Junior Hoilett has backed Neil Warnock to keep Cardiff City in the Premier League – and dismissed claims some teammates had lost faith in their manager.
Hoilett scored the first and created the second goal as the Bluebirds beat West Ham 2-0 at the weekend to remain in touch with the clubs just above them.
It was a victory made essential by their rivals – Brighton, Newcastle and Southampton also winning – but the Canadian striker also feels it gave clear evidence to back up his rejection of the notion of a divided dressing room.
In any player at Cardiff should be a staunch backer of Warnock and his management methods, then it is Hoilett. The former QPR player had been left without a club two-and-a-half years ago when Warnock rescued and revitalised a career that appeared on a downward trajectory.
Not only did it prove a shrewd move in terms of Hoilett’s contribution to promotion from the Championship, but the 28-year-old has been one of the club’s most influential players in the Premier League.
When Cardiff play well and win, it has generally involved Hoilett doing damage to the opposition.
“From day one the manager has been on my side. I give him 100% every time I am out there,” said Hoilett.
“I’m happy to be here – it’s a great club and he’s a great manager.
“Of course, we have to be positive and win games now. We showed that today. We have to keep going, keep working, and I am sure everything will work out.”
As to the idea of a divided squad – those who still held faith in their 70-year-old manager and those whose belief was waning – Hoilett also gave that short shrift.
Ah, it’s nonsense,” sighed Hoilett after his opening goal and set-up for Victor Camarasa’s second had kept the rescue rope taut between Cardiff and the clubs ahead of them.
“Everybody is like brothers in there. You saw last season how we fought for each other. We have been like that all season as well. We are positive and everybody is fighting for each other.
“There wasn’t any rift. The players have been like that from day one. We always fight for each other. That was our true character out there.
“After three defeats, we had to be positive and be hard to beat, as well as go forward and create more chances. We showed that today and we will take the result.
“Those three defeats – that wasn’t our character. We went out there and fought for each other, we ran every inch on the pitch. It was positive and we just have to stay that way.”
Hoilett’s fourth-minute strike put Cardiff on the road to victory over the Hammers and gave the Bluebirds a half-time lead for only the second time in their 30 league games.
Camarasa added a second seven minutes after the restart and Cardiff would have won by a more comfortable margin but for the shot-stopping ability of former Swansea City goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski.
But fellow strugglers Brighton, Newcastle and Southampton all picked up precious wins as the battle for survival intensified.
“I didn’t think it was a must-win,” Hoilett said. “But, after seeing the results, it kind of was a must-win match.
“The results didn’t go our way, but we needed that to keep the pressure on and keep (others) on their toes.
“That is what we needed, it was positive and we need to take it on to the next games.”
West Ham’s hopes of a seventh-place finish which could result in Europa League qualification have faded away from home.
Manuel Pellegrini’s side are without an away win in 2019 and have now lost five of their last six league games on the road without scoring.
“It was a poor performance, but we really want to finish the season strongly,” said Fabianski, the only West Ham player to emerge from a sub-standard performance with credit.
“We have eight games left and we would like to push and get as much as we can from those games.
“We have two home games now, which are important, and from which we can get something.
“The manager is very demanding. He wants us to keep pushing.
“We have to listen to him and react to his words and to his expectations every single day.”