1 DON’T PANIC
It’s unlikely Warnock will be sacked if Cardiff start badly – unlikely, but not impossible. Most of their players are new to this league, and after three winnable matches Cardiff’s September and October schedule features six of last season’s top seven. They were wise to conduct summer business early. But Crystal Palace just finished 11th having been winless, goalless and pointless after seven games, so patience is key.
2 KEEP SHUFFLING THE P ACK
Rotation worked last year, with 30 different players starting games and only three unchanged line-ups named. The talent in Cardiff’s squad is evenly spread, so picking an XI to suit the occasion should still be an option. The exception is in goal: Neil Etheridge or Smithies? Warnock must choose.
3 MAINTAIN DISCIPLINE
Although Cardiff weren’t in the referees’ bad books that often, they did make the second-most fouls in the Championship. It comes with ceding possession – they were also the most successful tacklers – but they should be wary of giving free-kick opportunities to the Premier League’s specialists. And speaking of set-pieces...
4 BRING DEAD BALLS TO LIFE
Warnock’s players led the way for set-piece goals. Indeed, 11 league strikes from defenders Bamba and Sean Morrison (left) outstripped the top scorer – Callum Paterson, who arrived injured, started at full-back, moved to the wing and ended up a goalscoring central midfielder. He’s one to watch.
5 ENJOY IT
Cardiff’s 2013-14 wasn’t especially fun for anyone associated with the club. This season, their manager is determined “to go into the Premier League enjoying every minute of it”. And why not? There’s no pressure, but they’re capable of inflicting shocks and have exciting players such as Paterson, Kenneth Zohore, the revitalised Junior Hoilett and now Reid, signed from rivals Bristol City after scoring or assisting 26 league goals in his first season playing as a striker. Plus, Warnock might guide a team to Premier League safety for the first time at the age of 69. Nice.