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Matt Holland's Blog 35

17 April 2013

Huge congratulations to Cardiff City on a well-earned promotion. They've been the best team in the division by quite some way this season.

When you look back at their winding up order and the huge debt the club was in just three years ago, they've come so far in such a short time span. Since then, the new owner Vincent Tan has paid off the money which was owed, built a lovely new stadium, changed the team colours - and now taken them to the Premier League. It's amazing.

We all laughed when Cardiff City's owner told everyone that red was a lucky colour, but look at them now! There's a real freshness about the place, and they are in a really strong position to move forward.

Malky Mackay also has to take the plaudits. He's recruited some very good players, and built a whole new team of his own in just two years. The Scot has also banished their reputation for falling away at the end, once and for all. This time, they've cruised to promotion.

How will they fare in the top flight? It's hard to say. If the owner spends the kind of money he's talking about - around £25million - that will give them a decent shot at it. Southampton speculated that kind of money, and they've done really well. Teams like Cardiff are likely to use them as the benchmark next season.

I'm sure Malky will be loyal to the players that helped earn their new status, but he's wise enough to know he'll need to add three or four quality newcomers to compete.

One team in danger of throwing away what's been a terrific season is Crystal Palace. They've failed to find the back of the net in their last five matches and with Glenn Murray, Wilfried Zaha and Kevin Phillips in their ranks that's left me, and I'm sure all the Eagles fans, scratching their heads in bemusement.

I really don't know what's gone wrong for them in recent weeks. It's a mystery.

All I do know is that when goals suddenly dry up, everything you do on a football pitch becomes more difficult. Suddenly you look to protect rather than go on the attack, and confidence quickly drains away from the side.

They still have time to revive the dip, but time is running out for Palace to salvage that promotion dream which looked so likely earlier on in the campaign.

Down at the bottom, it's anyone's guess as to who will follow Bristol City into npower League 1. Everyone keeps picking up points, and that means more sleepless nights for most of the division.

Look at Peterborough United; they've gone 10 games unbeaten, only losing four of their last 21 matches - yet they're still in big trouble. Darren Ferguson must be ruing his side's awful start to the 2012/13 season.

It's sad to lose Bristol City, but they have the right man to bring them back up. Although they won't admit it, I feel they brought Sean O'Driscoll in with this situation in mind.

He'll bring players through the youth academy and he'll sign low-cost younger players that will fit into the system he wants to play - and I wouldn't be at all surprised to see them right at the top of the league next term. At that level, he's the ideal man to have in board if you want to rebuild on a budget.

Leeds United could be another team to watch out for next year. Last week I discussed their options for a new boss, and they've made a great choice in Brian McDermott.

Two wins from two is the ideal start, but the club needs stability now. They have to give McDermott at least a couple of seasons to revive their fortunes.

When I look at the players Leeds have on their books they should be a Play-Off side. Under the new boss, I don't expect them to continue under-achieving. In fact, I'd have them among the favourites to go up automatically in 2013/14.

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