It’s clear the Bluebirds need to find more firepower if they are to stand any chance of staying in the Premier League.
Manager Neil Warnock knows that, owner Vincent Tan is certainly in no doubt that extra quality is required and Cardiff City fans won’t need any persuading.
Their team battled magnificently in their Premier clash against Everton at Goodison Park, but they were edged out 1-0 after Gylfi Sigurdsson produced a second half winner.
Warnock is already planning his January raids with a right-back, creative midfield player and a centre-forward on his shopping list. It won’t be easy to find the right men, but if anybody can find a jewel or two at the right price then Warnock is the man.
City know exactly who they want and Warnock says: “We’d like to bring in maybe three or four players and we’d like those to be our number one targets.
“That might prove a little bit difficult but, you have got to ask the question really.
“Everton paid £45m for a striker and £50m for a midfielder. We are not anywhere near that sort of level, but I do feel we can improve the squad to give us a fighting chance.
“We’re going to have to do a bit of shopping. If we are to stay up we have to have that little bit more quality which we’re looking at now.
“But it’s not easy in January. Even the big clubs find it difficult.
“Vincent (Tan) has been really receptive and so have the board. So we have to do the best we can.
“When they see how close we are, we need that little bit more quality.
“We have a right-back up front (Callum Paterson) and he’s doing really well, but that little bit more quality and nous in certain areas is what we need.
“I can’t fault the lads. Once again they they were super.”
The trip to Merseyside was always going to be tough for the Bluebirds. Everton are an established top flight club – and it’s 92 years since Cardiff won against the Toffees away (December 1926, 1-0 with Hughie Ferguson scoring).
Everton are unbeaten in their last 13 home league games against newly-promoted sides, winning 11 of those matches, including the last nine.
City battled, they fought, scrapped and dug in with commitment, intensity and aggression. They are not far away from being really competitive among clubs in the lower half of the table, but they lack that touch of quality.
Sigurdsson’s close range finish proved the difference when he tapped home after goalkeeper Neil Etheridge had saved from Theo Walcott.
Everton had 71 per cent of possession, but Bluebirds players gave everything they had.
Paterson battled bravely, but he is a player operating out of position and trying to feed off scraps. His only real chance came near the end when he headed over.
The Bluebirds have lost four successive away games against strong opposition – Tottenham, Chelsea, Liverpool and Everton – but Warnock was pleased with the effort shown by his team, saying: “Everton were better than us in the final third, but I can’t fault my players.
“We were well organised, but we need to be a bit more clinical. There were some fine margins that went against us and I wasn’t happy with two incidents before their goal.”
The Bluebirds boss felt Cardiff should have been awarded a free-kick just before Sigurdsson’s winner when Kadeem Harris was fouled, while referee Paul Tierney awarded Everton a throw-in when it should have gone to Cardiff.
“We controlled the match and deserved all three points,” said Everton manager Marco Silva. “We started slowly and against a strong, defensive team. We need to be faster.
“In the second half, we gave them more problems and we were mature in the final minutes to clinch the win.”
Víctor Camarasa went for goal after 72 minutes and goalkeeper Jordan Pickford saved last full stretch, but there were few chances for the visitors.
Greg Cunningham was unfortunate when when burst down the left and seemed to be brought down by fellow Irishman Seamus Coleman.
Referee Tierney judged that Coleman touched the ball and awarded the hosts a goal-kick.
“It was a disappointing goal to concede, a few little things didn’t go for us,” said Warnock. “When you come away it’s a bit more difficult to take. That wasn’t a great goal, but it cost us the game.
“We could have earned all three points and I told the lads that at half-time. We could have done better in the final third during the first half, though.
“When you look at their last few performances they have been as good as anyone else in the Premier League and to come here and nullify them as much as we did was pleasing.”
The away section was sold out and Warnock said: “Our fans were amazing.
“We lost, but they stayed to clap everyone off. We’re all trying our hardest to stay in the best league in the world, and when you have fans like that it’s amazing how they keep lifting the players.
“That’s why I’m still managing in my 70th year – to keep proving people wrong. We’re not going to give up, we had to work hard last season and surprised a few people then.
“Every player came off having given me everything and that’s all I can ask for as a manager.”
The next test for City is against Wolves at home next Friday and Warnock said: “We have to make home games count. It’s a tasty game against Wolves, we’ll have a full house again and we’ll give them a good game.”
Everton: Pickford, Keane, Gomes, Sigurdsson (Zouma 90), Walcott (Lookman 73), Digne, Mina, Gueye, Bernard (Tosun 77), Coleman, Richarlison. Subs not used: Stekelenburg, Baines, Davies, Calvert-Lewin.
Referee: Paul Tierney