Cardiff’s Wales makeover under Trollope

Paul Trollope (left) with Chris Coleman

Paul Trollope (left) played with Chris Coleman for Wales before working alongside him as a coach

It has been another summer of change for Cardiff City, yet there has been a decidedly Welsh familiarity to those alterations.

Russell Slade has left as manager to be replaced by his former assistant coach, Paul Trollope.

And while the new boss has overhauled his backroom staff and playing squad, he has done so with a view to strengthening the sense of Welshness at Cardiff.

Trollope spent the early part of the summer as part of Wales’ coaching staff at Euro 2016, helping his country reach a first semi-final at a major tournament.

Since returning from France, the former Bristol Rovers manager has sought to instil in his Cardiff side the positivity which swept through Welsh football following the national team’s historic campaign.

He has appointed Wales’ head of performance Ryland Morgans as Cardiff’s performance director, while the national team’s goalkeeping coach Martyn Margetson has also joined the Bluebirds.

And the most striking, Wales-inspired alteration has been Trollope’s decision to use the 3-5-2 formation which Chris Coleman’s side employed during the European Championship and preceding qualifiers.

Cardiff appeared to adapt to the system effectively during pre-season, with the signing of Wales wing-back Jazz Richards – accustomed to playing in that formation – adding to the Welsh contingent.

The Bluebirds will be expected to line up that way at Birmingham in their opening Championship fixture on Saturday and, although Wales’ unexpected progress delayed the start of Trollope’s Cardiff reign, he does not feel his extended stay in France has hindered his side’s preparations.

“Not at all. It gave me a head start actually,” he said.

“I was exposed to a lot of good things in the summer, both in the Wales camp and other teams. I think it was a real benefit, hopefully for myself and the club.”

Prudent transfer activity

Whereas Championship rivals such as Newcastle and Aston Villa have spent lavishly so far this summer, Cardiff’s transfer activity has been prudent.

The Bluebirds have signed striker Frederic Gounongbe and defender Jazz Richards, as well as turning the loans of Lex Immers and Kenneth Zohore into permanent moves.

Trollope says he has a “good group” of players at his disposal but would like to make further additions to his squad before the transfer window shuts at the end of August.

Frederic Gounongbe in action for Cardiff against AFC Bournemouth<!–

Frederic Gounongbe joined Cardiff from Belgian club Westerlo

“I still think we’re looking to strengthen, one or two possibly,” he said.

“I don’t want to sell anyone, I want to add if anything, but we also know we’re realistic. If the right money comes, you have to listen to it.

“Unless you’re one of the top teams in the Premier League, all players have a price so it’s not something I’m overly concerned about.”

Confounding expectations

Cardiff were in play-off contention for much of last season but a dip in results towards the end of the campaign saw them finish in eighth place.

With bookmakers tipping last season’s relegated Premier League sides Newcastle, Aston Villa and Norwich as the likeliest Championship title winners, the Bluebirds start this campaign as relative outsiders.

But after his summer with Wales, Trollope is in the habit of confounding expectations.

Asked if promotion is a realistic target, he said: “I want there to be an ambition about the place, ambition from the staff, from the players to believe we can do it.”

Cardiff’s 2016-17 odds

Championship title odds: 33/1

Championship relegation odds: 11/1

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