Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 December 2014

I'll pick players with belief - OGS

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is planning to get ruthless with his squad as he looks to mastermind Cardiff's survival bid
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is planning to get ruthless with his squad as he looks to mastermind Cardiff's survival bid

Cardiff boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer appears ready to ditch players he feels are not up to the demands of a five-game Barclays Premier League survival fight.

The Norwegian struggled to contain his anger after the relegation mire deepened following a tame 3-0 surrender at home to Crystal Palace - and a reaction is expected in selection for next Saturday's testing trip to Southampton.

Asked if he felt his players had it in them to deliver over the remaining programme, which also includes an appointment with title-chasing Chelsea, Solskjaer said: "Most of them. The ones that are going to be involved.

"I am saying the ones I pick will have belief in them - don't worry about that."

Solskjaer added that he is looking for players with "leadership and loyalty", suggesting he might have felt let down during a game Palace dominated.

"In training and in games, you have plans, you have strategies and you follow them," he said.

Jason Puncheon's double sandwiched a clinching goal from Cardiff old boy Joe Ledley as Palace triumphed convincingly, and Solskjaer said: "Psychologically, it is a proper kick in the teeth.

"But I am not just saying it - I have got lots of fight, I have got loads of belief. I know the players, and they deserve to hear that I still believe they can do it because I see them every single day. Most of these are fantastic.

"Mentally, it has been a very draining season for many - the first time in the top flight in 51 years. It showed in the stands as well.

"The players heads dropped, we ran out of ideas. Of course, that is difficult. It is going to be hard to pick them up, but we have to find a way. That is just the way it is - you have to find a way.

"Can we produce a miracle? That is what we have to do."

Cardiff captain Steven Caulker was at a loss to explain arguably the team's worst performance since Solskjaer succeeded Malky Mackay earlier this season.

"It's difficult to explain it. I don't know what went wrong. It was not a lack of trying. The boys ran their socks off," Caulker said.

"To be honest, I just think we lacked that cutting edge. That little bit of fight too. We apologise to the fans that turned up and gave us great support, as always.

"We've given ourselves a mountain to climb now, so we are going to have to dig deep and show a lot more fight and passion than we did against Palace. It's going to be five cup finals between now and the end of the season.

"It's still mathematically possible we can stay up, so we are not going to write ourselves off.

"We've got confidence from how we played at the start of the season. We've got to get back into some kind of form, but every game now will be a fight."

From Palace's perspective, their remarkable resurgence under manager Tony Pulis continues. It has taken them from being red-hot relegation favourites when he was appointed last November to a current position of 14th, seven points above the drop zone.

And Palace striker Cameron Jerome feels that Pulis "deserves every plaudit that he gets".

Jerome said: "He had a point to prove, coming in, and he's the sort of man who relishes this sort of challenge. If he manages to keep us in the Premier League, he's done a fantastic job.

"Tony is a tactician. He analyses every game in depth, his tactics are spot-on and he knows everything about our opponents. He is just a natural-born winner.

"He wants the best out of you and he demands the best out of you on the training ground.

"You can talk about other people being the special one, and this or that, but he doesn't get enough credit for the way he plays.

"If you look at the Champions League, Manchester United scored from a set-piece, Chelsea scored from a set-piece, Paris St Germain scored from a set-piece.

"People say 'oh, he (Pulis) works on his set-pieces' but, at the highest level, set-pieces decide football games.

"People say he is one-dimensional and plays long balls, but he has got Premier League experience and he knows what it takes to stay in this league."

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