“ CARDIFF CITY / SWANSEA ? “

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“ CARDIFF CITY / SWANSEA ? “

Postby Forever Blue » Sat Jun 05, 2021 11:37 am

“ CARDIFF CITY / SWANSEA “

By Glen Williams


Saturday 5th June 2021



On the face of it, 2021-22 looks like being the most open Championship campaign for some time for a variety of reasons.

The three teams coming down from the Premier League, Sheffield United, West Brom and Fulham, had their fates sealed weeks ago and the jury is out on whether they possess the bouncebackability Norwich and West Brom displayed this time around.

Slavisa Jokanovic is a good appointment for The Blades, but they might find the top six going tough.

West Brom don't have a manager at the moment and could lose their Brazilian star turn Matheus Pereira. Their promotion fate will hinge upon those decisions.

Fulham have a squad littered with players who should be excellent at this level, but will they each remain at the club and is Scott Parker the right man to get them in the top two?

For Fulham, read Bournemouth. With Cardiff City, the Cherries were probably the big Championship underachievers in the season just gone. Is Jonathan Woodgate the manager to get the best out of the undoubted talent in that squad and clinch promotion?

Time will tell on the above.






As for the rest, does anyone really stand out?

Barnsley finished fifth - but in doing so they hugely punched above their weight. It will be hard to replicate that, while their excellent midfield driving force and captain Alex Mowatt could join a bigger club this summer.





Mick McCarthy and his Bluebirds could do a lot worse than sign him as Mowatt would be an instant improvement upon any of the midfielders currently on the club's books, exactly the kind of driving force the team needs.

Because of the Neil Warnock factor, under-estimate Middlesbrough at your peril. Same with Chris Hughton and Nottingham Forest, but neither side set the world on fire with the season just gone and whether they can win enough matches is open to question.

Stoke have money, a good manager in Michael O'Neill and good players - but they've just finished 14th, which is hardly the sign of a team about to make the top two next time around.

Reading, Blackburn, QPR, Bristol City, Derby - are any of those really fancied promotion sides?

Same with Millwall, Birmingham, Preston, Coventry, Luton and Huddersfield.

Peterborough and Hull, a couple of the teams who have come up, might be interesting to watch, but it's asking an awful lot for them to get into the top six.

Blackpool? Forget it.





“ CARDIFF C / SWANSEA C “



Which brings us on to Cardiff and Swansea and the opportunities that might present themselves to the Welsh clubs.

Each have a busy summer of wheeling and dealing ahead, Cardiff's is already in full flow, so what can we expect?





The Bluebirds have the core of a good team who, under McCarthy, will be difficult to beat. Solid at the back, hard working, with their fanatical fans back to roar them on, the key will be turning draws into wins.

To that end a quality replacement is required for Harry Wilson at 10, a goal scoring winger, a midfielder of Mowatt's stature and a really good left-back after Joe Bennett's departure.

Plus keeping hold of Kieffer Moore, it goes without saying - which might not be easy if he has a good Euros with Wales.

Many fans would also like Cardiff to sign a ball-playing centre-back with pace, enabling them to push further up the pitch, but it appears McCarthy is happy enough with his triumvirate of Sean Morrison, Aden Flint and Curtis Nelson.

As such, Cardiff have the foundations in place, even if at the moment the team doesn't look quite as strong on paper as the personnel available under Neil Harris last season.



However, in McCarthy Cardiff have a proven winner at this level, a manager who makes the most of the sum of the parts.

Where they are lacking is in stardust in three or four areas of the team to make the picture more complete. Unfortunately those players tend to cost money - and in the current situation, with Vincent Tan said to be burning £2m a month on the club, the owner is hardly going to release the purse strings further.

Therein is Cardiff's dilemma. They are so close to having a side who can make a real charge at promotion - yet they are also so far away too because of the need to cut the cost base.

As such, it may prove to be a season of stability when the wage bill continues to be trimmed, gifted youngsters such as Ruben Colwill, Tom Sang and Joel Bagan are exposed to more Championship game time and Cardiff make more of a proper push for promotion the following year.



However, with Big Mick's undoubted managerial shrewdness, momentum from a good start, the passionate fans back to roar them on and a few quality recruitments, these Bluebirds could yet reach higher in what looks a wide open division.








Forty-odd miles down the road, Cardiff's arch-rivals Swansea face an even bigger summer overhaul.

Many of their core players may have made their final appearances for the club - Andre Ayew, March Ghuei, Conor Hourihane and Freddie Woodman among them.

They could well receive summer offers for Connor Roberts, if he too stars at the Euros, and skipper Matt Grimes, who some feel possesses the ability to play at a higher level.

Of more pressing concern is the potential loss of manager Steve Cooper, who is being heavily linked with Crystal Palace and West Brom after the outstanding work he has produced in taking the Swans into the play-offs two seasons in a row.

Cooper did a brilliant job in season one, building the team around loan signings and youngsters, with a dash of Ayew magic and Grimes' midfield leadership.

The achievements of season two were even better, but having failed to overcome Brentford at Wembley Cooper and the Swans are facing something of a watershed moment.

Some Swans fans will be happy for the manager to go, bemoaning the style of play, yet that doesn't do justice to the way he has had the team punching way above its weight for two seasons on the trot.
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