By Paul Jones
Sabri Lamouchi has insisted the ball is in Cardiff City’s court over whether or not he remains at the club next season.
Lamouchi’s final home game in charge ended with Sunday’s 2-1 defeat to Huddersfield, but with the Bluebirds already having secured their Championship status before the match because of other results, thoughts are now turning to next season.
The club appointed the Frenchman on a short-term deal to the end of the fixture list – which will be completed by a trip to champions Burnley – after he became their third manager of a poor campaign.
Lamouchi has delivered on his brief – to keep the club from being relegated, a real possibility when he took over in January – but Cardiff have so far not opened talks with a view to keeping him on.
“I am happy, you saw that I am happy here,” said Lamouchi.
“I am glad and I am proud to be manager of Cardiff City Football Club. I am happy to work with this squad.
“But it’s not about what I want to do, it’s about what the club want to do. It’s very simple.
“It’s not my decision. Not only my decision. Of course, I am free to decide, but I am happy here.
“I was surprised, honestly, when they called me, the situation of the club. I said yes because of the club. It’s a massive club and they deserve to stay in the Championship. I’m proud about that.”
“I don’t think the owner, chairman or people in the club, the fans, want to live the same season again.
“Obviously we need a massive decision from the club. Because we were so close [to relegation]. But we will play next season in the Championship, where Cardiff City Football Club are meant to be.
Guided by former Cardiff boss Neil Warnock, Huddersfield are now just one point away from securing their Championship safety after holding on for the win.
Substitute Joseph Hungbo’s powerful opener and Jack Simpson’s own goal gave Huddersfield a three-point buffer between themselves and the relegation zone.
Three changes – Ng, O'Dowda, Kaba out. Simpson, Sawyers, Ojo in. Colwill makes the bench.
Cardiff XI: Alnwick; Romeo, McGuinness, Kipre, Simpson; Wintle, Sawyers, Ralls; Ojo, Etete, Philogene.
Subs: Luthra, Ng, Rinomhota, Colwill, Davies, Kaba, Wickham. https://t.co/ZfpOnzMcCE
— Glen Williams (@GlenWilliams12) April 30, 2023
Cardiff replied through Isaak Davies’ first goal of the season seven minutes from time but the Terriers held on to the three points when Lee Nicholls saved superbly from Rubin Colwill.
A draw on the final day at home to 22nd-placed Reading will be enough to keep Huddersfield up, although Warnock’s side could guarantee their Championship status by avoiding defeat to promoted Sheffield United on Thursday.
Lamouchi admitted: “It is not exactly how we want to finish our season but, as I said to the players, one month ago… we would have paid to be safe before this game,” he said of the game.
“Of course we are not happy, but our goal was to stay in the Championship and Cardiff deserve to be in the Championship, so job done.
“At the beginning of the season there were 17 young players, and I’m the third manager [but] we made it, we saved the club. It is a massive achievement.
“Three months ago I signed for this massive club and said there is enough quality to stay in the Championship and we did it.”
Can't believe what I'm seeing about today's performance.
People questioning Sabri Lamouchi's ability.
Do these people realise that we've played 5 games in the past 15 days. Pretty much a game everyother day. Literally they're getting little to no time to recover pic.twitter.com/a9SAp9Mye9
— CCFCxKABA48 (@CCFCxKABA48) April 30, 2023
Warnock has pulled off an even greater escape.
When the 74-year-old arrived at Huddersfield on February 13, they were 23rd in the table and just a point off the bottom. They had 28 points from 30 games.
Since then, he has taken 19 points from 14 matches – including five victories – enough to take them clear of the dotted line with two games to go.
“We were six points adrift with an horrific fixture list, so these players have really done me proud,” he said.
“It’s not done yet and we still need to finish the job, but it just shows you what you can do. I think the lads have probably surprised themselves, but we’ve got better players than the results we were achieving.”
Warnock confirmed this could well have been his last away fixture before permanent retirement, but he never says never for long.
“I felt emotional coming back here and the reception I had from the Cardiff fans really got me going. I am a bit soft watching films these days. I cried at Forrest Gump, me.
Warnock said the secret to his success was not complicated.
“It’s not rocket science – giving people praise and encouragement for the job they are doing.
“That goes for running a football club, or running a corner shop.”
Neil Warnock Manager of Huddersfield Town celebrates at the final whistle of the Sky Bet Championship match Cardiff City vs Hud …@CardiffCityFC #CardiffCity@htafc #htafc#Skybetchamp @EFL@craignewsimages
Sales – email@example.com pic.twitter.com/X3yxsIKq9T
— News Images (@news_images_uk) April 30, 2023