Ex-Cardiff City coach in frame to join Erol Bulut's staff as next phase begins

-Credit: (Image: Ashley Crowden/REX/Shutterstock)
-Credit: (Image: Ashley Crowden/REX/Shutterstock)

Cardiff City are considering adding former Bluebirds first-team coach James Rowberry to Erol Bulut's staff after holding talks with the highly-regarded FAW coaching chief.

Bulut this week signed a new contract with the Bluebirds which will see him continue as manager at Cardiff City Stadium for the next two seasons, with owner Vincent Tan having pledged his full support to the project after months of negotiations.

The need to bolster the club's first-team coaching staff — as well as the recruitment department — was high on Bulut's list of demands and after the manager received positive referrals from both players and staff within the club, the Bluebirds boss wanted to hold talks with Rowberry. Bulut spoke with the ex-Newport County manager before the end of last season, wanting to get his ducks in a row in the hope of a favourable outcome after protracted talks over his future.

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Rowberry is a high-class coach who was instrumental in helping the club reach the Premier League under Neil Warnock, conducting much of the day-to-day training sessions. In an interview with WalesOnline in 2020, Rowberry said he learnt "pure coaching" under Paul Trollope and Russell Slade and learnt "pure management" under Warnock.

He is also a well-respected figure within the game, having become one of the youngest coaches in world football to earn his Pro Licence at the age of 29 and he is now a leading figure within the FAW's feted coaching setup. Sign up to our Cardiff City newsletter here.

After eight years with Cardiff, Rowberry left Mick McCarthy's coaching staff to take charge of his hometown club Newport County in League Two in his first managerial role and steered them to 11th in the table in 2022. He left in October that year after a disappointing start to the following season, but achieved an admirable win rate of 40.38%.

James Rowberry -Credit:Huw Evans Picture Agency
James Rowberry -Credit:Huw Evans Picture Agency

Rowberry, 39, then returned to the FAW as the head of elite coach education in 2023, aligning coaches across the entire pathway and delivering elite-level courses to some of the finest young coaches in the game.

Given Rowberry's extensive experience and the positions he has held at club and national level, he would likely come in as a senior coach tasked with carrying out the manager's style and tactics remit. His commitment to carrying out his coaching duties was evidenced during his last stint as first-team coach when he tore his ACL on the training ground when he was trying to press a defender during a drill.

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Rowberry, however, is of course still employed by the FAW, who think very highly of him and are obviously reticent to let him leave, and sources insist it is not a foregone conclusion that he joins.

It is a story which will likely develop further in the coming days, as the club plough on with the next phase of development after tying down Bulut to a new deal, and the summer planning, which has been under way during these six long weeks and more of negotiations, can finally be actioned.

It is understood that any coaches who join the staff will be in addition to Bulut's assistants last season and not as replacements.