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South Wales derby highs and lows as Cardiff and Swansea trade places

Cardiff City manager Erol Bulut
Cardiff manager Erol Bulut has played or managed in countries such as Turkey, Germany and Greece

Erol Bulut and Aaron Ramsey embraced at the final whistle; Cardiff City's manager and captain drenched in the driving rain as they celebrated the club's first home win in a south Wales derby for a decade.

A few yards away, Swansea City's head coach Michael Duff trudged over to the away fans, who vented their fury after watching their side's run of four successive derby victories brought to an abrupt end.

The contrast between the two teams and their new bosses could hardly have been starker, a striking illustration of how these old rivals are travelling in opposite directions.

While Cardiff basked in only their fourth derby victory out of 12 - and, at 2-0, their biggest league winning margin over their neighbours since 1965 - Swansea were left to pick the bones of a rare defeat in a fixture they had come to dominate in recent years.

Although this was the 69th league meeting between the teams, neither had managed the double until the Swans did it in the 2021-22 season. They repeated the feat in the following campaign, racking up four straight wins over their neighbours with an aggregate score of 12-2.

But since Russell Martin left for Southampton to be replaced by Duff, Swansea have lost a certain lustre - as well as four out of six Championship games to leave them winless in the bottom three.

"It's part of the job," Duff said of the Swans fans' angry reaction in Cardiff.

"I don't like getting beat. I'm not stupid. I'm sure there'll be a vent at me but I've been here before.

"This is where you see the true characters at the club. The ones that stick together, the ones that don't blame everyone else and whisper in the corridor.

"There's been a lot of change at the club. That's not me hiding behind it… It feels like backs to the wall."

Swansea City manager Michael Duff
Swansea manager Michael Duff was previously in charge of Barnsley and Cheltenham Town

Whereas a downbeat Duff slumped into his chair for his post-match media duties at the Cardiff City Stadium, Bulut positively bounced in from the changing room.

He was already well versed in the febrile atmosphere of a derby having managed Fenerbahce against fellow Istanbul titans such as Galatasaray and Besiktas.

Eager to learn about this particular rivalry, however, Bulut had joined fans in a Cardiff pub in the days leading up to this game.

"A derby is something else," he said. "To have a win today was very important to us.

"It was special because it was a derby. It was a very important win for us. It was a must and we did it.

"I played a lot of derbies in my career, as a player and as a coach, but today I told the players how important this game is.

"This derby is much different. For 10 years you didn't get many wins against Swansea. So today was special, for me it was special because a few days ago I spoke with fans and they made it clear what today means.

"I said not to worry and that I would tell my players to fix it on the field, so I am happy."

There had been a cautious optimism around Cardiff before this match, a combination of the Bluebirds' encouraging start to life under Bulut and the growing pains of Duff's Swans.

That sense of hope had been in short supply after Cardiff had come close to relegation in the past two seasons, but it was vindicated by Saturday night's thoroughly deserved victory.

When Bulut was asked if he would be back at the same pub after this derby triumph, he laughed and said: "We will see.

"I have to prepare for Tuesday [and a game against Coventry City]. Of course, today the team will celebrate a little bit. But not too much."

These are early days for Bulut at Cardiff and Duff at Swansea and, after six games each in the Championship, it is too soon to draw conclusions about their respective fates.

But this derby felt like a significant moment, a potential shift in power and a sign of things to come in this fierce old rivalry.