Cardiff City have at least given themselves a chance
Image Via: John Candy/Wikipedia Creative Commons
At the season's start, I think it's fair to suggest that the majority thought Cardiff City would head straight back down to the Championship. In the Premier League's early-goings, the Bluebirds were certainly living up to that billing.
However, we're now close to a third of the way through the campaign and things are looking somewhat brighter for the Welsh side. Sure, they may still be sitting in the relegation zone in eighteenth place, but at least they've given themselves an opportunity...
Things are so tight down at the bottom that one victory could see Cardiff leap up into fourteenth place. Right now, they're in the thick of it rather than sitting way off the pace at the bottom of the table. For that, credit has to go to Neil Warnock. He may not be the most expansive, expressive manager in the modern-day game, but he certainly knows how to grind out results.
Cardiff's performance last time out sums up their manager perfectly. Against Brighton & Hove Albion, it was the grit and determination that earned all three points. The hosts found themselves 1-0 down early on thanks to a Lewis Dunk goal. Callum Patterson had equalised before the half-hour mark, then came a huge turning point at Brighton's Dale Stephens saw red. From that point forward, the Bluebirds controlled the game, amassing a total of 20 shots on goal. In the dying embers, it looked as though they'd have to settle for a point; up steps Sol Bamba, to win the game in injury time and send the Cardiff City Stadium into absolute raptures.
In the transfer market, Cardiff followed the Huddersfield Town approach from the summer previous. They know they can't afford to spend huge sums of money to bring in the biggest and best players on the market. Instead, they've made astute deals that suits Warnock's footballing style. The signing of Josh Murphy for around £10million was their big splurge. He's done pretty well.
That cautious mantra is what installed Cardiff as the bookies' favourites to head straight back down, ironically, they're ahead of Fulham, who were also promoted in the season just gone. The Cottagers spent around £100million this year, they don't look like a team, they aren't fighting for each other. So far, that's the difference.
Cardiff have some winnable fixtures coming up. Looking at the calendar, my eye immediately darts to a home game against Southampton on December 8th, then early on in 2019, they also host Huddersfield Town at the Cardiff City Stadium. Come May, these games are the ones you'll look back on. Winning the head-to-head battle against the teams in and around you, particularly at home, is so often the difference. No doubt they'll be roared on by their passionate fans, but in these pressure situations, it's up to the players to execute and deliver. It sounds cliche, but it's oh so true...
Yes, it's still early. However, Cardiff fans have something to be hopeful about. They're in with a shot, at the campaign's start, they'd have snapped your hand off to be in this position.