Erol Bulut Tells Cardiff City Players: You’re Not Great, Yet

Cardiff City Manager Erol Bulut during the Sky Bet Championship match between Sunderland and Cardiff City at the Stadium Of Light, Sunderland on Sunday 24th September 2023. (Photo by Michael Driver/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Erol Bulut Tells Cardiff City Players: You’re Not Great, Yet


By Gareth James

Erol Bulut has suggested his Cardiff City players have believed too much in the hype after they were held to a 1-1 draw at home to Watford.

After four successive victories sent them surging up the Championship table, the Bluebirds have suffered defeat at Middlesbrough and were denied a win by the Hornets.

Their Turkish manager claimed his players may have felt too comfortable after recent pats on the back and said: “Perhaps after four wins in a row we thought we were great, but we have to work, and today we didn’t work as a group.

“I am satisfied with the start of the season, but not with today.

“The first 35 minutes was good, but I don’t know what happened afterwards. We totally changed.

“I don’t know why, whether it was pressure or they were stressed. In the end we have to be happy with one point.

“We played too many balls back to the goalkeeper which was not necessary. We created the chances for them. When we have the chance to play forward, we must do it. You can use the goalkeeper, but not too much.”

It was Jak Alnwick’s second-half howler that allowed Watford to claim a draw.

The Cardiff goalkeeper’s clumsy control of a harmless pass from centre-half Mark McGuinness gifted a 54th-minute equaliser to Hornets striker Vakoun Bayo.

The Bluebirds had taken the lead in the 26th minute through McGuinness, but never played with the energy they needed to bounce back from their midweek defeat at Middlesbrough.

Watford boss Valerien Ismael may feel his side deserved all three points but at least they stopped a run of three successive defeats.

Cardiff went into the game with injuries depriving them of significant firepower but that did not stop the hosts creating all the early chances.

Ike Ugbo, holding the forward line in the absence of others, came within inches of connecting with a rebound after Watford goalkeeper Daniel Bachmann palmed away a shot by midfielder Karlan Grant in the 17th minute.

Grant then found himself clean through at the midway point of the first half, only to blaze a careless attempt high over the crossbar.

The Hornets failed to heed the warnings, and in the 26th minute they fell behind to a goal that will have incensed manager Ismael.

A corner by Cardiff captain Joe Ralls was allowed to float to the far post where McGuinness converted a simple close-range volley.

Watford were not without threat up to the interval, but undid much of their good work in the final third with misdirected or overhit passes.

Striker Bayo dragged a clumsy shot wide when in space on the edge of the penalty area in the 33rd minute, but Watford saved their worst example of wastefulness until added time at the end of the half.

A back-pass by Cardiff defender Perry Ng was intercepted by Bayo, only for the Hornets man to lose control of the ball as he tried to round Alnwick.

There was a sense the equaliser might be coming, but nobody could have foreseen just how it would come in the 54th minute.

When a Watford attack broke down McGuinness played what looked a safe square ball to Alnwick, but the goalkeeper’s touch was hideous, the ball bouncing off him to Bayo who this time punished the error by side-footing home.

The leveller was reward for a marked Watford improvement which saw Ismael’s men take the ascendancy in midfield and offer far more menace going forward.

In the 78th minute another Cardiff error – this time a careless pass from Ryan Wintle – served up a glorious chance for Hornets substitute Tom Ince, who skied his shot into the stands.

Neither side could fashion a winner, and there was sense of frustration all round at full-time.

Watford boss Ismael said: “We should have won, no doubt about that.

“When a team has lost three games and is low on confidence it is difficult. We didn’t trust our own quality.

“The mentality in the second half was very good and we did not concede any chances.

“We expected more points than we have but we will take it step by step. The goal we conceded was incredible, just too easy. But we kept fighting.”


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