A half season of under performance? Are things really that much better in 2015/16?

CoymayYesterday’s 2-1 loss at MK Dons was another of those periodic matches which I wasn’t even able to listen to, so, although I’ll make a few general remarks about it in this piece, I don’t believe I have enough knowledge as to what happened to analyse it in any detail.

Therefore, with yesterday’s game being our twenty third league game out of forty six this season, it seems appropriate for me to concentrate more on what has happened in the first half of this season and to contemplate whether the second half of the campaign will see us improve on or decline from our current eighth position.

Before doing that, I think I should try to ascertain what “par” should be in terms of league position for this City squad. I have my own opinion on that and it’s that the current squad is one that is equipped to finish a little bit higher than last season’s eleventh, but is not good enough to make it into the top six.

However, I readily admit there are many who disagree with that assessment. If I had a pound for every time I have come across a Cardiff City fan whose opinion is influenced by the thought that “we should be doing much better than we are with this squad”, I’d be typing this from my holiday home looking out on some beautiful vista of sun, sea and sand or snow, alps and lovely, crisp, clear air rather than rainy, too bloody mild and muddy Fairwater!

Okay, I’m exaggerating there, but you get my drift – an awful lot of City fans believe that eighth position (bizarrely, we went up a place despite yesterday’s loss) does not reflect the level of ability in our squad and many of them use this as justification for the point which often follows that sentiment – Russell Slade has to go.

Craig Noone celebrates his fine goal yesterday. it came with ten minutes left and should have been enough to earn City a point from a match in which they spent long periods as the better team.*

Craig Noone celebrates his fine goal yesterday. It came with ten minutes left and should have been enough to earn City a point from a match in which they spent long periods as the better team.*

For now though, I want to concentrate on what the level of expectation is for City in 15/16. I’ve already mentioned that many supporters disagree with my assessment of our squad (in fact, it wouldn’t surprise me if a majority of them did), but, more tellingly, it appears that the view within the club is that I’ve got things wrong.

After all, our manager has said right from day one that a realistic target for the season has to be a top six finish and, in recent weeks, that opinion has received backing from those in charge of off field club management, while a few days ago, Lee Peltier endorsed earlier comments from Anthony Pilkington that a team with our level of ability should be in the top six.

So, speaking as someone who I like to think does not have a problem with admitting that they might be wrong, let’s assume I am in this case and that my assessment is an unnecessarily pessimistic one – we do have a group of players who should be delivering a top six finish come May.

One thing I think that there would appear to be general agreement on is that this season’s team is a better one than last season’s. That’s not to say that there wasn’t a large number of City fans who didn’t use the we’ve got one of the best squads in the league line last year, but, surely, all of those months spent in mid table mediocrity with, if anything, relegation, rather than promotion, looking the more likely outcome gives the lie to this?

On Boxing Day last year, we drew 1-1 at Charlton despite a first half dominance which saw us leading against a team which had been reduced to ten men – the second half saw Charlton get right on top despite their numerical disadvantage and the equaliser they got with two minutes to go was the least they deserved as City faded in alarming manner.

After that match, we found ourselves seven points behind sixth placed Watford, a not insurmountable gap perhaps, but the writing was already on the wall after a poor December and, when that was followed by an even worse January, people started looking downwards rather than upwards. However, a couple of wins over struggling sides in late February/early March meant that relegation was not a serious consideration in a last couple of months to the campaign which saw us in a fascinating battle for the honour of finishing ninth in the league!

What strikes me when I looked at the table for Boxing Day last year now is how, with eight wins, seven draws and eight defeats, our results over the second half of the campaign exactly matches the one we had for the first half – Russell Slade will probably tell you that progress was made in that second part of the season, but the results tell you otherwise.

Of course, just because we had identical records for either half of the season last time around, it doesn’t follow that it will happen this time and, although the current four point gap between ourselves and sixth place is larger than it’s been at any other time this season, you’d like to think that successive home games mean that it will be reduced again by this time next week.

So, the perception that we are better than last season is backed up by the smaller gap between us and the last Play Off position and also by a comparison between our record over the first half of this season compared to what we did from August to December in 2014.

However, when you look a bit closer, you have to wonder if our improvement is as marked as it’s generally thought to be. For example, the number of wins we’ve gained over the first twenty three matches this season (eight) is identical to last year’s figure – our improvement in terms of points is solely down to us turning two of last season’s defeats into draws this time around.

So, for all of the talk of improvements in spirit and fitness levels this season, it has only resulted in us gaining two more points than we had at this time last year. Russell Slade’s backers among our fanbase (there are a few out there!) talk about progress being made this season, but the most important gauge of any improvement from one season to the next (the number of points gained), suggests that, far from being giants steps forward, they are tiny shuffles.

It’s worth mentioning now that no side in a forty six game season has ever reached the Play Offs with sixty six points, which is what we’ll finish up with if we do what we did last year and follow our results over the first half of the season with the same outcomes in the second part of it.

Yesterday’s game saw the same frailty against teams at the lower end of the table which has been a pretty consistent factor since our return to the Championship following relegation. Before our promotion, we had a few years when we’d lose to sides at the bottom of the table, but it happened a lot less than it does now. Indeed, it’s hard to think of too many City sides from 09/10 to 12/13 who would lose an away game they generally had the better of (Birmingham) and then dominate even more in their next one and still end up being beaten like they were yesterday.

Things like this, our inability to see recent home games out after gaining seemingly comfortable 2-0 leads and our run earlier in the season where Middlesbrough’s George Friend was the only player to score a goal for Cardiff City in five games, all back the evidence of the team’s first half of the season points totals over the past two years – yes, there has been an improvement from last year, but it’s a very slight one.

What cannot, surely, be denied is that City have not been the power in this division over the last two seasons that they were in the years immediately prior to us gaining promotion and yet, consistently throughout the last season and a half there has been this clamour from many fans that we have a squad which should be finishing in the top six (i.e. performing at a level that would make them the equal of, or very close to, our teams for the four seasons up to and including our promotion in 12/13).

To be fair, you look at our goalkeeper, the depth of quality we have at centreback, at the wingers we have with big reputations and, again, the reputation and past achievements of many of the strikers still on the pay roll and you think that, in terms of ability, there is a genuine comparison to be made with those earlier teams.

However, although some of those sides from earlier in this decade included a few characters with dodgy attitudes, I would argue that, collectively, the mentality of the 14/15 and 15/16 teams falls way short of those sides – I don’t believe they match up their predecessors when it comes to professionalism either.

I suppose there is a degree of pessimism involved with any one who supports a football team, but how many of you felt, like I did, after Craig Noone equalised that, if the game had another goal in it, it would be the home side who got it? With this team, I wanted the game to end at 1-1, with those earlier sides I would have wanted it to go on because I generally felt we were the more likely scorers of a winning goal back then.

I’m grateful to Nathan Blake for articulating something which I have felt about this side for a while now. On last night’s Radio Wales phone in, he said that City were like his golf game – he’d work on his putting and when he thought he’d got that right, he’d find that his pitching had deteriorated, so he’d work on that and it would improve, only for his driving to go down the tubes. After working to put that right, he’d discover he was putting poorly again, so he was back to square one.

To continue the golf theme, that’s City under Russell Slade’s management to a tee for me. Back in August and September he would talk about how the poor away form which was endemic in the team he had inherited had been turned around – he was right, after the 2-1 win at Forest at the end of August, we had won six and drawn three of our previous ten Championship away matches.

The challenge for our manager at the time was to turn around home form which had seen us win just three out of ten at Cardiff City Stadium over the same period. To be fair to Mr Slade, for the moment at least, he has overcome that challenge – we’ve lost one in eleven games so far this season and have the seventh best home record in the division.

Unfortunately, away results have reverted to their former levels, with two wins from twelve meaning that we are a very poor fifteenth in the away form table.

It’s the same when it comes to our goals for and goals against records. Up until about six weeks ago, we all knew what Russell Slade Cardiff sides were like didn’t we. To repeat the phrase I used now and again at the time, they were “worthy, but dull” – they were diligent, hard working and defensively solid, but they had real problems when it came to scoring goals, being over reliant on set pieces for the ones they did manage to get as they struggled to create chances, let alone score, from open play.

Aron Gunnarsson and Kenwyne Jones appear to be having a difference of opinion after MK Dons' winning goal - Gunnar was one of a few City players to miss good first half chances, while Kenwyne's clearance off the line to prevent a home goal,, added to the feeling that much of his best work this season has come when he has been defending.*

Aron Gunnarsson and Kenwyne Jones appear to be having a difference of opinion after MK Dons’ winning goal – Gunnar was one of a few City players to miss good first half chances, while Kenwyne’s clearance off the line to prevent a home goal,added to the feeling that much of his best work this season has come when he has been defending.*

However, in our last eight matches, we’ve scored thirteen times with eight of them coming from open play – surely, our frugal defence, which had conceded just twelve times in our first sixteen matches would ensure we got the points return that this dramatic increase in goal power merited?

Well, no actually. We’ve let in thirteen in seven games now and so we’ve won just two and lost three of these matches. So, from “worthy, but dull”,  we’ve gone to “entertaining, but flaky”. We’ve become more interesting to watch and you can go along to home games now with a decent expectation of seeing the team win, but, with this Cardiff team and manager, there always appears to be a price to pay for this as things that you had begun to take for granted (like good defending and solid away results) disappear before your very eyes.

City are like a leaky old boat with a limited supply of corks available to plug those leaks. As one is filled, another one develops and so it becomes hard to avoid the feeling that a losing battle is being fought. Now, the crew have to take their share of the blame for the situation the good ship Cardiff finds itself in at the moment and you’d like to think that someone would remember to get that additional supply of corks next time they dock, but you wouldn’t be too confident that anyone will.

As it is, I can’t help thinking that any improvement in our away form will also coincide with more losses at Cardiff City Stadium and that a return to our old defensive solidity will see our goals drying up at the other end as we become desperately reliant on attacking free kicks and corners again.

So, is that all indicative of an outfit that is bound for a top six finish? Sorry, I can’t help thinking that I was right all along about our squad, but one thing I’m sure of is that the calls for a change of captain of the good ship Cardiff will continue long and loud whatever our results and league position! For myself, I don’t see that captain steering us to the Play Offs because I can find little evidence of the improvements needed to get us there, but, whatever us supporters may believe, it seems to me that Russell Slade is safe for a while yet because he maintains the support of the one man who really counts at the club these days.

*pictures courtesy of http://www.walesonline.co.uk/




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11 Responses to A half season of under performance? Are things really that much better in 2015/16?

  1. Dai Woosnam says:

    Thanks as ever, Paul. For your mid-season assessment.
    I won’t make any predictions, largely because my record in football forecasts is such a diabolically bad one.
    After all, I am the man who saw Dean Holdsworth as a potential Brian Clough, and Neil Lennon as the next big thing …!!
    So, I will just make a couple of observations, and then sign off for the year.

    First, I note again your mention of Kenwyne’s fine defensive qualities.
    I tell you sincerely, just as King John, who once scored 42 goals for Leeds in one season as a centre forward, came to find centre HALF back, his best position, so the same I believe is true with KJ.

    And yes I know that the estimable AMO – who Graham rightly picks out as a star turn – has claimed in these pages words to the effect that KJ lacks the effort to tackle a FISH SUPPER (let alone a rampaging Charlie Austin and his ilk), the fact still remains that I keep reading people commending KJ for his defensive work.

    So folks, if the bloke is doing some heroic defending, let’s grasp the nettle, do the obvious, and officially MAKE him an “heroic defender”.
    For he sure as heck is no attacker anymore.

    And my second observation is…
    … Paul …your dreaded old fashioned 4-2-4 is coming back!!
    Leicester and Watford are leading the charge.
    What sayest thou to that?

    Another observation is that the chap you dislike – personality wise – Steve Evans, seems to be moving the sleeping giant at Leeds the right way . (Now I have said that, watch me look even more of a dunce than usual and Leeds lose 12-0 to Forest. Just my luck.)
    Anything you want to say about him?
    I mean to say…is there a wider point here?
    Should a supporter be prepared to WELCOME a manager whose personality sets one’s teeth on edge, if the quid pro quo is that the team play WINNING FOOTBALL?
    I know that Barry will say an emphatic YES…and I fancy that all your usual contributors will.
    Me excepted of course. Well to a degree. (That is to say that I can deal with the thought of a Cardiff manager who – were he my next door neighbour – I would not rush to shoot the breeze with over the garden fence, but could not handle supporting a club with a manager who I reckon has the morality of an alley cat…say a Capello or a Mourinho.)

    And my wish for 2016 – apart from the obvious BEST OF HEALTH to you Paul and all your contributors – is that Cardiff outlaw square passes and back passes.

    Always make forward passes. And almost never to feet…but always into the space ahead.

    If the first half of this season has brought us one thing that is good that overrides all others, it is the ATTACK, ATTACK, ATTACK shout of the Old Trafford faithful.

    It must be our mantra too.

    And the gloriously likeable Claudio Ranieri’s wise advice to his players: he pointed out yesterday that there is no disgrace in losing, with the proviso that the team have set out to attack and win the game…and not negatively played for a draw. They can hold their head up high if they lose, if they have thus lost with honour.

    (To think that we once saw Italian football managers as cynical cads whose sole intention was to to squeeze the life out of a football game?! Well, Claudio gives the lie to that!)

    So, a final word to the bunch of us who inhabit Paul’s blog…we breed of men who at various stages of our lives have been totally smitten by the Bluebirds.

    What’s that quote?…something along the lines of “better live one day as a tiger, than a hundred years as a sheep”.

    Kindest, as ever,

  2. Barry cole says:

    Well Paul you really go for broke with your knowledge and I commend you on that. I will keep it short, unless slade is out in the next few days we can forget the top six. Most of the players are there, he cannot manage that. Furthermore he is unable to influence games once they start and is regularly seen unable to comprehend what has to be done next. He is so out of his depth that his quotes are totally unbelievable.
    If tan continues with him then I know he doesn’t care anymore and is just waiting for an excuse to get out.
    All this leaves me with a sour taste in my mouth as I cannot see any improvement coming while slade is in place

  3. Colin Phillips says:

    Just to say how much I enjoyed your half-season analysis.

    I would agree that we will struggle to get into the top six whilst the present manager is there, he hasn’t the flexibility to adjust to the game situation, this being patently obvious in our recent home games.

    Mind you I’m not sure that promotion (some chance) would be a good thing at the moment. I know the money would be handy but the humiliating defeats that we would suffer wouldn’t make for good watching.

    Good attacking football and a place in the top six is all we should hope for, I can never see us being a premier league side

  4. Dai Woosnam says:

    Sorry Barry, that you feel a bit down right now.
    But hey…remember it is always darkest just before the dawn.

    And that said, we cannot blame Mr Slade for goalkeeping incompetence yesterday.
    Marshy was 100% to blame for that daisy cutter from Nicky Maynard beating him from well outside the penalty area.
    And 50% to blame for the second, in that his positioning a tad too close to the near post, gave the opponent that tiny glimpse of a chance of slotting the ball just inside the far post.
    Mind you, the other 50% is down to Bruno…gee, head that ball into TOUCH …you blithering idiot !!!
    Don’t Christmas wrap it and head it straight back to the MK Dons’ attackers !!

    Does AMO really think that KJ would have defended so pathetically there?

    One cheering note to Barry: Mr Russell Slade does not get off scot-free in my book here. No manager worth his salt should allow centre backs to develop kamikaze tendencies.

    When in doubt, get it into touch or away for a corner.

    The Keiser Beckenbauer has got a lot to answer for. A half century later, centre backs are still trying to dazzle us with their footballing skills.

    Now dear Jack Charlton would not have made a Christmas present of that header.

    But Bruno might make a centre forward…who knows?

    As I say… is AMO really sure that KJ would not have better defended that MK Dons winner ?


  5. Geoff Lewis says:

    A very good report on the state of our beloved Bluebirds and the response from Dai and Barry.
    In my predictions for points for this season until yesterday it was 71 points as I thought we should win this one, but alas was it the heading by Wales on Line that jinxed it for us “Cardiff City warned man who experienced Bluebirds nightmare could ruin their Christmas”
    What happens Mr Maynard scores the first goal, not to WORRY, Noone equalises, then the usual failure at the end by our defence they score the winner, I thought Manga could have done better with his header,
    What does it all mean, my points for this season is now 68points- no chance of a play off position
    Watt is getting good reviews on his ablilty and work rate, yet we did not take advantage of this in the first half.
    I was laid back last night with a few whiskeys watching the football on channel 5, introduced by a lady and a guy who would be better off on a shopping channel.
    I noticed that some of the teams were not too bad at finishing and scoring others not so good.
    I believe that some of the footballers now playing today are not as skilful as the players of past decades, especially the ones at Cardiff City.
    Happy New Year

  6. MIKE HOPE says:

    An excellent summary of the first half of the season.If sufficient people keep saying the same thing it becomes accepted as fact even with little evidence to back it.I think this has been happening with the assertion that we have one of the best squads in the Championship-the envy of every manager apparently.Although I think this has mutated recently into the strongest bench in the ChampionshipAll the evidence however contradicts this.Before the season started the bookies offered odds of about 20-1 against our winning the Championship and they ranked us about tenth in the table.Our results are in line with this Of course this will not convince the ‘It’s all Slade’s fault’ choir because they can rightly say that the bookies’ odds reflect their views of the whole club,not just the players.The management problems that Nathan Blake compared with his golfing agonies and which you expanded upon have been mentioned by John Toshack when manager of Wales.He used the analogy of lying in bed with a too short blanket Do you keep your feet or your head warm?As far as the MK Dons game is concerned I have seen only the highlights on the Ch 5 programme that Geoff Lewis wittily and appropriately links with a shopping channel so I can only guess what went wrong.Our penchant for conceding two second half goals seems to raise questions about our fitness compared with rival teams.The second half of the season will be interesting.Will we have a new manager?I think the most likely scenario is that this will happen at the end of the season-followed by a boost in season ticket sales! In the meantime can Slade do what all managers[not just football managers] need to do i.e learn and improve with experience?Those of us who had hoped that he would abandon 4 4 2 will probably have to wait in view of its much publicised success at Leicester and Watford.He does appear to have decided that for the system to work you need a Joe Ralls rather than a current Peter Whittingham in central midfield.Can he learn that the system also needs two industrious strikers?We have seen several adjectives to describe Kenwyne Jones[some beginning with the letter L] but industrious is not one.Nathan Blake has said that Slade does not know how to get the best out of Kenwyne [music to the ears of some] and he is probably right but he goes on to suggest that he needs to be shown the kind of reverence that North Koreans are obliged to show Kim Jong-Un!Surely god like worship plus a basic £35k aweek is too much to expect at a time of austerity.One prediction I feel confident in making unless the weather improves is that we can soon expect a posting saying that our pitch is rapidly getting out of its depth in the rain caused by Slade’s incompetence and unless he is sacked a plague of locusts will descend and strip what is left of the grass.

  7. Dai Woosnam says:

    Whoever it was who said that the art of satire had died with Jonathan Swift, had clearly not bargained for our very own Mike Hope coming along a couple of centuries or so later !!
    How I loved Mike’s last flourish there. Had me again LOL.
    But that is not why I write.
    I have been trawling the BBC Sports website. A couple of things jumped out at me.
    First, the possession stats for the Soton 4-0 demolition of the Arsenal. (A game that several neutral observers reckoned should have been 7 or 8 nil.)
    Now I am wary of that site after what happened to me with the corners stats of the Cardiff v Brentford game being changed from 0-9 to 4-9,, but they are currently saying that it was Soton 35% and Arsenal 65%.
    And it does not surprise me, as it is the latest in a long line of cases where possession stats favoured the team on the end of a heavy defeat. I believe we even slightly shaded MKD on possession on Saturday, for instance.
    Football has changed. It is now a game being more and more played by teams on the fast COUNTER attack, and we are thankfully seeing much less of the slow build up from the back, boring kamikaze nonsense.
    And the biggest weakness inherent in the “possession” stat, is the fact that it does not tell you where on the pitch that possession was…!!!
    If it was in your own defensive third, then THAT is unlikely to keep future opponents awake at nights, is it? Other than the fact perhaps that they cannot sleep due to laughing with glee at the prospect of robbing you of the ball on your own doorstep.

    And, before signing off for a spell, let me say that the other thing that screamed out at me from the Beeb site was Russell Slade’s staggeringly inane comment re Bruno’s clanger at the death. If Russell (or “slade” unworthy of a capital S, as Barry would term him) genuinely feels that Bruno was trying to head the ball OUT when he so pathetically headed it back into traffic, then I recommend a quick appointment at his local Specsavers.

  8. The other Bob Wilson says:

    Just a few quick comments in reply;-
    1. Dai, not sure I ever had a go at the 4-2-4 formation and I’m equally not sure that Leicester and Watford play that formation. They both seem 4-4-2 teams to me – I believe the versions of the system played by those two teams must differ substantially from the rigid 4-4-2 we play.
    2. Kenwyne Jones’ good defending is invariably down to the work he does in the air – as AMO says, he would struggle when he had to tackle someone or shepherd them into a less threatening position. Also, I dread to think how he would cope if a team played the sort of football you advocate in your first reply against us.
    3. Barry, I only noticed this morning that we only used one substitute on Saturday. I must admit I’m baffled by that – Peter Whittingham for example has gone from being an automatic choice to a forgotten man in about a month, neither approach is correct in my view.
    4. Colin, good to hear from you – I agree that the Premier League seems a long way off at the moment, but Dai mentioned two teams who are prospering in that division and, for me, there’s not too much difference between us and them in terms of potential and facilities.
    5. Dai, I’m puzzled by your criticism of Marshall for the first goal, but agree he and Manga could have dealt quite easily with better communication and, when that is an issue between keeper and defender, you usually think that the former has to take responsibility. I wouldn’t be as critical of Manga as you are – he’s proved himself to be comfortably good enough to be a success at this level and I put what seems to have been a bit of a shaky display down to rustiness after barely having played for us during the first half of the season (injury had a lot to do with that, but our unimaginative, it has to be 4-4-2, manager doesn’t help either).
    6. Geoff, the lowest points total I came across for a team qualifying for the Championship Play Offs was 68 by Leicester in the season we won the league – at the moment, I’d say something like 73 points would get us sixth place, that’s possible, but we have seen very few truly convincing performances while amassing thirty three points, so I reckon we have to improve pretty dramatically to get forty points from our last twenty three matches.
    7. Mike, I agree with Dai, that Kenwyne Jones/Kim Jong-Un line is a classic! I’m with you about our manager in that I believe he’ll see the season out, but I’m not as sure as I once was that he’ll last much longer after that.

  9. Dai Woosnam says:

    Oh dear Paul, time for me to lie down with a cold compress on my head.
    And have a long rest.
    You are right… I meant 4-4-2 of course…as you – and all your readers – well know !!
    Indeed, the mistake was illustrative of something I have always believed (with even more passion than I believe that possession stats are the work of the Devil), and that is that this numbered tactical formation business only came about because some coaches bankrupt of grey matter, decided to make a science out of the simple.
    Look football to me, has never improved on the formation of my first 20 years on this earth.
    Goalkeeper who stood inside his goal area and not on the penalty spot. And who moved his feet before diving when shots arrive from outside the penalty area! (That is what Marshy did wrong, Paul.)
    Full backs with bald heads or crude haircuts who even Sir Stan and Sir Tom were afraid to nutmeg before the 88th minute for fear of retribution. A centre half with the heart of a lion who would not mess about like Bruno did with that daft suicidal header.
    Oh ..I will save my breath to cool my porridge.
    Thanks as ever,

  10. Colin Phillips says:

    Paul the thing Leicester have is speed, of which we are sorely lacking. Speed scares defenders. I have to believe that Leicester will be found out, much as I admire Wes Morgan’s approach to the game is he really a premier league defender, the midfield isn’t up to much.

    Watford’s success has me baffled, we played them pre-season and they gave me the impression that the players hadn’t been introduced to each other.

    Back to Cardiff, where do we go from here?

    Talk of buying Vela from Bolton, just watched the Blackburn game and the thought of him playing at Cardiff doesn’t excite.

    Watt would be a great acquisition but it ain’t a done deal yet is it.

    Have to admit I’m not a great fan of Marshall and he should never have been given the captaincy.

    Entertainment value has increased since Whitts has been out of the side.

    I think what would make a difference is a Cattermole-like player to sort out the approach.

    To be 2-0 at home and not win on a number of occasions is difficult for a supporter to accept.

    Believe Slade will be with us till the end of the season at least, perhaps longer; Tan doesn’t come to watch his side anymore so he can’t see the depths to which the side has sunk.

    Mid-table mediocrity awaits.


  11. I’ve been away and all I knew of Cardiff’s match against MKD was the result. so I’m hardly in a position to comment on the game. However, it does seem that fitness – or perhaps more crucially – concentration and/or professionalism have been somewhat lacking all season. I’m almost tempted, too, to say that Mr Slade’s half-time team talk may be another factor for our second half displays.

    Then there is this: – I’ve somewhere picked up the idea that Mr Tan is not alone as owner of Cardiff because, in harness with him at some level, is the Malaysian government (or perhaps his good friend, their prime minister). At any rate the powers that be had ideas that a successful premiership team would attract Cardiff supporters to “Visit Malaysia”. If this is the case, Mr Slade’s fate rests not on the whim of Mr Tan but on political forces within Malaysia, the very ones who started Mr Tan on his rise to riches via the McDonald’s franchise in his own country. Will they run out of patience if their investment loses too much money? How would Mr Tan then respond? We shall no doubt see in the fullness of time – or even sooner!

    Finally, Kenwyne Jones as a defender? This is the man who is usually bossed by a centre half, even the rare one who is smaller than the aforesaid KJ. Can you imagine him up against, say, Smith of Fulham, or someone with the energy and drive that Tony Watt is currently revealing? Either man would give him the run-around. His defending is only good when he is defending space, not an individual opponent.

    And now, because I forgot, belated Christmas greetings to one and all.

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