From Mackay to Solskjaer: Cardiff Afterlife

Cardiff City won the then called npower Championship and now the Sky Bet Championship last year, gaining a trophy and a place in this season’s Premier League. The Welsh club joined the league with a point to prove that they can survive in the best league in the world and that they are the better Welsh side out of the two in the Premier League, Cardiff and Swansea.

From Mackay to Solskjaer: Cardiff Afterlife

Malky Mackay started the season as coach and had a bright start as manager for the Bluebirds with a home 3-2 win to Manchester City, a win away from home to Fulham and a win in the Welsh derby against Swans. However, results weren’t going the way that Cardiff wanted and were soon stuck in and around the relegation area. Mackay was playing some nice football and his philosophies seemed to move Cardiff in the right direction. The newly promoted side were struggling with the new league they entered and owner Vincent Tan made the knee-jerk decision to sack Mackay. Everyone wanted him to stay, however the owner’s decision went first and the Scotsman was soon out the door.

Cardiff soon chose to bring in Manchester United legend and former Molde boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as Mackay’s replacement. Solskjaer had only recently started his career as a manager and had a successful stint with Molde where the 40 year-old Norwegian won two championships and one cup trophy. He started working with the Bluebirds on the 2nd of January where he had the whole month to chop and change his side to one he deemed suitable and would keep the Welsh club in the Premier League.

Solskjaer brought in English wonderkid Wilfried Zaha on loan from Premier League Champions Manchester United as well as Fabio Da Silva, from the same club. The Welsh side signed Trindad and Tobago international Kenywne Jones from Stoke City to bolster their firepower and the Norwegian chose to trust his former players after recruiting Magnus Eikrem, Mat Daehli and Jo Inge Berget, from Heerenveen and Molde respectively. Eikrem spent half a year with the Dutch club which he joined from Molde in the summer however the youngster wanted to follow Solskjaer and play first team Premier League football.

Cardiff under their new manager started very well with an away win to Newcastle at St James’ Park in the FA Cup third round, winning the game 2-1 with a late turn around – scoring the two goals in the last 20 minutes. This looked like the impressive start would help the team kick on and get into a run of form. However it has been completely the opposite. It took almost a month to win a Premier League game after losses to West Ham, Manchester City and Manchester United. The 2-1 win against Norwich looked again like it would boost confidence in the players but that hasn’t been the case. Solskjaer and his men haven’t won since then and have only picked up one point in the last three games.  Cardiff are now sitting 19th in the league with just 22 points. They seem to have really only got worse since the Ole Gunnar Solskjaer appointment and with Vincent Tan as their owner, I do not see the young Norwegian coach being with the side for much longer.

So, have Cardiff improved and moved into a positive direction after the Malky Mackay sacking? Personally, I do not think so as I believe Mackay wasn’t doing the worst job there and if he really deserved to be sacked I think an experienced coach should have been appointed, like Fulham now have in Felix Magath. He would have helped Cardiff grind their way through games and really work hard to survive with the big boys. I just don’t believe that Solskjaer has the mindset to help a team survive in the Premier League and really don’t think he is ready for the Premier League at the moment. His philosophy to play possession football will not work against most sides as they know how to keep the ball and use it better. The teams that Cardiff can use this tactic against can suffer lots of opposition dominance however the Bluebirds haven’t looked strong enough up top, even with the addition of Jones. It says it all that Cardiff have only scored 19 goals in 27 games in the Premier League, the second lowest goals scored, with only Crystal Palace behind them.

So, Cardiff have taken a backwards step in my opinion with the panic January buys and the poor choice of manager to appoint. I believe Cardiff will go down and finish bottom of the table. However I do think, if Solskjaer is given time with Cardiff in the Championship, he can coach them to play their football and they should have immediate promotion on their minds.


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