Dave Jones looks to the Premier League as Cardiff face Arsenal in the FA Cup

24 January 2009 10:47
Yet if his Cardiff side somehow manage to dump Arsenal out of the FA cup in Sunday's mouth-watering sellout fourth-round fixture, another significant marker will be laid down by Jones as he bids to regain what he fervently believes is his rightful place in the top flight.

Released by Southampton in the light of totally unfounded child abuse allegations a decade ago, then shown the door by Wolves despite being the first manager to deliver them into the Premier League, Jones is understood to have been on a shortlist of three for the recent Blackburn job.

He has no qualms about it going to Sam Allardyce but who is to say the two of them will not be facing each other in the Premier League next season. Cardiff are unbeaten in 10 games, have a new state-of-the-art training ground and, next June, move into a spanking 26,500-seat stadium a stone's throw from crumbling Ninian Park. All of which augurs well for a club run on a shoestring with a manager who has pulled in £27 million of business.

Having unexpectedly steered Cardiff into the Cup final for the first time in 81 years last May, Jones knows lightning rarely strikes twice but after the recent Carling Cup exploits of Burnley and Derby, Sunday represents another opportunity for a Championship side to prove its mettle against supposedly superior opposition.

"It's been utterly crazy for the last few days, what with the Arsenal game and the transfer window," says Jones. "Everyone has wanted a slice of us having got to the final last time. It was something most of us could only dream about. You hope the players will want another taste.

"I don't know what kind of side Arsene will put out. What I do know is that we are playing a far superior team but it has been proved time and time again in the cups what can happen. Arsenal are a great club – I've got people here who have worked with them – but not losing helps and once my players cross that line, if we are at our best and they are slightly off, who knows?"

With the likes of Jay Bothroyd, on Arsenal's books as a teenager, and Joe Ledley alerting a string of Premier League scouts, any eye-catching individual performances and Jones, as per usual, may have to listen to offers. Just as he did for Aaron Ramsey who has turned out to be one of Arsenal's brightest talents after being snapped up for £5m.

"Arsene said Rambo was ahead of where they expected him to be so we must have done something right," Jones said. "Ideally, I don't want our top players to leave."

Jones is writing a book, due out in May, about the highs and lows of the past 10 years and the anguish caused by the child abuse allegations. It will represent closure for him and his family but, he hopes, will also co-incide with a new chapter in his career.

"I'm not out on my own here in wanting to take this club to a higher level. All my staff feel the same way. If it doesn't work, it won't be for the want of trying."

Source: Telegraph