Football is back. Cardiff City are back. View From the Ninian is back – though we never really went away. It’s time for our 2019/20 season preview. Writer by writer, we’ve gone through how we think the next nine months will play out, taking in our players of the season, surprises, goal-scorers, and everything in between.
Ben James @benjaminjames27
Predicted finish: 2nd. I’m an optimistic man and our squad is better than the one that led us to automatic promotion two seasons ago – and we’ve splashed the cash on a decent looking striker! The Championship is an unpredictable division but Warnock knows it very well and think he’s got the nous to lead us back up.
Player of the season: Bobby Decordova-Reid. Simply, he’s got a point to prove and Victor is out of his way. Bobby was criminally underused last year and should be made the focal point of our team for the new season.
Signing of the season: Will Vaulks. He loves a tackle, can score and assist, and has a long throw. He’s a proper footballer and I just know the fans will take to him and he will show us why we signed him.
Game of the season: Swansea at home. I love an away day but the stadium is going to be rocking for the first derby in a couple of seasons. In a league full of old enemies, the game against Swansea will always stand out.
Top goalscorer: Bobby Decordova-Reid. Obvs we’ve got Glatzel in but Reid is playing back in the position he loves. In the hole behind the frontman and wingers and I can see him scoring 15 to 20 this season.
Surprise of the season: Aden Flint. The signing of Flint has been met with mixed emotions by the Cardiff fans but I think he’ll be the difference at times. But in attack. If we can add 5-10 goals from the back line, and Flint loves a goal, then that could set us apart.
We’ve heard it before but Warnock says this is absolutely his last season. But is it?: Yes. Warnock has been brilliant for us but I do think this is his final year. He’ll be busting his gut to sign off with a promotion and he can retire, deservedly, on a high.
Top six: Cardiff, Leeds, Brentford, Fulham, Bristol City, West Brom.
Relegated: Charlton, Reading, Millwall.
Scott Salter @scottsltr
Predicted finish: 2nd. I think we’ll have a brilliant season. I originally wrote that a lack of an out and out goalscorer will cost us automatic promotion, but with Robert Glatzel through the door I think we’ve got enough for automatic promotion if he gets firing.
Player of the season: Nathaniel Mendez-Laing. In last year’s season preview, I predicted that NML would be the seasons biggest disappointment. He proved me wrong and adapted to the top flight better than I thought he would. With Mendez looking lean and ready to go this preseason, and with two years at Cardiff under his belt, I think he’ll be in for a top season this year.
Signing of the season: Will Vaulks. I love the signing of Vaulks. He seems a perfect Warnock player and his long throw means that we can keep Mozza in the box being all dangerous.
Game of the season: Swansea, away. We’re all looking forward to the South Wales derbies and I think the away fixture will be the best. Warnock will relish playing the villain and beating them at their place.
Top goalscorer: Glatzel. He’s big and has an eye for goal. I’ve just got a good feeling about this.
Surprise of the season: Joe Ralls. Plenty are quick to criticise Ralls but I think he really grew last season. A tidy player I think he’s in for a big season as Cardiff’s main man in midfield.
We’ve heard it before but Warnock says this is absolutely his last season. But is it?: Yes. Sadly, I think this will be it for Warnock. I think he’ll work with the club to get his successor in place (Sol Bamba anyone?) before bowing out with another promotion. But can he resist another shot at the top flight?
Top six: Fulham, Cardiff, Leeds, Brentford, Huddersfield, West Brom.
Relegated: Charlton, Barnsley, Wigan.
Bethan Phillips @bethphill
Predicted finish: 3rd. I don’t think anybody can doubt Neil Warnock’s knowledge of the Championship; but I just can’t see us getting automatic promotion this time around. Other teams have spent a lot of money and have a bigger squad, but that said – it didn’t stop us last time. I’ll be keeping the faith and hoping for an entertaining season.
Player of the season: Bobby Decordova-Reid. He showed on so many occasions last season that he’s got skill, pace and composure. I really think he’ll do well this season and will cause defenders a lot of trouble.
Signing of the season: Will Vaulks. For me it’s just great to have a young Welsh talent join the ranks and that’s not forgetting his ability, either. Without Gunnar on the sidelines, we’ll need someone else to contribute with a long throw. We know he’s got that in his locker, as well as the ability to get goals and assists. I’m hoping he’ll continue to be a fans favourite.
Game of the season: Swansea away. It’s more than likely that I’ll need to travel up to Cardiff just to come back down to the Liberty in spite of living eight miles away from Swansea… but it’ll all be worth it if we silence the Jacks in their (and my) my neck of the woods.
Top goalscorer: Bobby Reid. I’m hoping he’ll bag a few against former club, Bristol City. If he stays fit and out of injury, I think he’s got the ability to get a fair few goals this season.
Surprise of the season: Nathaniel Mendez-Laing. A strange pick; given that Mendez had such a strong finish in the Premier League last season. He won’t be forgetting that performance at Old Trafford any time soon and we certainly won’t forget that corker against Brighton. It was gutting to see him out so early on in the season. He seemed to be lacking pace at times on his return and he didn’t seem 100% match-fit. He seems to be ready to go and I think he’ll surprise a lot of people this season.
We’ve heard it before but Warnock says this is absolutely his last season. But is it?: I’d say so; even if we do get promoted and that’s not easy to admit. The way Warnock has re-built the club and managed to get a small squad promoted to the Premier League has been incredible. However, it does feel like it’ll be his last season in the Welsh capital. I just hope he ends his career on a high!
Top six: Fulham, Leeds, Cardiff, Derby, Middlesbrough, Nottingham Forest
Relegated: Charlton, Luton, Wigan
Charlie Cottrell @cottrell
Predicted finish: 4th. We’ve been written off by almost everyone as contenders for promotion, which comes as a shock to absolutely no-one, though in fairness it’s a rarity for a relegated side to bounce straight back up. However, most sides don’t have Neil Warnock managing them. Top ten for most of the season, with a massive final 15 games. Then it’s anyone’s guess at the play-offs.
Player of the season: Bobby Decordova-Reid. His face didn’t fit last season, which is understandable considering he played Victor Camarasa’s understudy and was perhaps a little inexperienced and lightweight for the big league. However, I’m a huge advocate of Reid and am delighted to see he’s being kept on the payroll. I think it’ll pay massive dividends.
Signing of the season: Neil Etheridge. I’m cheating a little here. Whilst I’m fairly happy with our signings this season – Glatzel especially – I think keeping hold of Etheridge will go a long way in boosting our chances of promotion success. I’m really surprised he’s not been picked up, by either another Premier League team or abroad. He yet might, but keeping him on the books is a good sign of intent and he’s a ‘keeper that instills confidence in defenders.
Game of the season: Bristol City (Play-off semi final, second leg) 2-2 on aggregate beneath the floodlights of Ashton Gate. 90+3. Hoilett whips a sumptuous corner into the box as City pile on the pressure, extra time looming. Aden Flint leaps and towers. It thumps into the high-centre of the net past a flailing keeper. The goalposts make that delicious little box-office ‘crack’ sound that we’ll all watch on repeat for days afterwards. It’s tops-off, 10/10 limbs territory.
Top goalscorer: Bobby Decordova-Reid. It could be another one of those seasons where everyone gets their fair share, though new signing Glatzel could prove to be an inspired singing – I’m backing our scouts these days. Flint and Morrison will rack up set-piece goals between them, whilst Reid will bag himself at least nine or ten, though I expect his assist tally will trump his goal count with a target man to aim at.
Surprise of the season: Leandro Bacuna. Going out on a limb here a bit, but in my eyes Bacuna is a solid, rangy player and a real work-horse. I’d imagine he’ll get quite a lot of air time this season standing in at various positions, and I think he’ll win a sizeable portion of the Cardiff City Stadium over. Everyone loves a trier, but I think he’s got more in the locker than that.
We’ve heard it before, but Warnock says this is absolutely his last season. But is it?: Yes. It’s a blessing that he’s stayed on for another season to steady the ship and hopefully find a suitable replacement, which I’d imagine will begin in January. The bloke’s a City legend, and he knows what’s best for him and the club.
Top six: Leeds, Fulham, Sheffield Wednesday, Cardiff, Middlesborough, Bristol City.
Relegated: Swansea (please), Luton, Huddersfield.
Dan Moffat @Dan_Moffat1998
Predicted finish: 3rd. As usual, a lot of the mainstream media have failed to mention us as potential contenders for promotion, but – yet again – that will suit us down to the ground. In terms of squad strength, we’re without a doubt in the league’s top five, and it’s that strength in depth that (I think) will see us finish 3rd. I’ve predicted us to finish just outside the automatic places because I see Leeds (who surely can’t bottle promotion again) and Fulham finishing in the top two, but if my prediction comes true, we will have had a fantastic season.
Player of the season: Nathaniel Mendez-Laing. After showing glimpses of his quality in the top-flight last season, I think NML will push on this year. He certainly looks like he’s put the hours in in the Gym, and has looked bright throughout pre-season. His sheer pace will frighten even the strongest of fullbacks this season, and I for one can’t wait to see him tearing down the right-wing again.
Signing of the season: Will Vaulks. Hard to disagree with the rest of the team, and unless we sign Charlie Austin out of nowhere, Vaulks will be our most impressive signing. He’s the perfect signing for us after Gunnarsson headed off to Qatar AND he’s Welsh, which is such a big plus.
Game of the season: Swansea at home. No explanation needed.
Top goalscorer: Bobby Decordova-Reid. If he is a constant starter in the team – which he should be – then I would expect to see Reid hit double figures this season. He scored 19 in the league during his last season with Bristol, and there’s no reason why he can’t do the same this season for us. For me he should be our talisman, and will be key in our bid to bounce back to the top flight.
Surprise of the season: Aden Flint. Though – like other fans – I was surprised at his signing, I think he could surprise me back. His goal scoring record at Bristol has potential to be recreated here, and if Flint and Morrison can grab 5-7 goals each this season, that could be huge – especially if our striker target falls through.
We’ve heard it before but Warnock says this is absolutely his last season. But is it?: Unfortunately yes. Neil Warnock will be an adopted son of the City of Cardiff when he leaves, after his miraculous ability to unite the club, from the fans right up to Vincent Tan. He has cried when fans have cried, and smiled when we have smiled, and has shown why he is one of the best at what he does. Arguably the clubs greatest manager ever, and hopefully he has one last promotion in him this season.
Top six: Leeds, Fulham, Cardiff, Stoke, Brentford, WBA.
Relegated: Hull, Charlton, Reading.
Gareth Baker @garethbakery
Predicted finish: 1st. We definitely have one of the better squads, there’s no denying that, but who are our biggest rivals to go up? I feel Leeds with Costa & Hernandez – and generally a great side – are definites to be up there. Fulham too, but their lack of experience at the helm with Scott Parker could cost them. Stoke, West Brom, Huddersfield, Brentford and even our bitter rivals Swansea (so long as they don’t sell McBurnie) have a chance at automatics. If we add another proven striker I’m very confident of this prediction.
Player of the season: Joe Ralls. It was hard not to choose Mendez-Laing who has been in fine form, but he has a history of inconsistency. I think Ralls handled the top-flight challenge impeccably and is now a seasoned midfielder who’s more than capable of a great season in the Championship.
Signing of the season: Aden Flint. Forgetting his dire spell at Middlesbrough, Flint has real potential to cause absolute havoc for us next season. He’s Warnock’s type of player down to an absolute tee, and I can see both him and Morrisson (or Bamba) racking up a fair few goals.
Game of the season: Hull City at home. It’s the 2nd of May 2020, two games after Snowgate 2.0 away to Derby County and Morrison does it again with yet another Cryuff turn against Hull. Promotion sealed, and Morrisson wins the golden boot with 38 goals (closeley followed by Flint with 32, Bamba with 29 and Madine with 3).
Top goalscorer: In all seriousness, Bobby Reid. Well, it has to be doesn’t it? He had 19 for Bristol last time around and even banged some in for us in the Premier League with barely any playing time.
Surprise of the season: Lee Peltier. I can’t believe Peltier isn’t that recognised amongst our fanbase. Warnock describes him as a “fine wine” and I couldn’t agree more. I can see him giving Joe Ralls a run for his money to win player of the season.
We’ve heard it before but Warnock says this is absolutely his last season. But is it?: Yes. It’s heartbreaking really, because I can’t see him staying in football let alone Cardiff past next season. I just hope he has a hand in who his replacement is.
Top six: Cardiff, Stoke, Leeds, Brentford, Fulham, Huddersfield
Relegated: Birmingham, Barnsley, Charlton
Paul Gronow @bluebirdblogger
Predicted finish: 6th. Whilst I agree that our squad is stronger this season than the one we got promoted with in the 2017/18 season, so is the Championship. Neil Warnock relies on guts and a never-say-die attitude and my fear is that with the technical progression of so many sides, this won’t be enough for automatic this year. I think we’ll sneak the playoffs with a late run from March.
Player of the season: Joe Ralls. This will be Rallsy’s year i can just feel it. He is going to mature into an essential first XI player and we’ll be struggling to keep hold of him come May in my opinion.
Signing of the season: Aden Flint. This big bruiser is going to score ten goals this season including a brace against the Wurzels and go down in folklore as a Bluebirds legend. I predict he will even keep big Bamba out of the side.
Game of the season: Swansea away. Some sweet and not so sweet memories linger from the Liberty Stadium and i think this will be the year we become the first team to win both home and away matches in the South Wales derby.
Top goalscorer: Bobby Reid. Easily one of the most exciting signings in years for me, Bobby Reid has become one of my favourite players in a very short space of time. Calm and collected on the ball and deadly in the box, Reid looks all set to score a bagful of goals for the Bluebirds and may even help us consign Bristol City to another season of Championship football.
Surprise of the season: Leandro Bacuna. Bacuna joined the club in January at an understandably confusing time as Cardiff City tried to adjust to the sudden and tragic death of Emiliano Sala. Reading supporters weren’t too bothered about him leaving which generally sets the alarms bells ringing but I’ve seen enough to make me think he could surprise a lot of us this season. Warnock didn’t help by saying he was an adequate replacement for Gunnars but I think this could be his year.
We’ve heard it before but Warnock says this is absolutely his last season. But is it?: Yes. For so many reasons this is a yes and that worries me. I would hope Cardiff City have someone lined up to succeed him (Bellamy i’m looking at you), but knowing Cardiff they really don’t. I hope Warnock and his team go out on the highest of highs.
Top six: Leeds United, Stoke City, Bristol City, Middlesborough, Fulham, Cardiff City
Relegated: QPR, Reading, Charlton Athletic
Scott Johnson @roathboy
Predicted finish: Top, obvs. When you look at the division as impartially as possible, its not as strong as it has been in previous years. All teams have issues. West Brom have lost their goals and are bedding in a new manager, while Huddersfield seem to hate theirs. Leeds and Derby always seem to find a way to balls it up and Fulham are Fulham. Cardiff stand out, even if the odds don’t necessarily reflect that. If they start well, they will be hard to stop.
Player/signing of the season: Will Vaulks. He’s going to be a huge fan favourite. Maybe not the most technically gifted, but a proper blood and guts, throttle midfielder. The type of player Warnock and Cardiff fans fall for. The Welsh Jordan Henderson.
Game of the season: Fulham away. Lovely ground and a modern rivalry to go with it. As night follows day, Fulham follows Cardiff, so here’s to them finishing one place below us once again.
Top goalscorer: Callum Paterson. Cardiff have Bobby Reid and a shiny, new striker, but I expect that Callum Paterson, the only grey Young Player of the Year in captivity, will still find a way to be top scorer.
Surprise of the season: Lee Tomlin. Wishful thinking I’m sure, but it would be lovely if he found a way back in to first-team reckoning. He’s the sort of player the makes you fall in love with the game and I’m rooting for him.
We’ve heard it before but Warnock says this is absolutely his last season. But is it?: Definitely. Make the most of him while he’s still around because it’s almost definitely 40 years and out. He will be almost impossible to replace too. A sainted man.
Top six: Cardiff, Fulham, West Brom, Derby, Huddersfield, Leeds
Relegated: Birmingham, Barnsley, Luton