Following their relegation from the Premier League last season, Cardiff City will be looking to bounce back immediately when they return to the Championship next season.
As many sides before them have shown, that is not always an easy task, although Cardiff could have an advantage in their quest to do that, given that one man in particular enjoyed a positive start to 2019 in the Championship during the back half of last season.
Striker Gary Madine is set to return to Cardiff in the summer, having spent the latter half of last season helping Sheffield United win promotion back to the Premier League after moving to Bramall Lane on a temporary deal in January.
So could that make Madine an asset for Cardiff in the Championship next season?
Here, we put the spotlight on Madine’s performances for The Blades to find out.
Given Madine played the full 90 minutes just once during his 16 appearances for Sheffield United, you have to feel that his record of three goals and two assists does not seem too bad a return.
It should also be noted that Madine will provide an attacking threat for Cardiff next season. Even with his limited game time, Madine still averaged the third highest shots per game amongst The Blades’ regular features last season. The striker’s average of 1.4 shots per game beaten only by fellow strikers David McGoldrick and Billy Sharp, showing that he will look to make things happen for Cardiff if the is given the chance next season.
Another hugely promising aspect for Cardiff is Madine’s record in the air, with only the defensive colossus Jack O’Connell bettering Madine when it came to aerial duels won for the promotion winning Blades – and even that was by the tiniest of margins of 4.9 to 4.8, indicating the advantage Madine could give Cardiff when both attacking and defending set pieces next season.
There may be a small concern around Madine’s slightly underwhelming return when it comes to passing, although if Madine continues to trouble defences with his attacking presence, that should not be too much of a worry for Cardiff.
In spite of the disappointment of relegation, there is plenty to be encouraged by for Cardiff ahead of their return to the Championship next season, and Madine’s time at Bramall Lane at the start of 2019 is certainly appears to be something that will have contributed to that.