Victory at Southampton keeps Cardiff hopes alive
After Cardiff City's 1 – 0 win at Southampton, here are three reasons why Cardiff might save themselves and stay in the Premier League. 1. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer Last week, after Cardiff's 3–0 home defeat by Crystal Palace, I had written off the season and expressed my opinion that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was not up to the job of managing Cardiff City and keeping them in the division. - Report: Southampton 0-1 Cardiff One of my concerns was the continual chopping and changing of the side and the vain hope that one day he might find a starting eleven that wins a game. Well at St Marys on the weekend Solskjaer found the winning combination for only the third time in the Premier League since he took over. I still stand by my comments that I don't think he's up to the job, but I am prepared to accept that delivering a victory in Southampton for the first time in over 50 years is a stunning achievement. Solskjaer's footballing history shows that he thrives on last minute rescue missions. The winning goal for Manchester United in the 1999 Champions League final is testimony to that. The constant tinkering, the selecting and dropping of players in and out of the squad still looks to be the actions of a man trying to stop the Titanic from sinking, but the likable Norwegian might just surprise us all. Cardiff City have given themselves a fighting chance of staying up. They are still likely to go down, but the win on the South coast has given new belief. 2. David Marshall Cardiff have conceded the second highest number of goals this season. The Bluebirds have shipped 64 goals, only Fulham have let in more with 70 goals against. That figure would have been considerably higher if David Marshall wasn't in goal. Marshall has earned plaudits and is being talked about as the Premier League keeper of the season. Against Southampton the Scottish international produced two stunning saves to deny The Saints an equalizer, and that followed earlier heroic performances during the season. Marshall, at times, has kept Cardiff in matches they could easily have lost. His breath-taking last minute saves against Norwich and Aston Villa contributed to Cardiff picking up four points from two matches that they could have lost without complaint. His form has been recognised by his country and he has kept clean sheets in Scotland's last three internationals. Marshall is nailed on to be Cardiff's player of the season and has every right to expect to be named the Premier League keeper of the season as well. He just needs to keep his form up for four more matches. He can't do it all on his own. Marshall will need some help from the leaky defence in front of him, and if they can build on the clean sheet at Southampton, the club could get the points needed to stay up. 3. Other teams in worse form than Cardiff To achieve survival Cardiff are going to need help from other clubs. Winning all four remaining games is highly unlikely so Cardiff will have to see their fellow strugglers drop points. The one side below Cardiff is Sunderland. They have lost the last five in a row and their next two games are away at Man City and Chelsea. Norwich City, a team three points ahead of Cardiff at the moment face a run in against Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal. Fulham face Spurs away in their next game while West Bromwich Albion are away at Manchester City. Just four points separate Cardiff in 19th and West Brom in 16th. Cardiff face Stoke City this coming weekend. The Potters have an away record as poor as Cardiff's. With teams like Villa losing the last four games in a row and Swansea suffering back-to-back defeats, there are several clubs who cannot buy their way out of danger. The club's poor form on the pitch this season has been over shadowed by the circus off the field. In the last seven days there have been claims made that Crystal Palace made clandestine enquiries into Cardiff City's team line up 24 hours before the game last week. That's the latest in a long line of well documented off-field issues that have dominated the season. Through all this adversity Cardiff City might just be the surprise package that pulls off a shock rescue mission. A week ago I'd given up. Now I find myself questioning my sanity and working out the possible combinations that could see top flight football return to the Welsh capital again next season.