Last weekend we saw one of the shocks of the championship season as Cardiff City were promoted to the Premier League after a draw with Reading. Cardiff’s return to the Premier League will be their second stint in the Premier League and their first since the 2013-14 season, in which they were relegated bottom of the league with 30 points.
Since Neil Warnock was appointed manager of Cardiff City they have seen a drastic change of fortunes. When he took over 19 months ago Cardiff were 23rd in the Championship and it was looking very likely that they could be dropping down to League One. A return of 62 points saw them finish 12th and 11 points ahead of the drop zone.
This season though has been one of the most remarkable seasons in the Championship for some time. At one stage of this season both Cardiff and Wolves were the runaway leaders and looked very likely to both be promoted to the Premier League. However, a run of 23 games unbeaten for Fulham saw the promotion battle go the the final day between themselves and Cardiff. A very surprising 3-1 victory for Birmingham over Fulham meant that Cardiff were to be promoted no matter what, and after a 0-0 against Reading saw thousands of jubilant Cardiff fans run onto the pitch and celebrated their promotion. With 90 points, they finished with 3 more points then when they won the league in 2013, and their second highest points total of all time.
So, who have been Cardiff’s main performers this season, and are one’s to watch out for next season.
When it comes to forwards the main man for Cardiff this season has been Kenneth Zohore. A man not many football fans would have heard of before his move to Cardiff, the former Copenhagen and Fiorentina striker has been the main man this season up front for Cardiff, with 9 goals and 5 assists in 36 appearances. If he can be priced around 6.0m next season he could be the perfect 3rd striker in your fantasy football team. It would be assumed, however, that some of Cardiff’s budget this season would be spent on a striker and depending on who that is could determine the likelihood of Zohore being the main man next season.
A former fantasy football favourite of some people, Junior Hoilett, may be one to watch in fantasy football next season. A remarkable season for him has seen him return 9 goals and 11 assists in 46 Championship games this season. Depending on Hoilett’s price (which we expect to be 6.0m), he could be the essential 4th/5th midfielder this season who could go under the radar right from the start of the season. One man who may go unnoticed and be a differential next season is Nathaniel Mendez-Laing. A man who racked up 6 goals and 5 assists this season, he could be the cheap fifth midfield enforcer this season to enable you to fund the Harry Kane’s and the Mo Salah’s, as we expect him to have a price of around 5.0m, which could see him being the Milivojević of this season. Other than Hoilett and Mendez-Laing, Callum Paterson could be the differential to provide points for your fantasy team next season. Being Cardiff’s top scorer with 10 goals and still being fairly unheard of can be good for your team, especially as we expect him to be priced around 5.5-6.0m.
Sol Bamba played in all 46 of Cardiff’s Championship games last season, starting 43 and coming on as a substitute in 3 games. Bringing a resilience to the Cardiff defence, he also contributed to the other end of the field, with 4 goals and an assist to his name. Depending on his price, which we presume will be between 4.5m and 5.0m, he could be the perfect 4th defender to bring into your team for when one of your strikers or midfielders have a tough game week. Another potential defensive option for fantasy football managers is Cardiff’s player of the year and club captain, Sean Morrison. With his steady partnership with Bamba, his potential for clean sheet points needs to be recognised by fantasy managers, as well as the goals he can score. Scoring 7 goals and 1 assist this season, if he is priced at 4.5m, he could well be the James Tarkowski next season at that cut-price. Finally, the goalkeeper Neil Etheridge needs to be mentioned as a cut-price option for your fantasy teams. At a price of 4.5m, he could well be the second keeper you have in your team to rotate with the likes of David De Gea or Ederson. With 19 clean sheets last season in 45 games, he has proved to be a great option for any manager to have in their team.
Written by Jack (@jack_hollinrake)