By Gareth James
Erol Bulut sounded like Warren Gatland as he asked for fans to be patient following Cardiff City’s fourth defeat in five games.
The Bluebirds’ 2-0 loss at home to Preston North End means Bulut’s side have not won in front of their own fans for two months.
Bulut made five signings in the January transfer window but insisted it will take time for them to gel.
That may be too late for any serious attempt at the play-offs, though, as Cardiff are now back in 14th place in the Championship and seven points adrift of sixth-place.
Bulut followed the playbook of Wales rugby coach Gatland by stressing that new faces need time on the field together and called for supporters to reserve their judgement.
That may not wash with Cardiff fans who jeered their team at half-time, by which time Bulut’s men were already trailing by two goals.
“We need patience, all of us,” said Bulut.
FULL-TIME: Cardiff City 0-2 #pnefc
A big 3️⃣ points on the road for North End! pic.twitter.com/xB8q22RfAw
— Preston North End FC (@pnefc) February 10, 2024
“We’ve got new players, four or five new players.
“We try to get them adapted to the team quickly. I thought Nat (Phillips) was quite good, Josh Wilson-Esbrand came in, but they have to know their team-mates much better and their movements.
“This will come over the next few games. We have many games in the next few weeks and we have to show it.
“We have to continue to show them what they need to do. I hope the next few games will be much better.”
Preston moved to within two points of the top six courtesy of a dominant performance.
Emil Riis scored his first goal since October 2022 in the 30th minute before Ben Whiteman struck his third of the campaign to double the away side’s lead 10 minutes later.
Cardiff struggled to create clear-cut openings and have now lost three home games in succession, while Preston stretched their unbeaten run to three outings.
Two months without a home win for Cardiff City. After a promising start, another lacklustre performance today.
Match report of their 2-0 defeat against Preston: https://t.co/kX7SXSiXTg
— Dafydd Pritchard (@DafPritchard) February 10, 2024
Bulut added: “We started a really good game. The first 30 minutes, until we conceded from their first shot. Then our confidence went a bit down.
“For their second goal, I thought there was a foul on Kion (Etete). The referee allowed a lot of fouls. We don’t play rugby – we play football. There were more faults from us – we can’t say this is why we lost the game – but these are key details.
“We are a good team from set-pieces. Generally, the game was under control. Three shots from the opponent, two goals. One-on-one situations in the box, defensive shape… normally it shouldn’t be like this. We shouldn’t get dribbled so easily in the box.
“It was a good counter-attack for their second goal. We tried many shots but we were not effective enough.”
In a further blow for Cardiff, defender Mark McGuinness has been ruled out for the next couple of months with a hamstring injury.
The 23-year-old missed the Preston game and Bulut confirmed: “It looks like he will be six to eight weeks out with injury.
“He is 23 years old and had a great season until now. Now we don’t have him for the next games. I hope Nat (Phillips) and Dimi (Goutas) will manage it good together to be on the same level.”
Cardiff City – Preston
Emil Riss Jacobsen pic.twitter.com/AvUixQeIKG
— Qureshi Just That (@QJTXSJT10) February 10, 2024
Preston manager Ryan Lowe said: “We’ve all been waiting for Emil to come back.
“He looked strong physically, I’m pleased with his goal, for him and his team-mates, they’re all pleased for him.
“The build-up to it was fantastic and the way he took it, so I’m really pleased for him. It’s huge to have him back.
“At some point he’s going to have to have a break. We’re just trying to mould him into a perfect striker. But we do need to be careful with him.
“We can’t just slog him all the way through, we’ll manage his days and his loads.
“I’m just pleased for him getting on the scoresheet today after having that long period of time out, as a striker it’s pleasing.”