The good times keep on coming at Cardiff City. In a summer of exciting news – we signed Bristol City’s best player AGAIN, our kit is fit, and Tan converted more debt to equity – the club casually announced that seven first-team players have signed new long(ish) term deals to keep them at the club until the next World Cup.
Though the news was announced in a low-key manner, it’s actually a pretty significant piece of news. Sure, signing Junior Hoilett was a huge boon for the club and was looking a little shaky. But getting seven players to sign new terms – and getting Aron Gunnarsson to verbally agree to another year – shows a huge statement of intent from Warnock and shows just how much the players love being at the club.
The Headline Contracts
If ever there has been a player who has matured and grown as a player over the past few years, it’s Joe Ralls. After his breakthrough under Malky, there has been an element of the stop-start over his Cardiff career. Perhaps he’s suffered most because of managerial changes, but there looked a time where his promise might not be met. But under Warnock, he’s become talismanic and a real class act in the middle of the park. He was one of our top three players last season and we suffered because of his injury. A man who is adept at playing a cross-field pass as much as he is diving into a crunching tackle, at 24 he’s still got a long way to go. Keeping him until 2022 means he can develop into an England international under Warnock’s tutelage.
Kev mk.2, Callum is the latest in a long line of Cardiff Cult Heroes. A barnstorming player who was signed as a right-back and is now, somehow, a false striker, he was the breakout player of our promotion season. Clearly loves being at Cardiff, the new burly Scotsman was adept at scoring slide tackles as he was volleying them home. The ultimate utility player, I’m so excited to see him take the Premier League by storm. Another who has signed a new four-year deal, I’m sure he’ll be slugging back the Mad Dog once again tonight.
The big man at the back. His hair is worth the new four-year deal alone. Morrison has been transformed under Warnock and has become the team’s real leader; no mean feat when he’s played alongside Bamba and Ralls. Scored so many important goals last year, perhaps none so than his lung buster at Hull. His nose may have been bleeding, but his composure to put that goal home was outrageous. A man who deserves a shot at the Premier League and clearly someone as important off the pitch as on it.
NML came from Rochdale last year and instantly set the Championship alight. An old-school winger who just loves running at players. He scored some huge goals in an early run that set us up for a season, with the winner at Wolves a particular highlight. He may have struggled in the middle of the season, but he still has incredible raw talent and his pace will terrify many defenders in the Premier League. He’s got some competition now in Josh Murphy but he’s a hungry sort and I’m sure he’s not ready to slack off now.
Tucked away at the bottom was the revelation that Aron ‘Icelandic Superman’ Gunnarsson has agreed, verbally, to another year at Cardiff City. Back in January, it felt like this moment was a long way off but as you may have read in our recent column from Kevin McNaughton, Aron was happy enough in Cardiff. It’s completely understandable that he would want to play at the highest level but doing that with Cardiff feels like the best solution to the situation. It might only be another year but that’s more than enough. He’ll be approaching ten years at the club and it would be wonderful if he can be one of the players who lead us to securing our PL status for another year.
The Best of the Rest
Lee Peltier, Matthew Connolly, and Brian Murphy also extended their deals.
Pelts has extended his deal to 2020 and it’s the least he deserves. Signed by Sade in 2015, he didn’t come in with much fanfare but it’s hard not to like him. He’s a full-blooded, committed footballer who will never give you anything less than 100%. He’s probably slightly surprised that he’s getting a chance at Premier League football at this relatively late stage in his career but he will grasp it with both hands. A class act!
Connolly is somehow still at the club. And that’s not because I don’t rate him. He’s a quality defender at Championship level and is a great utility player across the back four. I just thought he had left already! Ever-ready to step in and cover, he’s a great squad player and will always be ready for action in the PL. His two-year deal will extend his stay at Cardiff City to 8 years. Amazing.
Murphy has signed on for another year. With Smithies and Etheridge ahead of him, he’s probably unlikely to play but his presence at the club is clearly great for the squad. He seems a lively presence in the dressing room and the squad seems to respect him hugely. Which is massive going into the Premier League. It’s going to be a tough season and having players like him to keep spirits up is going to be vital. And his experience will be invaluable to two young goalies, especially Etheridge who will be embarking on a huge season in the Premier League.
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Kudos to Neil Warnock
Warnock clearly loves his great bunch of lads and getting all these contracts signed and tied down is such a big boost for the club. It means a squad stays together, everyone feels wanted and there’s less uncertainty over the team. It also shows to players that they have a manager who believes in them and wants them at the club – no matter their status. Warnock deserves a huge amount of praise for the job he’s doing at Cardiff. Yeah, he’s a shouter on the sideline but it’s this kind of work that cannot go unnoticed. In this Tan era, he is cementing himself as one of the best.