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Cardiff City manager Malky Mackay looks thoughtful during the nPower Championship Playoff Semi Final 2nd Leg between West Ham United and Cardiff City at the Boleyn Ground on May 7, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)

Always the bridesmaid, never the bride. Cardiff are looking to finally shake off the tag of The Championship's nearly-men.

Ins: Heidar Helguson (undisclosed amount), Etien Velikonja (undisclosed amount), Jordon Mutch (undisclosed amount), Joe Lewis (free transfer) Craig Bellamy (free transfer)

Outs: Jon Parkin (free transfer), Aaron Wildig (free transfer), Tom Heaton (contract ended), Lee Naylor (contract ended), Jonathan Meades (contract ended), Paul Quinn (contract ended), Alex Evans (contract ended)

Strengths: They are always up there. At least, that’s what it will seem to anyone who has had even a passing interest in the Championship in recent years. Over the past three seasons, The Bluebirds have finished in the play-off positions every time.

Maybe an overhaul in everything fans know them for will enable them to go that extra mile.

Weaknesses: They can never get over the final hurdle. Imagine the heartbreak of losing out on a place in the Premier League because of a hiccup in the play-offs. Now think about this happening for three campaigns on the bounce. Hurts doesn’t it?

Well, this has been the pain shared by the Cardiff City faithful season after season. But you know the saying – if it’s not third time lucky then let’s soar on four. Ok, we might have made that one up but those Bluebirds need some inspiration to keep the hope alive.

Last season’s performance: Take a guess? Yes you’re bang on, Cardiff City finished in sixth place, qualified for the play-off competition, saw the light at the end of the tunnel then had it cruelly extinguished, this time by the hands of West Ham United in the semi-final.

If they were a celebrity: Jodie Marsh. They both drastically altered their appearances in what seemed like an instant. Go on, have a look at Marsh during her current bodybuilder phase. Where did that model body go?

You might not have known: Cardiff have been in three consecutive play-off tournaments without success. But it could have all been so different, had they have clinched sixth place in the 2008/09 campaign. In that season, the Bluebirds lost out on a top-six finish to Preston North End on goal difference.

Championship title odds: 12/1 with Paddy Power

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Cardiff Championship odds, news and free bets

Always the bridesmaid, never the bride. Cardiff are looking to finally shake off the tag of The Championship's nearly-men.

Read more »