Downes ready to renew hostilities with WarnockBy Nick Ive
August 29, 2008
Wally Downes admits he and Neil Warnock are still not on speaking terms – and he is determined to put one over the outspoken Crystal Palace boss tomorrow (3pm kick off).
The pair have never seen eye to eye and their simmering feud boiled over the last time they met when Warnock was in charge of a Sheffield United team that lost 3-1 at Madejski Stadium in January 2007.
Tempers flared in the aftermath of Blades winger Keith Gillespie punching Stephen Hunt – and Downes was so riled he shoved Warnock on the sidelines.
Warnock had made a stamping motion and a comment which Reading interpreted as an instruction to his players to seek retribution for an earlier foul by Royals’ Steve Sidwell on Chris Armstrong.
Ironically Armstrong has just clinched a move to Madejski Stadium and will line up against his ex-boss tomorrow.
Royals’ new £600,000 signing recalled: “I think it was a challenge on me that started it. I didn’t see much after that, but it was interesting.”
Both clubs were fined by the Football Association for failing to control their players, while Royals coach Downes was found guilty of improper conduct.
Warnock, who was cleared of the same charge, left Sheffield United at the end of that season and took over at Palace in October last year.
Tomorrow will be the first time Downes meets Warnock face-to-face since that incident and he told the Evening Post: “Yeah, I can’t wait for his visit and the game.
“We won’t speak, though, because we’re not on talking terms. We’ll leave each other alone. It’s in the past.
“I let myself down that day and it certainly won’t happen again, that’s for sure. I don’t know if he regrets it. I would hope he does regret what he said.
“He wasn’t even called, though, to the subsequent FA hearing. But it’s in the past and I am just looking forward to trying to get the three points.”
Steve Coppell played down tomorrow’s clash, insisting all his focus is on what happens on the pitch.
Royals’ boss said: “I’ve never had any problem with Neil. Obviously there have been problems, but he is all right.
“He has done his job for over 1,000 games so he’s doing something right.
“I think he gives good value for money wherever he goes, but it’s not about him or anyone else on the sidelines. Anything that happened in the past will have no effect.
“Wally has to concentrate on his job, it’s nothing to do with personalities or what’s gone on in the past.”
A toe injury makes Kalifa Cisse a doubt for Reading, while definitely ruled out are Michael Duberry (calf), Graeme Murty (calf), Marek Matejovsky (ankle), Bryn Gunnarsson (knee) and Sam Sodje (knee).
Ibrahima Sonko is available again, though, after serving a one-match ban and is battling it out with Alex Pearce for a starting role.
How will it go?
Reading entertain Neil Warnock’s side tomorrow and there are usually fireworks when he’s around.
He and Royals coach Wally Downes clearly despise each other and hopefully Wally will have his players on top of their game.
Palace are surely going to be one of the promotion hopefuls having lost in the play-offs last season. But with home advantage and the Royals faithful in full voice then they will have enough to bounce back from last Saturday’s disappointment.
I am going for a 2-1 home win. Nick Ive
Reading (likely): Hahnemann, Armstrong, Ingimarsson, Sonko, Rosenior, S Hunt, Harper, Karacan, Kebe, N Hunt, Lita Subs (from): Federici, Cisse, Convey, Pearce, Long, Doyle, Henry, Bikey.
Palace (likely): Speroni, Hill, McCarthy, Lawrence, Butterfield, Derry, Watson, Carle, Scannell, Andrew, Moses Subs (from): Flahavan, Soares, Ertl, Ifill, Hills
Referee: Clive Penton (Sussex)