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Solskjær’s Cardiff rev-ole-tion continues: Meet the new men pitted with keeping the club in the Premier League

Cardiff City manager Ole Gunnar Solskjær is set to announce the signings of former Molde players Magnus Wolff Eikrem and Mats Møller Dæhlie in the next 24 hours. As the new manager, players and backroom staff settle into the club and attempt to turn around Cardiff City’s fortunes at the bottom end of the Premier League, ViewFromTheStands looks at the men tasked with implementing this Norwegian revolution in South Wales…

Ole Gunnar Solskjær

As far as managerial spells go, winning the league title back-to-back – including the clubs first in their 100 year history – alongside lifting a domestic cup, is pretty much as good as it gets. That is exactly what highly-rated manager Ole Gunnar Solskjær achieved in his three year stint in charge of Molde FK, becoming somewhat of a hero along the way.

Now, in his return to the isles in which he tasted so much success as a player, Solskjær is aiming to turn Cardiff City from a club battling turmoil both on and off the pitch, into an established Premier League side – but first, he must keep his new side in the division.

In order to achieve that, the former Manchester United forward has turned to former players Magnus Wolff Eikrem and Mats Møller Dæhlie. It must be said, not a lot is known about these two men, other than the fact they are both known well by Solskjær.

Grainy Youtube footage puts across the image that these are players with potential, though perhaps not able to make it in the Premier League – alas much-maligned Andreas Cornelius, who has so far failed to adapt to life in English football.

Harsh, maybe, though what Cardiff need right now is a set of players who can push the club clear of trouble, before Solskjær can then plan – and implement – his own full-term rebuilding project.

So what do we know about the two men who are set to be announced officially in the coming days? Firstly, Dæhlie, as Norwegian journalist and Molde fan Erik Skavold Lystad tells ViewFromTheStands, is a player with “a touch unlike anyone else in the Norwegian top-flight.”

Dæhlie arrived at Molde from Manchester United’s reserve squad last summer, with the promise of first team football under former United Reserve team manager Solskjær.  The 18-year-old made an immediate impact.

“His creativity and technique is very pleasing to watch,” Lystad said. “His lack of outright pace is compensated for with his smart movement and ability to keep the ball.

“At such a young age, we should expect great things from Dæhlie.”

Great things, indeed. As this is a player who has already represented his country at senior level and also captained Manchester United’s reserves- a team which included Adnan Janazaj, who is also touted for a promising future in the Premier League.

Reports suggested that Solskjær had targeted the youngster to compensate for Cardiff’s lack of a ball-keeping midfielder alongside record signing Gary Medel. In fact, besides Medel’s incredible 90% pass accuracy rate, fellow midfielders Peter Whittingham (80%), Kim Bo-Kyung (83%), Aron Gunnarsson (78%), Jordon Mutch (70%), Craig Noone (67%) and Don Cowie (83%), are struggling to retain possession in the middle of the field. The most damning aspect of this statistic being that the average pass range of said players is around 9 yards.   Read more…

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Meet Cardiff City’s record transfer signing: Andreas Cornelius

For a player with just one season under his belt in professional football, £8.5m  – a deal which has smashed Cardiff’s previous transfer record of £5m for Michael Chorpa – seems an awful lot for a relatively unknown player. Despite this, Andreas Cornelius is the latest Danish youngster to make an impression on a list of European clubs, with the Bluebirds coming from nowhere to secure his services.  

ViewFromTheStands looks at what tempted Mackay to make a move for the youngster, and just why was he so sought after by a handful of fellow Premier League sides?

cornelius

Cornelius was picked up by Copenhagen just two years ago at the age of 18 from Fremad Amager, at which time he was beginning to make a name for himself at international level. Firstly with the U -18 side where he scored twice in his six appearances, before moving on to U -19 level where he tallied four more goals.

Just 12 months after making the short move across Copenhagen from Amager, Cornelius made his club début in April 2012 – one of two appearances he would make for the club at the back end of the season. It would be the following campaign (2013/14) however that the 6ft 4in striker would truly shine, starting with his first goal for Copenhagen against Midtjylland on the opening day, which he followed up with another strike against Odense in a 2-2 draw.

Cornelius would go on to score 18 top-flight goals for his club in the Danish Superliga last season, making him the top scorer in Denmark at the age of just 20. This, combined with the six caps he picked up for his country – including a goal against the Czech Republic in March – has led to Stoke, QPR, Everton, Chelsea and Arsenal among others sending scouts out to the Scandinavian country to pay close attention to the youngster. Read more…

Bargain buys: The free transfers who can bolster Cardiff’s squad

A full 69 days have passed since Cardiff City secured their place back in the top tier for the first time in over half a century, though so far there have been no new players brought in.

This may not seem particularly worrying, though with manager Malky Mackay this week hinting that certain players have turned down a move to the Bluebirds, some more realistic targets than previously listed may have to be found.

ViewFromTheStands looks at a range of the  free transfers yet to find a new club so far this summer, who can help bolster Cardiff’s squad ahead of their opening game against West Ham in eight weeks time.

Promotion joy for City, but could the likes of Benayoun and Santa make the move to south Wales?

Promotion joy for City, but could the likes of Benayoun and Santa Cruz be making the move to south Wales this summer? [Photo: WalesOnline]

Goalkeeper

One of the most memorable aspects of City’s promotion last season was the ability to shut-out teams and win games by the odd goal. David Marshall, who has also seemingly edged his way back into contention with the Scotland national side, was the man to thank for the positive defensive statistics.

Marshall was ever-present in what was a memorable campaign for the Welsh side, keeping a total of 18 clean sheets. There’s no question that the Scot deserves his chance in the Premier League, though what about his back-up?

That role is currently filled by former Peterborough ‘keeper Joe Lewis who managed just two starts last season – both coming in disappointing cup losses at the first hurdle. Lewis conceded twice in the opening season clash against Northampton Town, though he stood up fairly well to the aerial bombardment thrown at him by the home side.

Lewis looked to have a promising future ahead of him following a call-up to the England national side in 2008 for friendly matches against Trinidad and Tobago and the United States, though he failed to build on this and eventually fell out of favour at Peterborough under Darren Ferguson.

Whether or not Lewis could handle what the Premier League has to offer should he be called upon is open to debate, though two men who would most certainly stand up to the test are Mark Schwarzer and Lee Camp.

Former Forest stopper Lee Camp is available on a free - an improvement on Lewis?

Former Forest stopper Lee Camp is available on a free – an improvement on Lewis?

Schwarzer, who will celebrate his 41st birthday later this year, has bags full of experience in the Premier League, though as he edges towards retirement, one full season of first team football may be a requirement for the Australian stopper – something which Mackay can’t offer, thanks to the form of Marshall.

Lee Camp meanwhile still has time on his hands. At the age of 28, Camp made it clear he was after Premier League football when he left Nottingham Forest earlier this year after five seasons, before being snapped up by Norwich.

The Northern Irishman made three appearances for Norwich in his short stay with the Canaries,  playing a full 90 minutes on just one occasion. Camp did however manage 75 minutes against Swansea, following an injury to first choice ‘keeper Mark Bunn. In that game, Camp’s goal was attacked throughout by the Swans with a total of 18 strikes towards goal – though it should be noted that the vast majority of those were off target.

Camp conceded twice, though there was little he could have done about either goal, and he can be happy with his overall performance after pulling off four decent saves. It’s clear to see from Camp’s three appearances in the Premier League last season that he doesn’t favour playing out from the back, and goes long with his passes near enough 100% of the time.

Malky Mackay has all-but ruled out bringing in a new goalkeeper this summer placing his faith in Marshall and Lewis, though with the likes of Schwarzer and Camp available on a free, he may get his head turned as we move closer towards the start of the season. Read more…

Summer transfer window: Five players linked with a move to Cardiff City

Eight weeks on from Cardiff City’s promotion to the Premier League, numerous players – some better known than others – have been linked with a move to South Wales.

As the bluebirds prepare for their first season back in the top-flight for over half-a-century, ViewFromTheStands looks at some of those who Malky Mackay could make an approach for this summer.

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Bafétimbi Gomis

Upon promotion to the Premier League, it is inevitable that the odd high profile name will be bandied around. In this case, Gomis – who certainly falls under that top bracket of players of which this club has not been linked with in many a year (excluding the over-the-hill Robbie Fowler and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, of course).

At the age of 27, the French international striker has come off the back of another successful season, with 18 goals and five assists in his 33 appearances for Lyon last season. It’s form similar to that which seen him replace David Trézéguet ahead of Euro 2008 – with two goals on his début against Ecuador making him the first French player to score a brace on his full international start. Gomis1

Though what about the Centre Forwards style of play? As can be seen in this snapshot (right) taken from Gomis’s last home start for Lyon against former club Troyes – a match in which the prolific forward scored twice – he likes to make a nuisance of himself in and around the six-yard-box. Though there is more to ‘baby Drogba’ than simply scoring tap-ins, with his trademark hold-up play and high passing accuracy (he completed 17 of his 20 attempted passes in the Troyes game) making him a real force in Ligue 1.

It’s no secret that Malky Mackay carries out a full check on all potential signings, with his trademark dossiers allowing him to build on the strong team spirit that has been constructed in the camp during his two year tenure. One of the negative aspects of Gomis’s game is his lack of defensive duty – something which can be highlighted using StatsZone. This time, using the final game of the season against Rennes as an example (below), Gomis’s defensive abilities in the hour he was on the field culminated in two fouls committed in and around the opposition penalty area. It could be argued that the role of the striker is to simply score goals, though in modern football being able to attack from the back and defend from the top is key – though with Malky refusing to rule out a move for the international striker when quizzed on the subject last month, a move for Gomis may still be on the cards.

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Carlton Cole

Moving closer to home, and being perhaps a little more realistic, former West Ham striker Carlton Cole is another player to have been linked with a move to the Bluebirds this summer. Cole is notorious for dividing fans with his all-round ability: he can work hard for the team, bringing others into play, but as a result his goals-to-game ratio is pretty slim.

With spells at Chelsea, Wolves, Charlton and Aston Villa under his belt, Cole moved to West Ham back in 2006 where, in a seven year spell which came to an end this summer, the former England international striker managed 47 goals in just over 200 games – not a terrible record when combined with his assists tally, though a large amount of those goals came during West Ham’s spell in The Championship two seasons ago.

It was during that spell in the second-tier of English football that Cole showed Cardiff first-hand what he was capable of, being a driving force in his side’s 5-0 aggregate victory against the Bluebirds in a match that was soon forgotten due to the controversial rebrand which surfaced minutes after the final whistle blew at Upton Park.  Upon the Hammers’ return to the Premier League, Cole found starts hard to come by following the loan signing of Andy Carroll – a move which incidentally paved the way for Nicky Maynard to join Mackay’s men on transfer deadline day last year.

With the odd 30 minute cameo not really being enough to judge Cole on, during his last 90 minute appearance for West Ham – a goalless draw against Liverpool at Anfield – the 29-year-old showcased his mobile ability drifting around the pitch, though in what many way encapsulates the player perfectly in recent years, his passing ability let him down (below). On the face of it a 62% pass accuracy is not exactly terrible, though with many of these passes being no more than a few yards, Cole’s ability to bring team-mates into the game appears to have diminished, and it’s no real surprise to see West Ham part company with the player. Read more…

Northampton Town 2 – 1 Cardiff City: Young city side get season off to a losing start

Match report

Last season’s League Cup runners-up Cardiff came crashing down at Sixfields Stadium as Northampton pulled off one of the shocks of the round.

A largely inexperienced City side failed to hold on to an early lead, as goals from David Artell and Alex Nicholls sent the Cobblers into round two.

The match began in the perfect way for the Bluebirds who went ahead after just four minutes through debutant Heidar Helguson, who converted from the penalty spot. The Icelandic striker – who signed on a one-year-deal for the club two weeks ago – was brought down inside the area and stepped up to send the visitors ahead.

With eight players on international duty, the Welsh club fielded a largely inexperienced side, with Joe Mason the only survivor from last season’s League Cup Final.  It was Mason who looked to create chances for strike partner Helguson, but in the end the strong Northampton defence frustrated last season’s young player of the year.

The League Two side took advantage of Cardiff’s inexperience, testing the back four’s defensive ability with constant balls into the box. On the whole youngster Ben Nugent and experienced defender Dekel Keinan dealt well with the Northampton crosses, but on the 37 minute mark a cross into the box from Chris Hackett was converted by David Artell to draw the Cobblers level.

Young Bluebirds’ side warm-up before the Northampton clash

The second half saw Cardiff withdraw Mason, who is still getting up to match fitness after picking up an injury at Forest Green Rovers, replacing him with new signing Jordon Mutch. This change would prove controversial as Mutch was forced back to the changing rooms to change some taping on him socks (new FA rules state players must wear the same colour tape as their socks). The hosts made the most of their numerical advantage with Alex Nicholls heading past Joe Lewis.

Lewis, also making his Cardiff debut, failed to deal with the ball into the box and it was left to Nicholls to punish the Bluebirds.

As Mutch returned to the field of play, McPhail departed with what is expected to be a re-occurrence of a hamstring injury that forced him off against Forest Green Rovers last month. Youngster Tommy O’Sullivan replaced the Irishman, who looked promising throughout the remainder of the game.

The League Two side had chances to extend their lead, the best of which fell to Kevin Langmead, with the defender forcing Lewis into a decent save to keep his side in the contest.

Helguson was replaced by Nat Jarvis, taking the average age of the side to 21, but despite the fresh legs, Malky Mackay’s men failed to create any real chances throughout the second half. Read more…

Cardiff City season review 2011/12

With a new manager and what appeared to be a whole new squad to go with it, Cardiff City went into the 2011/2012 season with fans expecting little more than a mid-table finish. How wrong we would all be! A season which saw the Bluebirds compete for much of the season as real automatic promotion challengers, as well as a memorable cup run, helped make this one of the most memorable seasons in Cardiff City’s history.

The season began with the Bluebirds travelling to London on the opening weekend to face a West Ham side who were favourites for an instant return to the Premier League. After soaking up the pressure for much of the game, it looked as though Malky Mackay’s men would be heading back to Cardiff with a well-earned point, but in the dying minutes of the game, one of many new faces, Rudy Gestede, made space down the right-hand side to cross for Kenny Miller who beat Robert Green to send the pocket of City fans wild. In many ways, what we saw in this opening match characterised what Mackay had brought to the club – hard work, a strong team ethic, and leaving nothing out on the pitch in order to win the hearts of the supporters.

This impressive victory was followed up with a 3-1 home win against Bristol City in the Severn-side derby, but sandwiched between the two league matches was the start of what would turn into another magical cup run, starting away at Oxford United. City needed extra-time to prevail against the U’s, with goals from Peter Whittingham and Nat Jarvis seeing the Bluebirds through.

Despite a home loss to surprise package Brighton – who took the league by storm in the opening months – and draws away at Burnley and Portsmouth, City rounded off what many would agree was a decent start to Mackay’s first season in charge, picking up victories against Doncaster in the League and Huddersfield in the cup. The Bluebirds would again need extra-time to prevail, but a fantastic display from Don Cowie and Craig Conway gave City fans a lot to be hopeful for in a 5-3 victory. The Bluebirds used momentum from these early rounds to come out on top against fellow Championship sides Leicester and Burnley at home in the following rounds – it was now that the Cardiff faithful could begin to get excited.

As the months passed, Cardiff found themselves in third place heading into their quarter-final clash with Blackburn after a huge victory at home to Southampton, as well as picking up all three points against Barnsley, Nottingham Forest and Crystal Palace (a side we would see a lot of during the course of the season). The build-up to the QF match was dominated by the recent death of Gary Speed, a man who held a place in the hearts of all Welsh football supporters. It would prove to be a memorable night under the lights at Cardiff City Stadium, with Kenny Miller making the breakthrough on the 20 minute mark. A goal from Fillip Kiss at the start of the second-half all but ended the tie, with chants of Speeds name echoing around CCS on an emotional night that will not be forgotten for a long time, as Cardiff headed into the semi-finals with a 2-0 win. Read more…

Carling Cup Final: Match Preview

At Wembley Stadium on Sunday, Liverpool and Cardiff City will battle it out to lift the first silverware of the season. The Reds go into the game as strong favourites to win their first major trophy in six years, but Cardiff will be looking to pull off a huge upset.

You have to go back sixteen years for the last time Liverpool played in a Wembley cup final, Dalglish’s men will be hoping for a different outcome this time around, with 33,000 of their fans making the journey down to London this weekend.

For Cardiff City it’s a completely different story, in this their fourth Wembley appearance in four years. The Bluebirds have suffered major heartache under the famous arch in recent seasons, losing in both the FA Cup and Play-off final in their last two visits.

Malky Mackay will be hoping that he is the man to take Cardiff that extra step, something that former manager Dave Jones failed to achieve in his six year stint with the club. Despite finishing in the top six for the past two seasons and being on course for another Wembley showdown in May, the Welsh club seemingly falter at the last hurdle – The heartache emphasised even more by rivals Swansea’s promotion to the Premier League last summer.

It’s because of this that Liverpool can’t afford to take Cardiff lightly, this will not just be a day out for the barmy Welsh supporters, but an opportunity to stop one of Europe’s biggest clubs from picking up silverware for another season.

In fact, just last season, Arsenal took on Birmingham in what looked to be a one-sided final, but a late Obafemi Martins goal meant that the Gunners would go another season without a trophy, something Liverpool simply can’t afford.

Semi-final hero Tom Heaton helps send the Bluebirds back to Wembley

With victory on Sunday comes a place in the Europa League, certainly no match for the European glory days for Liverpool that their fans are so used to, but it’s a start in what is a building process after a poor couple of seasons in which has seen one of the lands most successful sides miss out on Europe’s elite competitions completely.

It will be an emotional day for Welshman Craig Bellamy, who will be facing one of former sides. But unlike with any of his vast array of former clubs, Bellamy has a firm attachment to the side he led to the Championship play-offs last season. Supporting the Bluebirds as a boy, he always dreamed of seeing them lift a major trophy, now here he is, the man tasked with stopping them from achieving just that.

That’s not the only link between the two clubs, with Cousins Anthony and Steven set to battle it out on the pitch. The Gerrard family will all be attendance, but they will be siding with older cousin Steven, due to the fact it is a family of loyal Liverpool supporters. Read more…

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