On Saturday, Cardiff City Stadium will be the scene of a English Championship clash between an underrated commodity and an overrated one when Cardiff hosts Aston Villa.
The underrated commodity is Cardiff boss Neil Warnock, an abrasive character who has been ruffling feathers since the 1980s but whose managerial record stands up to the closest inspection. Warnock first came to the attention of the general public in the late 1980s when he led Scarborough into the English Football League. Warnock has led no fewer than six individual teams to promotion, including the side that he followed as a child, Sheffield United – the Blades got into the English Premier League during his tenure.
Similar to Sam Allardyce, never has Warnock received the credit that his managerial achievements deserve. That has a lot to do with Warnock having had run ins with a long list of players, coaches, referees, clubs and administrators, with one of the most famous incidents being the Battle of Bramall Lane between Sheffield United and West Bromwich that Eddie Wolstenholme abandoned after the Blades went down to six men – the Laws of the Game instructs referees to abandon matches in which there are fewer than seven players in either team. But even Warnock’s critics, of which there are many, acknowledge that his numbers are better than average.
Warnock is in his first full season as Cardiff boss and he has enjoyed a good start. Cardiff won 1-0 at Burton in the first round of the English Championship and the Bluebirds backed up that victory with a 2-1 home win over Portsmouth in the English EFL Cup. Cardiff was dominant in its defeat of Burton even though it took until the 87th minute for the Bluebirds to break the deadlock – they had 17 attempts to three, six attempts on target to nil and six corner kicks to four. It would have been a travesty had Cardiff not pierced Burton’s defence, which is what Kenneth Zohore did in the dying minutes after having an earlier effort ruled out.
Whereas one thinks that Cardiff and, in particular, Warnock are underrated, one is of the opinion that Aston Villa is overrated. The English Championship kicked off with Aston Villa at the head of title betting even though the Villans finished last season on the bottom half of the ladder – it did not make any sense even allowing for the arrival of former Chelsea captain John Terry at Villa Park. And Aston Villa did nothing in the English Championship’s opening round to indicate that it will return to the English Premier League at the end of this term – the Villans were no better than equal to Hull in their 1-1 draw last Saturday, in spite of having home advantage. Aston Villa lined up against Hull without Jonathan Kodjia and the Cote d’Ivoire striker is highly unlikely to feature versus Cardiff as he continues to carry an ankle injury.
Marathonbet is quoting odds of +161 about Cardiff beating Aston Villa on Saturday. Cardiff will have had 24 hours more than Aston Villa to recover from their respective English EFL Cup exertions and the Bluebirds defeated the Villans 1-0 in last season’s corresponding English Championship fixture. One thinks that Cardiff is at least on a par with Aston Villa and, therefore, the Bluebirds should not be any bigger than odds of +120 to maintain their 100 per cent record in all competitions this term. The early weeks of any football season are when bookmakers pay too much respect to some sides and too little respect to others so back Cardiff.
Cardiff to beat Aston Villa
Saturday 12th August, 15:00 GMT