Any fixture involving Leeds United and Cardiff City is usually a feisty important encounter with both teams having plenty to play for. Cardiff have a chance at the play-offs and one win from their final two games will guarantee them a play-off spot. The best Leeds United can do is to try and spoil the party if possible.
We'll be up against it with them in top form. I spoke to Gareth Baker the editor of Ninian Blog.
Currently 6th in the table then, win your next game and the play-offs are confirmed. Got to be happy with that?
Yeah definitely. At the start of the season I can safely say play-offs were a distant dream. The general consensus among Cardiff faithful at the start of the season was that we'd be looking at mid-table at this point of the season, and thankfully we've been proven wrong. When Malky arrived we had about ten players running around the training ground, mostly youth players, so it must have been very daunting for him and the odds were certainly against us to be looking at sealing a play-off place at this stage of the season. Lots of credit has to go to Malky Mackay for exceeding mine and many other Bluebird fans' expectations.
If you do make the play-offs can you go all the way, and have you timed this run to perfection?
I think we're certainly in with a chance. We have a never-say-die team that will work hard no matter what the current score line is. Player by player, in terms of ability, we had much better sides in the last two seasons but as we found out that really doesn't matter in the play-offs. If West Ham fail in their automatics chase I think there will certainly be a great deal of pressure on them to perform in the play-offs, the same goes to Birmingham, whereas we aren't really expected to do well. Blackpool are the main threats if they gain a spot as they're in a similar position to us with a fairly similar outfit. As far as timing goes, ours certainly mirrors Swansea's last season and Blackpool the season before that, and it worked out well for them.
When we last spoke Mackay had only just started to settle in. What are your thoughts on him now?
Malky was doing a superb job when we last spoke and as you say he was only just settling in. Now it’s the tail end of the season I think we're at a point where it's certainly fair to have the jury out on him. My personal opinion is that, though he has shown some obvious flaws, he's done a magnificent job. The flaws I speak of are that sometimes his substitutions can me somewhat ineffective and sometimes I feel he should experiment a little with his starting line up a little more. I still feel Robert Earnshaw has a lot to give, but unfortunately Malky has left him out in the cold this season. Joe Mason's fine form hasn't helped of course! Those are the only complaints I can muster up about this man, and at least Malky has learned from his mistakes and has started to include Earnshaw more in the match day squad, and has experimented with the side more often in the last few games.
You’re unbeaten in four after a row of constant draws. What's been the difference of late?
The main difference is that we've managed to make contact with the string attached to the opponents goal posts with the spherical object a little more. I'm not trying to be clever, it’s just that we've been playing well in the games we've been losing and drawing, however, we simply haven't been able to put the ball in the net; a fundamental aspect of the game that our players couldn't wrap their heads around. You know that scene from '2001: A Space Odyssey' when the monkeys are crowding around a rock wondering what it is and what to do with it? I can honestly say I sometimes felt like I was watching that film and not Cardiff City.
A 68 yard strike from Mark Hudson sealed the victory on Tuesday night where on earth did that come from...a centre-half too. Have you got over the goal yet?
I had a dream last night where I watched Hudson score the goal again. When I woke up I had to change the covers.
To reach Wembley this season must go down as the best highlight even though you lost. Did you go to the game and what are your thoughts on the cup run and final now it's well and truly behind you?
Yes I did, and it was one of the best experiences I've ever had in my life. I wouldn't say it was as electric as the Leicester play-off semi-final in 2010 - the best day of my life - but it certainly was very close. I was totally and utterly breathe taken at how our boys performed against Dalglish's side. I can remember standing and watching Liverpool fans singing "You'll never walk alone" while 35,000 Cardiff fans performed a mass-ayatollah. I was speechless. I really do love this club and when Ben Turner scored I went forward about 15 rows celebrating, hugged, and being hugged, by nearly every Cardiff fan on the way down. If we were to fail in getting a play-off place or in the play-offs in general, we have this memory to fall back on - and what a memory it is!
How's Stephen McPhail getting along?
He's still a superb player and I can hand-on-heart say we really miss him when he's not playing. McPhail, as we know, is fighting a battle of his own never mind the Cardiff City battle. The man is an inspiration, a true role model. It really is hard to find a set of words to describe the respect I hold for the man.
You said no the last time I asked you this, have things changed. Do you think you could lose some of your key players if you fail to go up?
I think Whittingham should go if we fail to go up. He's too good to be playing for us at this level and I really think, for his sake, he should test himself at the highest level again. I have the impression that he either seriously loves the club or is too lazy to leave. It's probably the latter. We certainly have a few other players that I'm sure top division clubs are keeping tags on such as Aron Gunnarsson, Joe Mason and Ben Turner. I have the utmost confidence that they're committed to the cause, though.
Who do Leeds fans need to watch out for on Saturday afternoon?
As always, Whittingham. Joe Mason was great against you earlier on in the season, however, I think against Neil Warnock style tactics his frail nature won't fair well. Miller seems to be hitting a bit of form lately as well.
Any Leeds player that has impressed you this season in particular?
Snodgrass and McCormack. Fancy giving us them? You can have Earnshaw and Parkin in return. Urr...
Prediction for the match? I say 2/3-1 to Cardiff.
Oh, come on. This is Cardiff City chasing a play-off spot you're playing! That only means that you're going to beat us 7-0 and McCormack is going to score a hat-trick of overhead kicks from his own box. I can just see it now. In all seriousness, I'd say a 1-1 draw.