Everton vs Cardiff City: Q&A with Paul Evans

Jan Kruger

We had a chat with Paul Evans from Cardiff City blog "Mauve and Yellow Army" to ask him about Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, local lad Craig Noone, and how Cardiff plan to stop Everton this weekend.

Paul, straight out with it, will Cardiff stay in the Premier League? Why?

It's the old heart and head thing isn't it - heart says we'll stay up, head says we wont. No, we won't stay up for a couple of reasons - first, after doing well at home against a series of strong teams in the early part of the season, we have dropped too many points in "winnable" games at Cardiff City Stadium since then and second, we might have scored three last weekend, but I don't believe there's enough goals in the team to get the wins we need.

Ole Gunnar Solskjær hasn't had the best of starts but remains confident we will be visiting you next season. Is he the man to do it and build on it?

The last two matches have been better in that there I'm finding it easier than before to gauge what Ole wants and expects from his team - up to and including the Hull thrashing, it was hard to see what the Solskjær plan was - as I mentioned earlier, I don't think he'll keep us up, but I'm more hopeful than I was that he'll turn into a good Cardiff manager in the long term.

What are the main differences in Solskjær's teams and Malky Mackay's?

Ole is much more flexible tactically than Malky Mackay was. In our last away match at Spurs we played with three centre backs (I wouldn't be surprised if we do tomorrow as well), whereas it was a flat back four against Fulham last week. With Malky it tended to be 4-5-1 (as opposed to 4-3-3) every week with the occasional 4-4-2 thrown in, I tend to think Ole's flexibility is a good thing, but there is an argument that too much tinkering can lead to problems I suppose.

You signed a few players in the January transfer window. Were you happy with the recruitment?

I categorised all of our January signings with the comment "could be good, but" - all of them have that "but" that needs to be added. Mats Dæhli is a very good prospect and I'm pretty sure he will make the grade, but, as with the likes of Wilfred Zaha and Kenwyne Jones, I ask myself if they are sort of players needed for a relegation scrap. Of the others, Fabio has been better in his last two matches after a poor start, Cala looks like he is better suited to the passing out from the back game that Ole wants to play and Eikrem looks a tidy footballer, but none of them have really shown so far that they are better than what we had already.

Someone I keep an eye on is Craig Noone. I coached and taught him when he was a young lad at college and it was abundantly clear he had talent. What have you made of his season so far?

Noone barely featured earlier in the season, but since getting into the side in November he has been one of our best players and is actually playing better for us in the Premier League than he did in the Championship. He's what I call an old fashioned "mercurial" winger in that there are times when he drives you mad, but I'm not sure if we would have won last week without him - all of this after him seeing so little of the ball in the early stages that I was forgetting he was on the pitch!

We are both in similar situations as far as the boardroom is concerned. Are there any plans in the Welsh capital to try to oust Mr Tan?

There's a march planned for next Saturday when Liverpool visit. It has the backing of the Supporters' Trust and the Supporters' Club, but they are emphasising that the protest should be entirely re-brand related and it should not be seen as a "Tan Out" affair. I can fully understand why they feel this way, but, for myself, I want Tan out (even if we have to suffer the sort of consequences Portsmouth have). It won't all be Tan's fault if we go down, but his meddling and sniping at our former manager (who did make some poor signings mind) has not helped at all - he doesn't "get" football and, more surprisingly, I see little evidence of him understanding football finance management either.

Onto Everton, obviously we are confident given our home form. But, if an upset is on the cards, where will you win the game?

Noone caused Man City real problems at the Etihad in January and the challenge of returning to Liverpool might inspire him. Jordon Mutch can trouble teams with his driving runs from midfield especially in away matches where he tends to get a bit more room, but I think to get anything, we'll have to defend very well first and foremost.

Who are the players you need to keep quiet in order to take something away from Goodison Park?

Ross Barkley has impressed me an awful lot this season and Lukaku is one of the best strikers in the league in my opinion (don't understand why Chelsea keep loaning him out), but Everton have good players all over the pitch - virtually everyone in your team can cause us problems if it's their day. We like to play a possession game, high up the pitch and look for opportunities to penetrate the back four.

What's the Cardiff plan to stop us?

As I mentioned earlier, I'm not sure you'll be facing a back four. I wouldn't be surprised if it's three central defenders and two wing backs (neither of whom will be too adventurous in the early stages at least) with Gary Medel patrolling the middle in front of them. We are more prepared to attack under Ole, but I think it will be more counter attacking than piling men forward.

Finally, give us your prediction for the game.

Heart and head again. The heart says 1-1, but the head says a 2-0 home win - anything we pick up in our next two games will be a bonus.

Huge thanks to Paul for taking the time out to answer our questions.

What do you think? Comments below as always.

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