Lamouchi looming over the CCS,
How can Lamouchi end the Bluebirds' miserable run? Image: @CardiffCityFC on Twitter.

How might Lamouchi end Cardiff City’s months of misery against Middlesbrough?

The Bluebirds last won a competitive game on November 5 – so what could change?

CARDIFF City face a mean task this Saturday as they aim to end their miserable run of results against a Middlesbrough side that are third in the league.

The Bluebirds have not won a competitive game since November 5, 2022, whilst Mark Hudson was still serving as interim manager. Under new boss Sabri Lamouchi, the team has lost both of their games 1-0.

Lamouchi gave a scathing assessment of the side’s perilous position after defeat to Hull.

“We have to panic. Sometimes if you care about something you can play without any thinking in your mind. So just run, fight and do what you have to do.

“We have to panic because the situation is not comfortable. I know they are all aware of the situation, so this is very important.”

The club is a solitary point above the relegation zone but two of the three teams below could leapfrog them with their game in hand.

Lamouchi will want to get the club back to winning ways starting with the home tie against Middlesbrough this weekend – but that is easier said than done.

Lamouchi’s first two games

The French manager has not revolutionised the team selection but his first two line-ups give an indication as to his priorities and preferences.

Mark McGuinness’s spell at Sheffield Wednesday earned high praise from fans and it is no surprise that he has played a key part since his return.

Lamouchi’s most intriguing selection may have been central defender Jack Simpson at left-back but the defender suffered an injury against Hull City and may not be ready to play again.

The use of Callum O’Dowda as a make-shift defender is one point of difference between Lamouchi and his predecessor.

“Because with the qualities of Callum, they are more offensive than defensive, and we thought he could help us to score or assist and to create more,” the new manager said.

“I don’t think Callum is a left-back.”

This leaves a vacancy at left-back where Lamouchi’s best options seem to be a left-sided attacker or a central defender.

In both games, Lamouchi has started Romaine Sawyers and Sheyi Ojo, who both spent more time than they’d like on the sidelines under previous managers.

Cardiff’s story so far

City fans are growing increasingly restless about the return of Isaak Davies to the first team. He was an unused substitute in Lamouchi’s first game and did not make the squad in his second. As long as this season’s regulars struggle to score, the case for Davies remains strong.

New signing Sory Kaba managed 35 minutes against Hull City but, before that, did not play since November 13, 2022. The Guinean striker looks set to play a crucial role in the remainder of City’s season but the game against Middlesbrough may have come too soon for a start.

Rubin Colwill remains a doubt with an ankle injury.

Mahlon Romeo’s return to fitness might allow the versatile Perry Ng to fill the vacancy at left-back. After the defeat to Hull, Lamouchi suggested he was yet to “find the right system” so we could see the Bluebirds line up in a different formation altogether.

That could give a place to a third attacker – Mark Harris, Jaden Philogene – to another central defender for added security.

Wing-backs and a three-man defence should free the midfielders from their shackles and give them greater licence to affect the game.

If there is anything that Lamouchi’s twin 1-0 losses have told us, it’s that he wants to keep it tight at the back.

The goals, he hopes, will come in time.

Predicted line-up vs Middlesbrough: Allsop; Romeo, Ng, McGuinness, Kipre, O’Dowda; Rinomhota, Sawyers, Wintle; Ojo, Robinson.

The opposition

With Manchester United legend Michael Carrick in the dugout, Middlesbrough set up in a 4-2-3-1 that stars sorely-missed Cardiff loanee Ryan Giles as an attacking left-back and Manchester City goalkeeper Zack Steffen as an extra man in possession.

Although Cardiff retain more of the ball at home, the visiting team has a much better grasp on possessional play and should play with the confidence of a team that are pushing for promotion. For these reasons, Lamouchi will likely send his team out with the expectation that they will not have much of the ball.  

The jewel in Boro’s crown is Championship top scorer and Arsenal youth academy product Chuba Akpom. The 27-year-old has netted 16 goals in 23 Championship games.

January recruit Cameron Archer has featured in all five games since joining the club and should start alongside Akpom in attack.