Erol’s Five-Star Bluebirds

Erol Bulut believes Cardiff City have been given a five-star rating for the remainder of their Championship campaign.

The Bluebirds manager is optimistic that five new signings made just before the transfer deadline can transform their promotion prospects.

Bulut hinted he may quit when there were no new signings with a week to go in the January window, but now he admits to being stunned by the uplift in standards when he finally got five players in.

Cardiff brought in Josh Wilson-Esbrand, Nat Phillips and Famara Diedhiou on loan from Manchester City, Liverpool and Granada respectively.

They also signed midfielder David Turnbull from Celtic and goalkeeper Ethan Horvath from Nottingham Forest on permanent deals to bolster their Championship play-off hopes.

The boost the new boys gave the side, along with the return to fitness of Wales skipper Aaron Ramsey, led to a 1-0 win at Watford last weekend that ended a run of three successive defeats in which they conceded 10 goals.

Now Bulut wants to ramp up the quality when Preston North End arrive in the Welsh capital on Saturday to further bridge the five-point gap to the play-off places.

“Our tempo and quality in the training sessions looks different than a few weeks ago,” said Bulut.

“It’s different when you train with Under-21s players to players who have played for clubs like Celtic.

“Everyone should understand what I am trying to do, bring the level of the players higher to push the level of the players already at the club higher. That’s why I am talking about the project for the next few years.”

Bulut – whose Cardiff contract expires in the summer – is challenging players to raise their levels to avoid falling down the pecking order at the club.

“You have to increase your level, if not, you are out,” he explained.

“Football is like this, if you cannot adapt, you cannot play. When the speed is higher, some players cannot follow, then you have to change. We have to bring in players on that level.”

With Ramsey back, new signing Turnbull ready for his home debut, and club captain Joe Ralls deserving of a new contract – according to his manager – the prospects for the second half of the season now appear far brighter.

Bulut believes the triumph at Vicarage Road, combined with Cardiff’s late dealings in the January window have significantly lifted the mood at the club ahead of their Championship run-in.

“This win has given us a lot of confidence. We needed it,” added Bulut.

“When we see the last few games, the players were frustrated. We didn’t have enough players, we had injuries and some players could not be replaced.

“They were waiting for a few transfers to come in to have a better squad.

“I said it many times in press conferences and now we have the players in who have good quality. For the price that we had available, we got good players in.”