With the South Wales derby fast approaching, talk in Cardiff is centred on one thing – the possibility of a historic league double over bitter rivals Swansea.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men, fresh off the back of a sorely needed victory over Norwich, also have the chance to draw level in the league with their foes from down the M4.
The Norwegian understands the importance of this historic fixture. “I have met quite a few people in the hotel and around the training ground, you can sense this is more than just a derby”: said the former United marksman.
Creating history and becoming the first side to do the league double in this fixture is the burning ambition of the fans and Solskjaer confirms his team feel the same way. “We are burning to create history”
Despite the nature of the fixture Solskjaer insisted preparations have been carried out as normal.
The Bluebirds task, you could argue, now appears considerably easier after Swansea chairman Huw Jenkins shocked British football by sacking manager Michael Laudrup on Tuesday. New signing Kenwyne Jones, however, is weary of Swansea’s predicament making them more dangerous. “You have to be aware because it could be a case of a wounded animal – they are probably in disarray”: said the Trinidadian striker.
Former Juventus, Barcelona and Real Madrid star Laudrup, was lauded last season after guiding Swansea to League Cup success – the first major trophy in the club’s history. This season however the Swans have struggled, and it is arguably the Europa League football Laudrup guided them towards and the extra fixtures it brings which has seen them dragged into a relegation battle.
A 2-0 defeat at West Ham was the final straw for the Swansea hierarchy, and Laudrup has been shown the door. It has since emerged Laudrup is considering taking legal action against his former employers after the League Manager’s Association released a statement on his behalf.
The statement says: “I am deeply disappointed to have been dismissed as manager of Swansea City. In particular, the manner in which it happened and the actions the club has taken since notifying me in the briefest of letters which gave no reasons why such hasty and final action was deemed necessary. “I am, of course taking legal advice and the LMA have already written to the club asking for a proper explanation as to why I was summarily dismissed.”
Charged with the task of replacing Laudrup and taking on Cardiff at the Liberty Stadium on Saturday is club stalwart Garry Monk. Much loathed by Cardiff supporters, Monk has played for Swansea since 2004, and has been named caretaker manager.
With Cardiff appearing buoyed by January signings Wilfried Zaha and Kenwyne Jones, both of whom played pivotal roles in the victory over Norwich, Monk faces a difficult challenge to get off to a winning start. Monk can expect no sympathy from their arch-rivals and if the Swansea veteran needed any reminder of this Jones was on hand. “We are going to try to inflict as much pain as we can”: said Jones.
Solskjaer’s men have seemingly been professional in their approach but preparation and form often goes out the window in derby matches. Ole’s men will step out onto the Libery turf on Saturday on the cusp of history and the ultimate bragging rights over their old foes.