Ex-Bolton Wanderers ace Nathan Blake backs beloved Bluebirds in FA Cup duel
AFTER sinking to the bottom of the Premier League with defeat at Manchester City on Saturday, Cardiff might be forgiven for having other things on their mind when they visit the Reebok in the FA Cup this weekend.
For most fans in South Wales, survival in the top flight takes precedence over progression into the fifth round, and with a midweek game at Manchester United looming Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is expected to make several changes to his team.
But ex-Whites striker Nathan Blake, a self-confessed FA Cup romantic and dyed in the wool Cardiff fan, believes that would be a mistake – and has urged his beloved Bluebirds to go for the jugular against a club which also has a place in his heart.
With Wanderers still smarting from their worst result in three decades, Blake believes there is momentum to be gained at his former club’s expense.
“Bolton got absolutely slapped at the weekend, so if Cardiff go up there and win four or five nil then you can’t tell me they’d be any less confident going into the Manchester United game,” he said on his weekly internet show, Blakey’s Bootroom.
“Winning breeds winning. It’s that mentality. If you beat Bolton, you are still going to be in a better frame of mind no matter what happens against United. You are not looking back and saying you haven’t won for three months.
“The competition has been devalued by the press. You ask any player ‘would you like to win the FA Cup?’ Regardless of where they are in the league, there is no-one from the top of the Premier League to the bottom of League Two who’d say ‘no, I’d rather just survive. I’d rather go out and not be involved in it.’ “Everyone seems to have bought into this notion that the Premier League is ‘it’ and without it there is no football.”
It has been suggested Solskjaer will give a full debut to Norwegian midfielder Magnus Wolff Eikram or bring in Andreas Cornelius for a rare start up front to keep Fraizer Campbell fresh for the Old Trafford trip on Tuesday.
Goalkeeper Joe Lewis and ex-West Brom front man Peter Odemwingie are two other names who could be pitched in against the Whites.
Blake reckons wholesale changes could jeopardise the chances of a much-needed morale boost for a side that have not won in the league since December 14.
“(Solskjaer) might say there is more importance on the league or that he might lose this player or that player – but you don’t know that. He might go and score a hat-trick,” he said.
“(If) Fraizer Campbell goes and scores a hat-trick against Bolton – do you think he doesn’t want to play against Manchester United? Don’t be silly – his confidence is up. It doesn’t matter whether you are scoring against Bolton Wanderers, Hartlepool United or Manchester United.
“I don’t understand it. You might as well say no League Cup, no FA Cup, let’s just play in the Premier League.
“I don’t understand how it’s been devalued. It hasn’t been within the game, from a player’s perspective.”
Blake expects Wanderers to respond in a positive manner after last weekend’s 7-1 mauling at Reading and recalls the infamous 6-0 defeat he endured at Burnden Park against United back in 1996.
“We got absolutely tonked that day,” he said. “But then I also remember putting seven past Swindon.
“I think both teams are struggling with confidence but I’m going Cardiff 2-1. It’ll be tight.
“Bolton are going to have to come back from that Reading result – they can’t leave it like that.”