THE PRESENCE of three Yorkshire heavyweights in the top six of the Championship is proof of a growing revival in the county’s football fortunes, according to the manager who today is hoping to ruin Carlos Carvalhal’s 100th league game at the helm of Sheffield Wednesday.
Neil Warnock, whose Cardiff City side sit second, knows all about the struggles that White Rose football – and, in particular, his former clubs Sheffield United and Leeds United – has endured over the past decade or so.
The Blades last graced the top flight in 2007, Leeds in 2004 and Wednesday all the way back in 2000. The trio have also spent time in League One since falling out of the Premier League to make their current lofty standing all the more commendable.
Following on from Huddersfield Town’s impressive start to life among the elite this term and the past two seasons seeing three of our clubs challenging at the top of the Championship, Warnock believes football in his native county is very much on the up.
“It is a fabulous sign for Yorkshire that all three of them are in the top six,” said the Bluebirds manager to The Yorkshire Post ahead of his side hosting the Owls this afternoon. “Chris (Wilder) has done a great job at United, Carlos has had Wednesday challenging for a few seasons and the new guy at Leeds (Thomas Christiansen) has really hit the ground running.
“Too many years have passed since Yorkshire football was properly on the up but there is a chance that is changing.
“Hopefully, all three can maintain a challenge, as things have been difficult at times. Obviously, Wednesday had the disappointment of missing out on the play-offs again. United went down to League One and it hasn’t really happened for Leeds, either. Or at least it didn’t until last season.
“Speaking about my own career, that was a big disappointment for me – not being able to get Leeds going again. It is a fabulous club and, from what I have seen so far, all the new players – including the foreigners – have bought into the club.
“All three are big, big clubs and they have started well.
“We are second, too, and it is nice to see all those predicting before the season that Norwich, Villa, Boro would be run away with it don’t always necessarily get things right.”
Too many years have passed since Yorkshire football was properly on the up but there is a chance that is changing.Cardiff City boss, Neil Warnock.
Wednesday’s trip to Cardiff is the standout Championship fixture on a weekend that sees Wilder’s United host Norwich City and Leeds travel to Millwall.
Carvalhal is expected to return to the touchline after serving a two-game ban following an altercation with Bolton Wanderers’ chief Phil Parkinson.
Warnock, as a lifelong Blade and the last manager to bring top-flight football to Bramall Lane, is eagerly looking forward to locking horns with his old foes.
“Wednesday are always the first fixture I look for in the summer,” he added. “It should be the first of three crackers in a row at home, as we have Leeds and Derby coming up after Wednesday.
“To me, they are probably the toughest teams we will face in the Championship. Wednesday will be fired up for this one. They missed out again in the play-offs and that will have hurt. I honestly believe if they had beaten Huddersfield (in the semi-finals) then they would have gone up but it wasn’t to be.
“After all the money they have spent, missing out twice like that will be a big disappointment and something they will want to make up for this season.”
As for pitting his wits against Carvalhal as the Portuguese reaches the century mark, Warnock added: “I like Carlos. I have not had too many dealings with him but I like the way he goes about the job. Mind, I can’t condone these managers who get themselves banned from the touchline.
“How they manage not to control themselves is beyond me. I have no sympathy.”
That last comment, of course, was said with tongue placed very firmly in cheek. Nevertheless, there is a genuine respect between the pair.
“He (Warnock) is authentic and I like him as a personality,” said Carvalhal. “I prefer these kind of personalities instead of a milky one. But, of course, I want to win and he will be the same.”
Across the Steel City, Wilder’s side are looking to make it four wins in a row and ensure they head to Hillsborough for the first Sheffield derby of the season a week tomorrow in buoyant mood. “We are delighted with our start and we are enjoying it,” he added. “Our third game in a week does stretch the squad. But we are in good nick mentally.”
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