Master Magician Warnock Casts His Spell On The Bluebirds

These are special times for Cardiff City.

Master magician Neil Warnock, a manager who has built a career on bringing the best out of footballers and teams, has Bluebirds players and fans under a spell.

City stand top of the Championship, albeit after three matches, and their team are attracting strong interest from around the UK.

No matter what happens in today’s First v Second clash at Molineux, when Cardiff are away to Wolves, the Bluebirds are in good shape at the start of 2017-18.

Supporters are ecstatic at the transformation from Championship also-rans to genuine competitors and Warnock has fired up their imaginations and enthusiasm.

Nathaniel Mendez-Laing and Junior Hoilett haven been sensational at time with their hard-running and ability out wide, while Loic Damour is a midfield player who is aggressive, energetic and highly influential.

Premier League clubs are monitoring the progress of Kenneth Zohore, while City have rejected significant transfer offers for Sean Morrison and Joe Bennett.

Bruno Manga looked certain to leave Cardiff City, but agreed a new contract opted to stay and compete for his place in the team.

All four have been in total agreement, saying: “We’re staying – there are big things ahead for the Bluebirds.”

Hull City have made their interest in Zohore clear, but the big striker told me during Cardiff’s pre-season tour to Cornwall: “I’m staying. No question.”

Centre-back and captain Morrison was offered a major deal by Wednesday, who made a transfer bid of £3m for the big defender.

“As soon as the bid came in I spoke to the gaffer and we put it to bed straight away,” said Morrison.

“I explained to him that I wanted to stay, and that was the end of it basically. The main goal is to get back to the Premier League this season, and if I can do that leading the team it will be the highlight of my career so far.”

Morrison turned down an improved contract with Wednesday to stay in South Wales, while full-back Bennett has rejected bigger wages from Fulham.

Bennett has tweeted he has rejected Fulham, while Warnock says: “I spoke to Joe  and I’m pleased he’s staying.

“It’s been difficult for him as he’s had all sorts thrown at him over the last few days and there was nothing we could do because once they met his contract buy-out clause.

“It was down to him to say yes or no.

“But, like Morrison, Joe’s been playing well, he can see what we’re doing. His wife is eight months pregnant and happy here, there’s a lot of plusses to stay here at the moment. This is an exciting place.

“He was offered an extremely good contract (by Fulham), but it speaks well of the lad and the club at moment about where we are when you turn that down.

“I put no pressure on him, it was down to him, he had the option. But he’s staying for less money he could have had, on his original contract with two years to go.”

There is a feelgood factor in and around the football club and Warnock said: “I don’t see many players not enjoying themselves.

“We know we’ll come up against teams where we won’t get the results we want. But we have t to enjoy it when doing well and not get down when it changes. We have to keep a level outlook.

“We’re happy with the business done, Vincent (Tan) said right from start that ‘Bennett didn’t have to go, Neil, if you don’t want’.

“I asked ‘does it affect the (Omar) Bogle deal and he said ‘no; and that he was very keen on signing him. It doesn’t get much better than that.

“Vincent been very forthcoming, he realises we’ve only spent £3million which is probably classified as peanuts in this league. We’re happy with what we’ve spent and players we’ve unearthed.

“It’s been a great start. I think everyone can see the effort we’re putting in to get the results. We finished well last season, kept the same squad and added so it’s no surprise. We just have to maintain it ahead of a long season.”

Canadian international Hoilett talked about Warnock’s influence, saying: “Neil wants me to express myself and get at defenders.

“As well as a great manager, he’s a great boss to play for – he gives you belief. He’s easy to talk to. People like to play for managers who are so supportive.”

And on Cardiff’s clash with Wolves in the English midlands, Hoilett says: “It’s early and there’ll be tough games to come, but we both have a perfect record and it will be a good game.

“We’re excited. Wolves have brought in some big names, but we have a team spirit that will go a long way. You could see it at the end of the season the way we stuck together and ground out results but it’s still building.”

Warnock still has some squad pruning to do with Craig Noone, Declan John, Frederic Gounongbe, goalkeeper Ben Wilson and, to a slightly lesser extent, Stuart O’Keefe out of favour.

“There will be one or two leaving, probably a last minute job on loan,” says Warnock. “It doesn’t look like there’s any permanent deals in the pipeline. We’ll go along with what we have elsewhere.

“We’ve had enquiries for most players not in squad or team, but we won’t be rushing into anything before towards the end of the transfer window.”

Cardiff City, probable: Etheridge, Peltier, Morrison (capt), Bamba, Richards, Ralls, Gunnarsson, Mendez-Laing, Tomlin, Zohore, Hoilett. Subs, from: Manga, Pilkington, Halford, Damour, Kennedy, D Ward, Bogle, Murphy (gk).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.