2012/13 revisited.

CoymayAfter a day or two where it was generally reported that Malky Mackay was going to lose out on the Crystal Palace job to Tim Sherwood, the media now seem pretty united in claiming that the former City boss will return to management with the London club within the next day or so.

I say this only to point out that, while our previous manager seems to be constantly in the thoughts of some of his City supporting critics (an awful lot of whom have only come to the surface in recent months), many others (including myself I would like to think) have moved on. They do not give Mackay a great deal of thought until his name appears in the media, as it has done a lot since Tony Pulis left Palace at the end of last week.

However, even if Mackay had not been in the news recently, I would have almost certainly had the ex City manager in my thoughts at some time during and after our 1-0 win over Wigan Athletic at Cardiff City Stadium last night because the parallels with the Scot’s Championship winning side of two seasons ago in particular were clear to see.

If you ask one of the growing army of Mackay critics to sum up a typical game from our Championship winning season, I daresay they might come up with something like a 1-0 win by a goal scored from a free kick or corner in which the opposition had a lot of the ball and plenty of pressure, but we held on by “winning ugly”.

I thought Don Cowie played pretty well on his return to Cardiff, but new signing Sean Morrison (commanding and decisive on his City debut) appears to have this situation under control. *

I thought Don Cowie played pretty well on his return to Cardiff, but new signing Sean Morrison (commanding and decisive on his City debut) appears to have this situation under control. *

Now, it seems to me that this is exactly what we did last night. In saying that, I didn’t agree with Ian Walsh on Radio Wales when he said Wigan were the better side in the first half – I thought both sides cancelled each other out. Similarly, Uwe Rosler’s “we were dominant for ninety minutes” seems to be an example of one eyed manager speak to me – a draw might have been a fair result in my book, but if a side was truly as dominant as Rosler claims his was, then, surely, they would have tested the keeper more than his did?

Although I mentioned about the two sides cancelling each other out in the first half, the truth is it was City who came closest to scoring. All Wigan managed was a header from Callum McManaman from an Andrew Taylor cross which David Marshall tipped over quite easily, whereas Aron Gunnarsson forced Scott Carson into a save within two minutes, Tom Adeyemi brought the keeper into action again late on in the half and Nicky Maynard had two presentable chances that he maybe should have done more with.

One came from a header glanced wide from a Peter Whittingham cross and the other was as a result of a poor clearance from Carson which, for a second, left him in on goal only for him to take too long in controlling the ball as the chance came to nothing.

Truth be told, City threatened the Wigan goal less after half time, but they were able to capitalise on their best spell of the match early in the second half when, boosted by a sense of urgency provided by new signing Anthony Pilkington, who came on at the interval for the ineffective Mats Dæhli, the visitors were put under concerted pressure for just about the only time in the game.

John Brayford, again impressive at right back, fizzed over a low cross which eluded everyone and only a marvellous clearing header from virtually under his own bar by Emerson Boyce denied Kenwyne Jones what seemed to be a formality of a goal as Whittingham’s wicked corner swerved in under the crossbar.

City weren’t to be denied though and from the resultant corner got the vital goal. However, it wasn’t quite the sort of goal Mackay’s side of two years ago specialised in. This time Whittingham went short to Pilkington, who fed Fabio and the left back knocked a cross beyond the far post where Sean Morrison, in for a debut in place of Mark Hudson, sensibly headed back across goal for Jones to nod goalwards.

Jones’ effort might have gone in anyway, but Maynard made sure it did by sweeping the ball home from about four yards out to score his first competitive goal for the club at Cardiff City Stadium. Up to that moment, it had been a frustrating evening for the striker who had been having as little impact on the game as he had up at Blackburn – his selfless harrying of Wigan’s defenders and keeper had threatened to create more errors like the one seen from Carson in the first half, but that had been his only real contribution up until his goal.

Apart from a Jones header from another Whittingham corner which went not too far wide, that was it as far as chances to add a second goal went and it was the visitors who looked the more likely scorers from then on.

David Marshall has made a sketchy start to the campaign and flapped at a corner unconvincingly in the first half, but, after the break, he was more like his normal self as he turned aside a Rob Keinan header and was out quickly to block what first appeared to be a great opportunity for Marc-Antoine Fortuné after Don Cowie’s cross had found him in glorious isolation.

Marshall also dealt confidently with some testing crosses, but, apart from when sub Martyn Waghorn didn’t connect with another Cowie ball properly, City defended well enough to keep their highly rated opponents at arm’s length.

It was a team effort to keep Wigan out, but, once again, the back four deserve praise – I’ve already mentioned Brayford and Morrison (the latter dominated physically and showed a bit more pace at times than I expected), while Matt Connolly continued his fine start to the campaign with another assured showing.

However, the biggest impact for me was made by Fabio on the left who turned in what I’d say was, by some distance, his best display in a Cardiff shirt so far. Besides delivering that excellent cross in the build up to the goal, Fabio got forward well and caused the right side of the Wigan defence quite a few problems in the first half especially, but it was his defending that impressed me most – for someone who is sometimes not very convincing in that department, Fabio gave an exemplary demonstration of defensive full back play.

So, for what it’s worth, City find themselves second in the league table to Nottingham Forest only by virtue of having scored a goal less than them without really yet demonstrating the attacking fluency and potency that was supposed to be the bedrock of their promotion challenge.

Goalscorer Nicky Maynard is mobbed by team mates after scoring against the team  he spent the second half of last season with.*

Goalscorer Nicky Maynard is mobbed by team mates after scoring against the team he spent the second half of last season with.*

Instead, they have gained four of their seven points from performances in a couple of games which were a throwback to the Mackay days when we, supposedly, picked up points by sticking every one behind the ball, while hoping for a chance to nick a goal from a dead ball situation.

This “anti football” (for that’s what some Mackay critics would have you believe it was) from two years ago led to us winning the title with three games to spare as we enjoyed an end to the season far less fraught than every other team in the division and I’m pleasantly surprised and very encouraged that Ole is proving that he can pick up points under similar circumstances because I had serious doubts about whether he could do.

The Championship hasn’t changed much while we were away – games are invariably hard fought with very little in them to separate the sides. Having the capacity to regularly grind out victories while not playing Champagne football is such an asset for a Championship side to have and the early evidence is that we might possess it.

Wigan might have made a poor start, but it’s hard to see them struggling for long – that was a big win last night and if we do get promoted, then I’d guess something like half of our victories will come about via the 2012/13 way.

Pictures courtesy of http://www.walesonline.co.uk/

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4 Responses to 2012/13 revisited.

  1. Dai Woosnam says:

    Thanks as usual Paul.
    Interesting to see that many of our initial feelings re Fabio are maybe being proved wrong.
    But you are proving my initial feelings re Brayford right …again and again.
    I sold myself a bit short recently when I said to you that I was banging on about his being loaned out to The Blades back in Feb.
    Not that there was anything incorrect in that claim of mine: but, on checking, I now see that I was writing to you about my outrage at him disappearing into an apparent Hensol “Bermuda Triangle”, way back in the first week in November.
    Which brings me to Malky.
    And your suggestion that maybe some of his current critics were former big fans of his.
    Do you know what?*
    I can almost plead guilty to that.
    For when Malky appeared at his first CCFC press conference, he seemed such a breath of fresh air after the surly and paranoid Dave Jones. I just loved the cut of Malky’s jib.
    And for a long time I admired the work he did reaching out to the City supporters branch network …especially in the Valleys, where they had been ignored somewhat.
    Never liked his football: it grieves me to say it, but I preferred the football of the DJ era. Malky however proved mega successful by flooding the midfield at home, and parking the bus away.
    And to many supporters I know who remember – like I remember – saying in April 1962 that “we’ll be back in a year or two” (and then finding that the couple of years stretched into HALF A CENTURY), getting to the Promised Land was everything, so they forgave him his negative tactics.
    Not me. And I knew that those tactics would not cut it for much more than one moment in the Premier League.
    But I was still broadly pro Malky until that infamous MotD with Micheal Laudrup, which proved to be my true Damascene experience re Malky.
    You’ll recall that Moyes had just been appointed to Old Trafford and that Martinez had not yet been announced as getting the Everton job.
    Both MotD guests were asked outright by Gary Lineker if they would go to Goodison if Kenwright came calling. I have watched my DVD of that programme several times: each time it yields up more and more insights into Malky’s “hail fellow, well met” character, that tell me all is not what it seems.
    Whereas Michael played an immaculate forward defensive stroke to Gary’s question, Malky’s highly uneasy reaction spoke volumes. It was clear that he would be up the M6 in a nanosecond, without saying goodbye to the City fans (just like he had failed to say thanks and goodbye to the fans at Vicarage Road).
    And I like lots of other City fans started to wonder …is this man all he seems?
    Now fast forward to the end of November and one’s realisation that he had massively overpaid for most of his star buys…except John Brayford who he had seemingly, if not exactly “sent to Coventry”, but then done the next worst thing, and sent him to the obscurity of football two tiers lower! A fate that this man EMPHATICALLY did not deserve.
    But even then I was far from damning Malky.
    And then came the denouement of his time at CCS. The vital leak about the “resign or else” email told me everything. The scales fell from my eyes.
    And then he had gone.
    And Malky and his mate Moody were apparently going to sue Mr Tan for a small fortune in unpaid contract and damages. And get him to pay their legal costs.
    But then came a long silence, and it was ended by a bombshell.
    Suddenly both men made ABJECT apologies to Vincent Tan. And agreed to leave without a penny in compensation.
    If that wasn’t “telling” enough, the real punch to Malky’s solar plexus came with the STAGGERING admission that he was not just dropping his claim but paying all legal costs.
    What does THAT tell you?
    I know what it tells me. It tells me the Terrible M Twins were very lucky boys to find such a decent, magnanimous owner like Vincent Tan: a man who refused to go in for the kill.
    But equally, they were surely naive to think that a self made billionaire like Mr Tan, could have had the wool pulled over his eyes? This man did not get to where he is today, by being anyone’s fool.
    And he’d had to put up with the most disgracefully xenophobic Press who sided with “nice wholesome Malky” against the “oriental Bond villain”.
    Well, now you tell me that Malky is off to Selhurst Park. Sad, if that happens.
    Sad for Palace fans, because he will not hack it at EPL level. Plus alas, I don’t reckon he is kosher.
    Sad also, because in Neil Lennon they could have had a manager with real intelligence and footballing nous.
    That said, I am still hopping mad at Lennon for telling Malky to “get real” and bid £12.5m for his vastly overpriced Kenyan, after he had stolen two City stars for the square root of bugger all.
    Fortunately Vincent called a halt at £9m, otherwise the two Ms would invariably continued like kids in a candy shop, and SPENT SPENT SPENT.
    Anyway, here endeth my lesson.
    Let me end by stating the obvious my opinion is not yours Paul. And I respect your views as ever.
    And I realise that Twain was so right when he said that “difference of opinion is what makes for horse races”!
    Vive la difference!


    * That is the vogue phrase in football these days.
    It has taken over from “well documented”: the phrase that reigned supreme for the previous 5 years.

  2. Dai Woosnam says:

    Golly …what news, Paul !!


    Dear Vincent,

    I take my hat off to you.
    First for being too wise a man to let the two of them pull the wool over your eyes.
    And second, for having waited your moment.

    And now you have well and truly SHAFTED the blighters!
    What DELICIOUS timing!


    Now as a tribute to you, we need all the fans BEHIND you on the trivial shirt colour issue.
    And we need the manager to be as strong as Don Revie was, back in 1961, to push through the hotly disputed change to all white, from the Leeds traditional colours of yellow and blue.

    Like Revie, Ole arrived when the colour change had already been implemented, but was still being hotly disputed. Now Ole, you must step up to the plate on this issue.

    And dear South Wales Echo, do not act like Fifth Columnists on this matter. Your job as a newspaper is to LEAD public opinion, not follow the mob.

    And I know that many sincere fans are the quintessential antithesis of “mob” members, but I am afraid that when you lie down with xenophobic dogs, you will get up with fleas.

    All you will do is rock any promotion boat that may be sailing.

    “Xenophobic”? Let’s be straight here: strike that word, and instead insert the word RACIST.

    Many Cardiff fans do not value Vincent Tan because he is a Malaysian of Chinese extraction.
    Yet that man has done more for Cardiff City than anyone in my longish lifetime.

    And how I also love the fact that this week Vincent succeeded in winning the Spygate judgment. What timing again! Forget the trivial fine from the FA.

    I note that Cardiff are now suing Palace for their bald-faced lie. If Steve Parrish has anything about him, then he will sack Iain Moody immediately.


    Well, for on 11 Apr 2014 – Moody denied the allegations, telling The Sun: “That is incredibly, extraordinarily untrue. That is untrue, completely untrue.”

    Iain Moody has brought shame on Crystal Palace by telling a lie not once, but THREE times in just two sentences.

    And if that was not enough in itself, his texts and emails in the Daily Mail article are staggeringly inappropriate…and would lead to instant dismissal in most jobs.

    So well done, Vincent Tan. I salute you! And out of respect for you and to make you happy, even though I initially wanted to stay blue, I will now be “Red until I die”. Like Richard Burton, a man who decided to wear one item of apparel coloured red, all his adult life.

    Dai Woosnam

  3. The other Bob Wilson says:

    Speaking as someone who was advocating that we sign Brayford some six months before we actually did, you are preaching to the converted as far as he goes Dai.

    I’ve done a piece this morning about the Daily Mail story, so won’t bother replying to you regarding what you say about Messrs Mackay, moody and Tan.


  4. Dai Woosnam says:

    Thanks Paul.
    Can’t fault you.
    But you have read one line of mine the wrong way, methinks.
    When I said “But you are proving my initial feelings re Brayford right …again and again” …that was emphatically NOT a criticism of you!
    I am simply saying that your excellent reports that stress how good Brayford is playing, are proving ME right every time.
    Not YOU wrong!
    I always KNEW you were pro the boy.

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