Neil Warnock: Cardiff City's miracle 'Marmite' manager seals eighth promotion

Manager Neil Warnock has helped add an exciting new chapter to Cardiff City's long history
Manager Neil Warnock has helped add an exciting new chapter to Cardiff City's long history

Cardiff City have proved that football miracles really can happen.

And the elixir for this one has been concocted by Mr Marmite himself - Neil Warnock, a man who often divides football opinion but whose quality and experience is undisputed.

A record eighth promotion as a manager is his greatest in his 50th year in the professional game, as the Bluebirds sealed their rise to the Premier League thanks to Sunday's 0-0 draw at home to Reading combined with Fulham's 3-1 loss at Birmingham City.

"It probably hasn't quite sunk in yet. I daren't have a drink, I'd probably be drunk in five minutes. So it is just a matter of digesting it," Warnock said.

"I've never seen a crowd like that ever. The closest I could come to was the Australia v Wales rugby game I went to. But I think it was even louder than that today."

Four years after a strife riven, horrendous season in the top flight, Cardiff return as a side transformed by their manager who has reconnected it with its fans.

It is a club united in blue, with owner Vincent Tan returning to traditional colours from the controversial kit change to red and, crucially, continues to fund the Welsh club.

Media playback is not supported on this device

'Hey ho, it's better than the Championship!' - Cardiff boss Neil Warnock on PL promotion

But the master stroke from Tan and chairman Mehmet Dalman was the recruitment of Warnock 18 months ago.

The Yorkshireman may be loved and loathed in the football world, yet many of those who dish out the abuse would secretly yearn for him to be in their club's dugout - and even his severest critic would not deny his managerial acumen.

His record speaks for itself and while man management is his greatest strength, Warnock's tactical nous should not be underestimated, nor his eye for a player.

Sol Bamba and Junior Hoilett waited for him to get a job and his first recruits - as free agents - have been magnificent.

Yet Warnock's record-breaking eighth club promotion is more than just about outstripping most Championship fan's second favourite outfit - Fulham.

It's more than moulding a motley crew of free transfers and unheralded players into a relentlessly determined and efficient promotion team with indomitable team spirit.

His greatest accomplishment has been, in his words, "bringing the club together".

Cardiff owner Vincent Tan (right foreground) embraces manager Neil Warnock after the final whistle against Reading
Cardiff owner Vincent Tan (right foreground) embraces manager Neil Warnock after the final whistle against Reading

At 69, Warnock has put off what he calls "the seaside and the deck chair" lifestyle of his peers for another crack at the big time.

Cardiff will, inevitably, start as favourites for relegation but Warnock will relish the role of underdogs and the task of defying expectations once again.

But who will dare to completely write off the eighth wonder of the managerial world?

Six defining Cardiff fixtures

12 August 2017: Cardiff 3-0 Aston Villa

The first sign of a special season ahead. Villa were not favourites for the title but, with John Terry at their helm, were big scalps. Cardiff outplayed them to make it four wins on the bounce to start the season. A real sign of intent.

21 November, 2017: Barnsley 0-1 Cardiff

The sort of win which is the bedrock of a promotion campaign. On a cold, bleak night at Oakwell, Cardiff ground out a triumph thanks to a first goal for summer recruit Callum Paterson.

13 January, 2018: Cardiff 4-0 Sunderland

The return of former Wales manager Chris Coleman was most significant for a win which stopped the rot after a run of four consecutive League defeats had many writing off Cardiff.

Anthony Pilkington
Anthony Pilkington's last-ditch equaliser sparked wild celebrations for Cardiff at Sheffield United

2 April, 2018: Sheffield United 1-1 Cardiff

Anthony Pilkington's injury-time equaliser stole a point against the club Neil Warnock managed and supported as a boy. A credit to Warnock's man management - keeping a player on the fringes so motivated.

28 April, 2018: Hull City 0-2 Cardiff

Defeat at Derby in Cardiff's previous game and Fulham's Friday night win over Sunderland heaped on the pressure. Cardiff responded with indomitable spirit and no little skill, epitomised by the two goals from captain Sean Morrison to secure a win which gave Cardiff the edge over Fulham going into the final game.

6 May, 2018: Cardiff 0-0 Reading

Few will remember the result, only the celebrations of a return to the Premier League. Birmingham's win over Fulham meant a draw was enough for Warnock to achieve the most remarkable of his record eight promotions. Just as amazing, owner Vincent Tan, in a blue shirt, was carried shoulder high.

Top Stories