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Leicester City 11/12 Opponents Preview – Cardiff City

In this feature I will focus on last year’s play off semi finalists Cardiff City, for a team who has had so much success in recent years but have always failed at the final hurdle, can their fortunes change in season 2011/2012 as Malky Mackay takes charge of the Welsh side. Can Cardiff City eventually claim promotion, or will they slip away and fail again…

Cardiff Preview
This season will see an enormous transformation at the Cardiff City stadium, after plenty of delightful season’s under the guidance of Dave Jones, the Cardiff board thought the managerial situation would be worthy of a change. Even though Jones guided the Bluebirds to consecutive playoff finishes, they failed to gain promotion. A transition in the manager hotseat now sees Malky Mackay take charge of Cardiff City, the former manager of Watford decided to leave Vicarage Road behind him to set his sights on a new challenge. Despite losing three important players in Jay Bothroyd, Michael Chopra and Craig Bellamy, Mackay has brought in some top class ability to replace the departing trio. Robert Earnshaw has re signed for Cardiff City, while another new striker has also joined the club, former Rangers frontman Kenny Miller has also signed for the Bluebirds ahead of the forthcoming season. New adjustments amongst the club will need to progress fairly quickly, Mackay is capable of guiding Cardiff City to another play-off finish and with Craig Bellamy demanding a return to the Welsh side, a positive season may well transpire into something special.

Key Players
With Malky Mackay intending on keeping Peter Whittingham the 26 year old will be a key player for Cardiff in 2011/2012. Whittingham has been the subject of a move to Championship rivals Portsmouth; however with nothing materialising on that aspect it seems that Whittingham will be staying at Cardiff for the foreseeable future. The left winger is a crucial part to Cardiff’s set piece plays; both free kick and penalty taker Whittingham’s deal ball specialities will be a massive part of the Bluebirds season. New striker replacements for Jay Bothroyd and Michael Chopra have arrived in the frame of former Cardiff City favourtite Robert Earnshaw, and the proficient striker of Kenny Miller. Despite two big losses, Malky Mackay’s side will still look potent on the attack as both Earnshaw and Miller are deadly finishers at Championship level. Finally Mackay has also added to his defensive structure with the signing of Andrew Taylor, the dependable back four including Taylor himself will also be a key part to Cardiff City’s season.

Manager – Malky Mackay
Another new managerial change is on the horizon this season, as the highly rated Malky Mackay left his post at Watford to head for the Cardiff City stadium. The new manager of Cardiff City certainly will have his hands full in the 2011/2012 campaign, Mackay will enter his job on the back of two play-off finishes as then manager Dave Jones guided Cardiff to a top six finish on consecutive occasions. The back room staff at Cardiff, have now handed the task of promotion in the hands of Malky Mackay, after doing a consistent job at Vicarage Road for two years, he has now took a step up in class as he tries to guide Cardiff City into the Premier League, he has all the attributes to be a top class manager and so far he has re signed Robert Earnshaw, in what will be a positive move to get the fans onside. Can Mackay overcome the obstacle this season, and guide Cardiff City into the Premier League at his first attempt?

Ins and Outs
Ins – Craig Conway(Dundee United), Don Cowie(Watford), Andrew Taylor(Middlesbrough), Rob Earnshaw(Nottingham Forest), Arron Gunnarsson(Coventry), Joe Mason(Plymouth), Filip Kiss(Slovan Bratislava), Kenny Miller(Bursaspor), Rudy Gestede(Metz)

Outs – Adam Matthews(Celtic), Chris Burke(Birmingham), Michael Chopra(Ipswich), Jay Bothroyd(Queens Park Rangers), Martin John(Released), Gavin Rae(Released)

Overall Thoughts
People might call me a bit optimistic on my prediction for Cardiff City this season; even though Bothroyd, Chopra and Burke have departed, Mackay has brought in some real class additions. As mentioned earlier Craig Bellamy is very keen on a Cardiff comeback, if that happens a place in the play-offs will be a certainty, Mackay has brought well and adding to the players which Cardiff already had, a surprise spot in the automatic promotion places isn’t out of reach. Prediction – 2nd

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