The doom and gloom of relegation under Paul Trollope appears but a distant memory for Cardiff City. Here is how Neil Warnock’s instant impact has improved their fortunes.
Cardiff City: Warnock’s instant impact
The doom and gloom amongst the Bluebirds fans was instantly lifted due to the appointment of Neil Warnock. The 67-year old is looking for what would be a record-breaking eighth promotion by a single manager in England.
A favoured appointment from the supporters saw Neil Warnock’s first game against bitter local rivals Bristol City. It also saw the biggest home crowd since the home league match against Bolton Wanderers in the 2015-2016 season. All four of Warnock’s free-transfers—Sol Bamba, Junior Hoilett, Marouane Chamakh and Kieron Richardson—were included in the match-day squad. 22,776 observed one of the best games at the Cardiff City Stadium since the club’s relegation from the Premier League.
The style and quality of football was lacking for most of the game, yet the fierce passion showed by a team who have looked beleaguered all season made this an enthralling encounter.
The Bluebirds came out with a 2-1 win with impressive performances all-round, including a debutant Junior Hoilett, who impressed on the wing. Man of the Match debutant Sol Bamba was a rock at the back and popped up to score what was eventually the deciding goal.
Peter Whittingham scored a penalty after Craig Noone was brought down by Joe Bryan. After Bamba scored a second, Bristol City’s Lee Tomlin scored a cracker from 25 yards outside the box.
Five celebratory evenings later, Cardiff City hosted the impressive Sheffield Wednesday, who pipped City to the final play-off spot last season. The Bluebirds went ahead from a typically brilliant left-footed free-kick from the effervescent Whittingham. Wednesday pulled back to earn a point with Daniel Pudil’s second-half tap-in.
Warnock’s first away match was against Nottingham Forest, who are struggling with off-field issues. The Bluebirds should have capitalised on a defensive lapse which saw Joe Ralls break free from the Forest defence. One-on-one with the ‘keeper, he pulled his shot wide of the post. The Bluebirds did capitalise from the next lapse in concentration with Aron Gunnarsson scoring a free-header from a Whittingham corner.
The lead was doubled when Craig Noone stole possession near the corner flag. He whipped in a low cross to Anthony Pilkington, who hit it straight at the ‘keeper. The rebound fell kindly to Ralls, who headed home. Forest did pull a goal back in the second half from a 90th minute penalty, meaning the Bluebirds have only kept one clean sheet all season, coming on the opening day against Birmingham City.
Passion is a word fans love to use when describing the team’s performances. Dire football with 100% commitment is most welcome. Trollope’s clean-cut passing style lacked any desire which is why the fans and the players lost all confidence. Warnock’s appointment has made an instant impact on the squad’s results too; seven points from three league matches almost eclipses Trollope’s eight points from eleven matches.
Cardiff will be looking for their first back-to-back wins of the season against Wigan, who sit 23rd in the table. The Latics are winless away from home, having taken just two points away from the DW Stadium all season. Rickie Lambert is a doubt for the home fixture against struggling Wigan Athletic after suffering a nasty cut against Forest. Nevertheless, Warnock should be expecting to pick up another three points here.