3 areas where Cardiff City should look for reinforcements in January
After narrowly failing to beat the drop in the Premier League last season, Cardiff City returned to the Championship this summer as one of the outright favourites to make it back to the top-flight at the first time of asking.
To that end, however, the fans at the Cardiff City Stadium have every reason to be bitterly disappointed with the Bluebirds’ start to the ongoing campaign. Neil Warnock’s side currently sit 14th in the standings, having accumulated 4 wins and 6 draws after 14 rounds in the Championship.
There is still a long way to go in a 46-game season but Cardiff will have to come out of the mediocre standards they have set for themselves in the first quarter.
The Bluebirds are already 6 points adrift of the playoff places and that gap could well be widened in the coming months if Neil Warnock doesn’t find a way to turn around his team’s lacklustre run of form soon enough.
With that in mind, let us look at 3 areas where Warnock can bring in fresh faces during the mid-season trading period.
In Joe Bennett and Lee Peltier, the Bluebirds have got two of the most accomplished full-backs in the Championship, however, they lack a lot of quality depth beyond that.
Both Peltier and Bennett have been regular fixtures for Warnock this term but neither has managed to do an awful lot in terms of contributing to the attack.
One might argue that this is largely down to Warnock’s old-school philosophy but it won’t be a bad idea for Cardiff to bring in an exciting young full-back in January, preferably some out-of-favour Premier League starlet to bolster squad depth.
Jazz Richards is yet to make his return from a long-term injury while Leandro Bacuna and Callum Paterson, though capable of playing at right-back, are stop-gaps at best. Cameron Coxe is an exciting prospect coming through the club’s youth ranks but Warnock hasn’t been too keen to hand him opportunities.
With established wingers like Junior Hoilett, Josh Murphy and Nathaniel Mendez-Laing in the ranks, the Bluebirds can certainly do with more attacking full-backs to link up with the wide attackers in the final third and enhance overall gameplay.
2. A prolific striker
That might sound a bit awkward given that Cardiff spent a fortune in the summer to sign Robert Glatzel from German second-tier outfit Heidenheim.
However, with the towering German scoring only twice in 11 Championship appearances, Cardiff could be forced to hand over the responsibility of spearheading the attack to someone else, preferably a tried and tested striker in the division who is capable of delivering around 15 to 20 goals in the campaign.
Truth be told, Warnock has plentiful options at his disposal when it comes to the No.9 role, with Gary Madine, Omar Bogle, Isaac Vassell, Glatzel and Danny Ward all in the ranks.
However, it is imperative to say that neither of them has a prolific enough record to spearhead the attack for a promotion hopeful in the Championship and that has been quite apparent from their performances this season.
A return of 19 goals in 14 appearances looks quite decent on paper but it should be noted that Cardiff City have been outscored by several other teams further up the table.
The Bluebirds would definitely need to sell a few of their lacklustre strikers in order to accommodate fresh faces but whatever be the course of action, there needs to be some sort of movement in the striking department in January.
3. An out-and-out creative midfielder
Eyebrows were raised when Cardiff City loaned out Bobby Reid to promotion rivals Fulham at the start of the season and they have already missed his energy and X-Factor in the attacking third.
An influential playmaking forward with proven Championship pedigree, Reid was one of Cardiff’s better players in the Premier League last season and Warnock’s decision to part ways with him looked completely shocking in the first instance.
With Reid no longer in the picture, Lee Tomlin has been entrusted with the responsibility of sparking that much-needed creativity by operating in the hole behind the striker, but the 30-year-old has only scored and assisted once in 6 appearances.
He continues to be a decent option but the Bluebirds need someone in that No.10 role, who can play off a strong and powerful target man as well as pick out the right passes and run the channels, something Reid could have done so well for them.
The situation with Will Vaulks is turning into a big embarrassment given that he has hardly got a look in from Warnock following his move to South Wales from Rotherham United in the summer.
Joe Ralls and Marlon Pack have done a decent job in the middle but Vaulks certainly deserves to play more and he could well offer more of a goal threat in central midfield, having impressed with 7 goals and 7 assists for the Millers last season.
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Hoilett, Murphy and Mendez-Laing have all had their moments down the wide areas but the lack of a creative midfielder could be a big stumbling block in Cardiff’s pursuit of promotion.
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