Whilst there is more than a degree of unease regarding Vincent Tan's methods (notably the changing of the club's kit colour and badge), Cardiff fans will now be feverishly excited about the start of their first Premier League season. Having won the Championship at something of a canter (being able to draw seven of their last league games) it would appear the Welsh club are the best placed of the three promoted clubs to survive. But this is still a huge step up for a number of their squad.
Whilst there may be much discussion about many of the owner's decisions, appointing Malky Mackay can now be viewed as something of a masterstroke. Too often have Cardiff managers fallen short, unable to cross the finishing line of Premier League promotion but Mackay's determination and demand for continued form made a collapse impossible last season. Having turned down a move to Norwich last summer, the Scot is now the LMA Manager of the Year for his achievements at the Cardiff City Stadium.
Ins and Outs
- Steven Caulker - £8m
- Andreas Cornelius - £7.5m
- Gary Medel - £9.5m
- Elliot Parish - Free
- Ben Nugent - Loan
- Heidar Helguson - Retired
Only turning 20 in March, it seems harsh to pile the pressure on the young Danish striker but, in paying £7.5m for his services, that is exactly what Cardiff have done.
Six years after leaving Aston Villa, Whittingham finally has the opportunity to test himself at a higher level. Responsible for dictating the midfield, he will have no problem in stepping up.
One of the signings of the summer, Cardiff have done exceptionally well to tempt a 21-year-old England international defender to a promoted club.
Strengths & weaknesses
The evident issue would appear to be goals. Cardiff scored fewer in the league than the two play-off finalists, and have allowed joint top scorer Heidar Helguson to leave the club. Cardiff won the Championship with a top scorer on just eight goals, and the pressure will certainly be on Cornelius and Fraizer Campbell to provide the ammunition. However, the example set by Southampton, Swansea City and Norwich City in recent seasons is that consolidation is possible whilst continuing to play attractive football, and if Mackay can demand his players operate in a fluid 4-3-3 that worked successfully last season, Cardiff have a fair chance of survival.
It is unusual for a promoted side to spend £27million and yet have only recruited five players, perhaps reflecting Cardiff's squad required evolution rather than the revolution needed at Hull and Crystal Palace. Gary Medel is a record buy while Cornelius will be judged by his goals and Caulker will almost certainly be a success. John Brayford has also been recruited from Derby County as defensive cover. But Mackay may feel that he needs a couple of season-long loan deals to finish things off.
"The group we have are at the fitness level we expect them to be at, so that's important. We're looking at good players to come in and we're trying to improve in all areas."
"Every player dreams of playing in the Premier League and making the step up. It is a nice feeling now that it has happened. I now need to prove myself to the team and the manager and knuckle down and work hard."
Facts and Figures
Years since Cardiff played in the top flight
Cardiff kept the highest number of clean sheets in the Championship
Cardiff scored more set-piece goals than any other Championship side
If you come up then survival is all you need to worry about. I think they will have a great support behind them in that stadium and they have got to try and make that into a fortress in their home games. For any team that comes up into the Premier League, it is about getting your head above water and then next year, once they have got another year of experience and more money, then they can go again. I would expect them to make a few more signings before the transfer window closes.