Brighton & Hove Albion manager Chris Hughton has spoken of his admiration for Reading boss Steve Clarke, as the two prepare to go head-to-head at the Madejski Stadium tomorrow night.
Both men have a mutual respect for each other, and both spent time learning their trade as coaches before making the step up to managing - and Hughton believes this approach has paid dividends for himself and Clarke.
Hughton said, “There are some similarities between the two of us with the role Steve had at Chelsea and my job at Tottenham.
“For me that was the best route and I’ve benefited in my managerial career from the long apprenticeship that I had as a coach, and Steve has as well.
“He did a wonderful job at West Brom and he’s now got a project at Reading; I’m quite sure he’ll be successful.
“He’s a good coach and a good manager. He is managing a team in a very tough division with a lot of good clubs in it and I’ve got no doubts that his influence on the team and the club will reap benefits.
“They have got the possibility of going through to an FA Cup semi-final. I’m sure that if you had told him at the beginning of his role that he would achieve that, then he would have been delighted with that.”
The pair very nearly became colleagues at Newcastle, when Hughton offered Clarke a role at the club.
Hughton added, “I remember speaking to him and at that stage he was quite firm on the aspect that he wanted to manage; similar to myself he had been a coach for quite some time and he had a very successful periods as a coach, but he had made up his mind at that stage he made a decision that he wanted to manage.”
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Now they'll be adversaries as Albion have the chance to move 12 points clear of the bottom three and leapfrog the Royals with a win tomorrow night - but Hughton has warned there is still a long way to go before the side are fully safe from the threat of relegation.
“It’s such an unpredictable league with regards to results and what we have seen either from ourselves or any of the teams around us, is that any team can put a run of two or three victories together.
“You look at Leeds and they went on a very good run of winning consecutive games which saw them move well clear of the relegation zone.
“Any team that can put two or three wins together makes a massive difference, so I’m not really sure how many points we would need and I don’t really think about that.
“It’s really about trying to get the results that’s going to make life more comfortable for us and get us away from that bottom three.
“We’ve managed to do that in recent weeks, but you’re always looking over your shoulder because you’re always looking at the other results.
“It’s my responsibility to make sure we’re in a position perhaps where we can be challenging at a different end to the table as opposed to what we have this season.
“There’s a lot of work to be done beforehand; first and foremost it has to be about this season and making sure that we end it well, build a platform for next season and then try and put ourselves in a position where we’re competing at the other end of the table; at this moment that’s a way off.”