After last season’s managerial merry-go-round where Ole Gunner Solskjaer was dismissed before the season had really begun. September saw the end of the Norwegians reign and the entrance of caretakers Scott Young and Danny Gabbidon. Russell Slade was there to steady the ship following a season where he led Leyton Orient to the League One play-off final. Slade, who had got off to a miserable start, was circled by rumours of him being number one choice in the Cardiff City hot seat. Following weeks of speculation, on 8th October 2014 Slade was named the Bluebirds manager and would eventually lead the team to a creditable 11th placed finish.
The Bluebirds will have vivid memories of the Premier League two years ago, and will hope to recapture the golden moments with another promotion campaign. Sean Morrison was one of the steadier defensive options Slade was left with last term, but despite scoring 7 goals from the back, he didn’t provide the solidarity needed to cope In the Championship. The enterprising attacking ability of Fabio will need to be put to full effect if he is to have a more significant and consistent impact throughout the season. The Brazilian, and brother of Manchester United defender Rafael, was a major culprit in defence and was regularly found out of position, gambling on his side regaining possession.
Upfront the recruitment of Eoin Doyle and Federico Mecheda will give Slade contrasting options to target man Kenwyne Jones. Mecheda never really fulfilled his potential after bursting on to the scene with a spectacular goal against Aston Villa. Irishman Doyle was the top marksman in League One until his departure from Chesterfield in January, the former Hibernian man never regained his goalscoring rhythm, but after a full pre season with the club, he will surely be firing on all cylinders once again.
Peter Whittingham has been a loyal servant to the Blue, then red, then Bluebirds since signing in 2007. His mix of artistic passing and net breaking free kicks have made him a firm favourite with the Cardiff fans. But Whittingham, approaching 31 in September, turned over his lowest goal total of his career, a mere six, compared to his staggering 15 to 20 goal totals of previous seasons. This demise in form may pave a pathway for loan singing Sammy Ameobi who is keen for game time after a stop start campaign with Newcastle last time out.
With the addition of a commanding centre back I think Cardiff have all the tools needed to return to the top flight. Anthony Pilkington and Craig Noone are bound to create from wide areas, and with the selection of strikers Slade has at his disposal, goals are almost guaranteed. Scottish international David Marshall in one of the Leagues top stoppers but will need more protection to ensure the Blues do not leak goals as they did so last season.