The Tuesday night game between Brighton and Hove Albion and Cardiff City pitches Mr. Nice Guy, Chris Hughton, up against Mr. Nasty, Neil Warnock.
OK. Calling Warnock nasty may be pushing it a bit far. Maybe. Just don’t ask me to like him.
For more years than I care to remember, I’ve found myself in his company from time to horrible time. I will never forget how he blatantly tapped up a player using the telephone on the desk opposite me at Sky Sports News. The tactics he used to try and attract the player to Sheffield United made me both blush and feel sick to my stomach. When he ended the call, he told me to “f***ing grow up and get in the real world.”
Chris Hughton is the polar opposite of Warnock. Time was we used to suggest he was simply too nice to be a manager. He really is a nice guy. He’s sometimes been treated unfairly by club owners, most notably at Newcastle United. At Brighton, however, he’s found himself working for a sensible, patient and caring owner and the two men work well together.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking Hughton is not capable of giving his players a roasting. I saw his face after the humiliating 0-5 home defeat at the hands of Bournemouth. I confidently predict that he will have laid into the players and have them fired up for this six pointer on Tuesday night.
The Brighton supporters have a massive role to play. They must create the type of passionate atmosphere witnessed when they were involved in the Championship play offs. They need to forget what happened last Saturday. As must the players. As for Hughton, he can be guilty of being too cautious in matches but he has at his disposal the firepower to beat Cardiff and send them down.
It’s time for Brighton players to stand up and be counted. Brighton have a tough run in after this vital match. They need to win at home against Cardiff. Or, at the very least, not lose it.
I will no be betting on the outcome of this game. A Cardiff win would offer them a serious chance of survival. Based on the games they have left to play after Tuesday, I could see Cardiff acquiring more points than Brighton from their respective remaining fixtures.
The manner in which Cardiff City football club dealt with the transfer fee for the deceased Emiliano Sala has not endeared the Bluebirds to football supporters. Trying to welch on an agreed £15 million pound transfer payment for a player who lost his life trying to get to Cardiff in an unfit aircraft, flown by an unfit pilot, is a new footballing low.
That, combined with my career long distaste for the manner in which Neil Warnock talks to people, including referees and other match officials, means I shall be hoping Brighton secure three points on Tuesday evening.