CITY boss Malky Mackay said he’ll ‘feel very proud for everyone at the football club’ as Cardiff City take to the field as a Premier League club for the first time tomorrow to take on West Ham United.
It’s four months to the day that the Bluebirds secured a first return to top flight football in 51-years with that 0-0 draw with Charlton Athletic in April and now on the eve of the new Premier League season anticipation and excitement is at an all time high amongst fans, staff and players alike.
But Malky admitted, the key to performing on the Bluebirds’ Premier League bow was to play the game and not the occasion, saying: “The last couple of weeks it’s been a bit of a frenzy down here, so it’s my job to keep calm and keep that level of expectation down as much as I can and go and enjoy it.
“We’ve worked hard for the last six weeks. There are a lot of people that have put a lot of work in on every level within the organisation and on the planning that has had to go in ahead of the new season. When you get down to the nuts and bolts of it we’re going onto the pitch to play a football team and do our best.”
First up for the Bluebirds, an immensely professional and experienced West Ham United side at Upton Park on Saturday, a club Malky knows well from his season long spell with the Hammers as a player in 2004-05 – 23 appearances and a promotion to the top flight, fond memories for the City manager.
And in a repeat of his first game in charge of City when he joined as manager in 2011, Mackay said: “I had a smile on my face when I saw the fixtures because it’s a club that I’m very fond of, it’s a previous club of mine and one that I really enjoyed a bit of success with.
“They’ll be a very tough side to play. There’s a lot of experience there and it’s something that we’ll have to be very wary of. I know them well; I know the task at hand.
“Ironically my first ever game for Cardiff as manager was at Upton Park two years ago, so I did have a smile on my face, but then you look to the first home fixture and they don’t come too much bigger than that (against Manchester City). It’s an interesting start to the season, put it that way.”
The City boss should also have a strong squad to choose from after confirming the return to full training for Danish striker Andreas Cornelius saying: “Andreas is training today. He took a heavy knock in training a couple of weeks ago so we’ve have him running on his own.
“He’s just started joining in with training again so we’ll see how he is today before we decide whether he’s going to be involved tomorrow. We had two or three who had a few issues but that’s cleared up and we probably have a fully fit squad to choose from.”
Cornelius is one of five summer signings for the Bluebirds with latest recruit Gary Medel joining up with the squad on Friday for the first time after returning from international duty with Chile, a player Malky believes will add valuable experience the City ranks.
“Gary is a very experienced player for someone who is just 26-years old,” said Malky “He’s got over 50 caps for Chile and have played in the Boca Juniors v River Plate derby in Argentina which is one of the most frenetic derbies in the world and played in La Liga against the top, top players. In February, Xavi came out and urged Barcelona to come out and try and buy him. That’s pedigree.
“He’s a leader and an organiser and someone with vast experience. We’re delighted we got him. I’m delighted to get a top quality player of that ilk in. As it was with Steven Caulker the week before to bring someone like that into the football club and actually have someone like that on the training pitch and see what I’ve got a top young player and an England international is pleasing.”
And the City boss confirmed that work was continuing to further strengthen his ranks before the close of the transfer window in September.
“We’ve still got options and we’ve still got a couple of irons in the fire and again it takes time,” said Malky, “You have to be patient for things to happen; I’ve got until 2nd September to do that. Ideally you’d like to have everyone in for the start of the season, but there are a lot of clubs that haven’t quite done their business yet either, everyone’s in the same boat.”
LISTEN TO LIVE COMMENTARY of Cardiff City’s first Premier League clash with West Ham United on Cardiff City Player!Watch our In the City looking ahead to West Ham below.