Neil Warnock insists Cardiff City are still outsiders to win automatic promotion to the Premier League – despite their two-point lead over their rivals.
The Cardiff City manager has dismissed the chances of leaders Wolves surrendering their 11-point advantage at the top and thinks Aston Villa, Derby and Fulham still have a better chance of finishing runners-up.
As the Bluebirds boss bids to extend his team’s unbeaten run to seven matches at Ipswich on Wednesday, he surveyed the position at the top of the table, while also taking another swipe at Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola.
“We won’t catch Wolves – not unless they lose four or five on the trot,” said Warnock.
“I don’t think Villa or Derby will slip up that much and Fulham are doing well. In terms of wage bills we’re talking about Villa, Derby, Fulham, Wolves and Boro – anybody else in there is punching above their weight.
“You won’t find anyone putting money on us. We’re still underdogs. There are 14 games to go, four or five points away are Fulham and they have a good chance.
“So, no-one is getting carried away, even the fans, we just have to enjoy it. We have turned the season around again, the squad s in a better position now, and, hopefully, in the next few weeks we will get people like Bryson, Gunnarsson and Connolly back for the run-in.”
Cardiff will go to Ipswich in confident mood following their 1-0 victory over Middlesbrough last weekend, their third victory in their last four games.
The game provided further evidence of Sean Morrison’s value to Warnock, with the captain scoring his third goal in four matches as well helping keep a clean sheet.
Warnock revealed he feared Morrison would leave last summer when the centre-back was the subject of a £5m offer from Sheffield Wednesday.
“I thought he would go to Sheffield Wednesday, especially when they upped the price to £5 million or something like that. I said to him, ‘you’ll get a lot more money than here’ I said. ‘I don’t want you to go but I can’t stop you.’ He said, ‘I think we have something special here gaffer.’ I thought that was great.”
Warnock re-ignited his feud with Guardiola when he suggested the tackle by Fabien Delph that earned the City player a red card in their FA Cup defeat to Wigan on Monday night was far worse that Cardiff’s Joe Bennett inflicted on Leroy Sane when Cardiff met City in the previous round.
That challenge provoked a critical response from Guardiola and later led him to call for more protection for his players.
“I watched it yesterday and thought Delph’s tackle was 10 times worse (than Bennett’s) but nothing is written about it,” added Warnock.
“You just have to accept that big clubs rule the roost. Man City don’t get many things going wrong so when things go wrong, they react.
“Anyone can be nice when things are going right. I think Cooky (Wigan manager Paul Cook) stood his ground and good luck to him.
“There were more tackles in that game than our game – I think Wigan got four bookings and a red card – it was a great game but it’s sad that nothing will be remembered for a great game, a great finish from Grigg and a wonderful FA Cup story again.”
City’s Sergio Aguero clashed with a fan during the post-match pitch invasion and Warnock said the incident reminded him of a similar scene when he was in charge of Crystal Palace at Bristol City in 2008.
“I thought it was a disgrace, an absolute disgrace,” Warnock said of the scenes at Wigan on Monday. “They obviously didn’t anticipate that they could win the game.
“You can’t stop pitch invasions if you don’t have enough stewards and with the costing coming out of the gate, there’s no reason why you don’t have enough stewards.”
Speaking about his experience at Ashton Gate, Warnock added: “They were spitting at me, punching me, flashing elbows at me and calling me all names I couldn’t repeat and it was the most difficult five minutes to get off the pitch I’ve ever had. It was frightening.
“Unless you’ve been in that situation I don’t think you can understand where Aguero is coming from because it is frightening, you fear for your safety and then you lash out.
“I had two stewards and they were worse than me, I think I was protecting them. It was the most frightening experience I ever had.”