CARDIFF VS HUDDERSFIELD: 5 KEY TALKING POINTS FOR MICK'S MEN
A 0-0 draw away to a struggling Huddersfield Town side on Friday evening consequently sparked a divisive ambience in South Wales.
Whereas some supporters displayed content with the point given the tiring, relentless fixture schedule as of late, a raft of pessimism was also equally present.
On the other hand, it was a thoroughly significant result for the hosts.
Having embraced the euphoric sensation of victory only once this year, a point against one of the division’s most inform teams is certainly applaudable and may prove to be beneficial in their survival bid.
And had Yaya Sanogo converted from twelve yards, the Terriers could well have gone on to architect a nine point gap between themselves and 22nd placed Rotherham.
Nonetheless, next weekend bodes a feeling of significance for the Bluebirds.
On Saturday, a daunting home fixture to high-flyers Watford looms and by all accounts, it might turn out to be decisive in the fiercely-competitive playoff race.
Meanwhile, Huddersfield travel to the Capital to take on QPR who have endured a period of resurgence following the turn of the year and will undoubtedly provide a tough test.
Without further ado, here are the five key talking points from Friday’s inseparable showdown.
The proverbial villain of the evening, Huddersfield forward Yaya Sanogo emerged as a figure of ridicule after his penalty peril.
With only sixteen minutes to go, the former Arsenal forward was granted a glorious opportunity to open his account for Carlos Coberan’s side as he stepped up to take the spot kick.
However, nerves seemingly overcame the Frenchman, who fluffed his tame effort wide of the mark and was brought off merely four minutes later.
So as you can imagine, Cardiff City supporters were breathing a collective sigh of relief when it transpired that they had previously been in the running to secure Sanogo’s services.
“I’m so glad Sanogo missed the penalty because we were in discussions with him to come to us,” said Mick McCarthy after the match.
“We couldn’t do it because of brexit and Welsh FA rules, but he’s managed to come to an English club and Huddersfield have signed him.
“ When he lined up to take the penalty I thought it would be Sod’s Law that he would score because that’s what usually happens in football, so I was delighted when it went wide.”
And whilst a deputy for star forward Kieffer Moore is still widely regarded as an option worth pursuing, the Bluebirds faithful would firmly attest that Sanogo is not the answer.
2) Wretched luck
Last Tuesday, an outpour of anguish emanated in the Welsh Capital when club stalwart Joe Bennett ruptured his ACL in his side’s 4-0 drubbing of Derby County.
Assuringly though, a spirit of solace was prevalent.
This was because, in Bennett’s absence, the composed young fullback Joel Bagan eagerly waited in the wings.
Possessing an imposing physical frame coupled with maturity and awareness well beyond his youthful years, it is easy to comprehend why Bagan is held in such esteemed regard in this corner of the world.
And although the former Southampton academy player lacks the invention and attacking endeavour of his more-experienced colleague, Cardiff supporters were rightfully excited to see how Bagan handled such an astronomical opportunity.
However, luck was clearly not riding with Mick McCarthy’s comrades.
After just 37 minutes, the youngster went down clutching his shoulder, transmitting an immediate sense of agony to evoke the feeling that something really was not right.
It soon emerged that in a rigorous of luck, Bagan had dislocated his shoulder.
Subsequently, it comes as a serious blow for all involved. Now, Cardiff have gone from beholding a plentitude of talent in the left back berth to having no natural operators in that role.
It also serves as a real frustration for Bagan, who appeared destined to stake his claim for a permanent position in the side.
3) Wing backs are dictative to Cardiff’s style
Amongst the key beneficiaries of McCarthy’s revelling resurgence are Joe Bennett and Perry Ng.
Since the former Wolves boss took the reigns, the pair have been utilised at wing backs and only in their injury-provoked absence have we truly recognised how instrumental they are.
Collectively, they inject an additional dimension to Cardiff’s attacking momentum with their energy, tempo, attacking endeavour and blitzing overlapping runs.
And given that the Bluebirds’ newfound system does not facilitate traditional wingers, there is a paramount reliance on the wing backs to frequently join the attack and maraud down the flanks.
Also, Cardiff deploy a two man midfield which, whilst they tend to sit deep, gaping holes can still be found in the middle of the park.
Owing to the energetic presence and positional awareness stored in the footballing weaponries of Bennett and Ng respectively, they often plug those holes in the midfield when needed.
4) Choice of substitutions
Without a doubt, Mick McCarthy is already a heralded hero at the Cardiff City Stadium having transformed the club’s season in a matter of weeks.
However, a rare critique of his has been on the substitution front.
During his side’s trip to West Yorkshire, his choice of election from the sidelines came under scrutiny as, in the closing stages of the affair, Marlon Pack was the preferred option to Jonny Williams, who has only featured once for Cardiff since arriving from Charlton in January.
Whilst Pack’s deep-sitting, tempo-dictating influence can prove invaluable at times, you surely have to feel that Williams’ dynamism and creativity would have emerged as a more suitable choice given the visitors were chasing an elusive goal.
5) A week’s break will work wonders for the Bluebirds
Unsurprisingly, the hectic Championship schedule has worn down Cardiff as of late.
Due to the sheer effectiveness of it, McCarthy has persisted with the same side on a consistent basis and the high pressing, high tempo approach has also been a contributing factor to what seems a major fatigue issue.
Recently, Cardiff have really been clocking up the miles. In their last four outings, trips to Bournemouth, Middlesbrough and most recently Huddersfield have been embarked on, providing little wonder as to why the Welsh side look so exhausted.
Now though, for the first time in over a month, Cardiff have a week-long gap between fixtures and this could turn out to prove extremely beneficial.
Coupled with the tired bodies are tired minds within the camp and over seven days worth of rest will go a long way to revitalising these factors.
It may well turn out to be exactly what the jaded Bluebirds so desperately need.