Mick McCarty has shown his resilience once more with Cardiff City

Ireland great has moved the Championship club up the table in recent weeks
Mick McCarty has shown his resilience once more with Cardiff City

Cardiff City manager Mick McCarthy gestures on the touchline during the Sky Bet Championship match at Oakwell, Barnsley. Picture: Mike Egerton/PA Wire. 

DOWN in the basement of the Premier League, it looks likelier every day that Sheffield United and West Brom will be returning to the Championship.

Fulham are in a very precarious situation too although their outstanding victory over Everton illustrated that they have the capabilities to make a real fight of it.

Their team boss, Scott Parker was one of the finest footballers of recent times and played with six Premiership clubs before turning to management.

In a league that contains all too few home-based bosses, it would be good to see him take the London side out of the bottom three.

Fulham manager Scott Parker and Aleksandar Mitrovic.
Fulham manager Scott Parker and Aleksandar Mitrovic.

Meanwhile, the battle for promotion and play-off places in the Championship to replace those going down is what it is now almost every season, fascinating.

The Championship has often been described as the best league in Europe for its competitive nature and it’s difficult to argue with that.

This time is no exception and the battle continues to rage week by week as to who will emerge.

One team that this observer has been keeping a close eye on in the past few weeks are Cardiff.

Not that we have any feeling one way or the other for the Welsh club but the fact that Mick McCarthy is at the helm and doing what he does with most clubs he gets involved with, a superb job.

When the Ireland great took the reins at the Cardiff Stadium the club was far closer to the lower regions of the Championship than they were to the top.

In fact, they were in a relegation dogfight with a good few more sides.

Now, look where they are, just three points outside the play-off places after a run of six games unbeaten under McCarthy.

Mick McCarthy is hoping he can get Cardiff into the play-offs.
Mick McCarthy is hoping he can get Cardiff into the play-offs.

There was a whole pile of scepticism around the city when he was given the job, especially after a brief and unsuccessful spell in Cyprus.

But that’s all changed now, the old warrior, one of the game’s genuine, good guys, has rejuvenated the club and watching them on TV on Tuesday night against Luton showed that he has the team fully behind him.

McCarthy knows this league inside out, similar to another old warhorse, Neil Warnock.

The latter has Middlesboro just above Cardiff on the table and it will be very interesting to see how this sorts itself out, two of the old guard going head to head.

McCarthy is back where he belongs, one the sideline cajoling his players to better things after the shambles that was his last stint in charge of the Republic of Ireland. That, of course, was not his doing and it certainly hasn’t worked out too well since he departed.

DERBY REVIVAL

Another Championship boss that we are keeping a close eye on is Wayne Rooney.

When Rooney was put in charge on an interim basis at Derby there was as much scepticism as there was surrounding McCarthy at Cardiff.

Firstly, his experience in that cut-throat championship was very limited and many believed that he was not cut out for management at all.

Well, he’s proving everybody wrong so far, getting Derby away from the basement by winning games when it looked very unlikely. Derby have been securing late, late goals as they did against Wycombe on Tuesday night and what side was the best at doing that, United, of course.

Derby County celebrate against Wycombe Wanderers. Picture: John Walton/PA Wire.
Derby County celebrate against Wycombe Wanderers. Picture: John Walton/PA Wire.

That’s a trait the manager learned at Old Trafford, never ever surrender. Both Cardiff and Middlesboro have lost 11 games thus far in the season and are still in with a very decent shout of making the top six.

That just shows that this grade of English football is riddled with inconsistencies. In fact, its only consistency is its inconsistency. But it is still a great league, one that is fascinating to study right throughout the season.

You can be sailing in very turbulent waters and in a relegation battle one week and a month or two later you can be in the top six or there or thereabouts.

Let’s hope big Mick can do it again with Cardiff and that Rooney can continue to elevate Derby back to where a club of this stature should be.

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