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Matt Holland's Blog 21

9 January 2013

FA Cup banana skins tripped up two of the npower Championship's leading lights last weekend, but I'm convinced the red-faced pair will look at their respective losses very differently.

Cardiff City didn't exactly gift their non-league opponents a place in round four but Malky Mackay weakened his side so much that it wasn't a huge surprise to see them lose to Macclesfield Town. They finished the match with seven teenagers on the pitch at Moss Rose, and that demonstrates the lack of emphasis they had on progression in the competition.

Ordinarily, I don't like to see teams treat the FA Cup as a distraction but in Cardiff's case I can sort of understand why they approached it the way they did. Nine points clear of third place at the top of the table the Welshmen have put themselves in a terrific position to up this year, and they must be desperate to avoid unwanted fatigue and injuries. Promotion to the Premier League is the be-all and end-all for them.

I'm sure Mackay will have hoped to go through, but it's never easy when a team is thrown together. They lacked match fitness, experience and the usual cohesion, and for that reason their poor display was understandable. As Mansfield Town proved by running Liverpool so close, you really can't take any side lightly in English football. Any boss who opts to rest a lot of players is rolling the dice.

Stole Solbakken didn't take any chances with his starting line-up at Luton Town, but their subsequent defeat cost him his job later that evening and I can't say I'm too surprised. After a terrible run which has seen them dropping down the division at an alarming rate, the cup exit will have been the straw that broke the camel's back.

To be honest, I'm not sure why Wolves went for Solbakken in the first place. He did well at Copenhagen but his spell with Cologne last season was extremely disappointing, and it's been just as bad for him at Molineux. Ever since they sacked Mick McCarthy, Wolverhampton Wanderers have lurched from one disaster to another.

By appointing Dean Saunders I have a feeling they have the right type of man now. He did excellently on a shoestring budget at Wrexham, and since being given the chance to manage his way at Doncaster Rovers he's turned their fortunes around, too.

People in the game really like Dean Saunders. His reputation as a coach is very good among players and he's got a really bubbly character, too. I know that he earned rave reviews on the after-dinner speaking circuit and because he's naturally funny and I believe he'll lift the Wolves squad at just the right time. The dressing room needs an injection of life, and he's the man to provide it.

Elsewhere, it was interesting to see Blackburn Rovers caretaker manager Gary Bowyer praising Danny Murphy for his input and advice in recent weeks. I played with Danny at Charlton Athletic and always had a feeling he was manager, or coach material. He has a strong opinion on anything football-related.

At The Valley, Danny Murphy could turn a five-minute chat into an hour long meeting, simply because he was so determined to air his views and get the bottom of certain issues, and it drove a few of the players mad because they just wanted to get off home.

He loves football, and thinks deeply about the game, and I wouldn't be at all surprised if he ends up taking over as manager at Ewood Park sometime soon. He'd fancy the job, I'm sure.

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