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Cardiff City Championship Highlights

After narrowly avoiding relegation to Football League One during each of the past two seasons, Cardiff City has bounced back nicely to begin the 2023-2024 campaign, sitting near the top third of the league with more than half a season to play.

Last season, the Bluebirds needed help from Reading F.C. to maintain their position in the second flight of English Football. Reading was deducted six points after they breached the terms of a previously-agreed upon business plan — itself stemming from a prior rules breach — which caused them to fall to the No. 22 spot in the table and thus, relegation.

A Look at the Standings

Right now, Cardiff City is on the outside looking in for fans looking to hang their hat on a Championship League trophy. That’s because Leicester City is off to the races, leading the table with 49 points and a 16-1-3 record in 20 matches. Roughly halfway through the 46 game schedule, there’s plenty of time for Cardiff — who sits at 9-3-8, good for 30 points and a respectable ninth place at the end of play on Tuesday — to make a push for the top of the standings, though it won’t be easy.

If you look at some of the Best Betting Apps in the UK, the Bluebirds have the eleventh-best odds (listed at or around +2800 to do so) of finishing in the top three and being promoted to the Premier League. It’s a nice bounceback for a club that has struggled to stay afloat in recent years, and here are some of the moments that have helped define Cardiff City’s return to prominence.

Managerial Search Ends In Success?

The Bluebirds went through managers with reckless aplomb over the past two seasons, hiring and firing four different managers since the start of 2022. Last season, with the threat of relegation looming more and more as the season went on, Cardiff went through three different managers, grasping at straws for anything that could keep them from dropping down to Football League One.

They succeeded in that quest, obviously, as January hire Sabri Lamouchi guided the Bluebirds to a pair of successful streaks in February and late April that helped them survive. Cardiff didn’t retain Lamouchi moving forward, however, instead testing the open market again when they brought in Erol Bulut in early June.

The early returns on the Bulut era have been promising: not just in terms of the standings, but because of how he’s overhauled the team’s culture. Cardiff defender Jamilu Collins said following the team’s 1-0 win over Millwall on Saturday that Bulut’s presence on the team is a ‘blessing’ because he knows how to find the balance between being friendly with his players while still running a tight ship.

Collins knows better than many how to tell the good managers from the bad ones, as he signed with Cardiff in May 2022, just before the losing began in bunches.

September Win Streak

While things are clicking smoothly under Bulut now, the start of the season seemed like it could become more of the same. Cardiff opened the season with three matches against the current top of the standings — Leeds United, Leicester City and Ipswich Town — in their first five contests, playing to a draw against Leeds before one-goal affairs to Leicester and Ipswich.

The Bluebirds’ showed they could hang tough with the most difficult opponents the Championship has to offer, then saw their increased standard of turn into results in the win column as they reeled off four straight wins to close out the month of September, outscoring their opponents 8-2.

Kicking off that streak was a dominant 2-0 win over rival Swansea City, the highest-attended home match of the season so far as the Bluebirds faithful came out in force to see Cardiff dominate their biggest opponents. Controlling the rivalry matchups has been an encouraging theme for Cardiff this season, as they also knocked off Bristol by the same 2-0 margin.

Cardiff went 1-3 against their chief rivals last season, so it was nice to get back in the win column, securing bragging rights until they meet on the pitch next.

After the past few seasons, there’s been depressingly little for Bluebirds fans to brag about, but that could change soon. All in all, chairman Mehmet Dalman has done a nice job of executing a fast rebuild for Cardiff. Whether he can build a team strong enough to return to the Premier League for the first time since 2019 remains to be seen, but hope springs eternal in the Welsh capital after a few years in the wilderness.