OLE: THREE POINTS WELL EARNED v SAINTS
The Bluebirds second away win of the 2013/14 Premier League season was very much welcomed by City boss Ole Gunnar Solskjær, especially when considering the quality of opponent in top ten likely Southampton. It was a result that energised all connected with the club, adding hope through the effort of the players that a great escape is still within reach if performance levels are maintained.
“Before today I don’t think many gave us a chance of picking up one point, let alone three, so overall it’s a very good day,” Ole said after the game. “It’s a result that really galvanises everyone. We were really hurt by the performance we gave the fans and ourselves last week, but the team spirit has been fantastic this week leading up to the game.
“In any game you have to work to stay in it, especially away from home against such a good team like Southampton. It’s a fantastic club and one I’ve said on a few occasions Cardiff City would do well to emulate, both on and off the field, but we worked hard and held our own here at a difficult place to pick up points. Towards the end we also had some more chances to score more, but overall we stuck to our game plan and my players put in some fantastic performances out there.
“It’s simple to say, but it’s match-days that matter. Every single game in recent weeks we talk about ‘cup final’ type matches and today we’re happy to finally pick up a big result to add to what have been some very good performances without a reward. The likes of Everton and Spurs away and even Liverpool at home, we’ve put in some great performances, but doing so playing some very, very good teams who were better than we were. For those games I’ve been proud of performances without a reward, but today we matched Southampton in belief and effort, while our defending was fantastic.”
Ole was also pleased to reward the loyalty of the travelling Cardiff City fans, during a season in which points on the road have been difficult to come by. Despite that, regular high numbers continue to support the team on the road, a fact that wasn’t lost on the Cardiff City manager.
“It’s the first away win I’ve enjoyed in the Premier League with Cardiff City and we all enjoyed celebrating with our fans after the final whistle,” he said. “Our supporters, almost two and a half thousand of them have been fantastic again today and it was great to see them react at full time and to go over when the scores came in. You could sense that they believed, as do we. We know that we can only look after what we do ourselves, but when you also get some help it’s a bonus. This is a start for us and we hope it ends in a miracle. It’ll take performances just like today; it’s exactly what we need.
“I believe we earned and deserved this victory in the end, defending bravely to prevent their chances. Of course it also helps having one of the very best goalkeepers in the Premier League in David Marshall. He’s kept us in many games and did very well with two excellent saves against Southampton – the save down to his left today just shading the other when he came out to block. He reads the game very well and has continued to develop under Richard (Hartis). He did his job, as did the entire back four. In front of them the six players ran their hearts out until some had cramps, showing how much it means to them to pick up results for this club.”
Praise was also rightly directed to match winner Juan Cala, with Ole talking up the skill of the central defender in front of goal, saying, “For Juan it wasn’t even a clear chance at goal from twenty yards, but he showed great composure and showed that he’s a good footballer, using his right foot and left foot before coming in and producing a wonder strike. It was a fantastic goal.
“He’s a leader and a great technician, taking his goal very well indeed, bringing the ball down first outside the box before skipping past one or two. I’m very happy for him. His spirit and the spirit of the squad was rewarded with the goal, which is what we needed and deserved today. It was important that we played in that way here today, playing our way. At times it looked like we could concede one or two by overplaying, but we didn’t.
“The win gives us added confidence, something to build on and some added energy. It’s a boost we all very much needed. The whole team did exceptionally well and I think we showed a good few people that we still have plenty of fight left in us. I wasn’t as happy at the end of the game last weekend because we had nothing to be proud of, but today, no matter what happened in the last few minutes you could stand there proud of the effort and endeavour from the players.
“Another few clean sheets and we’re right in it. As said, you could hear the fans at the end when they heard the other results as they also knew that we’re back in it. To them I can say that we won’t give in until it’s over. We go into next weekend a point behind Fulham, three behind Norwich and four behind West Brom and Swansea knowing that there are four games remaining and twelve points available. We don’t expect to win every game, but we can certainly win some of them to give us a chance to stay where we want to play.”