Everton travel to Premier League newcomers Cardiff City who announced their arrival on the big stage with an excellent win over Manchester City, an opponent that Everton have had much joy against in the past. We spoke with Paul Evans, a Bluebirds fan who is doing a bang-up job all by himself over at Mauve and Yellow Army.
RBM - Up and down start to the season eh? Welcome to the Premier League by the way, hope you're enjoying the big stage so far.
PE - I'm a big fan of the Championship and still feel I'm going to miss it. That feeling grew stronger after we lost pretty feebly at West Ham United in our first match, but in fifty years of watching Cardiff play, I've never experienced anything like Sunday's game with Manchester City, it was amazing - I don't expect home games to always be like that, but even if they are only a quarter as good, they'll be great.
RBM - Much has been made of the rebranding of the team and the change to the red colors. What is your take on the whole fiasco? Is this alienating some supporters?
PE - I think I'm quite unusual amongst Cardiff fans in that I've changed my mind to a large extent about the re-branding. I was never for it, but, originally I tolerated it because "it was just a colour". Since then though, two things have happened - first, I've realised that the colour blue means more to me than I thought it did and, second, the club's ham fisted attempts to promote the new colours have driven me into the blue camp. Examples of their desperation to get people to forget about the colours we wore for over a hundred years include the distribution of free red scarves to supporters with the chance of free season tickets for anyone photographed wearing one, this season's red shirts being on sale for months already while the alternative kits (a yellow one and a blue one) are not available yet, the team having to wear an alternative kit three times so far this season and each time it's been the yellow one and the reneging on a promise made before last season that we would always wear blue when there was a colour clash with the home side..
It certainly is alienating some supporters and there is little sign of red being accepted by all City fans in the foreseeable future - there was a march for a return to blue before Sunday's match which probably helped account for the fact that I reckon we saw the biggest proportion of blue shirts worn to a home game by Cardiff supporters since the re-branding. We are no nearer knowing what, if any, business reasons there were behind the change and the club's paranoia about the colour blue is such that it's almost treated as something to be despised now - it's like it's become their Voldermort!
RBM - Manager Malky Mackay was one of those thought to be lined up as David Moyes' replacement at Everton. How has his tenure been at Cardiff? Is he the man to lead the club for the long term?
PE - I wanted Malky to become our manager after Dave Jones left because I had been very impressed by the high tempo, attractive, passing football his Watford side played at times during his two years with them. It's not been like that at Cardiff though where he has "mixed things up" a lot with a big emphasis on attacking set pieces. We weren't the most attractive team to win the Championship in recent years, but we played football that was effective in that division. Malky is a pragmatist who sends his side out to do what the opposition least wants us to do - sometimes that means we'll play a passing game, but we'll also knock it long if that's the way he thinks we are most likely to win a game. I hope he stays for a few years yet, but I get the feeling he's destined for higher things.
RBM - What are your realistic expectations for your maiden Premier League season? How about the Cups, is that the best chance of success this year?
PE - I think survival has to be the realistic target for any team in their first season after promotion to the Premier League, so, even after what happened on Sunday, I'd class a 17th place finish as a successful season. However, if you measure success by trophies won, then the Cup competitions, obviously, have to represent our only realistic chance - despite our run to the League Cup Final in 2012 though, Malky tends to put a low priority on the League and FA Cups.
RBM - Is there a big rivalry with the other Welsh club, Swansea City? The two Welsh derbies will be highly anticipated, and the quality of football on display will be minutely scrutinized too. Your thoughts on those games?
PE - I belong to a generation who grew up in the sixties supporting City while Swansea were always at least one division below us. I saw my first Cardiff match in 1963 and yet I didn't see us play Swansea in the league until 1980 - on the other hand, I had seen us play Bristol City stacks of times during that period and so I've always regarded them as our main rivals. I accept I'm in a pretty small minority of Cardiff fans in thinking like that mind and there's no doubt that the games have an edge to them all of it's own - no side has ever done a league double over the other and I'll not be surprised at all if that stat remains in place at the end of the season.
RBM - How did the Bluebirds (if we can still call you that) do in the transfer market? How about the preseason games, any results or observations of note?
PE - Yes, please do call us the Bluebirds!
I'd say we've aimed high in our transfer dealings and we've managed to get just about enough of our targets for that policy to stand a chance of succeeding. We broke our transfer record three times during the summer - Andreas Cornelius has had a frustrating start to his Cardiff career with niggling injuries, but I was amazed that we were able to get Steven Caulker and there's a lot more to Gary Medel than his pitbull nickname and all the red cards (Xavi nominated him as the defensive midfield player Barcelona should be looking to sign). John Brayford was a very good Championship right back as well, but he's not had a chance in the Premier League yet, while Simon Moore from Brentford is a highly regarded young keeper.
We beat Chievo and Athletic Bilbao in pre season games, but I don't think we played that well in any of our warm up matches - throw in our "rabbits in the headlights" display at West Ham and I was pretty concerned about our form this time last week - I certainly didn't see Sunday's result coming!
RBM - Finally, after last weekend's giantkilling performance, what do Cardiff do for an encore when Everton visit on Saturday? Who do you think will have standout performances?
PE - Fraizer Campbell took all of the headlines after the Man City match, but it's the team that is of over riding importance to Malky Mackay, so, if we do play well, I wouldn't be surprised if there are no real stand out performers.
One of the few negatives about Sunday's game is that we may see significant numbers of City fans coming to Saturday's match expecting us to win. If that is the case, then it will become very hard to recreate what was a very special atmosphere for the Man City game - as for a prediction, I reckon it will be pretty tight, i think you've got a good chance of getting a win by the odd goal, but I'll go for 1-1.