Wycombe Wanderers goalkeeper David Stockdale has praised the man-management skills of Nottingham Forest boss Chris Hughton as he spoke to the Second Tier Podcast, with the pair spending time together at Brighton & Hove Albion.
Stockdale, 35, joined the Seagulls in July 2014 under Sami Hyypia but after the Finn was sacked in December that year, Chris Hughton came in and it would turn out to be an extremely successful appointment.
The goalkeeper started all but one of Brighton’s Championship fixtures in the 2016/17 campaign as they were promoted with Newcastle United to the top flight – but it’s not just Hughton’s coaching skills on the pitch that have impressed Stockdale – but his attitude off it as well.
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In an interview with the Second Tier Podcast, the Wycombe keeper said: “As a person, he is unbelievably understanding.
“He’s very meticulous in what he does and the first time you meet him, the first thing he says are what is your mum’s name, and what is your dad’s name and your kids’ names?
“You’re like, what?! But he remembers it and writes it down. He’s very personal about it.
“He wants to know how each player thinks. And if he has to approach a situation, he has all the tools, knows how you work, and that’s why everybody has great things to say about him.
“He takes time on you as a person. When you’ve got to do that for a squad of 25 to 30 guys, it’s quite remarkable actually.
“He’s up there with the best managers I’ve had. He’s up there in different terms with how approachable he is. He’s a one-off. He’s definitely top one.”
While Stockdale continues his playing career with Wycombe, Hughton spent nearly 18 months away from football following his departure from Brighton before moving to Nottingham Forest in October last year.
The East Midlands side finished in 17th last season, a much better place than where former boss Sabri Lamouchi left them after four games in, but still a disappointment nonetheless.
As signings start to come in at the City Ground, Hughton will be hoping to use his personal skills to welcome them in and work on his existing players to record a much-improved finish in the next campaign.
This insight from Stockdale could show exactly why the Nottingham Forest manager was so successful with Brighton. Not only was the 62-year-old able to achieve promotion with the Seagulls, but managed to turn them into an established Premier League outfit.
His success lives on at the Amex Stadium as his former side prepare for their fifth consecutive season in the top tier. Considering they were just an average Championship side not so long ago, this is an astonishing achievement and Forest fans will be hoping he can replicate that at the City Ground.
The East Midlands side are a ‘sleeping giant’ – and it will be fascinating to see how Hughton gets on in his first full season there. Those personal touches and little details can often make the difference, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see Forest compete at the right end of the table next year.