THE LAST time Nigel Adkins and Neil Warnock went head-to-head in the Championship, the elder statesman’s reaction to defeat came straight from the heart.
“I don’t know how you have f****** won that,” said the then Leeds United manager in the wake of being beaten 1-0 at home by Adkins’s soon-to-be Premier League Southampton.
Warnock’s emotional outburst was perhaps understandable, even if not delivered in the most gracious of manners. His Leeds team had dominated in front of the live Sky cameras only for Kelvin Davis to make himself a one-man barrier in the Saints’ goal, ensuring Rickie Lambert’s early strike proved to be the winner.
Almost six years on from that meeting and the pair’s rivalry will be renewed this tea-time in front of Sky once again as Hull City tackle Warnock’s Cardiff City.
“I get on really well with Neil,” said the Tigers’ chief ahead of the trip to south Wales. “You can’t take away his record.
“He knows what he wants and the players understand what is required from them. He has been very successful at it.
I am looking forward to seeing him again. We have had our moments. Like everyone, I am competitive and he is competitive. But he is a good footballing man.Nigel Adkins on managerial rival, Neil Warnock
“I am looking forward to seeing him again. We have had our moments. Like everyone, I am competitive and he is competitive. But he is a good footballing man. I know for a fact we have got a hell of a game on against his team.”
Hull will start the televised encounter as underdogs. Cardiff will still be in second place regardless of how the 3pm kick-offs pan out due to enjoying a four-point cushion on the chasing pack, while the Tigers have endured a miserable return to the Championship following relegation.
Hull may be the second tier’s great entertainers with no fewer than 76 goals having been scored in their 21 league outings, a tally that dwarfs those of their 23 peers.
But just five wins, only one of which has come on the road, and nine defeats tells its own story as Adkins’s men look to upset the odds today.
“Camaraderie and that resilience about yourself,” replied the Hull chief when asked what would be key to turning round the club’s poor away form.
“We have obviously been on the training ground this week, working on a few things and how we are looking to be from a defensive point of view.
“We have demonstrated how we can score goals, but, likewise, it might be more challenging so we have got to have that togetherness about us.
“There is definitely a togetherness about this group, from what I have seen. If something goes against us we are not going to get disillusioned.”
Adkins’s bow as manager ended in a 3-2 victory over Brentford, albeit in typically nerve-jangling fashion for a side that has turned conceding late goals into an art form.
If Hull can follow that triumph over the Bees with another three points, it will be their first back-to-back victories of the season.
Adkins added: “It would be great for everyone and another step towards what we are trying to achieve here. If we haven’t done it so far then the law of averages would say there is a chance we can do it.”