Neil Warnock has told talkSPORT the call from Middlesbrough ‘came out of the blue’ just HOURS before he was announced as the Championship club’s new manager.
And he said his only goal is to help keep the club in the second tier, as they get set for a tough relegation battle.
The veteran coach is back in the game, for the time being at least, after signing a short-term deal at the Riverside Stadium until the end of the season.
He replaces Jonathan Woodgate as manager of Boro, whose gamble in appointing the former defender did not pay off.
Ex-Boro and England ace Woodgate was given a three-year contract last summer for his first managerial role, but the 40-year-old leaves with the club 21st in the Championship, only above the relegation zone on goal difference.
It’s the well-travelled Warnock’s 16th club in English football, having been out of the game since he left Cardiff in November, and throughout his storied career he has earned the reputation of his promotion success and bringing clubs back from the brink.
The 71-year-old is also just 12 league games shy of reaching an incredible milestone of 1,500 competitive matches as a manager.
And he told talkSPORT host Jim White he needed little convincing when he got the surprise call from Boro chairman Steve Gibson on Monday evening.
“It just came a little bit out of the blue last night, I got a phone call from Steve Gibson and they asked if I would help, really,” Warnock said, as he made his way to the club’s training ground on Tuesday afternoon.
“So that’s what I’m going to do, I’m coming up to try and help the club for a few weeks – just eight games it is.
“I’ve spent this morning driving up to meet up at the training ground, I’m meeting the players later on this afternoon.
“I’ve always had a lot of respect for Steve, so it was a no-brainer really when he asked me if I could come up and help for the rest of the season.”
It could prove to be a shrewd appointment from Middlesbrough.
Warnock has overseen numerous promotions over his career – a English record of eight, to be precise – and also includes a short stint with Rotherham in 2016 that saw him steer the club out of the Championship relegation zone to safety.
After Warnock’s arrival in February, the Millers went on an 11-match unbeaten run and ended up nine points clear of the drop zone.
“The task for me is just safety, really,” he added.
“There’s a number of big teams down there and it’s a difficult league, there’s no divine right in this league, you don’t get an easy game and it’s dog-eat-dog.
Simon Jordan explains exactly why Neil Warnock is an excellent fit as Middlesbrough manager
“It’s just a matter of trying to give the lads a bit of confidence and try and get some results.
“It’s about good habits. I always expect players to give me everything and as long as they do I wont have a problem with anybody.
“I’m sure they’ll probably have heard one or two things, but I think there’s a lot of said about me that’s made up! I just have to smile and get on with it!”
Boro will be hoping he can make a similar impact, starting with his first game in charge at Stoke City this Saturday.