Cardiff City 2 Sunderland 2
The sorry saga at Cardiff has come to an end, but you have to wonder how much damage has been inflicted in the process.
Cardiff’s managerial soap opera been played out in public in recent months. But Ben Turner, the Cardiff defender, later claimed his team-mates had been left in dark throughout with the in-fighting between owner Vincent Tan and Malky Mackay.
Make no bones about it, the uncertainty would have filtered down to the players. Whether it will have a terminal effect on Cardiff’s survival hopes remains to be seen.
Yet, with holding a two-goal advantage against the bottom side in the closing minutes, they should have seen this game out.
They needed direction from the dugout but it was just not there in the post-Mackay reign. It was an inevitability, as the Welsh side dropped deeper and deeper, that Jack Colback would earn Sunderland a draw with the last kick of the game.
Two points lost but the bigger point is that a new man is needed at helm sooner rather than later if the Welsh side are to avoid relegation. Turner, 25, wants the off-field turmoil to stop so their survival bid to on take centre stage.
“Obviously it catches your attention when you read certain things,” he said.
“But we have to move forward and if we don’t then we will get relegated. That’s the one thing the old manager would say, once the game over is over look to the next one.
“Whatever’s happened, you focus on the next challenge. So we want to look forward and he’d have wanted us to look forward and carry on.
“We are at the halfway point and we have a good chance of staying up.”
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer remains the favourite to fill the most talked about hot-seat in English football.
But that is no forgone conclusion and caretaker duo Joe McBride and David Kerslake will be at the helm for the daunting New Year’s Day trip to Arsenal.
Turner claims the dressing room has remained in the dark at the club’s plans throughout the saga.
He added: “We don’t really know what’s been going on. We are guessing like everyone else. We come to work, we train, we go home.
“Now we know where we stand. The former manager is not with us any more and obviously we look forward from here.”
On this evidence, the new man will inherit a side who, with some guidance and some January additions, can keep their head above water. It should have been over as a contest early on as a rampant Cardiff dominated but they just had Jordon Mutch’s sixth minute strike to show. Ex-Black Cats striker Fraizer Campbell thought he had wrapped up the points on the hour but, under Gus Poyet, Sunderland are these days made of sterner stuff.
Steven Fletcher pounced with seven minutes left before fellow substitute Colback struck with almost the last kick of the game to earn his rock-bottom side a precious point.
Sunderland hero Fletcher believes he can make it third time lucky by beating the top-flight drop. The Scot, who has been relegated with Burnley and Wolves, insists the revival under Poyet can continue into 2014.
“Compared to the other two I’ve been in, this is probably the tightest one,” he said.
“At Burnley I think we were dead and buried by this time. We’ve still got a massive chance.
“We’ve got a lot of good games coming up so we’re looking forward to that.
“Our home form’s been good, we’ve beaten Manchester City and a few other teams, so we’ve just got to keep it going.”
CARDIFF (4-5-1): Marshall 7, Theophile-Catherine 6, Caulker 7, Turner 5, John 6; Noone 7 (Cowie 72, 5), Medel 7, Kim 7 (Gunarsson 79), Mutch 8, Whittingham 6; Campbell 7 (Cornelius 82).
SUNDERLAND (4-5-1) Mannone 6; Bardsley 6, Diakite 5, Roberge 5, Dossena 6; Giaccherini 6, Larsson 6 (Gardner 74, 6), Catermole 5 (Colback 74,7), Ki 8, Borini 6 (Fletcher 46,7), Altidore 4.
Referee: Chris Foy.
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