After securing promotion to the Premier League last night, some might say the really hard work starts now - making preparations for survival in the Premier League next term.
Phil Cadden pin-points five things the Welsh side must do...
1. The owner must invest
Cardiff’s owner Vincent Tan must back manager Malky Mackay in the transfer market this summer. The Malaysian certainly supported the Scotsman in the Championship by funding the £13m spent on players such as Nicky Maynard, Jordon Mutch, Kim Bo-kyung, Craig Noone and Fraizer Campbell over the course of the club’s promotion-winning campaign.
That gave Cardiff the required strength in depth needed for the gruelling league schedule which often threw up Saturday, Tuesday then Saturday fixtures.
But, with the lofty jump into the Premier League, it is imperative that Mackay is rewarded for guiding the team to promotion with further investment for Cardiff to cope with the gulf in class, despite the fewer games.
2. 10 new players needed
Mackay built a squad to get out of the Championship littered with experience of winning the division title, but the real hard work starts here. In truth, he will need 10 new players to ensure his side can be competitive among the elite.
Mackay, who admitted after the Charlton Athletic draw that planning for life in the Premier League had already started, will know he needs to improve in all areas, too.
The spine of David Marshall, Mark Hudson, Peter Whittingham and Craig Bellamy is a decent platform to build on.
But Mackay’s ability to attract players to Cardiff, snap up bargains, and use the extra month’s advantage of knowing what division they are going to be playing in next term over their rivals will be key to their fortunes.
3. Make their home a fortress
Cardiff’s march to promotion began with a home win over Huddersfield last August, the first of 10 straight victories – a club record – on their own turf.
That will be difficult to replicate in the Premier League, but the Bluebirds’ results at the Cardiff City Stadium will be vital in their quest to stay in the top flight.
If Mackay’s men can turn their home ground into a fortress, especially early on in the season, then that points tally can go a long way to ensuring survival.
They need only to look at other recent success stories such as Stoke City or Swansea City to see how important a solid set of home results can be.
4. No more re-branding
Cardiff secured promotion to the Premier League despite the backdrop of a divide between the club and the supporters over the change of kit colour.
It was slightly ironic to hear the Welsh side’s supporters singing “the Blues are going up” with the team wearing a red kit and opposition sides usually turning up in Cardiff’s traditional colour of blue.
The majority of Cardiff fans have put up with forfeiting tradition and history for success on the pitch. But any further changes, such as changing the club’s name to Cardiff Dragons to attract the Asian market, would be too much for many loyal followers and would create unnecessary turbulence and pressure in what will already be a difficult season.
5. Forget about derby day
The return of Cardiff against Swansea adds an extra dimension for the Premier League.
But Mackay’s newly promoted outfit should not place too much focus on the mouthwatering double-header of derby clashes.
Putting an emphasis on winning bragging rights may have short-term gains, but the Bluebirds should not take their eye off the long-term game. Swansea are now a well-established Premier League club, in the top half of the division, so there will be other games for Cardiff during the course of the season which will be more important.
Winning games in your own mini-league is always the first basis of keeping a team afloat.