Cardiff City look to have turned a corner this year.
If Neil Harris’ side have proved to be one thing, it’s hard to beat. They’ve only lost twice in the league since he took charge in November, less than any other team, and that has this month put them in with a very real shout of a top-six spot.
When Neil Warnock left, Cardiff where slumped in the bottom-half of the table and looking like they’d stay there for the remainder of the season. Harris gave them an initial boost but has overseen some disappointing performances since, the 6-1 defeat on New Year’s Day at QPR comes to mind.
That really should’ve set the tone for a dismal second-half of the season for Cardiff, but as QPR went on to lose 2-0 at Huddersfield last weekend, Cardiff went there in midweek and left with a 3-0 win – a sign of the progression made.
Cardiff came into the month looking at some kind fixtures, and picking up results was going to be vital in Harris keeping his side in the top-half. A 1-0 win against Luton Town preceded the Huddersfield win, and they’ve one resurgent Josh Murphy to thank for their up-turn in form.
The 24-year-old has been a rotational player throughout the season, having made 19 appearances in the league so far.
This year though, Murphy has scored his first two league goals of the campaign, and has four in his seven 2020 appearances with a brace in the FA Cup defeat to Reading at the start of the month.
It was after that Reading game that Harris said Murphy ‘still has a place at Cardiff’, and the ex-Norwich winger has since been invaluable to the club.
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He seems to have adopted a more forward role of late and has found himself running in-behind defences, and finishing like a natural – his opener against Huddersfield last time out is a great example of his new-found role in the team.
Cardiff have plenty of firepower, and enough Championship experience to see them into a top-six finish. But there’s a lot of teams in the mix and after facing Wigan this weekend and Stoke the next, Cardiff welcome Nottingham Forest, Brentford and Leeds United in their next three home games.
Murphy isn’t the only one to have found a new lease of life with the new decade though – Callum Paterson has been impressive too, and Lee Tomlin is continuing his fine season.
Cardiff are in a good state right now, but they’ll soon be put to the test.