Opposing View - Cardiff City
What were your hopes, fears and expectations for the season?
I suppose all Cardiff fans hoped for a return to enjoying the football, last season we were successful but something was definitely missing. The expectation was always just for re-building but the possibility is always there that after such a massive squad overhaul, we`d struggle to gel the new squad and start badly - it`s easy then to get drawn into a relegation battle.
How has the appointment of Malky Mackay worked out?
Very very well. The feeling around the club is extremely professional and there have been some fresh new ideas rather than the 'old school` methods we employed previously. I think all Cardiff fans would have been happy to take a play-off place come Christmas.
What was the general consensus before Mackay arrived?
I think there was a concern that we were bringing in Mackay as a manager with experience of operating on a non-existent budget. However, he had great respect within the football world and I think our board wanted a new approach, new ideas and a straight talking and down-to-earth manager.
You've only got one player on loan at the moment in Filip Kiss - how important has it been to have a settled squad so-to-speak?
The first team is very settled, but we often have made small changes due to injuries etc. It has helped, but moreso is the due diligence Mackay puts in before signing any player. It seems he checks on every single aspect of a target and how they can fit in - we`ve certainly seen the benefits of that approach and the team has gelled nicely.
Tell us about Joe Ralls, another young man off the Cardiff production line who appears to be forcing his way through this season?
I think Ralls has found himself playing through necessity rather than having established himself. We have switched to an effective formation with 5 in midfield but without any natural right winger, Cowie has operated there so we need to find 3 central players from a very small pool. Injuries have depleted us at times, but Ralls looks a decent prospect. He`s very slight, but tidy and scored a cracker away at Burnley earlier this season. He`s acquitted himself well, but is probably not ready for a full Championship season.
Mackay obviously had to re-build the squad this summer - who's impressed you the most out of the arrivals?
Cowie`s work-rate is impeccable, Kenny Miller looks an inspired choice while Aron Gunnarsson has certainly excelled in midfield. However, for me, Ben Turner has made a very telling contribution in defence. We had plenty of cover at centre-half but none are as strong, imposing or improved our defence as Turner has.
Who is the key man for Cardiff on Sunday?
Without a doubt - Peter Whittingham. The side is built around him, and he has been fantastic once again this season. Quiet, reserved and uncomplicated, he is simply a class act and contributes in so many ways. If Whittingham has a good game, Cardiff City will be a handful.
Where will you finish this season?
Much will depend on the January transfer window but I think play-offs are the most realistic ambition - and a reachable one given the way things have gone so far. It will still be a tough ask from here though.
City will be looking for a response after the Boro defeat, but Watford are difficult to predict. I think we`d have to settle for a point but something tells me we`re better suited to playing away from home at the moment and I`m hoping to see a 2-1 win for the Bluebirds.
Cheers Bluebirdshroom, here's hoping it's a Christmas cracker of a game!