Hatters boss Graeme Jones believes opposite number Neil Warnock should be ‘toasted by the nation’ due to his longevity in the game.
The Luton chief goes up against one of, if not the most, experienced managers in the EFL this weekend as the Hatters travel to Cardiff City.
Warnock, 70, has been involved in management since 1981 when he took over at Gainsborough Trinity, while he has been in charge of a whole of clubs since, including Notts County, Sheffield United, Crystal Palace, Queens Park Rangers and Leeds United.
Speaking about pitting his wits against him, Jones, who has just one competitive game under his belt, compared to well over 1,000 by his counterpart, said: “I think Neil needs to be toasted by the nation really as I played against his teams and now I am managing against his teams.
“He has been through everything, he has seen everything, he has seen everyone off.
“He has got real longevity in the game and that really needs to be respected.
“I think we need to give him credit for his desire, seeing him on the side of the pitch fighting for every ball and challenging his players and challenging the official and I think he’s 70, maybe I am doing him a disservice.
“But we need to toast him really, because to love the game that much, I am sure he doesn’t need it financially, he just needs the game.
“I think it’s a wonderful thing he’s got.
“We need to be really respect of this guy and treasure him. He is one of the great English managers and he should go down that way.
“To have the zest for this beautiful game that he’s got, needs to be treasured as well.
“He’ll be ferocious on Saturday, I know he will, but you have to look forward to that as well.
“I will be in the other dugout in a different way. I want to win, the same way, but if I could have the same amount of games he’s had I’d be absolutely delighted.
“I’d probably be about 92 if that was the case, but he needs respect, massive respect from the English game.”
Jones knows full well that his side will be tested to their limits by a side managed by Warnock, as he continued: “I can remember playing against his Plymouth side, with Mickey Heathcote, they were really competitive, very difficult to play against, his promotion record speaks for itself, it’s second to none.
“So you know what’s coming, you have to match it and you have to exert your game plan on there’s and have to see if that’s enough on the day.
“I’ve played against his teams as a player and you always knew you were in for a tough game.
“I think as players then you never looked at styles, you just turned up for your team and played, this would be 20-plus years ago now.
“What I do remember was that it was always a challenge, it was always a physical challenge, it was always a tough game.
“We came up against Neil in management a few times – his first spell at Crystal Palace in the Championship, his second spell at Crystal Palace in the Premier League.
“So I know we will have to earn anything we get out of Cardiff at the weekend.”
Jones also didn’t think that the Bluebirds show be labelled as a one trick pony either with Warnock at the helm, with many teams writing them off as a direct and physical outfit.
He added: “I think that’s harsh on Cardiff.
“They can be direct, but they can play as well, they’ve got a real variety in their play.
“We all want variety. If you’re playing out from the back constantly the opposition will read you, so if you mix it up and go long they’ll get surprised.
“I think Neil’s teams have always had variety. I think it’s a very, very unfair label to put that to his door.
“You can’t be as successful as he’s been and be one-dimensional, and he’s done that over a period of time.
“Obviously from set-pieces they’re a major threat with their size and they have got individual quality.
“They have got many, many threats, so I don’t know if that makes us train differently, we make people aware which is one thing, but you still have to assert our own game plan and your own style at the weekend.
“Whoever does that has the best chance of getting the result.”