Bluebirds’ ALF bid shows intent to bounce back in Championship
Coral have made Cardiff City their 7/1 favourites to win the Championship title next term and seal an immediate return to the Premier League.
After a season of struggle in the top-flight, there is cause for renewed optimism from Bluebirds fans, as boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is closing in on Reading frontman Adam Le Fondre.
The Royals (18/1 to top the second-tier in 2014/15) are seemingly willing to sell their top scorer in each of the last three seasons, having failed to earn promotion under Nigel Adkins this term. Should negotiations with Le Fondre be successfully concluded, that will be three Cardiff signings made for next season by the end of May.
For all the criticism that much-maligned Bluebirds owner Vincent Tan has received, nobody can fault his clear statement of intent to bounce straight back. Already winging their way to the Welsh capital for 2014/15 are Spanish striker Javi Guerra and Austria wideman Guido Burgstaller.
These may turn out to be astute signings by Solskjaer, but neither has any experience of English football. Supporters need have no such reservations about free agent and Italian frontman Federico Macheda, though, as the club close in on him.
It would be naïve to think, however, there won’t be departures from Cardiff this summer. Number one David Marshall distinguished himself at the back, despite the defence in front conceding so many. Up and coming centre back Steven Caulker has similarly avoided having his character stained by relegation, but both will be targets for Premier League teams.
Chilean anchor Gary Medel, meanwhile, will attract interest from the continent. Playmaker Peter Whittingham is out of contract at the Bluebirds, but has shown loyalty to the club over his seven-and-a-half-year stay, so may remain on the books.
Forward Fraizer Campbell is attracting interest from Leicester City, with Nigel Pearson targeting a cut-price deal of £1m for him. There is a reported relegation release clause in his Cardiff contract, and a move to the King Power Stadium would see him link up with many fellow Manchester United academy graduates.
Versatile Bluebirds pair Tommy Smith and Simon Lappin are leaving, while Solskjaer can expect to lose some of the players loaned out. Those that fall into that category include right back John Brayford (Sheffield United), and strikers Joe Mason (Bolton Wanderers) and Nicky Maynard (Wigan Athletic).
Whether Cardiff can live up their tag – after all they bottled promotion enough times under Dave Jones and in Malky Mackay’s first season in charge – of favourites to go up remains to be seen.