Malky Mackay spoke to the press after a point at Turf Moor saw his Cardiff City side crowned champions of the npower Championship.
Following the jubilant on-pitch celebrations Malky found the time to look back on what has been a sensational season for the Bluebirds, as well as looking forward to their first season in the top flight in over half a century.
“The last couple of days in Cardiff has been just incredible,” said the City boss. “We’ve seen the smiles on the faces of thousands of people that have been desperate for this to come to their city for ever. There’s been a lot of hype and media attention in the last few days, but the players themselves were ready to focus today because they wanted a medal and they wanted to get that cup.”
Indeed, it’s been quite a week in the capital after promotion was secured on Tuesday night, but today’s confirmation of the club’s status as champions really is the icing on the cake for the manager.
“Last Tuesday was a great night for Cardiff as a whole," he continued. "But to win it today is something else. It gives them the cup and it mean that in two weeks’ time after the Hull game we can really celebrate.”
Malky has gone up to the top flight on three separate occasions as a player, with West Ham, Norwich and Watford. However, his first promotion at the helm of a club has been a completely different experience for the former centre-half, who reflected: “It's completely different as a manager. As far as a manager is concerned there are a lot of other things that you’ve got to take into account. It’s really for the city, for the people at the football club and for those fans that you can see out there now.
“This will bring such great joy for them. They’ve not been in the top division for 51 years and never been in the Premier League, and their cousins down in Swansea have been there for the last couple of years. It is a capital city and it’s a very passionate football city – we’ve got 27,000 people at our home games now, and our away fans have been fantastic all season as you’ve seen today. For the people of Cardiff it’s just going to be a really fantastic summer for them.”
Promotion to the Premier League rounds off a terrific couple of years for Welsh sport in general in the eyes of the City boss, who added: “It’s been a great two years for Wales. What Swansea have done has been magnificent. We’ve got to a Carling Cup final and been promoted and you look at Newport and Wrexham doing really well at the moment as well. Even with sport in general, with the Paralympians and Olympians of South Wales and Nathan Cleverley boxing for the world title again tonight and of course the Six Nations for the rugby team. So I think sport in general in Wales is on the up and that can only be good for the country and for the communities.”
Finally, Malky is well aware of the challenges that lie in wait for the club’s first season back in the top flight, but City fans can rest assured that the meticulous planning for the Premier League is already well underway.
“We’ve quietly put a recruitment process in place for the last six months just in case – so it’s something that can now be started," he confirmed. "The recruitment department are there to try and bring in a higher quality of player and improve the group again.
“It’s a tough league that we’re going in to and we’ve got to make sure that we stand up to the mark for that, but I’m confident that I’ve got a good group of players to go in there and do that. Right now it’s about putting foundations in the club to make sure that we hopefully have a sustainability for the next 5-10 years.”