Cardiff V Southampton at Cardiff City Stadium : Match Preview

24 December 2013 09:54
Cardiff V Southampton - view commentary, squad, and statistics of the game live.

Mackay urges fans to back his team

Malky Mackay is happy for the Cardiff fans to give vent to their feelings when the Bluebirds face Southampton on Boxing Day.

The Scot is set to be in charge of the Welsh club having been given a reprieve of sorts in the wake of owner Vincent Tan's ultimatum that he resign or be sacked.

When releasing a statement saying Mackay would be in charge of the club for the "foreseeable future", chairman Mehmet Dalman had appealed to fans not to display any 'Tan Out' banners at the clash with the Saints, but rather show messages encouraging owner and manager to sort out their differences.

But Mackay, who has been "humbled" by the support he has received from the Bluebirds' faithful, offered no advice to fans, other than to ask them to back his team as they have done throughout the campaign.

"Our fans are the lifeblood of the club," said Mackay.

"When I'm gone and the owner is gone the fans will still be supporting the team. What they want to sing and what they want to say is down to themselves.

"They are intelligent people who have got their own opinions about the football club but I know they will get behind the football team like they have always done from the first day I have arrived there.

"I will always be thankful for that. If they do that then there can be enjoyment of watching their team in the Premier League."

But Mackay insists, despite the upheaval of the past week and his ongoing wait to hold crunch talks with Tan and Dalman, it will be business as usual for his players.

He said: "The players have trained as they always do. We have gone through our structure of a normal day and I have not lost focus.

"We have big games to prepare for and no matter what goes on, that's my number one focus for this club and it always will be."

Cardiff will face a Southampton side whose form has dropped off in recent weeks. The Saints had been in the top four, but a run of six games without a win has dropped them to ninth.

But Mackay expects Mauricio Pochettino's side to hand his side a tough test at Cardiff City Stadium, and pointedly referred to them as an example for the Welsh club to follow.

"Southampton is going to be a tough one," he said. "They are someone I look at and say there is a model which we have been trying to follow this year.

"They came up to the Premier League, they were the best team in the Championship when we played them and they invested well and are trying to do the right things with their football club and with the academy and it can be seen.

"They invested heavily last year and stayed in the league and this summer they invested heavily again and are making a real good way in the Premier League this year."

Mauricio Pochettino is not bothered about what is going on with Mackay at Cardiff as the Southampton manager's only concern is getting his side back to winning ways in south Wales.

The former Argentina international's only concern right now is stopping the rot at the Cardiff City Stadium on Boxing Day after six winless matches.

"Our biggest challenge right now, is to recover to winning ways," Pochettino said when asked about the turmoil at City.

"We can't really be thinking about Cardiff, we can't really be thinking about what is happening at their club.

"Our most important target right now is to recover our level, recover to winning ways and recover our players individually and collectively.

"We need to think about what this club does and we can't really be thinking about anything else."

Southampton's dramatic dip in form has made their fine start to the season a distant memory.

Pochettino's side would have gone top of the Barclays Premier League with victory at Arsenal a month ago, but defeat at the Emirates Stadium began a six-match winless streak.

The fixture list has been unkind in that period - Aston Villa were the only side not in the hunt for a Champions League place - but it is injuries that have had the biggest impact.

Pochettino has had to contend with a host of first-team absentees throughout December, but there at least appears to be light at the end of the tunnel with a quartet possibly returning at Cardiff.

"We need to assess how some of our players are doing, such as Dani Osvaldo, Luke Shaw, Nathaniel Clyne and Kelvin Davis," he said.

"On the other hand, players like Artur Boruc, Victor Wanyama and Guly are out indefinitely.

"They are out for longer, still recovering from their injuries.

"That has been one of the main reasons for our run and we need our players fully fit so we can recover.

"Jose Fonte had a slight problem, as did Maya Yoshida (which is why they were on the bench against Tottenham).

"It has been a tough moment at this team because some of our players are having personal problems that have perhaps not been spoken about.

"We are having a tough time with illness, different injuries and that means even though we have played well, our performances have been good, our results have not come our way.

"Now we just need to fully recover 100 per cent our energy. We need to be fully focused on the task in hand and try to get back to winning ways."

Source: PA