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Wales Online
Wales Online
Paul Abbandonato

The Cardiff City team that needs to be chosen for Championship run-in with new captain as crisis looms

As Albert Einstein would say, doing the same old thing time and again and expecting different results is... well you know how it goes.

Cardiff City are very close to reaching crisis point, with relegation to League One staring them in the face.

They are the lowest scorers in the Championship, just 21 goals in 30 games.

READ MORE: Cardiff City are right to panic, the scenarios that come with relegation to League One are frightening

They haven't won a match since November 5. In the 13 games since, they've failed to score in seven of them. They've lost the last three 1-0.

Many fans, who appear resigned to their fate, are already preparing for trips to Lincoln, Port Vale and Burton Albion next season.

When Supporters' Club chief Vince Alm, normally as supportive and optimistic as they come, tweets 'I've watched us relegated nine times this looks no different, similar to the 1999-2000 season under Frank Burrows where we failed to score enough goals,' then you know there are major problems.

But, but, but... hold on a moment.

This is a situation entirely resolvable for the Bluebirds. There are 16 matches to go, lots of points to play for, and they have the players to get out of this mess and capable of finishing much higher up in the table.

The most galling thing for some fans is that they don't think the best team has been picked this season, for differing reasons.

Defensively Cardiff look sound. Only five teams in the division have actually conceded a fewer number of goals. What Cardiff require is a different dynamic and mix going forward - and two of their home grown players Rubin Colwill and Isaak Davies, largely overlooked this campaign, can be key to that.

How about this XI as we head towards the run-in?


Ryan Allsop

He's the man in possession so should keep the number one shirt, albeit some feel Jak Alnwick deserves a go. But many supporters want Allsop to be more commanding in his box, particularly with crosses near his six-yard area. The winner scored by Luton is an example of that.

But he's Cardiff's best option.


Mahlon Romeo, Mark McGuinness (captain), Cedric Kipre, Callum O'Dowda

Romeo isn't fit at the moment, but he needs to return the moment he is. Defensively sound, decent going forward, he'll have an important role to play during the run-in. Harsh on Perry Ng, a regular under Steve Morison, Mark Hudson, Dean Whitehead and Sabri Lamouchi? Perhaps. But it demonstrates strength in depth so many feel Cardiff don't actually have.

In my view it was a silly decision from Morison to let McGuinness go out on loan as he is a very decent young centre-back in the making. Yes, he lost his form a bit at the tail end of last season, but who didn't in the City side?

He's excellent in the air, strong in the tackle, decent on the ball and reasonably quick. What's not to like? He can also give Cardiff much-needed set-piece threat, which is something Morison completely eradicated from the team with his selection.

McGuinness has only just turned 22, but he can be a rock upon which the Cardiff team is built for years. I'd also give him the captaincy. A lot has been made about a so-called lack of leaders in this team, but he looks to have those qualities about him, can lead by example with his own excellence and through being vociferous.

Kipre plays, end of.

As for left-back, I'm not convinced Joel Bagan has been given a fair crack particularly when Niels Nkounkou was being chosen ahead of him. But O'Dowda has to be in the side somewhere and he's looked solid enough as a converted full-back.


Ryan Wintle, Andy Rinomhota

Cardiff have needed legs and energy in the engine room for some time and still haven't got the blend right this season.

It's too easy to say the front four don't do enough, there's no goalscorer, or as Mark Hudson claimed: We were brilliant up to the final third." It's a team effort and the midfield need to do their bit when it comes to goals, assists and creativity, too.

Rinomhota seems to possess the ability to run beyond opposition defences, as well as defending himself and being tigerish enough in the tackle. It would be nice to put Romaine Sawyers next to him, but with four further forward that's perhaps being a little too idealistic.

So Wintle it is, but Cardiff do need more from him in either penalty box. His role in shielding the defence will be crucial as games become more and more tense towards the end of the campaign.

Joe Ralls still has an important role to play, but part of that would be coming on as a substitute with his experience and tenacity to help close out matches - when hopefully City are finally ahead in games, for a change. Cardiff may need that when the going gets tough.

Front four

Rubin Colwill, Callum Robinson, Isaak Davies, Sory Kaba

Cardiff have players who look excellent on the ball like Jaden Philogene and Sheyi Ojo, while Mark Harris never stops working. But the mix various managers have tried hasn't worked to date in terms of Cardiff scoring goals.

Growing pains or not, the treatment of Cowlill this season has been baffling to the majority of Bluebirds fans. He's either not been picked, had a few minutes as a substitute, or been stuck out on the wing.

Colwill is Cardiff's most creative talent. For a team that can't score goals not to utilise that ability is puzzling.

The Wales youngster needs to be picked at No.10, where he can make the play and provide the vision so sorely required to test defences where it really matters in and around the opposition penalty box.

Look at the way Swansea City have utilised Ollie Cooper. Shrewd observers who watch the two Welsh youngsters say that Colwill has the greater ability, he was the one chosen for the World Cup. Yet the Swans have invested in Cooper, he is brimful of confidence, scoring and assisting.

Cardiff have simply GOT to start maximising Colwill's potential and letting him play with greater belief, too. Morison would never entertain a luxury player, and it will be even harder for Lamouchi to do that in a relegation dogfight. But something needs to change. Sometimes you just have to free up a creative force like Colwill.

He has faults, of course he does, but he can also be a matchwinner. And, crikey, Cardiff need matchwinners at the moment.

We also haven't seen much of fellow young gun Davies. His searing pace and exuberance of youth can also offer a fresh dimension in the final third. In return, he has to score more goals.

Of course, the counter argument is that successive managers can't be wrong in overlooking Colwill and Davies, that they need to produce more. Yet I can't get out of my mind the way those two ripped apart Liverpool's defence to craft a goal at Anfield, won a game between them at Queens Park Rangers, Colwill destroyed Nottingham Forest and has done well in cameos with Wales. They have something about them, hopefully Lamouchi brings it out.

Robinson obviously plays. So too new striker Kaba, who is needed to provide the figurehead up top Cardiff have been missing the whole season, with Morison opting to move away from that type of player and style of play.

What Cardiff XI would you pick? Have your say in our comments section below

Since Kieffer Moore, Cardiff have needed a big man, who wins the headers, holds up the ball to link play and take pressure off the defence, and weighs in with a few goals.

Kaba, with that creative mix around him, could be that man, we hope.

The important point to stress here is that there are still 16 matches to go, 48 points to play for. Get a few wins and Cardiff will quickly climb that table.

Despite two initial defeats, and no goals, Lamouchi already shows signs of more offensive intent when it comes to his selection and substitutions and that is to be applauded.

At least his side aren't being hammered; there is a foundation from which to build. Turn nil-ones into draws, then draws into narrow wins.

Trouble is time is running out and Lamouchi will need to find the right blend fast. The above line-up might be closer to that blend than anything we've seen thus far?


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