Cardiff City's new identity crisis
As Cardiff fans remain split by the club's rebranding, the team appear to have developed a very different divide; the contrast between their record breaking home form and their recent travelling circus away performances.
At home, Cardiff have produced a 100% winning start, scoring freely with a miserly defence. On their travels, it's mistakes galore, losing five of their eight games thus far, against fairly timid opponents. So which is the 'real' Cardiff?
The truth of the matter is that they have been rather fortunate on occasion at home and unfortunate away at times. They are somewhere between the two, neither automatic promotion contenders nor mid-table scrappers, a solid challenger for the play off places. Exactly where they were before spending more than £10m in the summer!
Malky bought well in the summer and has been very unlucky to lose Nicky Maynard, Craig Bellamy, Tommy Smith and Jordon Mutch to injury. Maynard is unlikely to appear before next season, but the other three should return before Christmas and will significantly improve the current side.
With a wealth of attacking options, the loss of Maynard, Bellamy and Smith has not been as significant as you would expect, as Cardiff have continued to score an abundance of goals in their absence. The physical presence of Mutch has been sorely lacking in recent weeks, but his return appears no nearer.
The fact that the defence has become Cardiff's main weakness, after being not just neglected in the transfer window, but also significantly weakened, was sadly inevitable. A source of strength last season, Darcy Blake, Lee Naylor, Anthony Gerrard and Paul Quinn all left the defence in the summer with only Matthew Connolly brought in as cover.
Richard Keogh and Jason Shackell were both pursued and would have been sterling signings. Cardiff baulked at Keogh's wage demands, which was odd considering their lavish spending, resulting in him joining Derby while Shackell joined up with Burnley.
Both have since become captain of their respective sides, exhibiting the leadership which has been sorely lacking in the Cardiff defence away from home. Connolly looks a decent player, but despite his versatility, appears to be a consolation prize amongst such company, while McNaughton and Taylor's deficiencies remain. To spend such a huge amount of money and still be in urgent need of reinforcements is quite a feat.
The likelihood is that results, home and away, will balance out in the coming weeks, but expectations are sky high and the pressure will only increase as the season unfolds. The rebranding and associated spending has frustrated some and inspired others.
Expectations are always high but this season, anything less than automatic promotion will be regarded as failure. Patience is in very short supply across the board at present, a situation entirely of the club's own making. If they come up short once again, the consequences will be grave.
After such solid, disciplined displays away from home last season, Cardiff's sloppy performances were unexpected and need to be urgently addressed. I have faith that Malky will find a solution, hopefully sooner rather than later. In the midst of a season that will define the club's immediate future, time is of the essence with so much at stake.