Sneaky Swan manages to ruffle Bluebirds' feathers

Only six points separate Cardiff and Swansea at the top of the Championship and only 35 miles separate them down the M4. Yet in terms of sound financial practice, the two clubs are as far apart as the hostile environment in the capital will suggest today. Or at least, according to the visiting captain, Garry Monk.

The 31-year-old is known for being fearless in the centre of defence, but he is plainly just as courageous in word as in tackle. Certainly the Swan will make a few feathers fly in South Wales with his assessment of the respective economic strategies of the derby contestants.

"Some teams spend beyond their means," said Monk. "I know Cardiff have had their troubles in terms of money but one of their players has come in and his weekly wage is more than our whole squad's weekly wage. Everyone to their own... if they want to gamble to go up that's up to them.

"Personally I care about the club and want the club to do well, not just for myself, but for the future. It's vitally important you run the club properly. If you owned a business you'd want it to be stable... imagine owning a business that is £30m-£40m in debt. You'd be worrying, looking over your shoulder all the time.

"You've got to give credit to our chairman and the board. You see so many clubs in trouble; it really is borderline 'going out of business' stuff. Yeah, it [the financial restrictions] can be frustrating at times. But I'd take that all day long if it means having the stability we've got here."

As the Bluebirds have been reported as being £30m-£40m in debt, the inference is obvious. But it will be the reference to "one of their players" which raises most hackles. Cardiff would no doubt stress that they pay only a fraction of Craig Bellamy's reported £90,000-a-week wages, although Monk would not quibble. He recognises the wider benefits brought by the Manchester City loanee.

"He's a world-class player," said Monk. "I've watched the Champions' League the last couple of nights and he should be playing. Cardiff are lucky to have him. As soon as he signed I said it would raise the profile for the League. It will for this game, it being live on the BBC. His name alone will probably put a few million on the audience figures."

Monk is determined that his side do not end up with their feet up watching Bellamy. As he points out, the leaders "have attacking options everywhere". "But if they've got that many attacking players on the pitch they're going to leave gaps and hopefully we can exploit them."

This is no forlorn hope, despite Cardiff's seven-match run of six wins and a draw. Swansea have not conceded in their last five games, and under new manager Brendan Rogers have found their feet with their own six-match run of four wins and two draws. Furthermore, they edge the head-to-heads in the two years since the clubs have been doing battle again following a nine-year hiatus in hostilities. Swansea have won twice, drawn twice and lost once.

Monk missed the latter, a dramaticlast-minute victory at Cardiff in March. "It was hard watching as this is the game you want to be involved in," he said. "I've been involved in the Sheffield derby and Southampton-Portsmouth but they don't compare to this. As much as you try to treat it as a normal game, you realise exactly what it means to the fans. I was in Tesco and five different people came up and said 'you'd better win on Sunday'.

"You can tell the young players how big a game it is and what the atmosphere will be like, but they won't know until they get to the ground and see and feel the hatred. But you have to use it as motivation and try to put one over them. I love all that."

Swansea v Cardiff is on BBC1 today, kick-off 1.10

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