Cardiff City’s defeat against fellow early season strugglers Burnley on Sunday afternoon was at best troubling.
It’s a defeat that leaves the Bluebirds still win-less after their first seven games in the Premier League, stuck on just two points.
It wouldn’t be right to panic with 31 games remaining, especially having played four of last season’s top seven in the first seven games.
However, Cardiff seemed to find a way to lose on Sunday afternoon in a game they dominated and that’s a real concern.
The Bluebirds are struggling to score goals and they are struggling to keep them out, a horrid combination that means they are more than likely to head into the second international break still without a win.
A tough trip to Wembley to face Tottenham Hotspur next week is the last fixture before the break and it’s likely Cardiff’s frustrations will continue.
But it’s a challenge that everyone in the blue half of South Wales saw coming, and Cardiff aren’t alone in their struggles.
Huddersfield are in their second season and they are finding things equally as difficult in the early stages of the season.
Look at Fulham, they’ve spent more than £100 million this season and they are still conceding a shed-load of goals, currently just three points ahead of Cardiff.
Believe it or not, it could be far worse for Cardiff City, particularly if the supporters were losing faith.
Some may be, of course, but the vast majority – perhaps those who backed the promotion campaign from start to finish – remain firmly in support of Neil Warnock and his men.
Something the Bluebirds boss deeply appreciates. He said after Sunday’s defeat: “Once again the fans were amazing.
“They are really enjoying it, they can’t really get more behind us. I’m disappointed they have gone home in disappointment with the result. We might not be anywhere near top of the league, but I bet we are with the fans, they are quite amazing and we will need them.”
Even after that troubling defeat against Burnley, supporters stayed behind to salute their players’ efforts, singing their, and indeed Neil Warnock’s name.
Some of the Bluebirds stars have clearly under-performed, even taking into consideration the steep step up in class.
And Neil Warnock himself has made plenty of mistakes too far, but that doesn’t change things for the ever-positive Cardiff fans.
It’s a stark change, too, for a group of fans who were (with good reason) a depressed bunch for many years, but things have changed since Neil Warnock’s arrival.
That ought to be remembered in times like these, at times when some supporters may value Premier League survival above all else, suggesting a change of manager if things don’t go well.
Just look at Sunday’s opponents Burnley. They put their manager and the happiness around the club before Premier League survival, and though it took a few years to go down and come back up, they are now reaping the rewards.
The Premier League offers vast rewards for those who get there and indeed stay there.
However, it’s not everything, particularly for a club like Cardiff City, whose ‘ideal level’ is probably the Championship, and that’s reflected in their level of investment ahead of this season.
This season is very much a bonus for the Bluebirds and it should be treated as such.
That doesn’t mean they shouldn’t or can’t strive for survival. It’s by no means impossible, who knows what the next 31 games hold in store?
However, the main aim here is building for a financially sound future, one in which the Bluebirds can readily compete at a higher level, and – with equal importance – one where the supporters remain firmly behind their team, manager and club as a whole.
(Featured image: Callum Ellis)