Following incredible success in the Norwegian league, ex-Manchester United hero Ole Gunnar Solskjaer arrived at Cardiff amidst intense confusion and anger at the departure of popular manager Malky Mackay.
While he failed to save the club from relegation, Solskjaer’s promise of attacking football and new arrivals seemed to pacify the fans, who were willing to give him a chance to prove himself in English football. Now, following a disappointing start to their season in the Championship and Solskjaer’s ‘resignation’, Cardiff City appear to be in turmoil.
While their opening games in the Championship were disappointing, they were certainly not terminal. Two wins, two draws and three losses in their first seven games is not entirely devastating, but it was the manner of their defeats that caused such concern. A 4-2 loss to Norwich having been comfortably in control of the game at 2-0 was met with consternation by the fans, followed immediately by a 1-0 loss to Middlesbrough, with the team met with resonating boos on both occasions. Solskjaer was afforded much of the blame for his failure to play a consistent starting eleven and for the poor performance of many of his new signings and with his situation becoming more and more untenable, he departed the club.
Since his departure, Cardiff let slip a 2-0 lead to draw with Derby, before a tragic 3-0 cup exit to Bournemouth was labelled ‘unacceptable’ by joint caretaker boss Scott Young. The balance of the squad appeared absent and confidence was non-existent. Whether these were present with Solskjaer at the club is arguable, but Cardiff now find themselves utterly directionless, despite the players’ wish for a replacement to be brought in quickly.
Whoever is brought in as a replacement will have a hard job steering the club back on track. The club has quality players to utilise but confidence is low and a poor start has led to a dip in form that could take time to recover from. With Solskjaer’s reign now classified as a failure, the squad must take their share of the blame and turn things around quickly if the club aim to be fighting for promotion at the end of the year. As Fulham have also found, it can be difficult to make the transition from the Premier League to the Championship and the turmoil currently surrounding the club needs to vanish within the next few weeks – a hard task for whoever is brave enough to step up to the challenge.
'It was the wrong appointment for Cardiff and the wrong club for Solskjaer,' said former skipper Jason Perry on BBC Radio Wales, 'Do we know how Cardiff play? No. If you're manager or a coach you have a central strategy and you work on that.'
Solskjaer was criticised for his failure to focus in on a central strategy and this is the biggest issue any new arrival will need to correct in order to get the team moving forwards again. The club are in turmoil and need to solve this quickly if they expect to gain anything from this season.