Talks at securing the permanent signature of FA Cup hero John Brayford will not commence until Cardiff’s Premier League status becomes clear, Sheffield United boss Nigel Clough has revealed.
Brayford, who scored the second goal in United’s FA Cup quarter-final win over Charlton last Sunday, has made only two League Cup starts for Cardiff since his £1.5m move from Derby County, where he blossomed under Clough.
The United boss, who also worked with Brayford at Burton Albion, has seen the popular full back become a cult hero for the Bramall Lane faithful - and admits he would love to sanction a permanent deal.
“But we can’t do anything until we know where Cardiff will be next season,” Clough admitted.
“I hope they do stay up, for Ole [Gunnar Solskjær, Cardiff manager] but I’m not sure what is best for us, whether they do stay up or go down!
“But of course, we would like to keep John. He is becoming a cult figure with the fans, and he epitomises the type of player we want here.”
“All John wants to do,” Clough continued, “is play football. “He’s not bothered about the things that go with a footballer, like the money.
“If he wasn’t playing for United, or Derby, or Cardiff, then he’d be playing like he does, on the local park.
“He’s been like that since he was 16. We put him in the team at 17 but he was too small to be a centre half in the Conference, so we moved him to right back and he’s never looked back.
“It’s a cliche but he plays every game like it’s his last, and it’s refreshing to see.”
In a glittering managerial career that delivered European Cups and League titles galore, Clough’s legendary father Brian never got his hands on the FA Cup.
The closest he came was in 1991, when his Nottingham Forest side lost 2-1 to Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley.
“There’s a feeling that this is a proper football club, and we want to have more days like Sunday,” Clough, who played up front in that final, added.
“I am excited by the potential at this club. We were licking our wounds a little bit after leaving Derby, and not many clubs would have persuaded us to come back so quickly.”
Of all his major honours, it was the most unlikely pieces of silverware - the 1976 Anglo-Scottish Cup - that Brian Clough remembered most fondly, as it set the standard for what was to follow.
Like his father, Nigel is quick to talk up the importance of cup competitions. But unlike Brian at times, Clough Jr is happy to let his players enjoy the limelight.
He elected not to join his players on a lap of honour on Sunday, admitting: “We were all a bit drained! But it was a time for the players.
“You don’t pay to see a manager, you pay to see players and they did the business on the pitch.”