Cardiff City are all but relegated following their 3-0 defeat to Crystal Palace on Saturday
The Bluebirds saw their entire season laid out in front of them this weekend. Sloppy defending, lack of invention and misguided optimism all featured in the damp 3-0 defeat to Palace, which will almost certainly end their short Premier League stay.
Many blame the club's problems on owner Vincent Tan, and his unjustified sacking of Cardiff hero Malky Mackay. Others have looked more to the players - and even at current manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s judgement - as the cause of poor performances. Wherever the reasons, Cardiff City must now start planning for an immediate return to the top-flight.
Here are a few areas that the Bluebirds must nail in order to make their forthcoming stay in the Championship a short one:
Although the majority would like to see the back of Vincent Tan, the Malaysian’s cash injection is the reason Cardiff are in the Premier League in the first place. Tan clearly enjoys the spotlight when the Bluebirds do well, so it remains to be seen whether he’ll stick around when relegation is inevitably confirmed. If he does, his finances will be key in recruiting new players this summer as the squad is restructured.
Keeping your best players is always a challenge for relegated sides, and Cardiff have quality in abundance. The likes of David Marshall, Steven Caulker, Jordon Mutch and Gary Medel have all proved their Premier League pedigree this season, but are unlikely to favour Championship football. Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s relationship with them will be truly tested. If key players have faith in his philosophy and long-term plans for the club, however, keeping them may be a possibility.
The professional structure of the club must be addressed. Cardiff need a clear process in which matters like transfer budget and targets are dealt with. If Tan doesn't want his manger overspending, then be around to ensure it doesn’t happen. If he has an issue with Solskjaer, Tan should deal with him on a one-to-one basis (not via email).
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
Cardiff have a young manager who has already proved himself overseas, but he needs time to be able to establish himself as a manager in England. Solskjaer has already declared his future is with Cardiff, regardless of the division they’ll be playing in next season. He needs to be given time to implement his ideas.
What greater statement could Vincent Tan make that he wants to put things right at Cardiff City, than revert to the original club crest and strip colour ? In doing so, Tan would win most of the Cardiff fans back, and get the focus on football again.
Getting all these aspects right in recruitment, structure, loyalty and tradition will give Cardiff a better chance of being promoted from the Championship next season - at the first time of asking. Of course, Premier League survival is still technically possible - but fans are already preparing for an inevitable relegation.