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View From The Town End: Cardiff

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Will Mr Warnock stump Reading again? We get the lowdown on tomorrow's visitors Cardiff.

Bristol City v Cardiff City - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Harry Trump/Getty Images

This week's View From The Town End comes from Sportsmole writer and Cardiff fan Dan Lewis - @Daniel_Lewis92

How would you sum up Cardiff's season?

In simple terms, the season can quite easily be split into two separate parts. Any hopes of an outside play-off push were essentially all but over by the time Paul Trollope departed in early October, with the club second bottom of the table at the time.

Since Neil Warnock's arrival soon after, City's fortunes have changed for the better – but still not at the rate many had hoped. Our form since the 'Marmite manager' took charge has us on course for a top-10 finish over the remainder of the term, and all focus is already now on gearing up for a big summer ahead.

It has been our worst campaign at this level since promotion to the second tier 14 years ago; one that has seen us slumber at the wrong end of the table almost throughout until the past couple of weeks. Fingers crossed this proves to be an anomaly and not a sign of things to come.

What impact has Neil Warnock had? Are fans happy with the job he's doing?

The Yorkshireman is certainly not everyone's cup of tea, but the vast majority of the club's fanbase were more than happy to see him come on board back in October – the ideal man to steer us clear of danger. Relegation is still not completely out of the picture just yet, but three wins on the bounce this month has finally allowed us to look forward rather than over our shoulder.

In an ideal world, Warnock will commit beyond the end of the season (details of the contract he signed earlier this season were not made public) and potentially lead us towards a promotion charge next term. For him to do so some financial backing is required in the summer, and he has already made it quite clear that he will not stick around if owner Vincent Tan does not bow to those wishes.

The style of play, obviously, is far from what many would hope to see on a weekly basis, yet he has proven promotion pedigree and his honesty is something that is often in short supply. Besides, the football these days is far more entertaining than anything witnessed under Messrs. Slade and Trollope.

What about the owners, it seems to have gone a bit quiet on the Vincent Tan front?

The quieter the better! Tan is certainly not as involved as our pre-Premier League days, instead focusing on other business tasks, and the ownership of a few other clubs around the world, rather than taking in games at Cardiff City Stadium.

Warnock had his first face-to-face meeting with Tan last week and it is not yet known how positive those transfer discussions were. What is clear, though, is that more players will likely have to be offloaded if new faces are to be brought in during the summer.

That may seem fair enough on the face of it - that is how most clubs at this level operate, after all - except teams do not tend to part with any cash when it comes to signing Cardiff players. Instead, a habit of paying off players to leave, even if they have some sort of transfer value, is now the way to go. Next summer really will be pivotal.

Reading won 1-0 in Cardiff early in the season, what did you make of them that day and from what you've seen since?

It was still early days for Jaap Stam back then, but the style of play he was attempting to adopt was clear to see from the off - in complete contrast to Trollope and Cardiff. I would not say Reading particularly stood out that afternoon, though, with a late goal being required to inflict the latest of our home defeats.

I really fancied you to challenge for an automatic promotion spot when putting together a string of victories across the festive period, but it is becoming increasingly clear that this season is a battle between the 'Best of the Rest' - Newcastle and Brighton are simply uncatchable.

Which Cardiff player should we be wary of on Saturday?

Can I say none? Seriously – there is little individual threat in the side. When asked this question earlier in the campaign I remember picking out Lex Immers as the one to watch, but he struggled to push on from his impressive loan spell last term and was one of those to be paid off earlier this month.

Warnock has brought in five new players since taking charge, four of whom came in on free deals – Kieran Richardson, Marouane Chamakh, Sol Bamba and Junior Hoilett. The former two have since departed after failing to hold down a place in the side, while the others have just about stood out.

Bamba, bar his moment of madness at Portman Road when taking on Warnock, has been consistently solid at the back, and Hoilett has provided us with something we have lacked for a good few seasons now – a bit of pace and creativity on the flank. That said, I'll have to go with my default answer – Peter Whittingham's set-piece delivery is still the biggest weapon in this Cardiff side, as it has been for exactly a decade now.

Anyone from Reading you're not looking forward to facing?

We have had mixed success at the back in recent weeks, conceding just one goal in games against Brighton, Burton and Villa, but also shipping two in the meetings with Brentford and Bristol City and a further three against Barnsley.

The teams challenging for promotion do, in general, find it more difficult to break us down. Warnock essentially went with a six-at-the-back system at The Amex on Tuesday night, fielding four defenders and two very deep defensive midfielders. Warnock has made it clear that he prefers facing the sides in the higher reaches of the division, as it takes some of the pressure off his players to go out and find a win.

With that in mind your more creative players will need to step up, so shackling the likes of Garath McCleary and our old friend Kermorgant will be key if we are to leave Berkshire with a share of the points. Alternatively, let Chris Gunter score a rare goal and I'm sure we will all celebrate in unison - what a guy!

Finally, score prediction?

Do not be deceived by the league table. Cardiff may be down in 16th but, prior to the defeat against high-flying Brighton a few days back, we were among the league's top sides in terms of current form. Two defeats in nine is good going and, backed by a big away travelling (a rarity these days), I fancy us to take a point in a low-scoring draw.