By Paul Jones
Cardiff City boss Sabri Lamouchi admits he never experienced a relegation battle as a player and is learning with every game as his side attempts to avoid the dreaded drop into League One next season.
The Bluebirds are just a point outside the bottom three with six games to go, two of which are away to the top two sides in the Championship – starting at Sheffield United today.
The former French international picked up two Ligue 1 titles in French with Auxerre and Monaco, as well as helping Parma win the Coppa Italia, during a near 20-year career as a player that involved 470 games.
Manager Sabri Lamouchi says he wants his Cardiff City players to "feel the pressure" of the relegation battle as they try to stay in the Championship ⚽#BBCFootball
— BBC Sport Wales (@BBCSportWales) April 13, 2023
It’s not silverware, but survival, he is chasing between now and the end of the season and he knows the pressure is on him and his players.
“Everything is still in our hands, and it depends on us – and we mustn’t forget that,” said Lamouchi.
“It’s a new feeling for me because I never got relegated as a player, or even got close. I’ve learned a lot in my two months here.
“It has been an important experience for me at an important club with a massive fan base. I’m learning about this situation from the players, and from being involved in the fight
The important thing for us is to focus on what we need to do. It’s a difficult time for many people in different ways and the pressure is on absolutely everyone.
“I feel this pressure and I hope the players do as well because it’s exactly the same for the other teams. There are four teams with just two points between them and five within four points of each other.
“This is a not a race between one or two teams, but four or five.”
The third manager for the Bluebirds in this troubled season, the 51-year-old Frenchman was tasked with keeping the club in the second tier. Had Reading not been deducted six points recently, Cardiff would have been in the bottom three at present.
They were last in the third tier in English football back in the 2002-03 season and face a tricky run-in to the end of the campaign. Included in their final six games are key clashes with relegation rivals Huddersfield Town and Rotherham.
Lamouchi is hopeful of having Republic of Ireland international Callum O’Dowda and skipper Joe Ralls available to start after recovering from minor injuries. He is always awaiting a fitness update on Wales cap Rubin Colwill.
Rivals Swansea City and Cardiff don’t normally go out of their way to do favours for the other, but the Swans will be aiming to give a big lift to the Bluebirds this weekend.
That’s because Swansea host Huddersfield Town on Saturday, with the visitors battling against Cardiff to try and avoid relegation.
A victory for the Swans – over a Huddersfield team now managed by former Cardiff manager Neil Warnock – would be very welcome in the capital. Just a single point separates Cardiff in 21st place from Huddersfield above them in 19th.
Swansea head coach Russell Martin has his own reasons to want to do well in order to maintain his team’s momentum after three wins and a draw in their last four games.
Martin says: “Neil Warnock has done an incredible job at Huddersfield, so we know this will be a very tough game. They’re fighting for everything they’ve got.
“But we know we can impact a lot for many different clubs in the next few games.”
Theoretically, Swansea can still make the promotion play-offs but that would require them to win all five of their remaining matches and hope for a number of spectacular collapses among the clubs above them.
For Cardiff, a helping hand from the Swans against Warnock’s men would be huge. The Bluebirds have six games to save themselves from relegation and Huddersfield have hit form recently with 10 points taken from their last four games.
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