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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.

How has Junior Hoilett gone for you? Flattered to deceive for us… What sort of contract is he on?

Cardiff fans have been impressed by Hoilett who has added real quality to the squad, and he’s bagged a couple of goals too. He picked up an injury recently and with Kadeem Harris and Craig Noone impressing, he’s returned to the side playing behind the striker with a view to offering an overlap out wide. I can’t say he’s the stand-out man every game, I’m not sure he’s that kind of player but he adds quality to the game and when he doesn’t shine, City are fortunate to have Noone and Harris in good form the bridge the gap.
He’s only on a contract until the end of the season but last Friday he told us he wants to extend a deal and he’s ‘sure it will be sorted soon’, he also added that he wanted to stay regardless of Warnock’s decision…but then Warnock walked in 10 minutes later and confirmed he’s staying so I’m sure both parties will be keen to extend their working relationship. He’s a top ten kind of player and that could be important next year. In Anthony Pilkington, Noone (now he’s fund his form again), Harris and Hoilett we have a good set of wingers and that’ll save us money in the summer.

Star men…

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.
He has pace and power in an abundance and his ability to break away from defenders and get in on-goal is terrifying. His finishing gets better and better with confidence and despite looking like dead wood early in the season, he now looks like a striker worth a few million and that’s no exaggeration. Kadeem Harris out wide offers electrifying pace, and everyone in the Championship knows what Noone is capable of on his day. Aron Gunnarsson in midfield and Sol Bamba in defence have been consistent performers since Warnock’s arrival.

Weak links…

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.

Is your mad chairman behaving himself these days?

The villainous days of Vincent Tan are well and truly in the past and we now have a great CEO and chairmen who work with him to get things right. Tan’s making some very good decisions, especially meeting Warnock’s demands and the fans are appreciating it, for sure. He also brought Kenneth Zohore from the Belgian club he owns KV Kortrijk so we’ve got that to thank him for too. There really wouldn’t be a club if it wasn’t for him arriving in the first place but he lost all credit for that when he made the wrong decisions as everyone knows.
But it’s all on the mend now and the club is in the best place it has been for a long, long time.

The Twitter @JamieKemble, @InsideCCFC

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enfieldargh added 19:52 - Mar 2
Getting concerned about our inability to deal with skillfull and nippy wingers and Craig no one is one player who will tear our full back to pieces if left unprotected

Expect junior to play like Messi

Concerned that defeat to bardiff and possibly an attacking Barnsley might drop us right back in the mire

Our lads need to be on their game for these next must win back to back home games

isawqpratwcity added 08:23 - Mar 3
Thank you both.

The Clash of the Two Most Popular QPR Managers of the last 20 years (given that Gerry Francis didn't work out so well second time around)!

Hate to say it, but I think they might be smiling on the wrong side of the Severn Estuary come Saturday night. At least we've already done it to them at theirs.

TacticalR added 11:36 - Mar 4
Thanks to Jamie.

It sounds like Warnock is working his magic - bring order to chaos off the pitch and bringing the best out of the players on the pitch.

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