Cardiff City’s new boss will have to be as much a negotiator as a manager with the January crisis looming
The typical school of thought is that not much can be done in a January transfer window. Tinker at best.
For Cardiff City, that simply cannot be the case this time around.
The first few months of the season have shown how badly the Bluebirds need reinforcements in the new year.
The problem is that they will have to beg, steal and borrow to make ends meet and reshape the squad into some sort of shape for what will likely be a crucial end to the campaign.
Transfer funds were cut during Mick McCarthy’s reign as Cardiff found itself in the grip of the pandemic. McCarthy brought in four players – James Collins, Mark McGuinness, Ryan Wintle and Ryan Giles – over the summer, and it was telling that they were all either free transfers or on loan, and let a dozen go.
Rumors are that unless Cardiff raises money after Christmas there will be no money in the pot in January either.
So the new manager, whoever he is, has an unenviable task on his hands. He must be skilled in the art of negotiation, stubborn and sure of what he wants, and armed with an impeccable vision of how the team plans to move forward.
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There are areas of the team that need to be addressed. Central midfield is a position that definitely needs to be added. There needs to be a lot more creativity in there, especially if all the fans’ prayers are answered and this new brand of possession-based football sticks.
Cardiff’s five midfielders are incredibly similar. All have passing abilities, sure, but lack that ability to drive the ball and open up pockets of space for creative players further forward.
Given that Marlon Pack, Will Vaulks and Joe Ralls are out of contract this summer, it makes sense to bring someone in now in time to fold ahead of next season.
That being said. The new manager will have to pass quick and absolute judgment on his team, because if there is money to be made by shipping players in January whose contracts will not be renewed next summer, that would be an added bonus.
Another area, which interim boss Steve Morison alluded to, is up front. Cardiff’s young talent in the frontcourt is exciting, but beyond Kieffer Moore it’s hard to see a regular goalscoring threat at the top of the team.
James Collins’ debut as the Bluebird has been a rocky one, yet to score in 16 games for Cardiff, while Isaac Vassell may have played his last game for City.
If injured, Moore and then Cardiff would be in a worse position than they are already in. Worse still, if Moore leaves in January, a high-level replacement must be lined up to arrive quickly and get going. Historically speaking, this is easier said than done in Cardiff.
Left-back is also a position that potentially needs strengthening, especially should anything happen to Wolves loanee Ryan Giles or if the new boss sees him as a more attacking option. While it remains to be seen whether the new manager hands the young guns over to take on the wing threat for the remainder of the campaign.
Cardiff will have to negotiate on net zero in January and as such the new manager will have to be as skilled a negotiator as he is a tactician.
There are ways around this, of course. A loan reminder or two could be on the cards, a few loan spells for some promising youngsters who don’t get a game could also free up some cash.
The new manager might even find deadwood in the squad and look to dispatch them as soon as possible.
The upcoming January window, however, is crucial. This is a critical time for Cardiff City and, with so many experienced stars out of contract next summer, it is a time when, with the focus on strengthening the division, the much needed rebuilding can begin.
Players who are better suited to a different style of football can gradually be brought in, round pegs for round holes, and that will translate on the pitch.
There are huge benefits for any potential manager who takes on this role. As Sky Sports pundit David Prutton said this week, Cardiff are a big fish in the Championship.
With the right decisions being made in the new year, this could seriously be the first chance to press the reset button for the new city of Cardiff. A golden opportunity to let go of the shackles and unleash all the capacities of this club.
Recruitment should be in full swing in this new year. But if the new manager is successful, there is more than a glimmer of hope that this season can be salvaged and, moreover, the foundations can be put in place for a much brighter campaign next season.