Cardiff’s season has gone from strength to strength with The Bluebirds yet to drop below fourth in the table. Can you summarise what you’ve seen over the past few months?
A lot of people have said that Cardiff’s success has come from them being a direct and physical team, but it hasn’t always been about that. They’ve often relied on the consistency of Junior Hoilett, the energy of Joe Ralls in central midfield and then a very solid defence. Neil Warnock has managed to fuse those things together and boost the squad’s morale and confidence with a few January signings, which is why they’ve been able to pick up from a poor Christmas period. They are very effective and know their strengths and weaknesses, which is probably one of the biggest reasons for their success.
Cardiff responded well after the last of those four defeats on New Year’s Day and are yet to be beaten since; do you think they’ve got what it takes to secure automatic promotion?
There’s still a long way to go. They’ve got crucial away games against Aston Villa and Derby County on the horizon, but I think they are a shoo-in for the Play-Offs. I can’t see them dropping off or having a slump as bad as those four festive defeats, but I’d say that the jury is out as to whether they’ve got it in them to challenge for the automatic places. Stranger things have happened and they seem to be rolling on with a lot of confidence at present.
Warnock is aiming for a record eighth promotion this season - how much of an impact has he had at the club?
Warnock’s had a huge impact – you can’t underestimate it. He’s installed a can-do mentality; people who were underperforming are now performing above and beyond what you might expect of them. Certain individuals like Ralls and Sean Morrison – who were already at the club - have been transformed and he’s brought in the likes of Hoilett and Sol Bamba who have become fulcrums of the team. He’s also added a few players such as Nathaniel Mendez-Laing and most recently Gary Madine in January who are both very physical. 18 months ago, Warnock took over a club that was underperforming and on its knees - it’s been all change since. No one would have expected Cardiff to be in the top two at this stage, but they are still there.
How are Cardiff likely to set up on Tuesday?
It’s difficult to say as Warnock has been known to change it up quite a lot. He will try and fit his three centre-backs – Sean Morrison, Bamba and Bruno Manga – into the line-up, which usually means Manga slotting in at right-back. I can see it being something like a 4-3-3 with Hoilett and Mendez-Laing out wide, Kenneth Zohore up top, Ralls, Marko Grujic and probably Craig Bryson as the midfield three and then the back four with the aforementioned three and Joe Bennett at left-back. Warnock likes to pick specific teams for specific games so half that team could end up being different, you never know!
What is your score prediction for the game?
I think Cardiff will probably be happy with a draw away from home. I think it will be quite an open game as I know Brentford play quite attacking football, so I’ll go for 2-2.
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