Neil Warnock believes pressure is off Cardiff in relegation battle
Neil Warnock feels Cardiff can escape relegation from the Premier League as the “shackles have been off” since their controversial defeat to Chelsea.
Cardiff head to relegated Fulham on Saturday three points adrift of Brighton, who occupy the final safety spot and have a superior goal difference to the Bluebirds with three games left to play.
But Cardiff are in better form than the Seagulls, who have gone seven games without scoring, and Warnock believes the pressure has been lifted since the 2-1 home defeat to Chelsea last month.
Cardiff were winning that game 1-0 when Cesar Azpilicueta’s late equaliser was allowed to stand, despite the Spaniard clearly standing in an offside position.
“I know it sounds silly because you’d think there would be more pressure on us,” Cardiff manager Warnock said.
“But since the Chelsea game the shackles have been off us.
“We just think we’ll do what we can now and what will be will be.
“We played like that at Brighton, and I can’t ask anymore of the players.
“I’ll be happy if the players just play like they have been over the last couple of weeks.”
Cardiff gave a good account of themselves in losing 2-0 to title-chasing Liverpool last weekend.
That defeat came on the back of a 2-0 victory at Brighton, which dragged Chris Hughton’s side firmly into the relegation picture.
Brighton entertain Newcastle on Saturday before finishing their campaign away to Arsenal and at home to champions Manchester City.
After Fulham, Cardiff conclude their season at home to Crystal Palace and away to Manchester United.
“With us, nobody has expected us to be in with a shout (of staying up),” Warnock said.
“It’s hard at the bottom, and one or two others have clawed their way out of danger.
“But one by one we have overcome all the doom and gloom and predictions and we’ve enjoyed it.
“We still have our biggest challenge ahead and I’ve got to say it’s an opportunity for the lads to write their names in history.
“I think everybody knows the pundits didn’t give us any chance whatsoever of staying up, and quite rightly so when you look at the different circumstances between ourselves and the other clubs.
“But we’ve never ever thrown the towel in. Even with heavy defeats we’ve had, we’ve always come back and tried to get back.”
Cardiff will be without Joe Ralls for the rest of the season after scans revealed that the midfielder tore his hamstring against Liverpool.
Harry Arter is also struggling to recover from a calf strain which has ruled the Republic of Ireland international out of the last two games.
But Warnock joked that Arter has been banned from this week’s preparations given his links to Fulham and their manager Scott Parker.
“Harry’s brother-in-law is Scott Parker,” Warnock said.
“So we’re banning him from watching us train this week, just in case he’s after going to Fulham next year!”