Cardiff's promotion piles pressure on relegation-threatened Swansea in pivotal week in Welsh football

Andy Dillon by Andy Dillon / 08 May 2018, 15:59

THIS WEEK could turn out to be a very bad one for Welsh football and a great one for Welsh rugby.

Football’s habit of throwing up compelling twists of fate has done it again with Premier League football across the River Severn at a pivotal moment.

Cardiff are up from the Championship but Swansea are now in the bottom three and heading down unless they can turn it around and beat Southampton tonight (Tuesday).

It is perhaps the biggest game for the Swans in 15 years when they avoided dropping out of the Football League altogether.

It is also a landmark day for the game in Wales as there could not be a greater contrast between two clubs which lie around 40 miles apart in the far west of football.

Swansea will go down with their playing principles intact should the worst happen for them over the coming days.

They will be relegated with the League Cup trophy to their name and a reputation for sticking to the textbook on how to keep the game alive, to pick a way around opponents; to win, lose or draw with a full complement of players determined to keep the ball down and the entertainment value high.

A club that has a smile on its face, despite numerous managerial sackings in recent seasons and the threat of impending relegation hanging over it.

Compare that to their hated rivals Cardiff.

Led by manager Neil Warnock who plays up to his image as a pantomime villain. A veteran of eight promotions ground out in a distinctive manner – it would be wrong to describe it as style.

Swansea boss Carlos Carvalhal and Warnock are equally compelling characters but for vastly different reasons.

Carvalhal amuses, endears and inspires affection for his team of graceful if flightless swans.

Warnock does nothing but rub people up the wrong way unless they have a vested interest in his success. For example, Cardiff owner Vincent Tan, who tried to make a club nicknamed The Bluebirds, play in red.

Surprise, surprise Cardiff clinched passage back to the top flight with a 0-0 draw at home to Reading. City have been described by one experienced football watcher and confidante of Warnock as the most ‘direct side since Stoke introduced ‘rugby’ to the Premier League in 2007’.

Just a few weeks ago Warnock managed to make a row out of a snow drift when his team’s Championship promotion match at Derby was postponed because of bad weather.

The Yorkshireman who many thought was past his sell by date when he left Rotherham in 2016 - his 14th different club contrived to spin up a conspiracy theory that Derby had got the game called off because at the time they had severe injuries.

It was in fact the Police and football authorities who took the decision that the areas around Pride Park were unsafe.

When Derby smashed Cardiff 3-1 in the rearranged game there weren’t too many tears shed for Warnock and Cardiff.

As manager of QPR, Warnock oversaw a 6-0 hammering by Fulham during which maverick Adel Taraabt stormed out of the ground at half time - Warnock followed suit from his post match press conference when put under a bit of pressure on the subject.

There will be genuine sadness if Swansea fail to pull off an escape act and go down this season.

There will be relief within the confines of the Welsh constabulary that they have swerved one of the most heated derby games in the country like enemy ships passing just out of range.

But as far as football principles go we will have lost a key battle.

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