Warnock v Evans FA Cup Third Round Showdown

The Bluebirds are in FA Cup action this Saturday when Mansfield Town are the visitors. Terry Phillips looks at the two managers.

Neil Warnock

1,401 matches in management.

13 clubs – Scarborough, Notts County, Torquay United, Huddersfield Town, Plymouth Argyle, Oldham Athletic, Bury, Sheffield United, Crystal Palace, Queens Park Rangers, Leeds United, Rotherham United, Cardiff City.

Honours – 7 promotions:

Scarborough: Conference title 1986-87, promotion to Football League.

Notts County: Promotion to FL Second Division 1989-90, promotion to FL First Division 1990-91.

Huddersfield Town: Promotion to FL First Division 1994-95.

Plymouth Argyle: Promotion to FL Second Division 1995-96.

Sheffield United: Promotion to Premier League 2005-06.

Queens Park Rangers: Championship title, 2010-11. Promotion to Premier League.

Steve Evans

897 matches in management.

6 clubs – Stamford, Boston United, Crawley Town, Rotherham United, Leeds United, Mansfield Town.

Honours – 6 promotions

Stamford: United Counties League champions, champions 1996-97 and 1997-98. Moved up to Southern League after second title.

Boston United: Southern League Premier champions, promoted 1999-2000; Conference champions, promoted to FL 2001-02.

Crawley Town: Conference champions, promoted to FL 2010-11.

Rotherham: FL Two runners-up 2012-13; FL One play-off winners 2013-14.

Mansfield Town manager Steve Evans. Pic: Getty Images.

Close pals Neil Warnock and Steve Evans will scrap it out in the Emirates FA Cup this weekend.

Warnock’s Bluebirds entertain League Two promotion contenders Mansfield, who make their second trip to South Wales this season having drawn 1-1 against Newport County at Rodney Parade.

There is £67,000 prize money on offer for the winners of this third round tie plus a whole lot of personal pride.

Warnock and Evans, in management for almost 2,300 matches between them, have a similar no-nonsense style and both have an ability to provoke negative reactions from opposing fans.

Both men have a series of promotions on their CVs and Glasgow-born Evans reckons he must be one ahead. In fact, Warnock has seven to six for Evans.

There is no doubt, though, the two men have a lot of respect for each other.

“I’ve known Neil for many years,” said Mansfield boss Evans. “He’s been helpful to me in every shape or form.

“He’s always helped me with players and bringing teams in pre-season. He’s a man I really do have a lot of respect for.

“We are going to a club who are right up there in the Championship against a man who is a personal friend of mine. We have a great relationship.

“Neil in a fantastic manager. He’s been hugely successful and will be at Cardiff.

“It is a formidable task for us. He will take Cardiff to the Premier League this season and I truly believe that.”

Evans worked with Cardiff goalkeeping coach Andy Dibble at Rotherham, while he knows Warnock and his assistants, Kevin Blackwell and Ronnie Jepson, extremely well.

Former Bolton Wanderers, Ayr United and St Johnstone striker Evans, now aged 55, moved into management by chance.

He worked at a national brewery when he was asked to help out at the local club, saying: “The chairman sacked his manager and know I had been a professional footballer.

“He asked me to take one training session and that developed into two or three. Eventually he asked me to become the manager.

“I was scouting for Celtic manager Martin O’Neill at the time, but was able to take the job and that’s where it all started.”

Over the years Evans and Warnock have developed a strong bond, a long-term friendship.

“He is a really good man,” says Evans. “How do you judge that? When you have down days – and we all have them – Neil Warnock has been there for me as a friend and that’s when it’s important.

Cardiff City goalkeeper Neil Etheridge (right) pictured with Cardiff City first team coach Andy Dibble, who worked with Mansfield manager Steve Evans at Rotherham. Pic: Cardiff City.

“He has been there for me on some dark days and you never forget that. I wish him every success.

“He is a wonderful man and a football purist. I have turned up at some lowly non-League grounds and there has been Warnock and myself sitting there with our big coats on.

“I’ll never forget he told me the trait of working hard and working smart together – it’s no good thinking you’re smart if you don’t work hard.”

Evans believes he knows the challenge Mansfield will face at Cardiff City Stadium, saying: “They will be big, strong, and physical and he will demanding from the side.

“It will be noisy in my left ear – and he probably thinks the same of me.

“He knows we won’t give an inch. He certainly won’t. They are always well organised.

“Kevin Blackwell does a great job behind the scenes and deserves enormous credit. He gets them meticulously organised and then the general, Mr Warnock himself, steps in and does the final bits that make them potentially a great side.”

Cardiff City coach Kevin Blackwell. Pic: Getty Images.

Warnock still has that passion for football – and a burning desire to achieve an eighth promotion. Nobody has ever achieved eight. That ambition drives Warnock on.

Nottingham Forest were keen on appointing Warnock before he took the Cardiff job and he admits: “I was so disappointed not to get the Forest job.

“Greek investors wanted a director of football and a foreign manager. When I go to a club like Cardiff, I try to prove everyone else wrong that didn’t take me.

“Even when I was going to speak to Cardiff, when I was travelling down, I was excited. I don’t think my mate could shut me up.”

Warnock is hugely popular among Cardiff supporters, having steered his Bluebirds away from relegation problems after arriving midway through last season and launched a promotion challenge in 2017-18.

City have suffered four successive defeats, but the cup clash with Mansfield is a chance to put the pressure of Championship football to the back of their minds and have a right go against the Stags.

Warnock will make changes and those players who are called up have a genuine chance to impress the gaffer and make him think hard before the next League outing, against Sunderland at home on Saturday, January 13.

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