On the eve of what could be a special day in the history of Cardiff City Football Club, manager Malky Mackay used his pre-match press conference to keep everybody grounded and insisted that nobody at the club was thinking about anything other than getting three points against Charlton Athletic tomorrow evening.
“We’ve got a point to go,” was his opening line of the press conference. “We know it’ll be a tough game [against Charlton] but we’ll be looking to win.
"Charlton are on a good run and had a fantastic win at the weekend, and they’ve still got a chance of getting into the Play-Offs as well, so it’s all to play for. We have got to make sure we go into it with the same mentality as we did at the start of the game on Saturday. I thought we were excellent concentration-wise, knowing the way that Nottingham Forest play, and we’ll be looking for the same again tomorrow night.”
The win over Forest, who arrived at Cardiff City Stadium as the form side of the division, has put Cardiff on the brink of realising their long-term target of promotion, as Malky touched upon.
“I was delighted with the way we played before the sending-off, but I was especially pleased with the way we played after it," he said. "I’ve been really pleased with the last three or four home performances. The character of the team has meant that, despite the hype that has surrounded the club over the last couple of weeks, they have just remained calm and went out and did what I had asked them to do."
Kim Bo-Kyung and Jordon Mutch have both made the most of their recent opportunities in the Bluebirds’ midfield, and Malky told of how confident he has been this season in the depth of his squad.
“I’ve looked all season at my squad with regards to whether or not it needed freshening up – whether that be in terms of defence, midfield or attack," said the Gaffer. "It’s been like that all season – players have come in and gone out when the staff and myself feel that a change is needed. That’s one of the key reasons we’ve managed to keep up our energy levels this season and that’s why we’ve been so consistent."
With just a point now needed to secure promotion to the Premier League, Malky was keen to stress that he would not settle for the bare minimum needed to achieve that feat, adding: “We definitely will not be looking for a draw – you can see we’ve had something of a lack of draws this year. We’ve always gone out each game to beat the opposition. That hasn’t changed whether it be at home or away.
“There’s four to go, but all we’re focused on is the Charlton game. Then we’ll start thinking about Burnley. We’ll be trying to win every game of the last four – that’s the way to go about being involved in a promotion challenge in this league.”
And with Malky having talked a lot recently about what promotion would mean to the people around him at Cardiff City Stadium, today he was asked what it would mean for him in particular.
“The experience I’ve had over the last eighteen or so months, from when I moved down to South Wales to start my new job, has been fantastic," he admitted. "As a manager you want to manage at the best level you can, testing yourself against the best, and obviously the Premier League is the best. The Championship is incredible, but I know what sort of consistency and mental toughness it takes to be successful in this division. It’ll be a great achievement for the staff, the fans, the players and myself if we can do it.
“I appreciate that winning helps in terms of whether a manager is taken to when he arrives at a new club. Since I’ve been here it’s been fairly positive – even when we’ve been below-par and not winning games, the fans have been fantastic. I don’t know whether it’s the Celtic thing with the Scots, but I’ve always felt very at home here, both on the streets of Cardiff and with my colleagues at the club.
"I didn’t particularly enjoy coming to Ninian Park and Cardiff City Stadium as an opposition player or manager, and that’s because of the fervour of the home fans. Now though, I’m delighted because I have the backing here."