In such an obscenely competitive division, where any of ten clubs could conceivably be challenging for promotion to the Premier League, it often take great team spirit, consistency, and a little bit of luck to stick your noses out in front. But with a quarter of the season played (already?!) a Welsh club top the Championship, making it a very real possibility that next year’s Premiership fixtures could contain a Welsh derby for the first time in decades.
Malky Mackay’s not-so Bluebirds (following a ludicrous and deeply unpopular) redesign over the summer by the clubs Malaysian owners have opened up a three-point league at the top of the world’s best division (trademark pending), their latest stash of points coming from a regal 4-0 thrashing of Burnley at the weekend. In truth, it could have been more than four, as the woodwork was rattled on several occasions, and with an attack lacking the marquee names of Craig Bellamy and Tommy Smith, it was an ominous sign to the rest of the division.
Maybe the kit rebranding has done the trick? It is still unpopular with fans (with some sections still boycotting the new jersey), but perhaps this is proof that teams in red usually win more (something to do with looking more opposing apparently…) Cardiff have been there or thereabouts for the last couple of seasons, troubling the play-off final on a few occasions, yet this season really has given fans hope.
Certainly a team with the man voted Four Four Two’s “Best Player in the Premier League”, midfielder Peter Whittingham, who has scored 49 goals over the past four seasons, ably backed up by young, hungry and talented team-mates such as Craig Noone and Joe Mason, an experienced defensive line and a potent strikeforce makes up a pretty complete package.
As it is, next season could see Cardiff back in the top flight for the first time since 1962, and with an investment plan from the Malaysian owners including a new training facility and stadium expansion, this could well be a club to watch out for in the future, although their famous 1970 Cup Winners’ Cup win over Real Madrid may still not be repeated for some time. As others have proved though, the Championship is a devilish mistress to master, with so many teams clamouring for their shot at the promised land. A good or bad run could see a season’s hard work fail to come to fruition, and fans enduring another year of frustration. But there were some who predicted that Swansea would plummet back down, that no Welsh club could sustain in the Premiership, and now there is a very real possibility of there being two this time next year.
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