With the Premier League campaign over, clubs will now be looking towards the transfer market with the intentions of improving their sides ahead of next season. The division’s recently relegated clubs, Cardiff, Norwich and Fulham, could provide a fantastic pool of players to be snatched up by the top flight’s survivors.
Here we look at the top five names who could be looking for a return to the Premier League this summer.
Leroy Fer – Norwich
Dutch midfielder Leroy Fer joined Norwich last summer, surely not expecting the club to be relegated. His first few months in England were a success, catching plaudits from pundits and making a difference in big games. As the season progressed, he became quieter and hasn’t caught the attention he did in the early months. However, the talented playmaker has still proven that he is worth investing in. He is an exciting player that is to feature in the World Cup for the Netherlands national team. Fer’s style of play means that he creates chances at will, he also has flair and can excite fans when on the ball. This, therefore means that clubs from the Premiership will surely be interested, come the transfer window.
David Marshall – Cardiff
David Marshall was named in the Sky Sports Team of the year, and already has Arsenal and Spurs battling for his signature over the summer. The Scotsman has impressed hugely this season, making some crucial saves. His consistency is also a key factor for any potential buyers. Over the course of the season he has been extremely consistent and Cardiff have had their number 1 to thank on many occasions. At times his saves have been nothing short of extraordinary, and the ex-Norwich keeper will no doubt be tempted by a stay in the top tier.
Steve Sidwell – Fulham
Despite his age of 31, Sidwell has proved that he still has it. Sidwell has been one of the only sparks in a dim season for the cottagers. Sidwell is Fulham’s top scorer this season with 7 premiership goals – more than all of their strikers put together. He has been known for his goals from distance, and he can pick out a pass. He’s still fit and hasn’t showed any dips in form. I think a move to a promoted club wouldn’t be out of the question, but maybe his championship calling has come.
Robert Snodgrass – Norwich
Robert Snodgrass joined Norwich in 2012 from Leeds United. Similarly to Sidwell, he’s been the constant spark for Norwich over the season. Their top scorer with 6 goals, and he has created almost double the amount of chances as any other Norwich player, with 64. Not only this, but he created the 7thmost amount of chances in the Premiership this season. His quality of delivery has made him a target for clubs in the Premiership, with Sam Allardyce and West Ham reportedly chasing him. The 26 year old will surely not want to drop out of the Premiership now.
Steven Caulker – Cardiff
In the summer of 2013, Steven Caulker made the move from Spurs to South Wales in the hunt for first-team football. He got this- not missing one game this season. Following relegation, he is now being targeted by Brendan Rodgers’ Liverpool, amongst others. Caulker has impressed this season, and has been a rock at defence. The 6ft 3 centre back is extremely strong, and good in the air – he has also chipped in with 5 goals. Caulker looks certain to leave Cardiff, having gained attention due to first team football.
Three takeaways from Tuesday’s Championship action
Cardiff and Wolves extended their lead at the top of the Championship table.
Last night featured a blockbuster slate of Championship matches, with all of the top three clubs in action. Here are the main talking points from Tuesday’s fixtures…
The title race is not over yet…
Cardiff City continued their scorching hot run of form with a 3-1 win over Brentford at Griffin Park. The Bluebirds notched their seventh straight league win thanks to goals from Sol Bamba, Matthew Paterson, and Kenneth Zohore. Cardiff showed impressive fortitude to fight back from a goal down, and after conceding just five minutes in, they clinically rebounded to claim the three points.
The win brings Neil Warnock’s side just three points behind the league leaders Wolves with nine matches to play, and given Wolves’ recent slip-ups, a late title bid is not out of the question. Mark your calendars for April 6th: the matchup between Cardiff and Wolves which could serve as a battle for first position.
But the battle for automatic promotion probably is.
As much as supporters of Aston Villa and Fulham would like to believe they have a chance to achieve automatic promotion, the top two is most likely settled. With Wolves joining Cardiff in picking up maximum points on Tuesday, the gap between second and third is now seven points with nine matches to go.
With Cardiff showing no signs of letting up, it looks immensely difficult to topple the Bluebirds off their perch in second. Although Fulham is in the midst of a 15-match unbeaten run and making an impressive late charge, Neil Warnock’s side are on an 11-match unbeaten run of their own.
The Championship cements its reputation as the most exciting league in England
There is arguably no league in England that is as intriguing and unpredictable as the Championship. The vaunted status of the division was on full display Tuesday night when Queens Park Rangers shocked Aston Villa 3-1 at Villa Park.
Villa sat in third and had just come off a brilliant, comprehensive 4-1 thrashing of Wolves on the weekend. QPR, on the other hand, came into the match mired in lowly 16th position. Yet Rangers embarrassed the Villains on their home pitch and raced out to a 3-0 lead. That’s just the magic of the Championship.
Will Championship great Neil Warnock earn a final shot at the Premier League?
Achieving promotion to the Premier League with second-placed Cardiff City would rank among Championship stalwart Neil Warnock’s finest career achievements, writes Greg Whitaker.
Earlier this week, Neil Warnock told the assembled press that he “loves it” when his Cardiff City side are not mentioned in the race for promotion this season.
The high flying Bluebirds have certainly proved a surprise package this season, with Warnock once again up to his old tricks and making good use of his vast managerial expertise.
With runaway leaders Wolves, along with the likes of Aston Villa and Derby, taking all the headlines this season, it would appear Cardiff are indeed operating under the radar.
With relatively limited resources at his disposal and no real promotion expectations prior to the start of the season, the highly divisive Warnock, even in his 38th year of football management, is once again showing why he is still the master at this level.
The 69-year-old, who is now managing his 15th club, is a rare beast in modern football.
Unapologetically honest and forthright, he is the last in a dying breed of old school British managers, and one of the very few who has managed to adapt and continue to succeed in a game that barely resembles the one he left as a player nearly four decades ago.
Cutting his managerial teeth in non-league football, Warnock soon began to make a name for himself as an up-and-coming manager during the 1980s.
His managerial career was kick-started when he guided Conference side Scarborough into the Football League for the very first time in 1987, making them first club to win automatic promotion following the abolition of the re-election system in the process.
Successful stints at Notts County, Huddersfield Town, Plymouth Argyle, Oldham and Bury followed, before he took over at his boyhood club, Sheffield United, in 1999.
Under his stewardship, the Blades were transformed from a struggling second tier side into serial promotion contenders, with the club’s long awaited return to the Premier League coming in 2006.
However, a highly controversial relegation the following season, immortalised by the image of the ‘ineligible’ Carlos Tevez scoring a vital winner for relegation rivals West Ham at Old Trafford, saw Warnock resign and take some time away from the game.
Despite the Blades receiving a £20 million settlement after a lengthy court battle, Sheffield United are yet to return to the Premier League – surely Warnock’s biggest regret of his career.
The former winger returned to the dugout with Crystal Palace, before getting his second shot at the Premier League after guiding fellow London outfit QPR to the Championship title in 2011.
Time spent at Leeds United, a second spell at Selhurst Park, and a relegation scrap with Rotherham all came and went before Warnock was announced as Paul Trollope’s successor at Cardiff City in October 2016.
Admitting when he took the job that it would likely be his last in football, Warnock has unashamedly stuck to his tried and tested management style, once again with great effect.
Packing his teams with leaders on the pitch and in the dressing room, organisation drilled into each and every squad member, and a ‘my way or the highway’ mentality, rarely so effectively implemented by anyone else in the modern game, has made him enemies over the years, but also brought him a great deal of success.
This method of success, along, of course, with his infamous short temper and frequently observable explosions of rage, often aimed at match officials, has given Warnock an almost pantomime villain image, and one which he loves to play up to.
Indeed, as he noted in a recent interview, when discussing how the past greats of football should be remembered, he said, “I don’t want silence. I want them all to be chanting “Warnock’s a w*****” over and over again. For a whole minute. That would be my ideal.”
However he presents himself, it cannot be argued that the man gets results.
Cardiff City were deeply mired in a relegation battle when Warnock took to the hot seat at the Welsh capital club in October of 2016.
Less than 18 months later the Bluebirds sit in second position, behind only runaway leaders, Wolves.
A turnaround made all the more impressive when Warnock’s transfer budget is taken into account.
The Welsh outfit have spent a little under £15m on incoming players during the last two transfer windows combined – a shadow of the money spent by other names in the promotion mix, including Wolves, Villa, Derby and Middlesbrough.
Although he has claimed in the past not to enjoy managing in the Premier League, it is hard to imagine Warnock is not itching for one last shot at the big time.
His Championship credentials are unquestionably up there with some of the great Football League managers.
However, fate has been unkind to the Yorkshireman during his only two spells managing in the top flight.
Football is all about theatre and narrative.
Despite a great deal of ‘pantomime’ animosity aimed at the Marmite-esque Neil Warnock, if he manages to take this unfancied Cardiff City side into the Premier League this season, it would surely rank as his finest achievement, and cement his status as one of the second tier’s greatest managers.
Who were the three stand-out performers in Cardiff’s cup win over Portsmouth?
Cardiff City booked their place in the second round of the Carabao Cup with an extra-time win over League One outfit Portsmouth.
The Bluebirds didn’t make things easy and found themselves a goal down at the break after captain Steve Morrison turned the ball into his own net.
In the second half, the home side were much improved and it took them less than five minutes to draw level.
Portsmouth did not drop their heads though. Kenny Jackett’s side matched the Championship outfit but could not find the same openings their opponents did.
Greg Halford’s late goal was enough to secure safe passage for the much-changed Cardiff side and avoid a penalty shootout.
Neil Warnock will have been disappointed it took extra-time to see off lower league opposition. First-team players Steve Morrison, Bruno Manga and Lee Tomlin will all need that little bit more recovery time as a result.
However, he will not be disappointed with the performances shown by some of the Bluebirds’ fringe players.
Matthew Kennedy was the game’s best player. His top-class performance will make Warnock think twice about sending the midfielder out on loan again.
Since his arrival in South Wales, the former Everton player has not had many chances to impress. Last season he was loaned out to Plymouth where he helped the Pilgrims secure promotion, alongside Portsmouth and Doncaster.
From the left, Kennedy caused Portsmouth’s defenders a whole host of problems, especially in the second half as he and Jazz Richards linked up beautifully.
His determination was epitomised by his run which led to Cardiff’s first goal. A loose ball looked destined to go out for a throw-in but Kennedy had other plans.
Not only did he keep the ball in play but he beat two defenders before squaring the ball to Nathaniel Mendez-Laing for the simplest of finishes.
He could have added his name to the scoresheet as well if it weren’t for a great save for Luke McGee in the Portsmouth goal and a missed header.
With extra-time looming, Warnock replaced Kennedy with Junior Hoilett, the standing ovation from the Cardiff fans said everything about the youngster’s performance.
It won’t come as a surprise to Bluebirds fans to see his name in the squad for upcoming matches, and if he continues to impress he could find himself in the starting eleven before long.
Summer signing Loic Damour was unknown to the vast majority of Cardiff City fans, and his arrival raised a few questions marks.
Those doubts were well and truly put to bed after Tuesday night. Damour, whose style of play is likened to N’golo Kante, dominated the midfield from start to finish.
The Frenchman looked as comfortable going forward as he did when defending. His vision helped create numerous chances whilst his ability to read the game cut out attack after attack.
What was perhaps most impressive about his performance was how visibly comfortable he was with the ball at his feet.
Damour never rushed a decision and at times, it seemed, every single pass found its target. That surety in possession is something few players at Cardiff currently possess.
Joe Ralls and Aron Gunnarsson appear to be Warnock’s first choice centre-midfielder partnership this season. However, Damour, as he proved with his assist against Burton, will be extremely important from the bench.
Against Portsmouth, if it weren’t for Kennedy’s performance, Damour would have been man of the match.
Another new recruit, Mendez-Laing, was the touch of inspiration Cardiff needed on Tuesday night.
Warnock opted to start Anthony Pilkington ahead of the former Rochdale player but substituted the Irishman at half time.
Mendez-Laing’s impact was almost instant. Within five minutes he had leveled the score and was a handful for the Pompey defence all night.
Despite his height and powerful physique, the winger has blistering acceleration and made the opposition look snail-paced at times.
On another day he could have had a hat-trick in the second half alone but good last-ditch defender prevented him from taking home the match ball.
Like Kennedy and Damour, Mendez-Laing will have a role to play for Cardiff this season. If the Bluebirds are to challenge for a play-off spot, all three will need to continue to impress throughout the next ten months.
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