Home se­cu­rity a must for Cardiff City.

His­tory in­di­cates re­sults on their own turf will be cru­cial to the Welsh team’s hopes of stay­ing up this sea­son, writes Richard Jolly

The National - News - Sport - - FRONT PAGE - Cardiff City v Ever­ton

It was the big­gest early sea­son shock pulled off by a pro­moted team since the Uefa Cham­pi­ons League fi­nal­ists Manch­ester United lost 1- 0 at Burn­ley in Au­gust 2009. Manch­ester City, com­plete with £ 90 mil­lion ( Dh512.9m) of sum­mer sign­ings, went to Cardiff as over­whelm­ing favourites on Sun­day and re­turned beaten. For Cardiff, the hope is that his­tory re­peats it­self, for an­other few days, though not an en­tire sea­son. Af­ter claim­ing a fa­mous vic­tim, they host Ever­ton to­day, just as Burn­ley did four years ago. Burn­ley were even­tu­ally rel­e­gated, but not be­fore beat­ing the Merseysiders. For sev­eral months, Turf Moor proved a daunt­ing place to visit. The Cardiff City Sta­dium should be an­other in the com­ing sea­son. If the Welsh side, un­like Burn­ley, can sus­tain their home form over an en­tire cam­paign, that should se­cure sur­vival. It did last sea­son for West Ham United, who took 33 points on their own turf, and who beat Cardiff 2-0 in their open­ing fix­ture at Up­ton Park. “West Ham won three games away last year and stayed in the league and were 10th,” noted the Cardiff man­ager Malky Mackay. “That shows you how im­por­tant their home form was.” The re­al­ity is that pro­moted clubs tend to be dis­pro­por­tion­ately de­pen­dent upon their home record; a lack of qual­ity in their ranks can make it harder to pros­per on the road. As Mackay said: “We have to try to make our sta­dium a fortress.”

It helps that Cardiff share sim­i­lar char­ac­ter­is­tics with other home spe­cial­ists.

Their ground is far from the big­gest – its ca­pac­ity is 27,128 – but it will be packed and ought to be in­tim­i­dat­ing. Cardiff fans had a rep­u­ta­tion for be­ing loud, even in the lower di­vi­sions, and while there is a mi­nor­ity who have over­stepped the mark, their fer­vour can un­set­tle op­po­nents.

It tends to be the case, too, that sup­port­ers who have been starved of top-flight football for a long time – 51 years in Cardiff’s case – rel­ish each game more than their world­weary coun­ter­parts at other clubs who have ex­pe­ri­enced past rel­e­ga­tions and fear an­other.

Against Manch­ester City, the hard run­ning of the team mir­rored the en­ergy of the fol­low­ers. Fit­ness and deci­bel lev­els were equally high.

Their lo­ca­tion could be a trump card, too. Even in the age of plane travel for do­mes­tic games and even in a com­par­a­tively small coun­try, travel can take a toll and clubs who are out on a limb ge­o­graph­i­cally of­ten boast fine home records.

The other Welsh rep­re­sen­ta­tives, Swansea City, lost only eight of their first 37 Pre­mier League games at the Lib­erty Sta­dium since be­ing pro­moted in 2011.

Cardiff reeled off 11 suc­ces­sive vic­to­ries on their own patch in the Cham­pi­onship last year to help them win the league.

While a re­peat is im­prob­a­ble in the ex­treme, Mackay ar­gued: “Our sta­dium can be a hard place to come to.”

It is made all the harder by his tac­tics. The key is to limit op­po­nents’ op­por­tu­ni­ties and to make the most of their own. Sun­day’s 3-2 score was rather de­cep­tive. More in­dica­tive, per­haps, was the half­time stale­mate.

While it ended up a five- goal thriller, the Scot is not a reck­less man­ager.

The piv­otal word, which he re­peated in his post- match in­ter- views on Sun­day evening, was “dis­ci­pline”.

Taken lit­er­ally, it meant that Cardiff, de­spite com­pet­ing su­perbly, did not col­lect a sin­gle cau­tion. More sig­nif­i­cantly, how­ever, was the po­si­tional dis­ci­pline they ex­hib­ited.

Nei­ther full-back went for­ward, leav­ing space be­hind him that could be ex­ploited on the coun­ter­at­tack; Gary Medel, in par­tic­u­lar, was sim­i­larly re­strained in the cen­tre of mid­field, en­sur­ing that Cardiff had a solid base at all times.

It is no co­in­ci­dence that they boasted the best home de­fen­sive record in the Cham­pi­onship last sea­son.

Nor, in­deed, was it a fluke that they scored twice from cor­ners against Manch­ester City; for a well-

drilled, or­gan­ised team that is not overly creative, it of­fers a par­tic­u­larly prof­itable av­enue for find­ing the net.

Peter Whit­ting­ham’s ex­pert de­liv­er­ies from the flanks prom­ise to be Cardiff’s trump card time and again this year.

If so, it will pro­vide echoes of an­other ar­rival in the di­vi­sion.

Five years ago, Stoke City’s dead­ball dead­li­ness owed much to Rory De­lap’s long throws.

They, too, ex­celled on their own turf. And so while Cardiff, in their de­but Pre­mier League cam­paign, are break­ing new ground, they are also try­ing to fol­low in old foot­steps.

Fraizer Camp­bell, left, cel­e­brates his sec­ond goal and Cardiff City’s third in their 3 Malky Mackay, the Cardiff man­ager, has tar­geted a strong home record as be­ing k

Stu Forster / Getty Im­ages

3-2 win over Manch­ester City on Sun­day with team­mate Aron Gun­nars­son. key to his side’s hopes this sea­son.

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