Cardiff City kick off the new season at Blackburn on Friday 8 August. On paper, for the 2014/15 season Cardiff City probably have one of the strongest squads the Championship has ever seen. If anything, they have an embarrassment of riches all over the park. Of course, that poses its own set of problems. Ole Gunnar Solksjaer showed us last season how much he enjoys tinkering with personnel, formation and tactics. He’s going to have a field day trying to select a team from around 32 serious candidates.
For what it’s worth, here is my pick:
After last season’s heroics, his place between the sticks is virtually guaranteed.
At left-back it was a toss-up between him and young Declan John. Fabio has had an impressive pre-season, and gets the nod because the club have to justify his inflated wages somehow.
CB: Juan Cala
Looked decent after arriving on a free from Sevilla in February, and scored twice in his seven appearances. Should fill the gap vacated by Steven Caulker.
CB: Ben Turner
Closing in on a century of appearances for the club, Big Ben is a shoe-in at this level. His height and physical presence could be key.
RB: John Brayford
Spent last season on loan at Sheffield United, but the 26-year old is back and has a point to prove. In the absence of any stand-out right-backs at the club, I say give him a chance.
LM: Peter Whittingham
Recently signed a new contract tying him to the Bluebirds until 2017. The biggest debate is where his best position is. I think the left of midfield where he can put in some early crosses suits him best. His set-pieces could be crucial.
CM: Aron Gunnarsson
In danger of becoming the Forgotten Man, but the Iceland captain loves the club and knows what it takes to get out of this division. Great stamina and tackling ability. Will slot in neatly alongside new signing Dikgacoi.
CM: Kagisho Dikgacoi
I have high hopes for the South African international who has been handed Gary Medel’s number 8 shirt. Grabbing him on a free from Palace could prove to be a great piece of business.
RM: Craig Noone
Showed what he can do when given the opportunity last season. If he can stay clear of injuries, he could be vital to the team’s cause. Along with Whitts on the other flank, he’ll shoulder the bulk of the creative responsibility.
S: Adam Le Fondre
What City missed last season was a proven goal scorer. The new signing from Reading, where he scored 39 times in 104 games, should go some way to addressing the problem. Has been on fire in pre-season.
S: Javi Guerra
Another new signing. This spot could easily have gone to Machida or Jones, but I’m opting for the Spaniard’s guile and experience. Can drop deep when required.
SUBS: Simon Moore (GK), Matthew Connolly, Declan John, Kim Bo-Kyung, Matts Moller Daehli, Guido Burgstaller, Joe Mason, Federico Macheda.
Controversial selection, I know. On last season’s evidence, many would put Daehli somewhere in midfield. But personally I think he’s still a bit lightweight for the rough and tumble of the Championship. For the time being, I think we would be best served to bring him on late in games when teams are slowing down. There could also be a case to include Austrian international Burgstaller on either flank, but he is a bit of an unknown quantity. Kimbo isn’t in my team because he was awful last season. If he wants to get in he has to improve. He’s lucky to get on the bench. Kenwyne Jones wasn’t so lucky.
My book, From the Ashes: The REAL Story of Cardiff City, is out now:
Originally published by the Huff Post UK: