Cardiff are eighth in the Championship table at the time of writing, eight points outside the play-off places with just a few weeks of the season remaining. How would you summarise what has been an interesting first quarter of 2021?
It has been full of ups and downs. There has been the brilliant start under Mick McCarthy and the South Wales derby win against Swansea, which was a real highlight, but there have also been some lows of late. The 5-0 drubbing at Sheffield Wednesday was particularly humbling for the Bluebirds. That is the nature of the Championship, though, I suppose, you have to take the rough with the smooth and make sure those bad times are nipped in the bud at the earliest opportunity.
As you said, Mick McCarthy took over from Neil Harris in January and picked up the Manager of the Month award after six straight wins in February. Just how much of an impact has he had at the club so far?
He has been terrific since joining in January. He gave the club a much-needed boost and steered them well clear of what was becoming a looming threat of a relegation battle. By and large, he has stabilised them. They are no frills but they are solid and tough to beat, that Sheffield Wednesday result aside. He has just tweaked the formation, which makes them a little more defensive, but it was needs must at the time.
At the time of writing, the Bluebirds have lost three of their last five league games and have also only scored two goals across that time. Do you think the play-offs are still a realistic target at this point?
The play-off dream was put to bed up at Hillsborough, I think. Coming back after the international break it was a real possibility, but losses to Nottingham Forest and Wednesday over the Easter weekend really put paid to those ambitions. Fans aren't bemoaning it too much, though, because when McCarthy took over, his remit was to push them away from the bottom, which he has done.
Which player should Brentford fans be keeping an eye on?
There is always the threat of Harry Wilson. He is so talented and has the ability to carve open any defence in this division, if used properly. He will no doubt be the centre of many Brentford team analysis sessions pre-match.
And then also Kieffer Moore, Cardiff's top scorer. The Wales international has just slowed down a little of late, but he poses the greatest threat aerially. He averages more than 11 aerial duel wins per game, comfortably the most in the division. The centre backs can expect a physical afternoon with him leading the line, that's for sure.
How is McCarthy likely to set up his side at the Brentford Community Stadium?
He has chopped and changed a little of late, but has stuck with the same core group. Everyone being fit, I would expect: Phillips; Morrison, Flint, Nelson; Sang, Vaulks, Pack, Ng; Wilson, Bacuna, Moore.
Brentford came from behind to edge a five-goal thriller in the last meeting on Boxing Day. What’s your score prediction this time around?
Brentford 2-1 Cardiff.
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