1FITG mid-season review: Cardiff
After a pre-season of controversy on the shock move from blue to red, Cardiff City have been setting the Championship alight with their results this season. @giraffefarmer gives us his thoughts on what’s happened and whether after a long spell out of the top league they’ll hold on for promotion.
So what are your thoughts on Cardiff’s season so far?
It’s been good. Cardiff are 8 points clear at the top with a game in hand (against 3rd place Leicester, win that and it’s 11 points clear, 14 points above 3rd place), looking fairly consistent and it all seems to be coming together. Kim Bo-Kyung has brought some class to the midfield, while Aron Gunnarson has looked lively whenever I’ve seen him play. Obviously Craig Bellamy brings quality and experience to the side and he does seem determined to make sure the side succeeds; even if that means having a right go at players that fail to deliver a good ball to him. The signing of Fraizer Campbell is a bit of a gamble, if it comes off then Cardiff will have got a quality striker for not much. Mind you, given the resources available writing off £600k would hardly be a disaster.
Optimistic about the cups this year? Cardiff always do pretty well in them…
Yes, well, about that. Early exits in both cups means that there is little to distract Cardiff from the league this year. It’s horrible to say this, especially as the cup runs have given me some of my best football memories (that Ben Turner equaliser in the League Cup Final!), but the league has to be the priority this year. Cardiff have been to both the FA Cup and League Cup Finals in recent years so effectively taking a break this year is not too bad.
It’s Malky Mackay’s second season in charge, has he now got the side playing as he wants?
I think so, yes. Malky seems to be getting a good balance and incorporating players well. The side may still be lacking a little bit of flexibility and sometimes needs to be slightly more clinical in putting teams away, but these are minor things when compared to the general solidity of the team. The fans are very much on board with the Malky project, he impressed last year by getting Cardiff to the playoffs and the team’s consistent form this year has cemented that initial good feeling.
So, the colour change thing. How’s that working out?
It does seem to have split the fanbase. A certain portion of fans have essentially said that Cardiff City no longer exists for them and have stopped supporting the club. Another portion seem to be in the ‘my club, right or wrong’ camp and will support the owners no matter what they suggest. The largest group is I think more ambivalent. They’d much rather we were playing in blue but are realistic that football is a money game and if playing in red means that Cardiff get promoted to the Premier League then they’ll suck it up. However, Cardiff fans can be fickle in their support for boards and managers and if things start to go badly the Malaysian owners could quickly find themselves receiving a lot of heat, especially if the currently ludicrously compliant South Wales press start to turn on them.
From a personal standpoint, it feels weird and wrong and like it’s not really my club in the same way anymore. While I’ll be happy if Cardiff get promoted and I’ll look forward to going to some great away matches in London (if I can get tickets), I won’t be dancing in the street or shouting from the rooftops as I would have done if we’d gone up a couple of seasons ago.
Also, that club badge is objectively terrible.
Predicted finish in the Championship this season?
1st, that gap at the top is substantial. If you look at the table the teams from 2nd to 6th are all pretty close to each other points-wise so there will be a lot of competition between them to grab 2nd place. This season is likely to follow the typical Championship template, where one team heads away at the top while the rest give up on chasing them down and concentrate instead on scrapping it out for the final spot. Cardiff have become notorious for blowing promotion chances over the last few years, but this side has a lot more resilience and grit about it, has a bigger lead and instead of being a victim of Championship points-trading will likely be the team that benefits. Also, there’s no distraction from the cups.