Cardiff City are promoted to the Premier League

Cardiff City have been promoted to the Premier League as champions under the guidance of manager Malky Mackay.
Malky Mackay
It will be the first time the Welsh club have played in the Premier League and it will also be a great moment for their manager as he gained three promotions in a row towards the end of his career but was released each time. So he will be hoping he does keep his job in the summer but that surely will happen after such a fantastic year. At the start of the season there was a lot of controversy around the club with them changing the strip colour and a few other changes but when it actually came down to what was happening on the pitch, they have been by far the best team in the division and deserve to be champions in my opinion. Cardiff do still have two games to play and there should be a brilliant atmosphere at home to Bolton Wanderers when they collect the trophy. They will be the second Welsh team in the Premier League and their rivalry with Swansea City will be more high profile than ever and just shows that football may slowly be catching up to rugby in Wales these days as the main sport.

Looking at the team though, it may be surprising to see that their top scorer only has nine goals. Heidar Helguson is the man that has got these goals and at the start of the season I backed him to be one of the top goal scorers in the league, it hasn’t quite turned out that way but he has certainly done a lot to help the club get promoted. Along with Craig Bellamy who must be the happiest player at the club as he gets to play Premier League football for his boyhood club.
Craig Bellamy
Cardiff do have some good players in the midfield but the two that stick out for me are Peter Whittingham and Aron Gunnarsson. Whittingham has been one of those players that has looked too good for the Championship over the years but no Premier League club has been willing to take a chance on him yet, so finally the former Aston Villa player can show his talents in the top division. Gunnarsson is a very good player too and his eight league goals is quite impressive, add to this his brilliant long throw the Iceland international will be crucial to the side if they are to have a any chance of staying up.

Defensively I do not think they are great and will certainly need to bring players in during the summer but they do have a good full back in Andrew Taylor, who is decent going forward and also looks solid enough when defending. Ben Turner is another with some potential but it could be very tough for him next season playing against strikers that have better movement and only need half a chance to score.
Andrew Taylor
It will be very tough for Cardiff next season but everyone was saying that about Swansea and they have so far never been in danger of relegation.

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Who will be the Championship’s top scorer?

Kevin Doyle may not have scored enough goals to keep Wolves in the Premier League but he will be hoping to fire them back there. The last time he played in the Championship he scored 18 goals in 42 games which is a very good record and if he can replicate that sort of form then he will surely come close to being top goal scorer. In my opinion he owes Wolves as he has only scored 21 goals in 102 games and that has not been good enough and only scoring 4 of them in the league last season is one of the reasons they got relegated.

New Cardiff City signing Heidar Helguson will also be hoping to score a lot of goals in the coming season and at least get them into the playoffs. Helguson is probably slightly frustrated that he is not still in the Premier League as he scored nine times in just 16 games for QPR last season. However, he is 34 now and his best years may be past him and the last time he was in the Championship he only scored 13 goals in 34 games. I think he will be vital to Cardiff this year but will only be an outsider for the Golden Boot trophy.

Jermaine Beckford may have only got nine league goals last year but I think he could get a lot more this season with Leicester possibly pushing for an automatic promotion place. Last season was his first full one in the Championship but he has had a full season in the Premier League so maybe he should have performed slightly better but now he has a good understanding with strike partner David Nugent he could score the same amount of goals he did in League 1.

Huddersfield Town star man Jordan Rhodes has to be a consideration because in my opinion with the way that he plays the game he will score goals at all levels. He has fantastic movement and scores all types of goals which will mean he will be a marked man but if he is given the service he will put away his chances. There are rumours that he could be leaving for Blackburn Rovers and this would only help him to score more goals but even if he stays at Huddersfield I expect him to get over 15 goals.

Finally, Craig Bellamy has to be considered an outsider because he has proved he can score goals in this division in his previous spell on loan at Cardiff City. He will be doing all he can to get his hometown club promoted and what better way to do it than score the most goals in the division. The 33 year old has never reached 20 goals but this could be the year that he does it and he will no doubt prove to be a fantastic signing but if he can add the goals to his game then he will be the signing of the season.

Hughes looking to improve QPR

A slow start to the transfer window might be starting to pick up the pace with QPR and Mark Hughes finally getting somewhere. They had been in talks with a lot of players and clubs to bring players in but finally they got in Taye Taiwo, a left back from AC Milan who has been linked to Arsenal and Newcastle in this transfer window.

The 26 year old has only played four league games for Milan but he was a very good full back for his previous club Marseille and was rated as one of the best in Europe at one point. QPR fans will be hoping he can rediscover this type of form and can aid them in their quest to stay in the Premier League.

No offence to the current left backs at the club but that is where they are the weakest and obviously Mark Hughes has identified this quickly. In his first two games he played Clint Hill in that position and although he is a very steady player in the Championship he is not good enough for the Premier League and left back isn’t even his best position as I believe he does a better job at centre back. The other left back in the squad is Armand Traore who is 22 and does seem to have some potential which former manager Neil Warnock spotted but against the better side he looks poor when defending and not very effective going forward with wayward passes and awful crosses. Which was shown mostly in his last game for Arsenal when they shipped eight at Old Trafford and then proved once again that he is a liability in one of his first games for QPR when he was branded a disgrace by Warnock for his sending off in the game against Aston Villa.

Hughes obviously wants to improve the defence with QPR being linked to players such as Chris Samba and Wayne Bridge. However, both of these look unlikely as Blackburn are reluctant to let Samba go and if they do Tottenham seem very interested and will probably be a better destination for the centre back. Wayne Bridge is a strange one for me as he doesn’t seem interested to leave Manchester City even though he gets nowhere near the first team, he just seems to want to pick up his wages and sit in the reserves. I hope I am wrong about him because to me he has been the second best England left back for years and if it wasn’t for Ashley Cole, he would have been first choice. I also feel sorry for him because he always joins a club with a lot of money and potential and then gets replaced, at Chelsea with Ashley Cole and now at City firstly with Kolarov and now Clichy. They are also in talks with Nedum Onuoha who may be a good signing as he did look promising for City.

QPR need to focus on improving their strike force though if they have realistic ambitions of staying in the league because Jay Bothroyd, DJ Campbell (although he was impressive for Blackpool last season), Rob Hulse and Federico Macheda they are not going to score a lot of goals. I would have put Heidar Helguson in that list but so far he has done the business somewhat surprisingly but I don’t think he alone will score enough goals to keep them up.

They also need a goal scoring midfielder but they aren’t easy to find so they may just be hoping that when Taarabt comes back from the Africa Cup of Nations he will live up to his potential because I was expecting a lot more from him but he has been unable to step up to the plate.