Cardiff City failed to win on the final day of the Championship season, but due to Fulham’s loss to Birmingham City, the Bluebirds were promoted to the Premier League.
They had been the frontrunners to clinch the second automatic promotion spot for the final few months of the season, but the form of the Cottagers meant that it wasn’t as comfortable as they would have liked.
Neil Warnock deserves a lot of credit for the achievement as he took over 19 months ago with the club in the relegation zone.
It looked like a battle against the drop was inevitable, but the wily veteran manager led them to a comfortable mid-table finish and established a playing style that was difficult to come up against.
Every Championship supporter will attest to the challenge posed by a team managed by Warnock and the Cardiff squad were quick to buy into his principles.
At the beginning of 2017, they went on a run of seven wins in ten Championship matches and proved that they could compete with the best in the division.
Kenneth Zohore emerged as an effective striker to lead the line, while the famous discipline of a Warnock team was on show with four clean sheets in their last seven matches.
The foundations were in place for a top-six push and it was important that they were built on.
Although they made several signings during the season and made further reinforcements in January, it was the core of the squad that was already at the club that was mainly responsible for promotion.
Nathaniel Mendez-Laing was the standout signing, adding attacking threat from the wider positions.
Meanwhile, Callum Paterson, Neil Etheridge and Marko Grujic all had a part to play.
There were failures in the market that need to be looked back on, with Lee Tomlin and Gary Madine unable to live up to their big fees.
The latter cost over £6 million and he didn’t score a single Championship goal for the club, despite proving his quality with Bolton Wanderers during the first-half of the season.
A quick look at the stats show why the majority of neutrals were willing Fulham to get promoted on the final day.
Cardiff averaged 45.4% possession and completed only 59.4% of their passes during the campaign. They relied on disciplined defending and a direct approach to get results.
It may have been primitive, but Warnock has a great record at winning promotion with this being his eighth as a manager.
He knows what is required and it shouldn’t be a surprise that he has managed to get his team over the line.
The next few weeks will be for celebrations, but Warnock will turn his focus to next season very quickly.
Throughout his time as a manager, he has failed to make an impact in the Premier League.
He was relegated at the first attempt with Sheffield United and was sacked mid-season by both QPR and Crystal Palace.
At the age of 69, he wouldn’t have been expecting another opportunity to prove himself at the highest level, but it has now arrived.
Despite his previous shortcomings, he is the main reason why Cardiff City were promoted and he deserves a chance to continue the good work at the next level.
It won’t be easy, but it would be foolish to back against him having more success this time around.