New City boss looks ahead to Forest battle
Cardiff City manager Russell Slade sat down for his first pre-match press conference since arriving at the Club on Friday morning, and looked ahead to Saturday’s big televised clash with Nottingham Forest.
Forest head to Wales tomorrow, sitting pretty in second place in the Sky Bet Championship table. Russell talked through his side’s preparations ahead of the big match.
“Tomorrow will be a huge game for this Football Club,” Russell said. “There’s no doubt about it. I am looking forward to it, and I will be embracing the challenge. It’s all about the next ninety minutes, taking it one game at a time, and in the end we’ll earn what we deserve.
“I want the Nottingham Forest players to be walking off thinking we were the best side that they’ve played this season.
“I’m asking the players for improvement in everything, and I wouldn’t ask for that improvement if I didn’t think the players had it. We’ve increased the intensity of the training sessions, and we’ve increased the time that we spend on the training ground and in the gym, so statistically it’s looking somewhat better than what it was.
“Forest are a really strong unit – they dig in for each other and they’re quite hard to beat. They haven’t lost yet, but nobody is invincible. We’ll be looking to undo Forest in what I think will be a battle, and a very tight game.
“Britt Assombalonga scored against my Leyton Orient on a couple of occasions, but it wasn’t enough to get [Swindon Town] to the play-off final. He’s a willing runner – he’ll always attempt to get himself into a good position, and it’s his persistence in his performances, he never stops.
Russell also addressed the fitness of his squad, with numerous players coming back from representing their countries over the international break.
“They were all in yesterday apart from Bruno [Ecuele Manga],” he said. “He had a long flight, and he’ll be back today. The players are fit, but some have had more minutes than others – Pilks [Anthony Pilkington] has had very few minutes, but then Kenwyne [Jones] has had three games. That means some of them might have come back a bit wearier than others.
“Ben Turner and Matt Connolly are getting closer. We’re trying to get some football into them as well, so they’re ongoing. Other players who’ve been out have needed the extra work, for example Craig Noone.
“If you asked me if I know my eleven for tomorrow, I would say no – if you asked if I was close to knowing it, the answer is probably yes.
“I haven’t ruled Bruno Manga out – he’s a big part of the Football Club going forward, there’s no doubt about that, but he’s had two big games over the last couple of weeks where he’s played ninety minutes. Then again, we’ve had one or two problems in terms of injuries to our defenders in recent times, so we’ll have to weigh the situation up.”
In closing, Russell delivered his message to the Cardiff City supporters, who he hopes will be getting vehemently behind the team at Cardiff City Stadium tomorrow, saying: “My message is, I’ll be asking the players to improve to the point where the fans can say at the end of the game that it was one of the best games they’ve seen so far this season in terms of work ethic, togetherness, character and desire.
“If we’ve got those characteristics, we’ve got something to build on.”