The 4-2 Etihad Stadium scoreline on paper could give the impression of an easy afternoon for high flying Manchester City, but for those in attendance at the match, including Cardiff City manager Ole Gunnar Solskjær, there was plenty of room for optimism for the visitors, despite closing the day at the foot of the table.
“Parts of our performance were very pleasing,” he said after the match. “We didn’t start so well, which again is disappointing and something we have to continue to work on, so we start games on the front foot. But I was proud of my players, especially the way that they responded in the second half, which was terrific.
“With around fourteen minutes to go it looked like we had a chance to possibly get something. At that point you could sense the home crowd were getting a little bit nervous, from which you wondered if something could be possible if we could hold on.
“We went out there and gave it a go, and at that point we were very much still in the game. But then, when you open yourselves up, they have the players that can hurt you, which is what happened with their two quick goals.
“They have been dominant here. Our game plan was to start on the front foot and to be aggressive, but we played against a very good team. When you are in the run of form like they are, they just go into the next game expecting to win, so good luck to them.”
Cardiff’s away goals against one of the firm Premier League title favourites were scored by Fraizer Campbell, his third this season against Manchester City, while Craig Noone drew plenty of praise from the sidelines for his excellent work rate on the wing, capped with an excellent first half finish.
Of the impressive midfielder and his first Premier League goal, Ole said, “It was a terrific performance from Craig. He’s a top lad with a great personality and someone you like to have in and around the dressing room.
“When he puts in performances like that, it’s a joy to watch. He’s a player who wants to take on players all the time, inside and outside, crossing from the left and the right. He’s a great lad to work with.
“We’ve scored two goals at a very difficult ground to visit. Our travelling fans also were fantastic once again. We could hear them from the technical area, much louder than the large home crowd. As a manager, that’s always very pleasing to hear.”
Next for Cardiff City, following the fourth round F.A. Cup weekend trip to Bolton is another Manchester based Premier League test under the Old Trafford lights on January 28th. Again Cardiff City will start the game as underdogs against the current champions, but for Ole, the signs are there for the Bluebirds to continue building towards the ultimate target of retaining top flight status.
“I enjoy challenges,” he said. “Our plan going forward is to go one better than this, going to grounds like this and getting something from the games. It's an extremely tight league still, from tenth and below. All we can do is look upwards, taking in the positives from today against a quality set of players.
“We can stay up, no doubt about that. The league got tighter today, from bottom to tenth it is five points. We will look to improve and parts of all the performances during my first three games have been very good.”
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