Credit - Cardiff City

What kind of manager do Cardiff City need?

The club has already fired two managers this season. The third will face a relegation battle

REMEMBER, remember, the fifth night of November – the last time that Cardiff City won a competitive game.

With 19 league games left to play, the Bluebirds are lingering perilously near the relegation places at the bottom of the Championship, just three points above Huddersfield and Blackpool.

The club fired Mark Hudson after failing to get three points against bottom-of-the-league Wigan on Saturday, but the struggles go much further back.

When the club fired Steve Morison in September, City appointed his assistant Mark Hudson – a former Bluebirds captain – as caretaker manager. He was given the job in November “until the end of the season”.

Who will be Mark Hudson's replacement?
Image: @CardiffCityFC on Twitter.

Now, the cycle continues. Hudson’s assistant, Dean Whitehead, will lead the Bluebirds against Leeds United in an FA Cup replay this Wednesday.

Should the club give Whitehead time at the helm? If they decide to bring someone in, should it be a familiar face or somebody new?

There is no margin for error: 19 games to play, three points above relegation. This time, the club will have to get it right.

Tracksuit manager

Dean Whitehead

Whitehead joined the Bluebirds to be Hudson’s coaching assistant just two months ago. Both men, aged 42, shared time at Huddersfield Town before hanging up their boots.  

Whitehead made over 500 professional appearances for Oxford United, Sunderland, Stoke City, Middlesbrough and Huddersfield Town. After a storied playing career and holding assistant jobs at Shrewsbury Town and Besiktas, he might be salivating at the chance to mould a team in his image.

Although the club said it was searching for a “new permanent manager”, a win against Premier League side Leeds United on Wednesday could make a serious case for Whitehead to get a run of games in the league. Perhaps the squad would benefit from a bit of stability – another new manager might only add to the mess.

Sol Bamba

Sol Bamba meets another Cardiffian, Jason Mohammad, in May. Image: @Sol14Bamba on Twitter.

Every Bluebird knows the name. Is it time to bring Sol Bamba back?

The Ivorian defender played 112 games for City in a five-year spell that ended with him joining former manager Neil Warnock at Middlesbrough.

Bamba’s commanding performances in the Bluebirds defence won the hearts of fans and led an enamoured Neil Warnock to claim he was a “better defender” than Liverpool’s Virgil Van Dijk.

After a lymphoma diagnosis in January 2021, doctors declared him cancer-free in May.

Bamba’s return could get the squad playing with the kind of heart that too often this season they have left behind: players like Rubin Colwill, Perry Ng and Joe Ralls, who shared time with Bamba during his previous spell at the club, and younger players who should respect his lead.

He might have been a commanding presence on the pitch, but could he do the job from the dugout? Some clubs might consider such an appointment risky – that would not stop Cardiff City.

Rising star

Liam Manning

Another name in the conversation is former MK Dons boss Liam Manning. At 37, he is even younger than Hudson, Morison and Whitehead, but boasts an impressive and varied resume for his age. After leading academies for Ipswich Town, West Ham and New York City FC, the Englishman was appointed head coach at another City Group club – Lommel SK, in the Belgian second division.

He made his name in the UK after succeeding Russel Martin at MK Dons. Manning led the Dons to a third-place finish in League One last season only to lose in the play-off semi-final.

The Dons relieved Manning of his duties in December 2022 after accumulating just 15 points from 20 games. He has since been linked with the Portsmouth job, also in League One.

Veteran coach

Mark Warburton

Like Manning, Warburton has held a number of academy and directing roles, but he also has an impressive track record as head coach. He took Brentford from League One to their highest league position in 80 years – fifth in the Championship. In Warburton’s first season in Scotland, Rangers won the Scottish Championship and Challenge Cup. After an eight month spell at Nottingham Forest, he completed his two-year contract at QPR.

He currently works as a first team coach at West Ham.

As the second most experienced candidate on this list, Warburton could bring a level of confidence to the side that they desperately need. The only concern is that he is used to moving upwards. How would he fare in a relegation battle, with little time to find his feet?

Valerien Ismael

Some fans suggest that a clue to the club’s next head coach lies in today’s recruitment of Jonny Northeast.

Northeast worked under French boss Valerien Ismael at Barnsley before crossing paths with City’s caretaker manager Dean Whitehead at Besiktas. Could the club be about to assemble a trio of coaches led by Ismael?

The Frenchman’s football career spans six countries, including managerial spells at VfL Wolfsburg, West Bromwich and Besiktas, but it was his time at Barnsley that caught the eye.

Look to the past

Neil Warnock

Every fan’s favourite Yorkshireman left the club in 2019 after becoming the first manager to win eight promotions in the professional leagues.

The Bluebirds fought valiantly in the top flight but fell back to the Championship just two points behind relegation rivals Brighton. One win could have made all the difference.

Warnock announced the end of his 42-year managerial career after being relieved by Middlesbrough in November 2022.

“I’m not saying that the enthusiasm’s gone. I’ve not lost that,” Warnock told reporters. “But when I see some of my friends who are struggling health wise, there comes a time where you have to let your family enjoy a little bit more of your time.”

Would Warnock put his comfortable retirement (and fledgling celebrity career) on hold to save a team that he used to love?

The next Cardiff City boss will need to be handle the pressure, keep the fans onside and get results. Warnock might tick all the boxes, but does he want the job?