The Bluebirds On Board The Bulut Train

The average Championship fan could have been forgiven if they hadn’t heard of the name Erol Bulut before early June 2023.

But now, to the supporters of Cardiff City Football Club, new Bluebirds boss, Bulut, appointed on July 3rd, 2023, offers the hope of stability and much needed progress on and off the pitch.

It’s been a tumultuous five years for the Bluebirds since earning promotion to the Premier League during the 2017/18 season. The sadness of the Emiliano Sala crash, still looming with their current EFL embargo on paying transfer fees and legal battle with FC Nantes, took eyes away from a valiant attempt to stay in the top-flight. Since Neil Warnock’s departure six months after relegation, City have gone through five permanent managers and a caretaker boss. The capital city club needed big changes if the Club are due to contend for a place in the promised land once again. That monumental challenge falls to a man who has never managed in English football before.

Turkish-born Bulut enjoyed a near twenty-year professional playing career on the continent, appearing for the likes of Fenerbahçe, Olympiacos and 1860 Munich. His most high-profile managerial stint so far was an eight month spell in charge of his former club Fenerbahçe. Bulut had a near-62% win record while in charge of Sarı Kanaryalar.

While the Bluebirds are unable to pay a transfer fee for players until January 2024, they have used their money in other ways. City chairman Mehmet Dalman was quick to dispel rumours of Bulut being a cheap choice. In fact, he was Dalman’s first choice for the role all along.

“We tried to approach Erol two years ago initially,” Dalman said at his unveiling press conference. “We went through the process and had some very good candidates. What distinguished Erol for me was two things – his desire to win something and establish his own reputation. His ambition was important but his personality too. This isn’t an exercise in getting a football manager in. This is not a cheap hire. We have targets, strategy and a vision. Erol will be a key in that strategy.”

The pressure is on Bulut to turn around a City side that only avoided relegation to League One because of Reading’s point deduction in the last campaign. But it is an opportunity he is relishing!

“I like to win, and I don’t like to lose. I will make everything possible in the games to have the three points in the end. At least, if we don’t win, we have to get a point. Every point will be important for us. At home we have to be much stronger, with the fans behind us. We need them, everywhere. They will be the 12th person on the field, to support us.”

You can understand Bulut’s hopes of changing his new team’s fortunes at Cardiff City Stadium. It might be the home of the Welsh national team, but it has hardly been a fortress for the Bluebirds in recent seasons. In-fact, the Club won just six of 25 competitive fixtures at their Leckwith home last term.

Goals are another area of focus for the former left-wing back with just 41 goals scored in 46 games in 2022/23. Erol has swiftly made his moves to strengthen his attacking options in the transfer market, bringing in Iké Ugbo & Karlan Grant on loan for the season, and signing former Reading man Yakou Méïté to a two-year deal.

Talking about his new forwards, Bulut added: “Iké has shown what he can do over the last three years. In 1v1 situations, he is really good in the box. His heading and finishing abilities are also strong. These are things that we need, because we know that last season the team did not score enough goals.

“Yakou will help us a lot with his power and his speed. We are really very satisfied that he’s signed for us. He has played the last five or six years in the Championship, so he knows the league very well. He’s experienced, strong, skilful; he will play many games for us and score.

“Karlan will bring goals, speed and work rate to this team. He works hard on the pitch, not just offensively but in defence as well. Now, we have a few players like Karlan who can play in different positions. He can play as a winger, but we can also use him as a striker and a second striker. I’m pleased with these reinforcements.”

Delightfully, just before we go to print, the most impressive possible service to those attackers has been confirmed by Cardiff City Football Club.

After a summer filled with speculation, Aaron Ramsey’s Bluebirds return home was confirmed on Saturday, July 15th, 2023 with the Wales captain penning a two-year deal.

Their new number 10 is still Cardiff City’s youngest ever player. He came off the bench to replace Club legend Peter Whittingham in the 2008 FA Cup Final, before moving to Arsenal that summer. Spells in Turin with Juventus and the French Riviera with OGC Nice followed and while he wasn’t without options this summer, Rambo‘s desire to return home and help the Club he supports was too big of a draw to turn down.

Speaking at Cardiff City Stadium after putting pen-to-paper for the Bluebirds for the third time, Aaron said: “It feels unbelievable to finally be back here. I always thought one day I’d come back, and now it’s the perfect time to do that. For me now to come full circle, to be part of this team now, and hopefully achieve the goals we want, there’s no better feeling than that. I’ve said it many times in the past – I owe so much to Cardiff, to the fans, to everybody who has been at the Club when I was here as a young boy coming through.”

In Ramsey, Erol has a leader, a creative influence and a beacon of positivity. He loves the Club. He wants to be there and he wants to work for a manager who is building towards a shared objective.

“Aaron started here, and now he is back to help us to achieve our targets. Aaron has had a great career. In the Premier League, then Italy and France, and now back home in Cardiff. I hope his last years with us will be great too, and I hope we can make our dreams come true.”

Five new signings already, including a Club and Welsh icon – that embargo isn’t holding Cardiff City back on their ambitions to rise again. The Bulut train has well and truly started its journey, and the capital city is excited by the prospect of where it will take them.