Jordan Mutch

Cardiff, Blackburn draw as Championship season opens this weekend

1 Comment

A 1-1 draw between recently relegated Cardiff City and Blackburn Rovers has opened the English second-tier season.

The Bluebirds along with Fulham and Norwich City are looking to make a quick return to the Premier League, and all three have made tilled their roster completely in an attempt to vault back up.

In addition, Wolverhampton Wanderers continue their roller coaster run through English soccer, with their plummet down the ranks behind them and back in the Championship.

The fixtures for opening weekend:

Blackburn 1-1 Cardiff City
Ipswich Town v Fulham
Wolves v Norwich City (Sunday)
Brentford v Charlton
Brighton v Sheffield Wednesday
Derby County v Rotherham
Huddersfield Town v Bournemouth
Middlesborough v Birmingham City
Millwall v Leeds United
Nottingham Forest v Blackpool
Watford v Bolton
Wigan v Reading

For the teams we saw struggle on NBC last season, the first season down is the most important. Teams that don’t jump straight back up – like Queens Park Rangers did this past year – tend to wallow in the lower tiers for a long time.

Fulham completely churned their roster over, under the watchful eye of Felix Magath who had some strong words for current and former players in his press conference earlier Friday. Gobs of players left, and not all had good things to say about the man in charge.

With the purchase of Ross McCormack along with eight other offseason signings, it’s likely that not a single player who opened last year’s fateful Premier League season will be in their opening day lineup against Ipswich Town. There are more questions than answers right now at Craven Cottage.

Cardiff kicked off their season with a fair draw against Blackburn, bringing to light just how small the talent and skill gap is between the bottom of the Premier League and the middle of the Championship.

Their biggest move in the transfer market may not have been a move at all, but instead the ability to keep hold of star keeper David Marshall. The 29-year-old was by one of the few bright spots in last year’s failed campaign, and he was linked with a number of Premier League clubs. Otherwise, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer did little in the market, instead standing still as both Gary Medel and Jordan Mutch moved on.

Norwich City have flown the most under the radar of the three dropped clubs. They lost strike flop Ricky van Wolfswinkel to St. Etienne, and replaced him with journeymen Kyle Lafferty and Lewis Grabban.  They have kept Leroy Fer despite outside interest, but could not hold onto winger Robert Snodgrass who moved to Hull City over the summer.

Will any of the three be back in the Premier League next season? It’s a long 42-match marathon, but the race is under way.  24 clubs, three lucrative spots. Who will make it up to the top flight?

Newcastle 3-0 Cardiff City: Bluebirds are relegated (video)

1 Comment

After just one season of top flight football, Cardiff are being sent back to the Championship. Their loss to Newcastle United on Saturday, combined with Sunderland’s victory over Manchester United, officially relegated the Bluebirds.

Already in the first minute, Cardiff were being cut to pieces. Moussa Sissoko went zipping up the right to put a cross into the area. Loïc Rémy couldn’t get a good shot in, however, and the forward’s strike was deflected wide.

But before twenty minutes were out, Sissoko was able to set up a goal for his side. Another cross, this one coming from the right, fell to Shola Ameobi. The forward got his head on the ball to give Newcastle the lead – but the last time he (and Newcastle) scored, Swansea came back to take all three points. Could Cardiff, fighting for their lives, possibly do the same?

The hosts set out to make sure that didn’t happen. Sissoko, clearly on fire, had his own go moments. His effort from 25 yards off bounced off a Cardiff defender, but only collided with the post.

Tim Krul played savior for his side in the 30th minute. Wilfried Zaha, looking for Cardiff’s equalizer, slipped past the Newcastle defense to put in a low shot. The goalkeeper used his feet to block the ball, preserving the rare Magpies’ lead.

After the break, Cardiff, rather than looking revived, looked all but defeated. Just what had Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said to them at halftime? Nothing that pepped them up, apparently, because only Ben Turner had any sort of attempt before Newcastle began controlling the game once more.

The Bluebirds began to make more of impression after the hour mark, right about the time that banners calling for change at Newcastle began to unfurl at St. James’ Park. Still, there was nothing from Cardiff that particularly worried the hosts, with a shot from Peter Whittingham easily blocked, and a long-range effort from Jordan Mutch sailing harmlessly wide.

As Cardiff threw more and more players up the pitch in an attempt to find the equalizer, they became more sloppy at the back – which ultimately allowed Newcastle to score two late goals. In the 87th minute, Rémy had no trouble beating David Marshall from close range. Rémy very nearly put in another in extra time, but Marshall was up to the task, pushing it away. Unfortunately for the Bluebirds, the keeper could only steer the ball into the path of Steven Taylor, who headed home.

LINEUPS

Newcastle United: Krul; Debuchy, Williamson, Coloccini, Dummett (Haidara 45); Sissoko, Anita (Taylor 79), Tiote, Gouffran (Gosling 70); Shola Ameobi, Remy

Goals: Shola Ameobi 22′; Rémy 87′ ; Taylor 91′

Cardiff City: Marshall; Fabio (Eikrem 86), Caulker, Turner, John; Whittingham, Gunnarsson, Kim (Bellamy 45), Mutch, Zaha; Campbell (Jones 73)