Neil Warnock: Experience cannot cure Cardiff boss' pre-season nerves

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Neil Warnock: Absolutely my last season as a manager

On the eve of his 40th and final season as a manager, Cardiff's Neil Warnock still harbours a familiar doubt: "Are we good enough?"

A record eight promotions on his CV can do nothing to assuage his nagging uncertainty.

"Every year I feel the same. You are always relieved when you get the first win. I would imagine every manager is the same," said the 70-year-old.

"They are all bravado and smiles, but deep down you are all frightened to death, trying to get that first win out of the way.

"All you can do is your best, but you always have that fear, are we good enough?"

Relegated from the Premier League last term, Cardiff kick off their Championship season away to Wigan Athletic.

And the plain-speaking Warnock admitted: "The first pre-season game when I watched it, I thought we will never get a point playing like this.

"But you get carried away a little bit. They are a good group."

Despite the loss of stalwarts Aron Gunnarsson, Bruno Ecuele Manga and Kenneth Zohore this summer, the bulk of the squad which earned promotion from the Championship in 2018 remains.

Warnock has drafted in £4m Middlesbrough defender Aiden Flint among his summer signings. His centre-back partnership with club captain Sean Morrison is likely to be pivotal to the defensive stability required as a basis for a promotion push.

Warnock still enjoys the "cut and thrust" of football and has made no secret of his liking for the Championship. With 46 league games to come, he calls the division a "slog" - yet relishes it.

Aron Gunnarsson
Last season's captain Aron Gunnarsson has left for Al-Arabi in Qatar

A string of what he considered to be unfair refereeing decisions during the club's vain battle to avoid Premier League relegation last season still rankle with Warnock.

"You feel a little bit of an injustice at times with the events that happened," he said.

"But overall the players have been super, they have got on with the task, I think they are determined to put it right.

"We know how difficult it is going to be because last year for example, none of the teams that got relegated came back up."

Warnock has revelled in the underdog role since his arrival in Cardiff in October 2016, but accepts this time that does not apply.

"I think the objective is to make sure we get in the top six. I know that might sound a bit defeatist, but I think when you get relegated that's what you have to do.

"I think probably Fulham, West Brom and even Stoke look the strongest squads this season."

As well as trying to add a ninth promotion to his resume, Warnock will spend part of the new season helping the club find his successor.

"I think I could help them in that respect," he said.

"It's the biggest appointment at a football club - the manager- but one thing at a time. Let's have a real go now and do what we can this season."

It will be eventful - no doubt.

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