A win or a draw on Saturday will guarantee us a playoff place but will we “do a Cardiff” and bottle it again? Either way we’ve far exceeded my expectations this season and then some.
At the start of this season I expected Cardiff to finish mid-table. Following last season’s collapse in the playoffs we lost quality players such as Bellamy, Chopra and Bothroyd whilst other departures were more welcomed such as Bywater and Emmanuel-Thomas. All in all, 12 players departed in the summer, along with the manager and the majority of his backroom staff. Malky Mackay was named as the new gaffer and had to bring in pretty much a full squad of players.
Because of this I expected a season of transition, with the team and backroom staff needing time to get used to the club and playing together. However Malky and his men were quick to prove me wrong, and thankfully so. The team have not only been challenging for promotion all season but also reached the Carling Cup final, and against all the odds nearly came out victorious against Liverpool only to lose on penalties.
We now need one point on the final day of the season to claim a playoff spot and despite my pre-season expectations… we now HAVE to finish in the top six. Anything else has suddenly become unacceptable as the strong performances this season have raised the bar. I don’t expect us to win the playoffs, but to at least finish there is an amazing achievement in Mackay’s first season in charge. Having said that, the playoffs are only three games and if we can play at our best for those games then there’s an outside chance that we could gain promotion.
“Doing a Cardiff” is falling at that last hurdle as we have done in the last two seasons. If we lose against Crystal Palace and don’t make the playoffs then we have well and truly done it again. However, if we lose out in the playoffs then for me personally that is not “doing a Cardiff” and the season will ultimately be a success.