Back in May, Cardiff City achieved promotion to the Premier League. It was a remarkable feat for manager Neil Warnock, who won a record eighth promotion. Less than a year later, Cardiff and Warnock are once again staring into the abyss of relegation.
Cardiff failed to win any of their first eight matches this season, losing six and drawing two. They notched their first win against Fulham but were unable to build on it. Their form has been inconsistent. Crushing defeats to Watford, Everton, and Wolverhampton have pushed Warnock’s team into the relegation zone. In fact, not even a rousing win over West Ham United was able to pull Cardiff out of the bottom three.
Cardiff vs. Everton highlights
In December, Warnock expressed both satisfaction and optimism about Cardiff’s season so far. “We’ve performed extremely well this season, especially at home,” Warnock pointed out to The Independent. He added, “We’ve exceeded the expectations of the majority of the media experts, we’ve shown our fighting spirit and I don’t believe we get the credit we deserve.” Warnock also dismissed the idea that Cardiff need to change their approach and be more physical and “nastier” on the pitch, as that won’t help his club put points on the board.
Given Cardiff’s nosedive into the relegation zone, however, Warnock may actually have to revisit his earlier decision. The Bluebirds look destined to be relegated as their struggles continue. Scoring remains an issue, and their defensive record isn’t helping. It’s no wonder then that the Premier League listings on bwin have Cardiff among the favourites to be relegated this season. With the way they have been playing, that exact scenario may ultimately play out, much to the disappointment of The Bluebirds and loyal fans. Still, there’s a sliver of hope around Cardiff that they can beat the drop.
If Warnock wants Cardiff to avoid relegation, he will have to alter the team’s approach. Over the years, Warnock’s teams have been renowned for being physically imposing, but his Cardiff team seem to be lacking that aggressive edge. Tactically, Warnock has to try and make his team harder to beat, and scoring goals is also a major issue.
The good news for Cardiff is that the old warhorse is perfectly capable of turning things around. He did, after all, lead the club to promotion, so there’s no reason why he can’t help them avoid the drop. But this is without doubt one of the biggest tasks Warnock has ever taken on. And it could be his last in football management at the age of 70.
Ironically, one thing going for Warnock as he tries to steady the ship is the Emiliano Sala tragedy. There is hope that it will galvanise the team, and collectively they’ll pull together to get out of trouble. It goes without saying; it would be the perfect tribute in what has been a very testing season for all involved.
An emotional night for Cardiff after the Emiliano Sala tragedy.