CC: It's hard enough to keep up with one team in the Championship much less follow what everyone else is doing. What can you tell us about how things are going at Cardiff City?
Paul Evans: One of the reasons our current manager was appointed was that the decision makers at the club wanted to see a better quality of football being played. The previous manager, Malky Mackay, had been criticised by some supporters for what was seen as a negative approach and Ole Gunnar Solskjær was hailed as someone who would get us playing in a more attacking style with the emphasis on passing football. To be fair to Ole, he was given a very tough task and last season all that really happened when he took over was that we kept on scoring at the same rate with the more attacking philosophy only being reflected by a less protected defense which saw the goals conceded per game figure shoot up as results got worse.
Over the summer Ole brought in three strikers and a few attacking midfield players and it was generally figured that we'd score lots of goals, but our suspect defense might cause us problems. In the event, we've defended well so far , but our midfield is struggling and we are only averaging 41% possession in our league games so far - that figure is well below what you would expect from a side which started the season as favorites to win the Championship and we are not playing as well as our record so far might indicate. So far, our style this season, if we have one, is to try and hang on for a point in away league games where we spend most of the time under pressure and churn out wins at home without hitting any great heights in terms of quality or entertainment.
CC: The last time we spoke, we talked about Vincent Tan and his "eccentricities". Just recently things seem to have flipped. What can you say about that?
PE: The second half of last season saw a definite hardening of attitudes against Vincent Tan's rebrand and, for the first time, anti Tan songs were heard at games. However, we are still playing in red with the only difference being that the colour of our shorts have changed to red. However, it's a little too early to tell yet whether attitudes towards Mr. Tan have changed as a result of the revelations in the last week or so about Malky Mackay. Tan has been almost totally vindicated in his dispute with our former manager and it's difficult to judge yet whether fans are treating the rebranding and the Mackay sacking as two completely unrelated matters (like I do) or whether there will be a more tolerant attitude towards us playing in red - there is still no financial gain for the club as a result of changing colours as far as I can see and, more and more, it's looking like the rebrand was just a rich man's whim.
CC: What goals do you have for the club this season and what do you think is a realistic place for them to finish this year?
PE: If I'm still as critical as ever of Vincent Tan for the rebrand, I have to concede that, just as he did in the past two summers, he has given our manager enough funding in the playing budget to give them the means to achieve the target for our season. This time around, the goal is to go straight back up to the Premier League and it's difficult to see Ole still being in his job next summer if we are preparing for another season in the Championship (or worse!) .
There's two ways to look at our season so far. Firstly, those possession stats and the lack of attacking fluency suggest we are going to struggle to get promoted, whether automatically or through the Play Offs, but the Championship season is a real grind and we won this league two years ago by just doing enough to win games - we didn't blow sides away with our brilliant football, but we mastered the art of winning while not playing well and the second point of view is that the early signs are promising because we have seven points from games where the general consensus is that the team have not played anywhere near their potential.
Speaking for myself, I was not very optimistic about this season before a ball was kicked, but I've become more hopeful that all of our new players will eventually gel into an outfit that will be one of the strongest in the division.