(Reuters) – Relegation-threatened Cardiff City surviving the drop from the Premier League to the second-tier Championship would count as Neil Warnock’s biggest achievement, the Welsh club’s manager said on Friday.
Cardiff are currently 18th with three games to go and sit three points behind Brighton & Hove Albion. However, Brighton have lost five of their last six games and face tough opposition in Arsenal and Manchester City in their final two matches.
“It’s probably the hardest season I’ve had and it would be my biggest achievement by an absolute mile,” Warnock told reporters ahead of Saturday’s trip to relegated Fulham.
“The pundits did not give us any hope of staying up, and quite rightly so when you look at our different circumstances compared to other clubs. We’ve never thrown the towel in, even with heavy defeats.
“Whatever happens this season it would be one of my biggest achievements. I think the players are the same. You can point at our mistakes but all I have asked is they do their best week in, week out.”
Warnock said anyone would be surprised his side was still battling relegation when they were the pre-season favourites to be the first club to go down. Huddersfield Town and Fulham were both relegated by the first week of April.
“I think you’ve got to be (surprised) really from the situation we have been in since day one,” Warnock added. “We knew it was going to be difficult but one by one we have overcome all the doom and gloom predictions.
“We’ve enjoyed it. We’ve still got our biggest challenge ahead. It’s an opportunity for the lads to write their names in history.”
Warnock confirmed midfielder Joe Ralls’ season was over after tearing his hamstring against Liverpool. He also joked that Harry Arter was ‘banned’ from training to avoid any potential leaks to Fulham boss Scott Parker, who is married to Arter’s sister.
“You just don’t know with Harry from one day to the next. His brother-in-law’s Scott Parker,” Warnock said. “So we’re banning him from watching us train this week, just in case he’s after going to Fulham next year.”
(Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Christian Radnedge)