Cardiff need difference makers

Saturday 27th July 2013 22:03

Fraizer Campbell (centre): Could do well in Premier League

Fraizer Campbell (centre): Could do well in Premier League

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Cardiff City FanZoner Ivor Castle does not believe any of the club's Championship-winning squad can be difference makers in the Premier League.

On Wednesday, the Cardiff City squad arrived back from their training camp in Switzerland to face non-league Forest Green in their first friendly of the Premier League era.

The Bluebirds won 4-3 in an exciting free for all played by both sides. Manager Malky Mackay will be disappointed his defence conceded three goals but it was pretty much a non-physical contact event.

On the ball Cardiff looked sharp and adventurous albeit lacking a little polish, which was understandable so early in preparations for the season ahead.

£8million Danish striker Andreas Cornelius, who is currently the club's record signing, scored a superb headed goal on his debut, and Nicky Maynard will have been relieved to have opened his account following an injury-ravaged season.

Peter Whittingham with a penalty kick and Craig Noone completed the scoring for the Bluebirds.

Cardiff has since added Derby full-back John Brayford (£1.5million) and Brentford's highly-rated goalkeeper Simon Moore to their squad.

Brayford made an appearance as a second half-sub on Saturday as Cheltenham held visiting Cardiff 1-1 at Whaddon Road.

Results and scorelines, however, have little meaning at this stage of the pre-season as Mackay's planning goes ahead, with fitness and team shape high on the current agenda.

Mackay is still scouring the upper echelons of the transfer market looking for difference makers. The two current big names in the mix are French midfielder Etienne Capoue of Toulouse, who say they have accepted an £8million offer from City for the former Arsenal target.

The other exotic name is Mexican international Hector Moreno. The highly-rated defender is also interesting rivals Swansea, and the two Welsh clubs may have to battle it out for his signature if they are prepared to meet Espanyol's £5million asking price.

Mackay is trying everything to bring quality players into the club. He is looking for experienced foreign based players and younger, lower-level British based players who he believes can step up to the Premier League. It is a smart policy, as long as you get the right players. Time will tell.

The success of Mackay's transfer dealings will inevitably deliver the success or otherwise of the season ahead. At best Cardiff can hope for a finish in the upper reaches of the bottom half of the table. Flirting with relegation but avoiding it will be an excellent first year's work.

Realistically it will be a nine-month fight against the drop, and any finish outside the bottom three will be a glorious achievement.

I don't see any of the Championship title-winning team becoming big name Premier League stars except maybe for Frazier Campbell. If Cardiff do reasonably well and he stays healthy, he may get the goals that can reignite his ambitions for an England call-up.

The difference makers for Cardiff will have to be players not even signed yet, and the fans will have to trust in Mackay to deliver before the window closes in September.

On team selection Mackay will have to be clever in rotating his squad. His loyalty to Peter Whittingham before dropping him last season was admirable but in the Premier League the former Aston Villa man's lack of form would have been too serious an issue to have persevered with for that long.

I don't see any player making a full slate of games but in a way that is good. Cardiff do not rely on any one or two players for their success. They were truly a team of champions last year and this could be of benefit during the hard times ahead.

City shot-stopper and Scottish International David Marshall was the one player who did play all 46 league games last season and he only missed one the previous year. That's what you call established.

However, in the Premier League with many defeats ahead a goalkeeper's confidence can be damaged. If Marshall has had a weakness in the past it has been with confidence at times, and a weakness at corner-kicks and crosses. He probably has the most to prove when the Premier League season kicks-off in earnest.

The one type of player Cardiff truly need is an experienced, Premier League hardened centre-back or defensive midfielder, someone with a captain's motivational urges and no little quality as well.

I'm not sure they can find that player because a John Terry or a Vincent Kompany is hard to come by. But if I could, I'd take Terry right now, baggage and all.

With the pre-season still to bring more transfer wranglings and the season itself sure to be littered with many more troughs than peaks, Cardiff City fans will forgive a multitude of sins as long as the Bluebirds can defeat their bitter South Wales rivals Swansea City at the CCS next season.

That would mean more than a win against Manchester United, City, Chelsea or Arsenal (sorry Tottenham).

Malky Mackay was the right man at the right time for Cardiff City; he now has to prove it all over again.

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