John Terry. Pic: Getty Images.
Neil Warnock has issued a challenge to stayaway Bluebirds fans, saying: “If you care for your club now if the time to come on board.”
Former England captain John Terry and his Aston Villa team are at Cardiff City Stadium on Saturday (3pm) and manager Warnock’s team are gunning for a third successive victory.
There is a buzz around this part of South Wales as Warnock works on a Bluebirds football revolution. City are planning to muscle in on the big-spending Championship clubs and launch a promotion challenge in 2017-18.
More than 20,000 tickets for the match have already been sold, 5,000 of those for the away area, and home fans can pay on the day. An attendance of 25,000-plus is predicted.
Warnock is adamant his team will compete with promotion favourites Villa and wants supporters to back his bid to take Cardiff back to the Premier League.
“They (fans) will get value for money,” he says. “If they have any feelings for the club, now is the time to come on board.
“We need everybody. Villa will make a right racket and we’ve got to match that, just as we did against them around Christmas last year.
“I believe, though, we can do even better.
“I think they know now it’s not just a one-off and we’re talking a good game. They are going to get good value for money, whatever the result, and they can be proud of their own club.
“We have put the pride back in our club, everybody behind us and that’s what I am delighted with. The more people through the turnstiles the better for us.”
Villa have strengthened their squad by signing Terry, Glenn Whelan (from Stoke) and Ahmed Elmohamady (from Hull) and ensured they are among the favourites for promotion.
Terry won 78 caps for England, played 717 games for Chelsea and won his fifth Premier League title in May.
He could earn around £4m over the year of his Villa contract if promotion is achieved, but he would have earned more by moving abroad.
Warnock admits a long-standing admiration for Villa, saying: “They are still one of those teams aren’t they.
“I used to love the colour of the shirts as a kid all those years ago. There’s an aura about the club and that’s why Steve went there. Their status is such that they should be in top-half of the Premier League as a club.
“It’s a great challenge for us and I’m looking forward to see how they cope with the quality they’ve got. We don’t have their money, but I’ve been quite pleased with the money we’ve spent.
“We’re not at the other end of the scale, but I didn’t feel we had to spend that money. He (Bruce) has a different job to me, he’s got to please everybody when they all expect to be in the team.”
Kenneth Zohore’s goal earned Cardiff a 1-0 win at Burton Albion in their opening Championship fixture, while they made eight changes to the starting line-up for the midweek Carabao Cup tie against Portsmouth.
“There are players who were out there on Tuesday who would be in the starting side at other clubs in the Championship,” said Warnock. “We are going to need 22 players so it’s how I keep them happy.
“This is a good group. I’m pleased how they’ve knitted together on and off the field which will bode well in the winter months.
“I probably had a gamble on a few players this summer, but I felt we had to do that, financially-wise, to bring in the type of person I wanted at the club. Fortunately they have all fitted in really well.”
Cardiff City: N Etheridge; L Peltier, B Manga, S Morrison (capt), S Bamba, J Bennett, J Hoilett, A Gunnarsson, J Ralls, L Tomlin, K Zohore.
Aston Villa: S Johnstone, A Hutton, J Chester, J Terry, N Taylor, A Elmohamady, G Whelan, L Bacuna, G Agbonlahor, H Lansbury, S Hogan
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