Cardiff City kicked-off their Championship campaign with a 3-2 loss to Wigan Athletic. Despite being clear favourites for this tie, the Bluebirds were lacklustre at times and were punished by a determined Wigan side.
Should we read too much into this loss?
With the nature of football fans on social media these days, there are plenty of hot-takes and instant reactions. A number of Cardiff fans were sent into meltdown on Saturday as the Bluebirds failed to kick-off the season in style.
But how much should we look into this loss?
Not too much, would be my opinion.
The Championship is a long old season and Cardiff will settle into it soon enough. The players and the management team all know the division well and know how to get out of it.
An opening day loss is a disappointment, sure, but it’s a long old season. There’s 45 games to go and you can guarantee it won’t be long before Cardiff are back to winning ways.
How does Warnock get the best out of Bobby Decordova-Reid?
With Victor Camarasa out of the picture, many Cardiff fans are desperate for Bobby Decordova-Reid to be Cardiff’s main man this season. The forward, signed last summer from Bristol City, showed glimpses of his quality in the Premier League, but didn’t have enough of a consistent run in the side to produce his best.
On Saturday, Warnock lined up a 4-2-3-1 with Reid playing as the withdrawn forward in the hole behind Gary Madine and then Omar Bogle. To say that Reid failed to get into the game would be fair, with the forward only managing one shot (zero on target). Reid also only managed one key pass and was dispossessed three times.
The question remains; how does Warnock get the best out of Bobby Reid?
Eight games into the Premier League season I wrote this piece – Was Bobby Reid an expensive mistake? For context, this piece was written when Reid was being deployed as a striker, leading the Cardiff line. It was clear he did not suit that role.
Almost a year on, I don’t think that Reid was an expensive mistake. I think he’s a brilliant player and I love watching him in a Cardiff shirt, but Warnock needs to figure out how to get the best out of him, because bypassing the midfield with long-balls won’t do that.
Can Aden Flint and Sean Morrison play together?
You know that meme when Spiderman meets Spiderman? This one?
It almost feels like that was made for Aden Flint and Sean Morrison. The central defensive pair are almost carbon copies of eachother. Both are colossus in the air and will dominate almost every team aerially his season. Neither defender has much pace about them, though, which presents a big problem for Cardiff City.
On a number of occasions on Saturday, Flint and Morrison were outpaced by Wigan’s attackers, who were able to get in behind Cardiff’s defensive line. Wigan’s second goal, scored by Josh Windass, was a clear example of that. A ball is hooked over the top by Wigan striker Joe Garner and it looks as though Sean Morrison should be able to deal with it, but Windass outpaces the Cardiff skipper to latch onto the ball and strike past Joe Day.
It’s a concern for Cardiff and, while I’m not calling for Warnock to drop Morrison or Flint after one game, it’s something City need to address going forward.
Omar Bogle shows he can have a big impact this season
Cardiff fans have been excited by Omar Bogle during pre-season and the striker continued his excellent pre-season form in the season opener. Gary Madine – Cardiff’s £6million striker – got the nod over Bogle to start, but Warnock swapped the strikers around on 63′ immediately after Wigan went 2-1 up.
Bogle had an instant impact, grabbing Cardiff’s equaliser after some good play by Nathaniel Mendez-Laing and Bobby Reid, who got the assist.
The striker, who previously spent some time at Wigan but didn’t hesitate to celebrate against his former club, adds a different dimension to Cardiff’s play. He has the physicality of Madine and can be a presence in the air, but is also able to run the channels and carry the ball when needed.
There’s no doubt that Robert Glatzel will be Cardiff’s main man this season, but Omar Bogle showed that he can have a big impact this season as Cardiff’s second choice striker.
Cardiff need to work on keeping hold of possession
Cardiff are used to playing for long spells without the ball, but it could be time to adapt this season.
In Warnock’s promotion season and last year’s top flight campaign, Cardiff were massive underdogs and could allow the opposition time on the ball and look to hit them on the counter attack.
This year, it’s different. Cardiff are one of the league’s top dogs and other side’s will be looking to register a scalp. You could see how much Wigan and Paul Cook wanted to beat Cardiff, they fought hard and were determined.
In games like that, when it can be slightly frantic, Cardiff need to spend more time on the ball and look to slow the play down. Instead, on Saturday, they seemed to stick to playing direct and shot themselves in the foot. Cardiff had just 43% possession and you can’t help but feel that someone like Will Vaulks would’ve helped with some composure on the ball.
Scott is a lifelong Cardiff City fan and freelance football writer. Scott hosts the VFTN podcast.