Opposition Preview: Set pieces and grit define Neil Harris' Cardiff City

Cardiff City manager Neil Harris during the FA Cup third round replay match at Brunton Park, Carlisl

Neil Harris had big shoes to fill after replacing Neil Warnock last season. - Credit: PA

Ahead of the lunchtime kick-off at Carrow Road this afternoon, we speak to WalesOnline's Cardiff City correspondent Glen Williams about their current fortunes.

Q: Cardiff City sit three points off the play-off places in 10th, how do you access their Championship season so far?  

A: It's been a rollercoaster, all told. The Bluebirds started this campaign so poorly, perhaps a hangover from the elongated season last year owing to the play-offs, but also just some real lapses in concentration.

For whatever reason, maybe the change in system, they have clicked over the last three weeks and launched themselves up the table. 

But, make no mistake, the pressure was really on half a dozen games ago.

Cardiff City boss Neil Warnock is a big fan of Daniel Farke's work at Championship leaders Norwich C

Neil Harris took over from Neil Warnock last season. - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd


Q: Neil Harris replaced Neil Warnock in the hot seat last season and helped propel the club to the play-offs last season, how do you rate the job he’s done so far? 

A: It's a strange one, really, because Harris was not a particularly popular choice. I think fans potentially wanted a bigger name.

But few can deny he has, overall, done a very good job so far. And let's not forget the sizeable shoes he had to fill here.

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He has trimmed the squad, cut the average age, placed a much-needed emphasis on the academy and guided them to the play-offs. 

After a poor start this season, he has also steered them back on track. I think he's done a stellar job but, as is always the way with football, many disagree.

Swansea City's Korey Smith and Cardiff City's Joe Ralls (right) battle for the ball during the Sky B

Cardiff City's physicality has played a major role in their positive form. - Credit: PA


Q: Some of Cardiff’s aerial statistics this season are insane... I’m guessing it’s fair to say that Norwich should be expecting a physical game at Carrow Road on Saturday?  

A: Yes, definitely!

It's interesting, actually, fans were calling for a move away from the style of football we saw under Neil Warnock for three years and Harris, slowly but surely, tried to do just that.

But at the start of this season, with far more possession and a more passing-focused game, Cardiff really struggled. They just had no penetration in attack.

So, they have reverted, somewhat, to the style of football which has brought them so much success in recent years and are really utilising the set piece once again. Corners, long throw-ins, free-kicks, that is really where they are dangerous.

Cardiff City's Sean Morrison (centre) looks dejected after his side concede their second goal during

Cardiff lost to eventual winners Fulham in the play-offs last season. - Credit: PA


Q: Norwich find themselves currently trying to get promotion back to the Premier League at the first attempt, what lessons can they take from Cardiff, who failed to achieve the same goal last season? Is it evidence of how difficult an achievement it is?

A: I don't think it's only Cardiff, I think a lot of teams struggle to bounce straight back up.

There is that natural squad rotation, the hangover, for want of a better phrase again, and all the other things that come with relegation.

But Norwich appear to have kept that continuity which is so important. The same manager, key players still in tow, they look to have everything needed to bounce straight back. From an outsider's perspective, at least.

Fulham's Cyrus Christie (left) and Cardiff City's Josh Murphy battle for the ball during the Sky Bet

Former Norwich City man Josh Murphy hasn't hit the heights he expected since joining Cardiff City. - Credit: PA


Q: Josh Murphy is a name recognisable to Canaries supporters, how has he done since his move to Wales? 

A: Ah, now that really is a tricky question.

Murphy has almost unrivalled talent at times with the ball at his feet, something you cannot teach and can be so rare, especially at this level.

But, in all honesty, he really has not done it consistently enough. He has enjoyed two or three purple patches in his two-and-a-half years here, but fans wanted more.

In fact, about a year ago, Murphy was jeered off the pitch against Preston and that is never nice to see.

But there are only so many excuses you can make for him, really, he has not really hit the standards so many expected after his move from Norwich.

Q: If you were Daniel Farke, what area would you look to exploit this weekend?  

A: Cardiff's defence has been peculiar this season. They have given away some really soft goals, borne of poor errors, but on the other hand, their record stacks up against the best in the division.

But they could give a chance early, especially at left back or right back, so the Norwich wingers will be key, I think.

Cardiff City's Kieffer Moore (right) scores his side's first goal of the game with team-mates during

Cardiff City have won five of their last six matches. - Credit: PA


Q: How do you think the game will go + score prediction?

A: If I'm honest, I can't look past Norwich for this one. I hope I'm wrong! But I just think the Canaries are such an impressive outfit and I think Cardiff, who have a number of injuries to key players at the minute, will find it tough to keep them out.

Prediction: Norwich 2-1 Cardiff.

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