Neil Warnock was, in no uncertain terms, not a happy man after his Cardiff City side threw away a 1-0 lead to lose their Premier League meeting with Chelsea.
Everything was going to plan when Victor Camarasa gave the home side the lead, and they remained ahead until Cesar Azpilicueta headed home from an offside position.
Chelsea’s Toni Rüdiger subsequently avoided a red card for a last-man foul, and the visitors went on to snatch victory through Ruben Loftus-Cheek in the final minute of the game.
Some might consider it extremely bad luck for Warnock and his men, but we have another theory: the Cardiff manager is cursed.
1. Sheffield United crash because of Carlos
The obvious example came in the 2006-07, when Warnock’s Sheffield United side were relegated from the Premier League on the final day of the season.
The Blades’ tally of 38 points would have been enough to survive in any other season from 2004-05 to 2009-10, but they also had the misfortune of coming up against a West Ham side buoyed by the controversially-signed Carlos Tevez and given a leg-up by a winning goal against Blackburn Rovers which didn’t cross the line.
This was all after his team had survived playing more than half an hour against Arsenal with defender Phil Jagielka in goal. They’d overcome plenty of obstacles, but the final one – telling Jagielka he wasn’t all in goal when he handled the ball in the United box on the final day of the season – was too much for them.
Warnock has never managed to keep a team in the Premier League, and this is comfortably as close as he came.
Warnock’s QPR did stay up in 2012, but he had long gone by then.
The manager was in the dugout for a huge home win over Chelsea, with the visitors ending with nine men, and it looked like his luck might have turned.
But then came the run of two points in eight games around the turn of the year, culminating in a defeat at home to Norwich City, sealed his fate.
Warnock claimed the referee was “conned” on that occasion, when he sent off Joey Barton for an off-the-ball incident. It’s probably also worth noting that Warnock was inviting the curse to come to him by relying on Joey Barton not being sent off in any given match.
3. Penalty Pain
Even when Warnock’s teams have succeeded, he’s done it the hard way.
As Cardiff chased promotion from the Championship, they had a chance to take a huge step towards a top-two spot when they welcomed league leaders Wolves to the Cardiff City Stadium in April.
Ruben Neves gave the visitors the lead, but Gary Madine went down in the box to win a last-minute penalty… only to see John Ruddy save his kick.
Not to worry, though – they won another spot-kick barely a minute later after a foul on Aron Gunnarsson. This time it was Junior Hoilett who stepped up, but he smashed his effort against the bar.
Who had Warnock upset to earn that sort of ill-fortune?
It seems as though there’s a pattern to these things, with Warnock given a sense that things might go his way, only for the curse to exert itself.
We’ve already had part one ahead of the midweek meeting with Manchester City, with Pep Guardiola confirming Sergio Agüero will miss the game after limping off against Fulham at the weekend.
It’s easy to see how this one will go, then. Cardiff will take a shock lead against the title challengers, prompting talk of the race for the Premier League opening right up. They’ll have a chance to double their lead, too – perhaps a fringe player will miss a golden chance, or a penalty appeal will be turned down.
City will come back in the second half, scoring a late and painful winner, and Cardiff’s season will implode. Warnock will leave at the end of the season and announce his retirement, before returning in 18 months when he can’t resist the allure of the game.
We’ve seen this movie before.