Cardiff City’s double over Sheffield Wednesday was satisfying for a number of reasons, added to with positive results around the top places in the league.
Following the game Malky Mackay was in good spirits, saying, “It’s great to win here today. We had a tough game on Tuesday night and Sheffield didn’t, while we knew that the pitch looked a bit tricky when we arrived here. On top of that we’ve got a back four who haven’t played together before, with Leon Barnett coming in with an assured performance after having only one training session with us. Young Ben Nugent at nineteen years old was thrown in for his eighth or ninth game and they kept a clean sheet.
“That’s seven clean sheets away from home and fourteen in total so far this season which is huge. Today we scored good goals and had to deal with the aerial threat Sheffield posed, playing intelligently as we had to, taking maximum points.”
Don Cowie was the first to find the back of the net, late in the first half and took praise from Mackay for his positive outlook and attitude in a squad where competition for places is strong.
“He’s a top professional and it’s why he’ll have a long career,” Malky said. “He’s trained hard and worked very well, backing everyone and keeping himself ready when called upon. He’s involved in everything at this football club and is the reason I brought him here. I want good people around me and good professionals and he’s certainly one of those. He’s a top player which he showed with his finish. It wasn’t an easy ball as it dropped and if you don’t catch it correctly it ends up in the stand behind the goal.”
Changes were made to Cardiff’s formation, surprising a few when Whittingham was played on the left and Craig Bellamy on the right. Malky explained saying, “We know that we’ve got qualities in the way we attack and deliver balls in. The boys are well drilled in that regard, they know exactly where they should be going as we work hard, practicing on a repetitive basis in training. For the second goal it was a great ball in and a well attacked header, especially given the size of Sheffield Wednesday. It was very pleasing to see.
“We know the conditions and the way that they play. We’ve had them watched and knew what was needed. In the second half we stretched them, capitalising out wide and made them chase us to deaden their momentum. My forwards today were fantastic also, the presence of Helguson and his closing down is fantastic. Also Fraizer’s directness in his runs was a big factor, he loves to play off someone’s shoulder. I’m delighted for him.”
Finally, the question of promotion prospects was yet again raised. It’s been a regular occurrence since Cardiff took top spot late on in November.
To the question of making it, Malky replied, “We’re not nearly there, no. Only just yesterday I was being told by everyone how close teams were to us and it’s still close tonight in my view. That’ll not change and I’ll only look at it again when there are a few games to go, looking at what’s needed. I only just said on Tuesday night how dangerous this league is. With ten games to go there are usually teams cut adrift at the bottom. This year teams down there are on big runs of form, showing how dangerous it is in this division.
“I’m delighted that wins like today can help calm the nerves of fans, though anyone who comes to the training ground could tell you, my players are calm and focussed, only looking at the next team we have to play.”