CARDIFF will be looking to capitalise on their mid-week victory to cement their place in mid-table when they face Charlton at the Cardiff City Stadium tomorrow.
Tuesday’s victory against Rotherham leaves the Bluebirds 14th in the table, and a win against a compact Charlton side could see Slade’s men enter the top half of the table.
Slade’s neck has been nearing the chopping block in recent weeks with the lack of goals his side were scoring leading to a poor run of results. But the three goals and more importantly the three points against Rotherham have bought Slade more time.
Ecuele Manga, Federico Macheda and Conor McAleny were all on the scoresheet as Cardiff blew Rotherham away in the first 35 minutes of the match at the New York stadium.
But there are still many doubts about Slade’s 4-4-2 system and his omission of former Manchester United left back Fabio from the starting XI – and Rotherham will soon be forgotten about if Guy Luzon’s Charlton turn Cardiff over in their backyard.
4-4-2 can be seriously effective, as witnessed by Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid in their Champions League final run as well as their Spanish League title. It affords the team a solid base on which to build an aggressive, quick, style of play.
But Cardiff do not have this. Under Slade the system is very one dimensional and very predictable as teams pick off their slow side-to-side build up play.
A few years ago Fabio was deemed good enough by the best manager of his generation, Sir Alex Ferguson, to start for Manchester United in the Champions League final. Now he is nowhere to be seen at Cardiff under Slade’s regime.
These queries tend to all be brushed under the carpet after a good result, but a slip up against Charlton will bring them all back to the fore.
Charlton are a different beast to Rotherham, they have a stronger side and beat high-flying Nottingham Forest 2-1 in mid-week. While Rotherham lay in 21st, six points off the drop zone, Charlton are in 12th, eight points ahead of Rotherham.
Igor Vetokele will be the main threat to David Marshall in the bluebirds goal, he is quick and has a great eye for goal, having already scored 11 this season – making him Charlton’s top scorer. Frederic Bulot will also be another Addick that Cardiff will need to keep a keen eye on, he may have had a tough season but he is a player with phenomenal talent and the two goals he scored against Forest will have only pumped him up ready for tomorrow’s showdown.
But the Bluebirds have strengths of their own, not least with the return of Peter Whittingham from suspension. Stuart O’Keeffe was an adequate replacement midweek but Whittingham’s dead-ball set-pieces are vital to how Slade’s Cardiff operate. Charlton will also need to be wary of former Manchester United striker Federico Macheda.
Similar to Bulot, Macheda is immensely talented but is yet to fulfil all of it. He scored a tidy goal against Rotherham, and with strikers feeding off confidence, his tail will be firmly up going into the Cardiff City Stadium.
Slade’s men need to stop yo-yoing with results and performances and put a string of results and good performances together. It started with Rotherham in mid-week and it must continue against Charlton tomorrow.