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Erol Bulut Has Given Cardiff City Some Bottle . . . But Now He Wants To Add Fizz for 2024


By Gareth James

Erol Bulut believes Cardiff City’s fighting spirit can underpin a promotion challenge in 2024 – provided it is made stronger with some January signings.

Perry Ng scored the winner as Cardiff beat QPR 2-1 at Loftus Road to increase the west London club’s relegation worries.

It clinched the second win in as many away matches for the Bluebirds and lifted them to ninth in the table, just three points adrift of the play-off places.

Paul Smyth equalised for the hosts to cancel out Dimitrios Goutas’ opener for Cardiff, but Rangers’ defensive shortcomings were badly exposed again.

They remain in the relegation zone and are without a win in five matches – a run which has included four defeats.

Cardiff manager Bulut said: “It was perfect to have a win for the new year. It was not the greatest game, but the way we won it was great.

“We have injuries and illness so I have limited possibilities, so I can say it was a great game for us.

“The team showed fighting spirit – winning spirit. Some games are like that and today it was like that.

“Of course, for the offensive part, we want to create more and finalise more, but we have to compliment our defenders. Sometimes you have to count on your defenders and they are doing well.”

Cardiff only had 36% of possession in the game and Bulut knows he needs to strengthen his squad to add variety to his attacking options.

They are only three points behind sixth-placed Sunderland, but Bulut know he needs more quality in his team if they are to pose more than just a set-piece threat.

“From tomorrow, we are going to start to have some meetings so we can make quick movements forward with the transfers,” he said.

“I hope in the following days or weeks, the end of January we will finalise about the transfers we need.”

A lack of goals has also been a huge problem for QPR – they have scored just twice in their past six games and have managed just 21 in the league this season.

So the last thing they needed for the first of four consecutive home league matches during January was to be without playmakers Ilias Chair and Chris Willock.

Both missed the game, with talisman Chair having gone off injured during the second half of Friday’s goalless draw at Ipswich, where Willock was replaced at half-time amid ongoing issues with his fitness.

QPR could also ill-afford to continue their habit of conceding sloppy goals from set-pieces.

But that is exactly what happened, with Goutas able to head in Joe Ralls’ 16th-minute corner for the opener.

The only effort on target that the home side managed during the first half was a tame free-kick from Kenneth Paal, which was comfortably dealt with by goalkeeper Jak Alnwick.

But Northern Ireland forward Smyth hauled them level seven minutes after the interval with his second goal of the season.

Youngster Rayan Kolli, on as a half-time substitute, retrieved the ball after Sam Field’s effort had been blocked and he whipped in a cross towards Smyth, who slid in to score at the far post.

However, another goal from a set-piece resulted in Cardiff retaking the lead with 16 minutes remaining. Keeper Asmir Begovic failed to deal with Ryan Wintle’s corner and Ng was on hand to score with a free header.

It clinched the second win in as many away matches for the Bluebirds and lifted them to ninth in the table, just three points adrift of the play-off places.

QPR, meanwhile, have improved since Marti Cifuentes replaced Gareth Ainsworth as boss, having recently won three games in a row, but they clearly have problems at both ends of the pitch.

Smyth scored with a piece of opportunism, but they otherwise offered very little in attack and always seemed defensively vulnerable.

They rarely looked like finding another equaliser after Ng’s goal, although Alnwick was called upon to produce a late save to deny Sinclair Armstrong.

Cifuentes said: “We knew that they were a good team from set-pieces and then they score from that situation.

“We got good momentum in the second half and scored a goal. Then we lost this momentum. We conceded another goal from a set-piece, which is unacceptable.

“I’ve been in charge for 12 games and we’ve conceded 11 goals, which is quite a decent defensive performance. But seven of them have been from set-pieces, which is unacceptable.

“That area of the game should be an asset, not a liability, and we are getting extremely punished. If we concede two goals from set-pieces then we cannot expect to win matches.

“It was definitely very far from the result and performance we wanted.

“It was an opportunity to kick off the year with a positive result for our fans, to change the energy a little bit and to keep building after a good point against Ipswich.

“Unfortunately, we were not good enough. The first half is really disappointing – really poor. It’s not that Cardiff created chances.”


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