Warnock’s Cardiff progress hints at eighth promotion to come – Interview
Thursday, 2nd Mar 2017 18:12 by Clive Whittingham
Ahead of Neil Warnock’s big return to Loftus Road on Saturday, Cardiff fan Jamie Kemble assessed the former QPR manager’s impact on the Bluebirds this season.
Assess Cardiff’s season for us…
JK: It was a disastrous start to the season with Paul Trollope being sacked after just 11 games, leaving Cardiff in twenty third position, but as you know the appointment of Neil Warnock almost guaranteed a turnaround and that’s what has happened. City are now closer to the top six than the bottom three and there’s a real momentum as a promotion push for next season is planned. Cardiff have taken ten points from a run of games which has seen them face Leeds and Derby away, then Rotherham and Fulham home…and they’ve scored 13 goals across those four games – it’s a rich run of form which doesn’t look like ending.
Neil Warnock has, predictably, turned things around and got you going up the table – how has he done that?
JK: Neil is full of passion and his tough experiences outside the game with his wife, seemed to have mellowed him somewhat, and he’s now putting a real focus on enjoying life with the club and players, lifting the pressure. The players say he’s taken away the over complications and made sure every player knows his job, although that’s something of a cliché when a new manager comes in and does well. But there’s a real buzz about the place and with Neil hoping to get everyone at the club together, from the players to the media staff, everyone seems to be very happy currently. It’s been a tough few years for the club and its fans but it’s good to see smiles returning.
Presumably quite popular, glad he’s staying, hoping for a promotion push next season?
JK: He’s probably one of the most popular managers we’ve had in 20-30 years. Everyone is aware every club is ‘his type of club’ to an extent but he is a very good fit, and it’s just a shame he can’t be given the millions spent by Malky Makay and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in recent years. Everyone is delighted he’s sticking around and he seems very happy in himself which is encouraging going into next season. We haven’t added (other than a couple of frees) to the side who were sitting second bottom under Trollope and we’re beating teams in the top six, so with the club agreeing to give Warnock around £5/6 million in the summer to add to this squad, you’d say we were one of the more likely for the top six. And we could also benefit from the fact Warnock has his own agenda of wanting that record-breaking eighth promotion.
I’ve noticed he’s talking about needing four players this summer for a promotion push next season. Any idea who that might be, or even what positions he wants to strengthen?
JK: Warnock revealed this week he has been ‘planning for months’ ahead of the summer and both he, and the club are keen to get the targeted players in as soon as possible so that they’re here for the entirety of pre-season. There’s no indication of who is coming in but City need an extra striker, a quality playmaker and possibly a goalkeeper if McGregor returns to Hull at the end of the season. It’s just a case of adding quality to create more chances, and score a few more goals, although we’ve rectified the latter of late.
JK: I’m sure you’ve seen some of Kenneth Zohore’s wonder goals in recent weeks and he’s grabbed headlines around the Championship, scoring four in his last two.
JK: We’ve had our fair share of these this season but in the last month or so, it’s been a case of everyone doing their job superbly – that’s what you get when your winning games though isn’t it? Earlier on in the season Joe Ralls in midfield, Jazz Richards at full-back and Matthew Connolly (one of your old players) struggled, the latter because he’s naturally a centre back. However, to their credit, they have all been 8’s or above in each of their last four games so it’s tough to say they will be weak links.
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