ham United.

We start with team news and injuries… 

“I don’t think anyone is going to come back into it.

“Both [Leigh] Bromby and Alex Bruce are doing light training now, and pushing on a little bit, but I don’t think anyone else will come back into the reckoning.”

You asked for a crowd of 30,000, you’ve already got it haven’t you? 

“I hope so yeah, I don’t think we’re quite there yet but hopefully by kick-off we’ll be well and truly passed the magic mark.

“I wanted the fans to bring a friend, or somebody that’s not been for a while, who are rather cheesed off with the chairman, or somebody… not that I think that happens [laughs] and come and get the crowd up.

“Let’s forget all the negativity and be positive about the situation. It’s a great club, and we’ve got to look forward now. Having that sort of crowd will show everybody – not just here, but around the country – what kind of club it is.”

This is the first time you’ve faced West Ham since attempting to sue over the Carlos Tevez affair, has that had any effect on preparations? 

“Well, it wasn’t anything to do with the fans.

“I love West Ham as a club, I think it’s a great club. I’ve got some good friends who are season ticket holders [at West Ham] who will be coming up to the game.

“I just think it’s a fabulous club, and I’ve been in London for the past few years and nothing has happened to change my mind.

“I think – with the best away record – it’s going to be a massive test for us. I would imagine, having drawn the last four at home, they’ll be happy to get back on the road. The system probably suits away from home more than it does at home, they haven’t got to worry how they play away from home. they can just get on and do their business. I think that’s why they’ve done so well away from home.

“When you’ve got a wage bill like they have, with the money they’ve spent, it does put more pressure on you to keep getting results, and Reading haven’t helped, I think they’ve put pressure on them.

“But I still respect West Ham, I think it’s a fabulous club. I get on well with David Gould and David Sullivan, so I’ve nothing but praise for them. I’m looking forward to pitting my wits against a team of West Ham’s stature, with my lads.”

A chance to gain momentum after win at Middlesbrough? 

“It’s easier said than done, we have to keep winning.

“I think the games I’ve been involved in, we could have won 3 out of 4 quite easily. But we haven’t, and that’s what makes this league so difficult. Anybody can beat anybody, and we’ve got 10 games, 6 [of which are] at home, so we’ve got to try and make Elland Road a fortress, and then pick up 3-4 points away from home.

“Anything can happen this season. Nobody is rushing away with the play-offs, there’s still a number of clubs – even behind us, like Leicester – that will expect to be very close.

“I think it’s good at this time of season that we can still talk about it. But we have to get results to keep ourselves in the hat.”

Have you made much headway with contract talks? 

“Not yeah, no.

“I just haven’t had enough time if I’m honest. I’m going to get around to it over the next 10 days, probably. I would like to get an initial reaction from all of them. Not just the players, but the agents and other people concerned; the people that represent them.

“I don’t like leaving things like that until the summer. There are certain things you should put to bed as soon as possible.”

Have the fans responded well and showed you they want you at Elland Road? 

“I think before the ‘Boro game, when I was talking to them outside, they made themselves clear how much they wanted me to come in and I said to them ‘crikey, we haven’t even scored a goal yet and you’re going off like this? I don’t know what you’ll do when we start winning games’

“As a manager you absolutely love the numbers that we have, to be on your side, rather than against you. We’ve got to make that work. At home, it is an intimidating place Elland Road, and that’s what they’ve got to do. The volume, the noise levels have got to be lifted, all the negativity forgotten.

“We’ve got six home matches now and they’ve got to give everything the fans. I will, as will the staff and the players, so that’s what I’m asking of the fans now – just to get behind us, as they have done since I came here.

“Away from home you don’t even have to mention it. You know they’re going to fill whatever they give us, wherever we go, and we’re going to be noisy. It makes it entertaining for a manager to get that level of support.

“In my local supermarket [the fans], keep coming around the corners ‘what’s he doing shopping in my supermarket?’ y’know?

“I’m only an ordinary guy, but they look at me as if I’m something different. But it is good, I do like talking to the ordinary punter and I think it’s good that that’s the kind of club we are. Everybody should talk to everybody else.

“I am finding there is not enough hours in the day regarding commitments. The dinners and supporters groups, there seems to be one every night, you just can’t do them all.”

With the attendance tomorrow, do you expect Elland Road to be as you wanted it – as you remembered it? 

“On the first day I said to the chairman, ‘I’ll be disappointed, I want to make it my mission to get a 30,000 crowd against West Ham’ because I knew they’d bring 3-4,000 – because they always do – so I knew then that we’d have to give [the fans] something – like the Middlesbrough game – to whet their appetite, and it couldn’t have come at a better time.

“We were all frustrated after the Southampton game, but to see the fans stay behind and clap the lads off after losing a game I think is pretty good if I’m honest.

“We will find out more about the team because we’re going to be playing probably the best away team in the league, so it’ll answer a few questions.”

There was a feeling on Sunday that we’re back in the running, are people getting ahead of themselves?

“I think so, but when you’re Leeds United fans I think you do get carried away, don’t you? And quite rightly so, I don’t think it does any harm really.

“I’d just be a little more level-headed where we are, because having played extra games and having less points, it doesn’t take rocket science to see we need to win, probably all of our home games, or at least 5 out of the six, and then get a few points on the road to give us a chance, so, we’re going to have to have the best run of the season I think to get anywhere near.

“But, I think the lads are capable. It’s whether they can keep the consistency, that they’ve shown me they’re capable of over the last 3-4 games, up to the end of the season.

“I think we have some fabulous games. Reading have done fantastic, I love Brian. I text him and said, ‘look, the next game you’re going to lose will probably be against us so enjoy yourselves in between’

“I do feel we can go anywhere and perform. And there’s a lot of pressure on a lot of clubs we have to play before the end of the season.”

West Ham included? 


You think the pressure is on them Saturday?

“Absolutely. All the top three clubs, I think everybody would expect West Ham to finish on top of the pile.

“You’ve got to have a bit of luck as well, let’s be fair. You can’t say Southampton didn’t have their share in that game against us. So it should, probably, be a lot closer at the top of the table than it is. But you do need that bit of luck when you’re at the top of the table, you need to win games that you don’t deserve to win and to get draws when you should lose. That’s all part of being up there.

“Although Sam will be disappointed by the four home games, he knows they’ve got enough armoury up their sleeves to have a run-in. I think these last 10 games will sort the men from the boys, so to speak.”

Do you think a win over West Ham would put you in contention? 

“Absolutely, I’d like to think we can play very poorly on Saturday and win. I hope we don’t get clapped off for losing… again.

“It’s one of those things. Results, I think, are more important than how you play at this stage of the season when you’re going for something, because there’s pressure on everyone. But if you can get the results by playing well as well, then it’s a lovely recipe.”

Loaning out Maik Taylor doesn’t seem to leave you with experienced back-up for Andy Lonergan? 

“No, no, but Bromby’s nearly fit now [laughter], so that eliminates another problem.”

But it’s interesting because not many managers name a bench without a back-up keeper?

“Erm… I just like extra choice!

“I’ve always been quite fortunate, Jagielka used to be man of the match when he went in goal.

“It’s only five [substitutes], but I’m hearing it’s changing again next year. Quite rightly so, I think it gives youngsters an opportunity, and you can name [a goalkeeper] on the bench. I’ve kept the young lad (Alex Cairns), I think the young lad has done quite well in training too, and if needs be, we can always play him between now and the end of the season.”

Back to the Tevez thing, have you come to terms with that or is it just that the personnel has changed completely at West Ham? 

“I’ve met [Carlos] Tevez since then and we had a big smile about it.

“I think he understood what I said, I said ‘you’ve just cost me a million quid, thank you'”

But there was a time when you wouldn’t have been able to smile about it… 

“Yeah, but I think that was dealt with.

“Sheffield United, financially, came out of it very well. Unfortunately, I never got a penny of it, and that rankles me, probably more than Tevez.”

Any new signings likely? 

“Yeah, I’m still on the lookout. Next Thursday is the deadline – it’s one of them jobs where I don’t want to spend money for the sake of it really.

“We’ll have a look next week, and probably push Bromby and Bruce a bit, because we are a bit thin, especially in midfield. I think we’ve got [Darren] O’Dea and [Adam] Clayton close to suspensions as well, so we are a bit thin on the ground in that area.

“But, it gives [other players a chance]. I think [Zac] Thompson did well the other day in the reserves, so I may give another youngster the opportunity.”

Robbie Rogers scored in the reserve game… 

“Yeah, he did well. I like him.

“He was unlucky coming on and getting that whack, but I couldn’t quite get him on the bench at the weekend. I told him he was unlucky not to be on the bench, that I’d got one or two other ideas in my mind at the weekend.

“But he’s not far away. I think he’s got something, Robbie, so it’ll be interesting to see him over the next few weeks. I’m sure he’ll get an opportunity.”

Do you go into Saturday’s game with more optimism than when you took over? 

“Probably times 100, if I’m honest – from the Doncaster game.

“If I’d have watched the Doncaster game on video, without actually seeing it, I’m not sure I’d have actually been here. [laughter] I think they probably should have got turned over 4-5 that day, shouldn’t they?

“But it just shows you what kind of response you can get. The back lads have really worked hard, and apart from one mistake against the Championship player of the year (Rickie Lambert), we’d have had four clean sheets. As any manager will tell you, you can’t ask more than that.

“But your clean sheets come from [Luciano] Becchio challenging on the halfway line, and [Robert] Snodgrass… and [Aidy] White and [Ross] McCormack. You don’t get clean sheets just challenging at the back, you need the front players, and our front lads have been the best defensive players, and they’ve not had the glory of scoring a goal until Middlesbrough.

“It’s a team game, and the Championship, the best teams are [those where] everybody does their whack. And you look at the teams up there, they’re all working hard for each other.”

Did it surprise you we didn’t have a player, like Robert Snodgrass, in the Championship top ten?

“Not really, no.

“I think with the season that some of these clubs have had, I think we’ve gone under the radar really.

“And it’s a bit early for awards, isn’t it? February, March? I don’t know why they do it – why they can’t do it in April?”