Cardiff wobbling, but still confident – Interview
Sunday, 31st Dec 2017 16:36 by Clive Whittingham
Our man in Cardiff Jamie Kemble explains City’s Christmas wobble, and hopes that Neil Warnock’s January additions work as well as they did for QPR in 2010/11.
Bit of a wobble recently, what’s occurring?
JK: In short, the team is littered with injuries to the point of having two fit centre midfielders for Friday's defeat to Preston. Morrison, Gunnarsson, Harris, Richards, Ward, Bennett are all out and most teams would miss those players. A less-than-half fit Kenneth Zohore is being forced to get his fitness on the pitch and the team is desperate to get a couple of bodies back, or indeed in from other clubs in January. Besides the fact that every club has a wobble, just like Warnock did at QPR at this time during their title-winning season, winning one in five over Christmas, it just appears that injuries are catching up with the Bluebirds and even the players who have been fit are feeling the strain.
Potential January reinforcements?
JK: Yes. Warnock said following last night's game that he will be putting three names to the board. There isn't too much cash to spend so it will be either three loans or two loans and a permanent.
Presumably well happy with Neil Warnock? How’s he done it yet again?
JK: You'll know Warnock even better than we do. There are not silly over-complicated ideas. It's not route one as many think either, Cardiff have torn teams apart this season with excellent wing play, but there is a simplicity to it and that's what Warnock does. There's a back four, albeit that's been torn apart with injuries at the moment, that has been incredibly solid and all of the players want to go to war for him. That's the biggest thing.
How do you use Hoilett? He was mostly garbage for us.
JK: Hoilett has added a real quality to Cardiff City and while he did so last season as well, he wasn't fully fit having missed out on a pre-season. This season, he had a full pre-season on top of a Gold Cup campaign with Canada in the summer and while he's feeling the strain now after being heavily relied on through injuries on the other wing, he will surely return to his fine form. He's scored six and assisted six, I believe, and he really has been a quality player. Between him and Mendez-Laing, teams haven't been given a way out and it has crusheda number of clubs, including Leeds, Aston Villa and others too.
Stand out players and weak links in the side?
JK: It's a tough time to answer that question because of the recent wobble. Though usually, the likes of Mendez-Laing, Hoilett, Zohore and Joe Ralls are the players who govern the game. Sol Bamba has probably been the player of the season so far, hardly putting a foot wrong. Sean Morrison was also excellent next to him but he won't feature against QPR through injury. Weak links? Peltier is a solid defender but can be done for pace. Bruno Ecuele-manga has been poor at centre-back at times this season and Neil Etheridge hasn't always been convincing in goal. Though, just add some context, this team are third in the league so I'm probably being more harsh than I need to be. The league position probably tells you there aren't many weak links as such.
Will you see promotion through? What or who are the main threats?
JK: Look, there's a long way to go and we all know the Championship. The play-offs were the target for Cardiff, who only spent a net £1.5 million in the summer, compared to Wolves and Bristol City's combined spending of more than £30 million. Cardiff beat Wolves at Molineux earlier in the season and while it was a hard-working win, it was also rather convincing, they won every battle on the pitch. Wolves haven't had their wobble yet, and Bristol City usually struggle a little at the back-end. Wolves may win the league, but I think everyone feels their injury troubles will come and they will have their tough spells. Where you finish in the Championship is defined by how you handle the bad times. That aside, Cardiff would be perfectly happy going up in second or even the play-offs. Derby are the team I see as biggest rivals for second spot and they are another to spend a lot of money over the years. Cardiff only need around half the points available in the second half of the season to finish in the top six, or if they pick up the same average as they got in the first 25 they'll be up in second place. The next month, how they come out of this injury-plagued tough period may define whether they are top two contenders or whether they'll look to the play-offs, but there is belief. Even when things go wrong the fans are behind the team and there's a trust in the manager not seen since the last promotion. No one's kidding themselves, there's a long way to go and looking at Cardiff's squad in comparison to other teams, they are underdogs. Having said that, from what I've seen this season, they are certainly contenders for second place.
The Twitter @loftforwords, @jamiekemble
Pictures – Action Images
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