By Paul Jones
Mick McCarthy regards Chris Hughton as a mate, but there will be no old pal’s act when the pair meet at Nottingham Forest on Sunday.
Instead, Cardiff City manager McCarthy hopes to push Hughton nearer to the exit door as Forest boss, even though the Bluebirds boss thinks Forest would be mad to push their man through.
The pair played together for the Republic of Ireland before going their separate ways as managers.
They have had differing fortunes in recent months, too, with McCarthy revitalising Cardiff since he arrived, but Hughton struggling for survival at the City Ground where his job is now on the line.
“You can feel for them from afar, but when you’re up against them you’ve got to win the game. There’ll be nothing given and nothing expected from either of us,” said McCarthy.
“Chris is experienced enough and he will have been working in the international break to ensure he gets back off to a good start.
“They’ve had issues with Covid and one a bad result has been followed by another. Not that they’ve played badly.
“They’ve not become a bad team and Chris has not become a bad coach. I’m worried – not for Chris but for us.
“No one will be turning against Chris because he is a great guy. All their players will be smarting because they are where they are.”
Cardiff head to Nottingham hoping to consign their 2-1 home defeat to Bristol City in their last Championship outing to the dustbin as they attempt to stay in touch with the top six.
For Hughton’s underperforming Forest it is a question of fighting their way off the bottom and trying to notch their first win.
Two Kieffer Moore goals earned City the points in the Midlands last season, but Hughton had the last laugh when he clashed with McCarthy in the Welsh capital.
Moore missed the three Wales games during the international break after being identified as a close contact to a teammate who tested positive for COVID and only came back into training on Thursday.
ISSUE 23 WINNER: Huw Price-Jones of Pwllheli wins the Kieffer Moore mugby courtesy of @mugbysgifts. How we missed him last night – Kieffer that is, not Huw 😁 Llongyfarchiadau Huw.⚽️🏴 #Cymru pic.twitter.com/bjuvI6ieU8
— International.Wales (@IntWales) September 9, 2021
With so little football behind him, and with the Bluebirds facing three games in seven days, he may have to be eased back in.
But at least McCarthy knows he has got his target man for the rest of the season after nobody bid enough money to lure him away in the transfer window, despite late interest from Wolves.
“I was delighted he stayed with us. You don’t want to lose a player who scored 20 goals the season before,” said McCarthy.
“Of course he was interested in playing in the Premier League, but there was no offer that came in that was anywhere near the club’s valuation.
“The value to me, the team and the players is immense, he’s been fabulous for us.”
McCarthy admits he expected more interest in the striker.
“I don’t know why clubs don’t (table big offers). Waiting until the final few hours of deadline day and they think it’s the way to do business? I don’t,” he added.
“It makes everyone panic then. It just seems crazy for me.
“If you really want someone you go out and get them. If you really desire that player and he is going to make a difference, you go and get them early.
“I was a bit surprised no one else came in for him. If someone really values you and you really want them you go and get them if they’ve got the money.”
If Moore doesn’t start, then Cardiff could play either their new teenage international Rubin Colwill or another Welsh cap, Mark Harris, up front.