' What a difference a year makes '

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' What a difference a year makes '

Postby Forever Blue » Tue Sep 12, 2017 3:22 pm

How Neil Warnock put right the wrongs that saw Cardiff City smashed at Preston nearly a year ago to the day - Wales Online

By Tom Coleman

Tuesday 12th September 2017

What a difference a year makes.

A 3-0 hammering saw Preston condemn City, then under Paul Trollope, to their worst start in a league campaign for 12 years.

If this defeat wasn't rock bottom for the Bluebirds under Trollope, it was pretty damn close to it.

The former Bristol Rovers boss would last another five games before eventually being shown the door at the start of October, with the possibility of slipping into the third tier of English football for the first time in nearly 15 years becoming an alarmingly real possibility.

Given that so many members of Neil Warnock's current early pacesetters were a part of that ill-fated night at Deepdale, it arguably brings the scale of the turnaround under the Yorkshireman into ever sharper focus.

Seven of the 11 players that started in Lancashire a year ago are still here, and yet a 3-0 defeat this time around would come as a monumental surprise given their monstrous start to this campaign, but then again it's clear that Warnock has managed to right a lot of wrongs.

So, how exactly does a team go from enduring their worst start for 12 years to sealing their best start ever in the space of just under a year?

It's nearly 12 months to the day since Cardiff City saw a miserable start to the season plunge to a new depth at a stormy Deepdale.

Warnock's brought out the best in his centre-back pairing

"We didn't have the basics in place in terms of defensive responsibility, defensive desire, so for those two things not to come together in the first period was very disappointing". That was Trollope's main stinging assessment following that miserable defeat to the Lilywhites.

The Bluebirds left the north-west having conceded 12 goals in their first seven league games. For Warnock's class of 2017 to repeat that tally they would need to let Preston bag nine goals.

Sean Morrison, whose future at the Cardiff City Stadium was called into question in the summer, has formed one of the strongest defensive partnerships in the league with Sol Bamba, both of whom have shown plenty of the "responsibility" and "desire" that Trollope so craved.

Keeping Morrison on as Cardiff captain has clearly handed the 26-year-old a massive confidence boost. Warnock trusts him, and it's a decision that's been vindicated with some confident and assured performances.

Bamba too clearly has a great rapport with his boss, recently describing him as a "father figure", while Bruno Manga has proved himself a more than capable deputy when called upon.

It all combines to create a formidable defensive force that clearly believes in its boss.

Everyone knows their job, especially in midfield

The last time Cardiff visited Deepdale, the shape of the team was arguably a mess. After seeing his regular 5-3-2 formation fail, Trollope eventually chose to chase the game by switching to 4-3-3.

Yet his side struggled to adapt, leaving the likes of Joe Ralls, who's become a big favourite of Warnock given his stunning start to the current season, to aimlessly wander the centre of the park without really making a contribution here nor there.

Kadeem Harris, meanwhile, found himself at full-back, despite having little to no defensive ability in his locker, while Anthony Pilkington just seemed lost, changing his role too often to really make an impression.

While Warnock has already demonstrated a willingness to adapt his formation, it never seems to come at the cost of performances.

There's more adaptability to this side, although Warnock has always been a big fan of players that can win a midfield battle without losing their shape.

It's not necessarily to everyone's taste, but it's made the Bluebirds a very difficult team to break down.

Critics will often try to push the lazy assessment that Cardiff are guilty of pushing Warnock's "direct style" onto their opponents, but themanager does have some genuinely potent attacking options at his disposal, particularly in the wide areas.

Junior Hoilett has enjoyed something of a renaissance under Warnock's stewardship, while Player of the Month Nathaniel Mendez-Laing is a winger that can cause problems for the Championship's most fearsome defences.

Kenneth Zohore is a striker more than capable of playing on his own up front

Was that fateful night in Lancashire the beginning of the end for Rickie Lambert's Cardiff career? The former Liverpool striker produced arguably one of his most frustrating performances in a Cardiff shirt, although in his defence he was often isolated by his team-mates in the final third.

His struggles in front of goal continued long after the storm of Deepdale had blown over, with just four strikes to his name for the rest of the season.

In fairness, the arrival of Zohore largely limited his first team opportunities, but given the Dane's impact in South Wales, it isn't too difficult to see why.

His goals proved vital in helping to steer Cardiff away from trouble, and he's proving just as integral this term.

Although he only has one league goal to his name so far this campaign, Zohore's all-round contribution has been massive.

The striker is second only to Hoilett in terms of assists made this season, and has also created seven chances for his team.

Even if Zohore can't quite produce the impact needed, Warnock can call on the likes of Danny Ward from the bench, who perhaps gave his boss a headache with his superb equaliser at Fulham at the weekend.
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Re: ' What a difference a year makes '

Postby davids » Wed Sep 13, 2017 6:18 am

Was there last year and was there last night.

Very similar performances unfortunately - piss poor.

Had to keep checking the touchline to make sure Trollope hadn't returned to the dugout. :o
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