By 90Min
September 24, 2018

Neil Warnock achieved the unthinkable last year, guiding a mediocre Cardiff City side - under the unpredictable ownership of Vincent Tan - to Championship promotion in his first full season at the Cardiff City Stadium. 

But come this Christmas, Warnock's only dialogue with the Indonesian business tycoon could be only through Christmas cards.

It was what every Cardiff fan dreamt of, a return to top flight football at the expense of their bitter Welsh rivals Swansea City. Warnock came to Cardiff, who were languishing in second from bottom in the Championship table, full of optimism and promise. With seven promotions under his belt, Cardiff knew they had the man they needed to bounce back to the promised land. 

And bounce back they did on the final day of a rollercoaster campaign - although they were indebted to a huge win for Birmingham City, who beat Fulham 3-1 to consign the Cottagers to third place and send Cardiff to the top flight after a four year absence.

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He'd done an outstanding job. Not everybody was so optimistic of record promotion winning Warnock.

Having first guided the Scarborough 'Seadogs' from the Conference to the Fourth Division in 1987, the Football League veteran has brought varying success to clubs up and down the country. However, despite his successes in the rough of tumble of the lower tiers, a question has always hung over the Yorkshireman; is he capable of managing amongst the nation's elite?

Vincent Tan is crude businessman who wants to maintain the riches of Premier League football this time round. In Warnock he has got a manager he can trust, but has he got a manager he can rely on? 

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Warnock's history in the top flight is not great. 

He has managed 74 games, lost 38, drawn 19 and only managed 17 victories averaging a win rate of 23%. Sheffield UtdQPR and Crystal Palace have all experimented with Warnock in the Premier League, but he has failed to whet the appetite of any. 

Moreover, his vintage football style is now something seldom seen in the league, viewed as archaic and unwelcome amongst Europe's elite.

Despite being the 15th richest owner in the Premier League, Tan gave Warnock a modest budget in the summer - with many fans disappointed with the acquisitions compared to the likes of fellow newcomers Wolves and Fulham. Both clubs splashed out on a number of high profile signings, with ex-Chelsea and German international Andre Schurrle joining Fulham, and European Championship winning goalkeeper Rui Patricio joining Wolves

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When the Premier League fixtures were released in June, even the most optimistic fan would have been dreading September and October. Out of the seven games, ArsenalChelseaManchester CityTottenham and Liverpool made up five. 

Fulham and Burnley at home make the other two which could potentially put points on the board for the Welsh side but after all that ball chasing, two months of zero points is still a distinct possibility for Warnock's men.

If the Bluebirds fail to get anything out of the Fulham and Burnley games, Warnock will have some serious questions to answer - especially after stating to reporters "you take the top six out, and I would think anybody can beat anybody on their day." 

The Fulham and Burnley games for the Welsh side are absolutely massive for morale, points and Warnock's future.

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Cardiff face an improving and determined side in Burnley next weekend, where Sean Dyche has finally got the wheels in motion after failing to juggle European and domestic football. The two teams play similar brands of football, but Burnley have that added quality which could see them get over the line at the Cardiff City Stadium and land Warnock in deeper trouble.

Should Warnock still be at the helm in November, which is arguably unlikely given the fixture list, he could enjoy avoiding any of the top six until Manchester United on 22nd December. That key period in between is where he is likely to gain some points and have a chance of gaining some momentum in the Premier League.

Some difficult decisions lie in the hands of Vincent Tan. We know he's unpredictable, ruthless and rather odd, but whether he will stick with the man who brought his team to the table for much longer is anybody's guess.

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