By Daniel Heard
Cardiff City are ready to kick-off their Championship campaign with a feeling of optimism and hope, according to new manager Paul Trollope.
City’s former First Team Coach was appointed back in May, and said at an open training session at the Cardiff City Stadium yesterday that his first pre-season in charge has been vital. “We feel ready. The players have really embraced how we’ve tried to work with a very different programme, both physically and tactically, and they’ve embraced it really well. I’m also very pleased at how the new staff have gelled together, it’s worked as I hoped it would, and obviously, as all the other 92 teams are full of optimism and hope, we consider ourselves ready.”
Those new staff include former Bluebirds boss Lennie Lawrence, now assistant manager, and Dr Ryland Morgans, part of the medical team with Wales. Trollope, who was part of Chris Coleman’s backroom staff at Euro 2016, says he learnt a lot from his time in France, including adopting a new style of play Cardiff have showcased in pre-season. “The wing-back system was a change, as we now start with a 4-3-3 or a 3-5-2, but like any system, if you do it differently, it takes time. Everyone’s got their roles in and out of possession, and we’ve worked really hard on the processes of how we do things and how we work.”
“The players have embraced it, I think they’ve enjoyed it, and there are a lot of reasons behind my choice for the system. I have to find a way to win, and realistically, I have to find a system that suits the players, suits the squad at our disposal, to get the best out of them.” That squad includes a number of new signings, including last season’s loan stars Lex Immers and Kenneth Zohore. “I feel we’ve added well, and that includes the business at the start of the summer with Lex and Kenneth coming back, as well as Frédéric Gounongbe and Jazz Richards, who we feel are good additions, but we’re still looking for one or two more for strength in depth, which is important for the number and level of games”.
Trollope was quick to assure me though that he was fully aware of the challenge ahead of him this season, with promotion, in any shape or form, being the ultimate target. “There’s an expectation there, a lot of teams are shooting for the Play-Offs, so it’s going to be some scrap, and we’ve got to be brave, we have to embrace the challenge and know what we’re coming up against, with some tough games against some good sides.” He said. “In terms of the expectation, it’s there, we know that, we know that it’s the Premier League, and whether that’s automatic or through the Play-Offs, so I’m under no illusions of what the job is.” This was echoed by midfielder Joe Ralls, who was enthusiastic ahead of the big kick off. “The new manager has come in with new ideas, and has freshened things up.”
“We’ve made a few good signings and I think we are in a better place than last season, and I think that this year it will give us that little bit extra that will help us get into the top six” City kick off their season tomorrow away to Birmingham City, with the first home game against Queens Park Rangers on Saturday the 14th of August. Cardiff are also for the first time offering a student season ticket for £99.
You can read Dan’s full interview with Trollope here.