Yesterday on here I said that Jimmy Scoular and Dave Jones were the best two City managers I have seen at the club since I watched my first game in October 1963 – given that there have been some on the messageboards who have expressed the opinion that Jones does not deserve to be rated that highly, perhaps I should explain the reasons why I feel that way.
For a start, these two managers have the best record in Cup competitions – Scoular took us to two Quarter Finals and a Semi Final in the Cup Winners Cup and we also had our best ever run in the League Cup when he was in charge, while Jones’ took us further in the FA Cup than any manager had done since Fred Stewart in 1927. However, the main criteria in judging any manager has to be the week in, week out league programme which makes up the vast majority of fixtures any team plays and when it comes to this only Scoular and Jones have ever threatened to take us up into top level football in my time supporting the club.
Now, it needs to be said that there are plenty of City managers in the past forty eight years who, because of the prevailing circumstances at the club when they were in charge, never had the chance to do what Scoular and Jones challenged for. Therefore, I must say that the likes of Jimmy Andrews, the much under rated Richie Morgan, Len Ashurst, Frank Burrows and Eddie May were hardly bad Cardiff City managers – even so, I still believe that Scoular and Jones stand above them.
Some perspective is called for here though because I have always thought that in terms of catchment area, potential and history, Cardiff City’s natural home is the second tier of the domestic game (i.e. the current Championship), but that we should have more in common with the top level (Premiership) than the third (League One) – if we were to spend time out of our “natural” level it should be more likely that we would do it because we got promoted rather than relegated.
Now, perhaps I’m being too generous in my assessment there and others would say that we are more suited to the third tier than the first. Even if that is true though, surely at sometime during what is nearly half a century after all, we should have had a manager good enough to get us into the top flight even if it was just for one season? Because of this, I think it can fairly be claimed that even our two most successful managers of the past forty eight years could be said to be failures – Jimmy Scoular and Dave Jones were lucky enough to be in charge at times when this club with so much potential was relatively strong and still couldn’t deliver the promotion that other sides which seem less well equipped for top flight football have managed on more than one occasion.
Talking of which, I suppose congratulations are in order for Swansea City who got themselves what I believe to be a deserved promotion to the Premiership by beating Reading 4-2 in yesterday’s Play Off Final at Wembley. Yes I know all about them going into administration twice and I repeat that I don’t see what good their promotion is going to do my team, but it must be said that ever since they beat Hull 4-2 to stay in the Football League in 2003, the jacks have given us an object lesson in how a successful football club should be run.
Using my dodgy mathematics, it looks like 2011/12 will be my forty ninth season of watching Cardiff City play. Up to now, City have spent twenty eight of those playing at their “natural” level and twenty playing below it – not once have they managed to climb above it. When you think about it, what a shocking indictment that is of the people who have occupied the Boardroom and managed the team during that time and in latter years the only plan has been for a club badly haemorrhaging money to throw more of the stuff at trying to buy their way to promotion.
Hopefully, the Malaysians will have more to offer than the Ridsdale’s and Hammam’s of this world and, having got their fingers burnt in indulging Dave Jones last year, they have moved to get rid of a manager who many claim have claimed to be our best ever, but, ultimately, has to be judged as another nearly man. Going back to Swansea again to finish, I reckon it’s fair to say that, despite starting each of the last two seasons with a new man in charge. two of their last three managers (Martinez and Rodgers) have been better than anyone seen at Cardiff since 1963.
by The other Bob Wilson
At around lunchtime today Cardiff City announced on their official site that manager Dave Jones had left the club. What’s struck me about the statement was that there was none of this “by mutual agreement” stuff, the wording used reads like Jones was sacked and, certainly, that’s the way it is being reported in the media. Therefore, it would appear that our former manager wanted to stay, but the decision has been made to pay him off in full so, seemingly, we have already committed ourselves to almost £800,000 worth of expenditure through the next year.
If the news comes as a shock at all, it is because the longer the delay in announcing a decision went on the more likely it looked that we would be going into the new season with Dave Jones still in charge. The fact that he was, reportedly, invited to take part in the post season review into why he had not been able to deliver the promotion that so many employees at the club told us was what was expected in 2010/11 rather suggested that the decision on his future had not been taken yet when he set out his requirements for 2011/12.
If the club were, possibly, still open minded on how to proceed, that’s not the impression I got when it came to how supporters felt. Yes, there were still the Jones loyalists around who pointed out, not unreasonably I suppose, that when you look at where the club had been for much of the past forty years, Jones’ record of steady improvement in terms of league position and how close we have come to promotion in the past three years then it would be an act of folly to sack him. However, it seemed to me that throughout this season the tide had been turning against Dave Jones as it became more apparent that his “best ever squad” were, in reality, just like most of his recent ones – they were too inconsistent and showed a tendency to bottle it on the big occasion.
It only tends to be very good or very lucky managers who are able to leave a club with the praise of it’s supporters ringing in their ears, but, I think Dave Jones could have done if he had left in the aftermath of the FA Cup Final in 2008. As the going got tougher for him in the years following the Portsmouth match, critics tended to write off what happened that season because it was claimed that, Middlesbrough apart, we had no one to beat on the way to the Final – I never agreed with that (if it was so easy to get to a Final, how come we’ve only made it past the Fifth Round just the once since 1927?) and will always be very grateful to Dave Jones for his part in what was an outstanding achievement.
When you consider that Dave Jones was able to develop players like Jerome and bring in the likes of Loovens, Chopra and Johnson (who all made the club much needed millions when they were sold) in those early years as well as getting his teams to over achieve when you consider the squads he had during those first three seasons, I believe it’s fair to say that did a very good job during the first half of his Cardiff career.
It might appear strange when you think that we are talking about finishes of seventh, fourth and fourth here, but I don’t believe Dave Jones was as impressive in the latter half of his time with us. In saying that, none of those three seasons can be termed a disaster by any meaning of the word, but, speaking as someone who blamed the players more than him for the awful end to the 08/09 campaign and thought we were simply beaten by a more rounded and skilful team in Blackpool last year, it is plainly true that those two seasons ended in crushing disappointment and the suspicion that we lacked the necessary mental fortitude under Dave Jones to take the final step into the Premiership was born.
I’ve already given my opinion on here of Dave Jones’ 2010/11 season (suffice it to say now that I think it was his least impressive campaign at Cardiff by some distance), but there is no doubt in my mind that we are talking about one of only two candidates for the title of best Cardiff manager during the near half a century I have been supporting the club. I still edge towards Jimmy Scoular as the best because he was never given the financial backing that Dave Jones was but, in terms of league finishes, Jones never got involved in the sort of relegation scraps that Scoular did so it’s a very close run thing.
I lost faith in Dave Jones over the past six months, but it needs to be said that he was in an odd position in the latter years of his Cardiff reign because, although the club was constantly on the edge of financial oblivion, the way they sought to put things right on the money side was to gamble on the windfall of promotion to the Premiership being achieved. Therefore, for much of the time, Jones was given more money to spend than he should have really and it seems to me that, like a lot of managers, he was less impressive when he had money to spend than when he had to operate on limited resources.
So a genuine thank you and sincere good wishes to Dave Jones in the future. As to who should replace him, I just hope we can get someone who will build a club along the same sort of lines as Blackpool, Norwich and Swansea (who look to be on the brink of promotion as I type this – oh hang on Reading have just made it 3-2!) have done. That is with hungry, hard working, skillful players, without big egos, who play the game in the proper way – there are those who are claiming that one of the reasons Dave Jones left is that the club are going to go on an economy drive with budgets slashed, well those clubs I mentioned (as well as the likes of Watford and Doncaster) have prospered on budgets that were much smaller than ours, it just means that some of the old complacency will have to disappear and people at the club will have to start working that much harder.
by The other Bob Wilson