Neil Warnock feels keeping a sense of humour on the training pitch will be key as teams battle it out for promotion from the Sky Bet Championship.
Just six points separate the top-three sides heading into this weekend’s fixtures.
Warnock, who is appearing as a pundit on the EFL highlights show on Quest on Saturday evening, holds the record for the most promotions in English football with eight.
The 71-year-old left his last job at Cardiff during November 2019, having previously guided the Welsh club into the Premier League.
Warnock believes channelling positive focus is key when the stakes are so high over the end-of-season run-in.
“I think Leeds, West Brom and Fulham will be fighting it out for those top two places, but then after that, they are all having ‘iffy’ times really. The pressure must be getting to everybody now,” Warnock told the PA news agency.
“Different managers have different ways of dealing with it. I think humour is a big thing around the training ground.
“If you get too intense, the pressure gets to the players, so you try to do the best you can to keep it off the players.”
Warnock added: “The Championship is such a tight league this year and now heading into the last 10 games, anybody near the bottom can beat the top teams.
“The teams are fighting like nothing on Earth to get results – at both ends.”
Despite making the most of his time out of the game, Warnock admits he does miss the challenge of management, if not the added baggage.
“When you are involved, I don’t suppose you notice how much the stresses of the job take over really, because it is all-consuming over 24 hours a day,” he said.
“When you are away, I look at games now, at how situations change in a matter of minutes, the body language and the disappointments, decisions from the officials – you need everything to go your way.”
Warnock has been linked with a return to the dugout at several clubs – the latest being Ipswich, who have seen their League One promotion bid stutter under Paul Lambert.
The 71-year-old, though, is not about to rush into anything, but does have an eye on a personal management milestone.
“I have been linked with that many clubs since I left (Cardiff) – it started off in Scotland, at Hearts and Hibs, then with Bradford and Blackpool, Middlesbrough and Ipswich. I have read everywhere what I have been offered,” Warnock said.
“But I am not in a rush. I had such a great club at Cardiff, that I would not want to do anything just for the sake of it
“I wanted to get my 1,500 league games, if I am honest, and I still feel like that… but it doesn’t look like that it is going to happen this year.
“There comes a time, though, when you can enjoy other things with your family.”
Having battled to take so many teams up before fighting to keep them in the division the following season, Warnock would a welcome change if his next job offered something a bit different.
“Everywhere I have been I have had to resurrect the situation. I have never taken over a top-of-the-league team – it has always been putting the fire out,” he said.
“Although I am not sure I could deal with the top players now, all the money they are on and the egos – it is a very hard job that.”
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