Harris pleased with Bluebirds’ battling qualities in narrow win over Potters

"We've shown we can roll our sleeves up and battle" says new Bluebirds boss

Neil Harris in the dugout at Milwall. Image: BillyBatty
Neil Harris in the dugout at Milwall. Image: BillyBatty

by Tom Pritchard

NEIL Harris was pleased that his Cardiff City team were able to show a different side to their game as they edged past struggling Stoke.

Leandro Bacuna’s 11th minute strike was enough for the Bluebirds to pick up all three points, as they moved up to 10th in the Championship.

Harris took charge of Cardiff for the first time on Saturday, as they drew 2-2 with Charlton Athletic at the Valley, and saw his team play an attractive brand of football.

Tonight, however, was a much more tense affair, with both sides lacking quality on the ball at times.

But the former Millwall manager admitted that only the result mattered tonight.

“It wasn’t a classic. It was, in some ways, a typical, scrappy Tuesday night Championship match. But I’ll take that tonight.”

“We played open and expansive and the weekend, and had the second most shots the club has had in three seasons.

“I said to the players it’s not always going to be like that, you’ve got to be structured and organised.

“I’d like to think people in the stadium tonight saw a more structured set-up, a lot more shape about us, and sometimes you’ve got to be respectful to the opposition – wherever they are in the league.”

The 42-year-old was encouraged by the way his side dug in to grind out the result.

“I’m delighted for the players. I just said to the boys, we’ll be better than that, we were better than that on Saturday.

“But if we have to roll our sleeves up and battle like that, we’ve shown we can do that also.”

“We limited Stoke’s opportunities, and sometimes you just need that one moment, a little bit of class, and Gary Madine’s back-flick with Leandro Bacuna’s run gave us that moment.”

Harris was keen to stress that he and his coaching staff have had little opportunity to implement their philosophy on the squad, owing to the busy schedule of matches.

“We’ve had eight days. That was our second game in four days, and we’ve got a third one coming quickly, so time on the grass to work on things is very limited at the moment.”

Cardiff’s two best players on the night, Lee Tomlin and Gary Madine, have been re-integrated into the side in recent times after seeing their game time limited under previous manager Neil Warnock.

Harris highlighted that the pair have earned their chance to impress by working hard on the training field.

“I think first and foremost it’s about attitude, application and the desire to want to play for this great club.

“Players can moan and say they haven’t been given a chance, but when a new manager walks in they have to prove that they’ve got that desire and that determination to want to be in the team. And they have done.”

He finished by providing positive injury updates on three of the club’s key players.

“We’ve got Robert Glatzel and Danny Ward coming back fit, Joe Ralls is getting fitter, so players will come back in to the group and the selection decisions won’t be easy to make.”