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Erol Bulut Insists Hard Work Has Transformed High-Flying Cardiff City


By Gareth James

Erol Bulut believes his Cardiff City players are reaping the rewards for their hard work after they climbed to the fringes of the Championship play-off spots.

The Bluebirds snatched a 1-0 win at Sunderland to make it three successive victories for manager Bulut after maximum points were taken off Swansea City and Coventry City.

Cardiff have moved up to seventh in the early season table and are only outside of the play-off places on goal differ ence.

“When we look at the start of the season, we were leading in a few games but losing them, and lost points,” said Bulut.

Against the ball we didn’t work very well; there were some individual mistakes and the concentration was not how I liked it. We have trained really hard on that, and today was great.

“Sunderland have a really good team. For me, with the ball they are one of the best teams in the Championship.

“They have real quality, good young players. Of course, for us it was not easy to get the victory, because we have seen them dominate their last games.

“But today, we showed fighting spirit. I said to my players before the game in the dressing room, they will need fighting spirit and winning spirit.

“The chances will come, and we have to finalise it. Today, we got the chance and we finalised it. Great work from all my players. We trained yesterday, and we did set pieces. We got the chance, and I’m glad that we did!

“We have three wins. I said last week, we have to keep our feet on the ground and keep calm. We have a lot of work in front of us. It’s not easy.”

Former Sunderland academy player Jak Alnwick kept his old club at bay before Mark McGuinness headed home a late winner.

Alnwick – the 30-year-old goalkeeper, who left the Black Cats to join Newcastle in 2008 – made a string of fine saves to frustrate Tony Mowbray’s men.

And with three minutes remaining centre-back McGuinness headed in the only goal of the game to make it four wins from five for the Bluebirds.

That was enough to bring an end to Sunderland’s five-match unbeaten and they remain fifth in the Sky Bet Championship standings.

Cardiff, who move up to seventh, had a couple of earlier half-chances but this was a fixture when they were thankful to Hexham-born Alnwick for keeping them in it.

Mowbray named an unchanged team in a bid to continue the excellent run of form but Cardiff, under former Fenerbahce boss Bulut, have enjoyed recent positivity too after a slow start to the season.

Cardiff were set up to frustrate, with the home side quick to enjoy plenty of possession in the opposition’s half.

But chances were few and far between early on at the Stadium of Light, where Friday’s England Women’s Nations League win over Scotland pushed back this fixture by 24 hours.

After Karlan Grant had fired over from distance for Cardiff, Sunderland started to get more joy at the other end and should have taken the lead 22 minutes in.

Just minutes after Jobe Bellingham had headed into the arms of Alnwick, the goalkeeper looked beaten when Alex Pritchard side-footed towards the bottom corner.

But Cardiff defender Dimitrios Goutas’ touch was enough to take the effort inches wide of the upright after some clever play from Abdoullah Ba and Bellingham down the left created the opportunity.

Even though Sunderland had to be aware of Cardiff’s counter-attacks, Jack Clarke was next to go close when he skipped past two men and forced Alnwick into a low stop before half-time.

The flow of the game continued that way after the restart. Alnwick was again on hand low to his right to stop Pritchard’s drive from the edge of the area after a lovely move also involving Mason Burstow and Clarke.


While goalless the door was always open for Cardiff and Ike Ugbo turned and shot over after the visitors created a promising opening when Burstow was dispossessed on halfway moments after he was cautioned.

Sunderland kept pressing and Clarke’s excellent run and pass was followed by Alnwick saving from Patrick Roberts’ first-time effort, while fellow substitute Adil Aouchiche’s rebound was blocked by a defender.

Cardiff’s Kion Etete forced Anthony Patterson into a stop after a mazy run through the Sunderland backline with 10 minutes remaining as the game suddenly opened up.

And the ideal away performance was complete when McGuinness arrived at the back post to nod Ryan Wintle’s corner inside the bottom corner late on.


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