Cardiff City boss Russell Slade has challenged his squad to show they can maintain their first half qualities for ninety minutes when Watford visit the Welsh capital next on December 28th.
Having looked the dominant force for the opening period away at the Valley on Boxing Day, Russell admitted his Bluebirds were off the pace in the second half, despite holding a man advantage against the Addicks. And following the match the City boss was clear in his assessment and in what his players need to do if there’s to be any chance of success this season.
“When you’ve been in total control for forty five minutes and in effect bossed the game – and they go down to ten men – you have to be disappointed with the second forty five minutes,” he said. “We didn’t do the things in the second period that we’d done so efficiently and well in the first. That’s what I’ve drawn from that. We were dropping deeper and they looked like the team with eleven players, not us.
"We'd been playing well in the first half, but we had to stick to our game plan away from home. We got ahead, they went down to ten men and after that it's a forgettable game for us - and it could have been worse for us, no doubt about that.
“I’m disappointed that we didn’t get the job done in the first half, as the second half in my point of view was poor. In the first half we slipped balls down the sides and caused them all sorts of problems, stretching them. But in the second half we stopped doing that. We took too many touches from time to time and we’ve not retained possession well enough when getting into good areas.
“It was the most efficient first half of football we’ve had so far – certainly away from home. But we have to show more consistency, performing like we did in the first half for ninety minutes. That’s what it’s all about. It’s the teams that do that who end up in the shake-up and with an opportunity of being promoted.”
Next up for the Bluebirds is the visit of Watford on December 28th for the 3pm kick-off. The Hornets, having started the season extremely well will want to bounce back from the Boxing Day home loss to Wolves, with Russell saying, “It’s another very important game for us – and it’s important that we pick up more than one point. We know it’ll be another very tough game and that they’ve been in excellent form. We have to learn from this game quickly, because physically and mentally we weren't tough enough.”
Finally, on the question of Cardiff City’s potential for the play-offs Russell answered, "It's still realistic there's no doubt about that, but we've got to learn quickly. We've got to continue to improve and if we do that we do have talent. We do have players that can win football matches and we do have players that have got out of the Championship so there is a certain amount of ingredients there. But we've got to be better if we're going to get where we want to be."