Greg Cunningham believes Cardiff City must show more tactical flexibility if they are to survive in the Premier League.
The Ireland defender made his league debut for the Bluebirds on Saturday, but could not prevent Manchester City from inflicting Cardiff’s heaviest home defeat for 24 years with a 5-0 thrashing.
The build-up had been dominated by reference to the physical nature of the clubs’ previous encounter back in January when Joe Bennett – who was left out of the weekend line-up as Cunningham gained selection – was sent off.
Cunningham thinks Neil Warnock’s side have to be capable of various game plans if they are to gain their first victory of the season and build a platform to move away from the relegation zone.
“Teams can have a style but they can also have a Plan B and a Plan C,” said the former Manchester City left-back.
“There are times when we can go long and use our physicality as our strength and then we can knock it around because we have some ball players.
“There was a bit of talk about the last match leading up to the game. But it’s a game of football, there’s going to be tackles going in and with the pace of the game you know some of them are going to be ill-timed.
“We weren’t going easy. We were trying to get in their faces as much as we could and try to upset them. It felt that we started really well on that front but then they just turned the screw.”
Cardiff now have another home game this weekend against Burnley whose own recovery from a poor start arrived on Saturday with a 4-0 hammering of Bournemouth.
It already looks a hugely significant game as two of the Bluebirds’ following three fixtures are away trips to Tottenham and Liverpool.
Cunningham added: “You go into every game trying to do as best as you can. But we’ve just got to dust ourselves down and look at Burnley next week.
“That will be a big one. Against top-six opposition you are going to struggle and find it hard. But we need to win against the teams around us. Burnley is massive now.
“They won but they’ve had a slow start by their standards. We have to start getting some wins on the board and try and make the Cardiff City Stadium a fortress. They are on the up and we need to stamp our authority on this league.”
Cunningham has had to show patience before gaining his opportunity, with his only previous appearance coming in the Carabao Cup defeat at home to Norwich City.
“I’ve been biding my time and just working as hard as I can on the training pitch. The gaffer’s given me the nod and I was more than happy to step and do what I could for the team.
“We’ve had three very tough games against teams who are going to be fighting for the title. It’s tough for a newly-promoted team to get anything out of that. But we’ve got a chance now next week to get a result.”
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