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Matt Holland's Blog 16

5 December 2012

It's not often you can claim to have the best home record in the whole of European football but Cardiff can after beating Sheffield Wednesday on Sunday. Their 1-0 win made it 10 wins in 10 at the Cardiff City Stadium in this season's npower Championship and Malky Mackay's side look virtually invincible at home at the moment.

The win kept Cardiff top of the pile but if you look closely at the table, it's intriguing to note the contrast between their form home and away. They've taken 30 points at home but they have the worst away record of any of the teams in the top 13 in the division in terms of points won.

Teams obviously tend to be stronger at home but that really is some disparity and a statistic that might be privately nagging away at Malky.

He'll be absolutely delighted with his side's performances on their own patch but he'll also be wondering why they have been so much more vulnerable on the road. He spoke this week about the contribution of the Cardiff fans in their record-breaking run but he'll also know the team will almost inevitably slip up at home sooner or later and that's when the away form could become a worry.

Right now, the points they're winning at the Cardiff City Stadium should be enough for them to finish in the top two but if they were to dry up, the onus would shift to the performances away from home.

I apologise if I've struck a negative note. Cardiff's run at home is genuinely amazing and worthy of praise but I'm also fascinated by the contrast in the side's fortunes on the road and the Jekyll and Hyde nature of their season so far.

It's been an interesting few days for Wolverhampton Wanderers and Stale Solbakken. Last week, the manager's car was daubed with paint by fans angry with the team's slide down the table and then on Saturday Wolves beat Bristol City 4-1 at Ashton Gate for their first win in 10 league games.

I've always believed supports have the right to express themselves but vandalising Solbakken's car was stepping over the line. Ironically though, it may just have jolted a performance out of the team.

There's no argument that Wolves' slump has been alarming. They were second in early October before their barren run and they were in desperate need of the three points this weekend but it's easy to forget that Solbakken is in his first season at Molineux and trying to revive a side that was relegated from the Premier League. It was probably unrealistic to expect miracles straight away, especially after losing Steven Fletcher and Matt Jarvis over the summer.

Unfortunately for Solbakken, it seems that it's him rather than the players who has become the focus for the fans' displeasure. I don't think that's a healthy situation because it gives the players somewhere to hide while the manager takes the flak and undermines a sense of collective responsibility.

I've played for managers who I know have got home an hour or two late because they've wanted to avoid any of the fans in the car park after the game. As a player, you know you've let the boss down if that is happening.

The truth is, players are happy to avoid criticism but having the manager shoulder all the blame when things are going wrong isn't necessarily the right solution either. When I was at Charlton Athletic, Iain Dowie and Les Reed both found themselves in the firing line but the squad didn't get off scot-free and that kept us on our toes.

It was a good weekend for Michael Appleton as Blackpool won 4-1 at Peterborough United. The result piles the pressure on Darren Fergsuon but it was Appleton's first win with the Tangerines since he took over from Ian Holloway.

To be fair to Appleton his first four games ended in draws which represented a solid if unspectacular start to his Bloomfield Road career but there's just no substitute for a victory. It certainly helped steady the ship after what has been a rocky few months for the club and maybe now they'll slowly start to climb the table.

It was heady days for Blackpool at the start of the season with three wins on the bounce but it's been downhill since then and Appleton actually inherited a side, albeit with the talent of Tom Ince, close to crisis.

The job he has done so far hasn't grabbed the headlines but the early signs are promising. Filling Ollie's shoes was never going to be easy but he's obviously his own man and while he may lack his predecessor's sheer weight of personality, the quiet but effective way he has gone about his business has been impressive.

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