Fellow relegation strugglers Burnley host 18th place Cardiff this weekend at Turf Moor, with a clear understanding that they could tarnish the whole city of Cardiff’s Premier League dream.
Well, I hate to say it ladies and gents, but here we are nearing the Premier League curtain-call, where it seems our treasured £100m TV deal could very well be taken away from us. It all seems so familiar, doesn’t it?
Let’s cast ourselves back to this time six years ago. With the help of a goal from Joe Ledley, Cardiff City had lost 3-0 at home to Crystal Palace in our first ever season in the Premier League. The BBC described the defeat as leaving the Bluebirds’ hopes of surviving as “hanging by a thread,” yet, here we are six years later in the same position just two points better off and only one point closer to safety. Except there’s still a feel-good factor amongst most of our fanbase, positive that we still have more than a chance.
For the sceptics, and I’m sure there are plenty; please take comfort in the fact that despite the away win at Bournemouth, Burnley have a distinctly laborious final few games to their campaign and are not quite as safe as you might think;
Cardiff (H), fellow relegation scrappers; Chelsea (A), they’re allowed offside goals; Man City (A), no chance; Everton (A), not an easy game and Arsenal (H) who will likely be competing for fourth place.
I implore you, dear reader, to re-read the above list of fixtures and tell me that Burnley are not in serious trouble of picking up a very limited amount of points.
Of course, Cardiff’s away form this season has been far from glamorous. But what if I told you Burnley have won only three of their last 10 home games? What if I told you they’ve conceded 60 goals, only one fewer than Cardiff, and have managed less clean sheets than us? Are you feeling more positive about our chances yet?
There is a torrent of points still up for grabs. Cardiff are more than capable of getting a result out of Brighton and Scott Parker’s Fulham who have nothing to play for. We could also give an inconsistent Crystal Palace a run for their money at our gaff.
We have four very winnable games left, which could get us 12 points out of a possible 18. You have to feel that finishing on just 36 points could be more than enough to survive. This, of course, would come at the expense of either Brighton, Southampton or Newcastle. It can be done and managers like Southampton’s Hasenhüttl will definitely be feeling the pressure, not just our Neil.
Although the points tally doesn’t differ much, I believe there is a fundamental difference between this campaign and the 2012-13 Malky/Solskjaer season; Neil Warnock. Anything is possible under the current gaffer and if there’s anyone to fire up our squad for the deadly run-in, then I’m more than happy it’s him.
There is, of course, a worst case scenario and that is relegation to the Championship. Personally, it wouldn’t be the end of the world for me. It’s great seeing Cardiff play their trade at the very top, but it wouldn’t be all doom and gloom. I’ll tell you why. You see, although our budget squad have exceeded expectations, I can’t really see many top-flight clubs knocking on the door to prize any of them away. Neil Etheridge? Maybe. Other than that, we’d be left with a very, very strong squad for the Championship and I’m almost excited – if it happens – at the possibility of being favourites to come straight back up.
After the Chelsea defeat, I feel a lot of heads went down. Others feel we never really stood a chance with this squad all season. Hopefully Burnley, Southampton, Brighton and Newcastle don’t make me look like an idiot and win every single remaining game, but I can guarantee we are still very much in the race. The curtain has yet to be called and the show is still very much going on.
The simple facts are:
- Newcastle are not safe
- Brighton are not safe
- Burnley are not safe
- Southampton definitely aren’t safe
So, would you describe us as currently holding on by a thread? I know I certainly wouldn’t.