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Splendid win sows seeds of confusion for Bluebirds' fans.


SCORERS WOLVES: Zyro 40 BLUEBIRS: Noone 28, 36; Ralls 48 Attendance: 24,238 Referee: Dean Whitehouse (Northants) ON this grey, wet and miserable Monday morning (I am writing this in advance, by the way, but obviously know it to be true) there will be even more confusion amongst Cardiff City supporters.

Did the Bluebirds really go to four-Championship-wins-on-the-bounce Wolves and make them look ordinary? Did they seize the game by the scruff of the neck and win it in style, with two goals worthy of exultation from a vivid Craig Noone? Did they really buck a trend that has haunted them all campaign by grabbing a vital third strike too from Joe Ralls as their hosts looked in danger of finding their feet? The answer is, of course, yes, the Bluebirds did excel at Molineux and in the process rekindled hopes of a storming of the Championship's top-six places once more.

The interesting figure in all this is Bluebirds' manager Russell Slade and he is likely to be the man who arouses the most confusion in the mind of Bluebirds' supporters today.

Those who want him sacked now, and there are a vast majority who do with 83 per cent choosing that option in a recent WalesOnline poll, that may not be swayed by one of the best performances of a Cardiff side under the current manager.

As for Slade's supporters, well, who knows what they might think? There seem so few that canvassing such opinion becomes difficult at best. But following this match, in the Molineux press room, as Slade reflected on his team's success, even though he appeared his usual avuncular, likeable self, the manager was in a way a man transformed.

One discerned maybe that the massive burden placed on him had in effect had the reverse effect. Slade, who has fretted and worried about the club more than anyone in his professional way, was now somehow freed by it all.

Slade was his usual guarded and polite self when facing enquiry, but he did let something slip, talk of the jury being out on his Cardiff future led him to state: "When you walk into this job you are always under pressure. I do think when a club gets in this situation, you have to look at the whole club not just what is going on on the pitch. It's the whole club where there needs to be scrutiny."

It might not seem much, but one sort of felt perhaps it was the inkling of a fightback by the Bluebirds boss. The stirrings of a man who has for so long been keen to toe the party line, but who now, in the face of possible extinction, felt moved to vent at least a little spleen.

Slade was, of course, referring to the transfer embargo that has enveloped the club this month as it fell foul of the Football League's Financial Fair Play regulations.

The restriction is a problem, naturally. But for Slade, in some weird way, perhaps the transfer embargo arrives as some kind of blessing.

Sure, he can't buy players, even if the showing at Wolves indicates arguably he has the personnel already, although he can, within limits, actually bring in loan players and intends to try to do so.

But no, what the transfer embargo does, is almost strengthen Slade's position as Cardiff manager. First, there is a sympathy angle, the manager struggling on with his hands tied.

But there is also just the question of whether, with all the other turmoil going on, would sacking a manager at this point just not add fuel to the maelstrom of imperfection? With Slade's contract up in the summer anyway, many would surely now argue the best course of action is to allow Slade to guide the club through choppy waters while still trying to deliver a play-off place which, let's be honest, would be a massive bonus considering the way things are now.

Slade, right at this moment, particularly in light of the win and performance at Wolves, must be feeling reinvigorated, stronger in the face of uncertainty. The only problem is, of course, failure to follow this result up, defeat say at the hands of lowly Rotherham on the weekend, and next Monday the Slade naysayers wake up with that confusion gone. It would be the detractors who would be re-focussed and reenergised instead.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jan 18, 2016
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