Cardiff City promoted to Premier League: What's next?

Michael Steele

Cardiff City achieved promotion to the Premier League after drawing with Charlton thanks to Watford slipping up at Millwall. Now the planning for their maiden campaign can begin.

Cardiff City's promotion to the Premier League is confirmed after a draw with Charlton, combined with Watford's loss to Millwall, gave them an unassailable lead in the top two automatic promotion places.

That means the Premier League now knows the first of the three teams that will be going up next year, and it's the Premier League debutants, who will again contest the South Wales derby against their rivals Swansea on a grander stage.

Cardiff have made the playoffs the past three years running, but have failed to go all the way, most notably when they almost suffered disaster after requiring promotion to save themselves financially, but suffered a shock defeat in a 3-2 epic at Wembley to Ian Holloway's Blackpool at the end of the 2009-10 season. In 2011, they were defeated by Reading, ahead of seeing their rivals Swansea go up, and in 2012 they were thrashed by West Ham United. Now, however, the planning for their campaign to survive and grow can now begin, and there are many factors to consider.

Cardiff have some key players to build around next season, but surprisingly few considering their dominance of the Championship this season. Peter Whittingham will undoubtedly remain a key source of creativity and goals in midfield, along with his partner Aron Gunnarson. In addition, the Bluebirds (or Red Dragons, as they may now be known) have a handful of good youngsters such as Joe Mason and Jordon Mutch.

Yet despite their excellent campaign, Cardiff are probably more in need of a rebuilding job than anyone else. Most urgently, they'll need a goalscorer - the ancient Heidar Helguson is their current top scorer with nine goals, with Whittingham and Gunnarson following. Craig Bellamy is also towards the end of his career, and while Fraizer Campbell has a good record since joining in January, it's likely they'll need someone more capable of doing the business in the Premier League.

In addition, Cardiff's defence is reasonably solid but will certainly need an upgrade to compete in the Premier League. It's likely that with a handful of the right buys they can make themselves a very formidable team quite quickly, and they certainly have money to spend, but they'll need to be careful about who they bring in. They may have won the league fairly easily, but this is still very much a Championship side being promoted.

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