We spoke to Glen Williams, Cardiff City correspondent for WalesOnline, ahead of Sunderland playing host to the Bluebirds at the weekend.
WMS: Cardiff City got the better of Sunderland at the Stadium of Light in November 2022, and this season the Bluebirds find themselves three points behind the Black Cats in the early stages of the campaign. What is the sense amongst the fan base around Erol Bulut’s appointment during the summer, his style of play and where his side will likely finish this season?
GW: There is a positivity among the Cardiff fan base after two very poor seasons. Supporters have really taken to Erol Bulut and the football is markedly better from the last two seasons. The fans are realistic, though, anywhere in the top half would be seen as a major improvement and probably an attainable goal.
WMS: It’s understood that the club had already planned pre season but following Bulut’s arrival he ripped up those plans wanting to implement his own methods and ideas. Do the players seem to be responding and specifically what is his preferred formation since the season began?
GW: It’s still early days but there definitely seems to be an identity forming under the new manager, which is always positive to see. He likes a 4-2-3-1 and it’s the formation in which Cardiff have had the most success, historically, so again I think that helps the fans get on board.
WMS: Do you think Bulut will likely tinker with this formation against Sunderland for any reason?
GW: I don’t think so. He didn’t at Leeds or Leicester or anywhere else Cardiff have been this season, which is a positive, I think. He backs his own methods and his own players and tells them to be better than the other team. Worry about yourself not the other side, seems to be his motto.
WMS: What do you think Cardiff City’s likely starting XI will be?
GW: Alnwick; Ng, McGuinness, Goutas, Collins; Siopis, Ralls; Meite, Ramsey, Grant; Ugbo.
WMS: Who are Cardiff’s current key and in form players?
GW: Aaron Ramsey, Manolis Siopis, Mark McGuinness and Ollie Tanner are all on fire at the moment for the Bluebirds.
WMS: Early days into the season but who do you think is Cardiff’s best signing of the summer?
GW: Easy to say Aaron Ramsey, who has been wonderful since his return, but Manolis Siopis is right up there, too. What a little pocket rocket he’s proved to be so far.
WMS: Which Sunderland player do you think Cardiff City will be worried about most?
GW: Hard to look past young Jack Clarke at the moment. Three goals from out on that left-hand side is a solid return. Cardiff will have a job on their hands to keep him quiet.
WMS: Which Cardiff City player do you think Sunderland should be worried about most?
GW: Probably Aaron Ramsey, but if Ollie Tanner gets on he has been sizzling so far this season and has caused some real issues for defenders.
WMS: Where do you think Sunderland will finish in the league?
GW: I think the play-offs are a reasonable expectation.
WMS: Score prediction for Sunday?