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Bluebird’s baptism of fire at Bournemouth brings optimism

Bluebird’s baptism of fire at Bournemouth brings optimism

Bournemouth away match preview

Cardiff City began their Premier League campaign yesterday with a tough two nil defeat to Bournemouth AFC; there is room for optimism and the City faithful shouldn’t be worried.  Let’s take a look at the reasons why….

  1. Last season’s first choice eleven MAY not cut-it at Premier League level.

Obvious perhaps but nevertheless it’s worth analyzing.  Neil Warnock has been clear since promotion was achieved in May that the way the bluebirds would approach this season would be different to many others.

Clearly he has been burnt by his past experience as a Premier League manager; no more so than at QPR where his transfer activity was severely curtailed and his precious team spirit was ruined by big egos and disgruntled prima donnas.  Warnock was adamant that most of the team that achieved promotion would get their chance as he was a man of his word.

Many of us were surprised by his selection for the opening game but when you look at the various components that led to the lineup (injuries to Gunnarsson and Zohore, Arter’s ineligibility and Camarasa’s late arrival) it should surprise no one that he started with what was potentially his strongest defense.

We can quibble over whether Bamba should’ve played as a central defensive midfielder or why Peltier started when Patterson or Richard may have been better suited but the reality is Warnock has seen those players perform for him time and again and they have to start somewhere.

Overall, whilst yesterday’s starting XI seemed a strange selection we should always remind ourselves that Warnock et al have the best view of the situation and work with the quad day in, day out.  I like many others would expect changes going forward but I am not one to write them off completely either.

Summary: Last season’s first XI will probably struggle but there’s no indication that this is NW’s preferred option going forward.

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  1. Josh Murphy is a game-changer and should start the next game

I wish I could enlighten you all as to why Josh Murphy began the game on the bench but I can’t, that decision is a mystery to me too except for Warnock clearly being keen to give last season’s heroes a shot at the top.

Murphy entered the fray on the 63rd minute for the mostly ineffective Mendez-Laing and immediately injected a fresh sense of purpose and enthusiasm into the bluebirds’ front line. His link up play with the mostly frustrated Bobby Reid was definitely something to work on going forward and offered the bluebirds hope that in him, there is someone who can take the game by the scruff of the neck and help put the opposition on the back foot.

Summary: Murphy should start the game against Newcastle at the expense of Mendez Laing who may take some time to find his feet in the Premier League.

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  1. Cardiff City will be competitive even against the teams who retain the ball well

Under Eddie Howe, the cherries have become renowned for playing “good football” by which we mean they retain the ball well and prefer to keep it down on the ground where possible.  It was always going to be the case that they retained the majority of the possession as this has never been something that concerned Warnock.

Warnock ethos is “it’s not important how often you have the ball, what’s important is WHERE you have the ball” and the game plan has always been to make the most of what you have ensuring you attack as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Bournemouth had 63% of the ball and four times as many shots on target (not difficult when Cardiff only managed one in the entire 90 minutes) but that doesn’t tell the whole story.

For a significant proportion of the second half (particularly when Murphy and Ward came on) the bluebirds were on top of the home side and threatening to spoil the party.  Mendez Laing had earlier missed a golden opportunity at the back post after a wonderful cross from Ralls and if the skipper had managed to get his knee up ever so slightly higher, an equalizer was there had to be had.

Summary: Cardiff City can impose themselves on technically superior sides just like last season

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  1. Eddie Howe expects the bluebirds to compete under Warnock

Warnock and Howe met last week at a management meeting and where plainly impressed with each other’s achievements in the game. Warnock was keen to point out in his pre-match press conference that Howe was a level-headed guy who’d worked wonders at Bournemouth in his time there and Howe was equally effervescent in his praise of the gaffer yesterday.

Warning the detractors against writing off Cardiff City Howe was at pains to reiterate that the bluebirds are well-drilled, have a solid game plan and a fan base that make it difficult for the opposition to compete when playing Cardiff in the Cardiff City Stadium.

Whilst many armchair pundits are delighted to write Cardiff off this season, Warnock is equally delighted to see them eat their words and we can expect Cardiff City to fight for every point this season.

Summary: Established Premier League managers know the bluebirds strength and are wary of an upset, especially when playing Cardiff in the Cardiff City Stadium.

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  1. Cardiff City have strong options available in the squad

When you consider that Sol Bamba was effectively playing out of position, Harry Arter was ineligible and both Zohore and Gunnarsson were absent through injury then the picture begins to look rosier going forward.

Perhaps the biggest worry after yesterday’s game was the lack of goal scoring chances created but with the return of Zohore and in particular Murphy the ball should remain in the opposition half for longer, the defence should be under less pressure and as each game passes the squad as a whole will adjust to the challenge.

Summary: There is strength in depth and the bluebirds have much to look forward to

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