CARDIFF weren’t expected to pull up any trees in the Championship this season.
Bookmakers made Fulham, Middlesbrough and Aston Villa favourites to be promoted, with the Bluebirds seen as long-shots.
Yet, after ten games Neil Warnock’s side sit top of the league after their 3-1 win over Leeds.
Our friends at Football Whispers look at how they’ve set the pace in the Championship.
It has been the start of dreams for Warnock and Cardiff this season, after seven wins, two draws and one loss in England’s second tier.
Last season they finished in 12th, 18 points off the play-offs and a whopping 32 points shy of champions Newcastle United.
Yet, any team that puts together a good run of form has the potential to have a good season in the Championship, a division known for its topsy-turvy nature.
Take Huddersfield Town and Fulham, who finished with 51 points each at the end of the 2015/16 season, in 19th and 20th respectively.
One year later, they were both in the play-offs. Huddersfield won promotion to the Premier League where they are thriving in eighth, just two points short of fourth.
Given Cardiff boss Warnock’s CV, it perhaps is no surprise that they are having such a good season.
The veteran boss has achieved seven promotions in his managerial career and he knows what is needed to get teams up.
His last was with Queens Park Rangers in 2011/12, but since then he has also had a successful spell at Rotherham United, keeping the relegation favourites up with an unbeaten run of 11 matches.
With a manager like the 68-year-old, who knows the Championship like the back of his hand, Cardiff were always going to have a good season – and that perhaps is just a continuation of last season, as Warnock guided them from second bottom when he took over to 12th.
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They’ve started brilliantly this campaign, and early momentum can be crucial.
The Bluebirds picked up five wins from their first five league games this season, before a draw at Fulham.
As Warnock stated after the game, that was just as crucial a result as some of the wins before it, proving they have the resilience to fight back after going behind.
Warnock said: “If any questions needed answering, today answered them.
“Going behind could have killed a lesser team.
“If you’d offered me a point before, I’d have snapped your hand off. It’s a different game to any other in the Championship – nobody plays like Fulham.”
It took the Bluebirds two more games to get their next win. But they’ve since shown that resilience to register two consecutive victories, with Tuesday’s win at Leeds the second of those.
Warnock claims he he hasn’t set any targets for the season, despite being top of the league, but hailed his side after the result, with his former side Leeds going into the game top of the table.
He said: “This was a great night for us. I was really pleased with the way we played and went about the job. The Warnock Way!”
The boyhood Sheffield United fan is right. He has his sides playing a certain way – a high tempo, aggressive pressing and attacking with pace and power.
Cardiff are also a big side physically, with key players such as Sol Bamba, one-time Everton transfer target Kenneth Zohore, Joe Bennett, Sean Morrison and Bruno Ecuele Manga all over 6ft tall.
But they can play as well as providing a physical threat, with Zohore’s second last night proving that.
A lovely one-touch passing move involving Junior Hoilett, Morrison, Zohore and Loic Damour saw the ball rolled across the box for the Danish striker to slide home.
Cardiff aren’t just a team that can win through physicality and pace but a side that can triumph by playing passing football that is pleasing on the eye too.
They may not have been among the favourites to go up at the start of the season.
But after a great start – including wins over Leeds and Wolves, the two teams closest to them at the top of the table – it will be a surprise if Warnock’s side aren’t in contention come the end of the season.