“A Malky side” spirit all but gone.

CoymayIt’s not the end of the world to get tonked in your local derby as Cardiff City were by 3-0 at the Liberty Stadium last night. After all, Everton suffered a heavier defeat at the hands of Liverpool recently and Newcastle were beaten by the same 3-0 margin  by Sunderland at St. James’ Park only last weekend, whilst in Manchester, United were turned over 4-1 by City at the Etihad back in September. It hurts, but life still goes on as before and the objectives the beaten team have are still the same as they were before – in City’s case, the goal is to avoid relegation and, in basic terms, the task is now slightly harder than it was just before we kicked off yesterday evening.

A Swansea win did not surprise me. Right from the moment news of the Laudrup sacking became public I believed our task had been made much harder and the jacks’ return to basics in the shape of the appointment of Gary Monk was always likely to work if the team went with him because, painful though it might be for City fans to admit, they simply have better players than us.

Football isn’t always as straightforward as that though and inferior teams can often overcome their supposed betters if their spirit, character, effort, team work and organisation is better than the oppositions, but the trouble is, Cardiff City have been in decline for a period of more than four months when it comes to those qualities.

Another uneasy defensive showing by Fabio who, based on his two games for us so far, seems better suited to playing wide midfield to me. *

Another uneasy defensive showing by Fabio who, based on his two games for us so far, seems better suited to playing wide midfield to me. *

Back in early October, I called my reaction piece to our 2-1 defeat to Newcastle “So unlike this group of players”. I did so because their first half display against the Geordies lacked characteristics which supporters had come to take for granted over a period of two years or more. Even those who now rubbish the man and say he had to go, must surely have to admit that the term “a  Malky (Mackay) side” was meant as a compliment for much, if not all, of our former manager’s time with us?

After all, “a Malky side” was taken to be one that was strong in those qualities I mentioned earlier which enable so called inferior teams to triumph over their supposed betters. For much of the time during the previous two seasons, City had better quality than the sides they faced and when you put that with the properties of “a Malky side”, it becomes a pretty potent mix – yes, the football might not have been the most entertaining, but in tight matches it was often the team’s spirit and work ethic which made the difference.

Now, I can understand anyone reading this thinking that these are just the ramblings of someone who makes it obvious on the messageboards that he was a supporter of Malky Mackay (in fact, I still say he’s the best manager I’ve seen at the club) trying to say that we wouldn’t be in the mess we are now if we hadn’t sacked him. That’s simply not true though, Malky’s gone now and there is simply no way of knowing how different, or similar, things might be to how they are now if he were still here.

No, what I’m talking about are qualities which helped make Cardiff City sides more than the sum of their parts, made them hard to play against and even harder to overcome – our former manager used to say his teams would come off the pitch with sweat on their shirts and that’s a good way of summing up what I’m talking about, it’s just that “a Malky side” is a useful and shorter way of summarising the mixture of qualities I’m referring to.

Truth be told, we were well down the road in the transformation from being “a Malky side” even while the man himself was still here – the “performances” at places like Norwich, Villa, Palace and in his last match against Southampton contained very few of the characteristics that had epitomised his sides and, in all honesty, we looked like a team who were destined for the drop in all of them.

The league matches we’ve played since then have either been against strong outfits where it was quite easy to put a positive spin on things (i.e. the three away defeats in January), or against sides around us in  the table and it is these games where we’veshown, in alarming fashion, how much the team have regressed in terms of being “a Malky side”. The four matches we’ve played against relegation rivals since Mackay’s sacking have seen us tamely surrender a two goal lead in the dying minutes against Sunderland, play in such a flat manner and show such a lack of belief against West Ham, scrape a lucky win against a Norwich team which dominated at least two thirds of the game and collapse in such an emphatic manner in the second half last night.

Only the first of those games was not played under Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s watch and, unfortunately, it’s true to say that, apart from a very brief spell against Norwich, we have looked a lot less like “a Malky side” than we did for the majority of the Sunderland match where we turned in our best attacking performance in ages, only to then become as timid as we had looked against Southampton two days earlier.

Sadly, all of the evidence so far says that Ole has failed to rediscover and instill the qualities which had begun to go missing under Mackay, so where have they gone and why aren’t they coming back?

The thing which makes our position such a difficult and worrying one in my opinion is that there is no straightforward answer to that question – it’s certainly too simplistic to pin the blame for what is going  wrong on one person. For example, Mackay’s legacy has been tarnished by some inept transfer dealings last summer, but I maintain that no other manager in the Premier League had to do his job against the disruptive and shambolic background that he had to put up with during his last three months at the club – despite this, Mackay’s team was never in the position that this one is now.

Much as I would like to blame Vincent Tan entirely for our predicament, I can’t. Yes, the club has been a joke off the pitch, yes I believe he has contributed hugely to the drip, drip drain of confidence we’ve seen in the team in general and certain players in particular since those days when we were beating Man City, going toe to toe with Everton and playing Fulham off the park and yes, he made a complete pigs ear of sacking Mackay. However, it wasn’t Tan who decided to spend all of that money on Andreas Cornelius (just what effect would having a player on those reported wages who was performing in such mediocre fashion have on a dressing room that owed so much to a “all for one, one for all” mentality?).

So influential last week, so anonymous last night - Wilfried Zaha has added match winning qualities to a squad which was short of such things, but he needs to contribute far more when the game is more of a battle like it was last night (that criticism could be aimed at many of his team mates mind).*

So influential last week, so anonymous last night – Wilfried Zaha has added match winning qualities to a squad which was short of such things, but he needs to contribute far more when the game is more of a battle like it was last night (that criticism could be aimed at many of his team mates mind).*

Say what you like about Tan, he has provided the funding for both of our managers this season to have come up with better than they have done, so should we be looking to pin the blame on Ole? Most managers little more than a month into their job can claim that it still isn’t their team, but he has had the opportunity to bring in seven new players and, as far as they go, there’s a very damning statistic against our new manager which emerges from last night – not one of the septet of new players was on the pitch at the final whistle after the three of them that started (did Fabio, Zaha or Jones have any sweat on their shirts when they came off?) had been withdrawn.

Being honest, I see little or no sign of improvement in the team under Ole’s management, but, in his defence, I believe we are now seeing what a tough task he inherited. Team morale seems on the floor after an autumn and early winter which saw results and performances levels plummet against a backdrop of open warfare between the former manager and the club owner.

Ole cannot be blamed for what went on before, just as I find it very hard to blame Malky for what’s happened since his departure. The one constant is Vincent Tan, but, in public at least, he’s not being anywhere near as disruptive as he was when Malky was boss. All three of those individuals should be carry the can to some extent or another, as should a bunch of players who have lost or, in some cases, never had what it was that made them into “a Malky side”. Such an outfit would never have subsided as meekly as City did last night and, unless Ole and his squad can carry off what would be a pretty remarkable transformation in turning the no hopers from the Liberty into “a Malky side” in time for the Villa and Hull matches, I think it’s back to the Championship for us.        

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11 Responses to “A Malky side” spirit all but gone.

  1. Howard Tucker says:

    A good article and I agree with much of what was said. The fact is that the team did not play at all well. They looked a “relegation side” yesterday! The team has yet to “gel” under Ole and that “extra” drive that has been in the team was “dormant” against a very good looking swans side (yes, Although a Bluebird supporter for over 50 years, I applaud the Swans for a good team performance and good goals, despite some very questionable defending!). We have the quality to stay in the top tier – Ole is still experimenting. The players need to step up their determination to not only get possession, but to create something with it AND fight all the way! Bellamy was an inspiration and the only outfielder who still displayed that “extra”. “Come on you Blues” Villa at home on Tuesday – we can stay in this division – proves it to us!

  2. anthony hall says:

    We have too many players who are just not Premiership standard. Once we were promoted the most important quality was Premiership experience which Malky did not have in management nor has our new manager. Instead of bringing in players of Premiership experience his first three signings were unknown Norwegians. Fabio, Kenwyne Jones, and Zaha who has played no Premiership matches this season are not the answer. Defence is non existent. We need a 11 Craig Bellamy’s with his skill and commitment.

  3. Geoff Lewis says:

    Hi Paul,
    Another good article and agree with all your comments including Howard’s.
    Ole’s team selection confused me somewhat. Why was Mutch and Noone on the bench and where is kct? Yesterday Rangel had the better of Zaha( he should have changed wings and brought Noone on) Jones lacked that added ingredient of finishing, the defence is a shambles , Caulker no leadership skills and he played Whiitingham again.
    My forecast is 38 points to the end of the season is that enough not sure. I thing on yesterday’s performance it is back to the good old championship.

  4. Matt N says:

    Damning with faint praise, but there is so much dross at the lower end of the table that I think We can pull off the great escape this month and in April (March and May being very tough). Saying that, performance and determination must improve. Part of the problem is fatigue (whitts) and partly that, with so many new players, these matches seem like OGS is still giving auditions to find his midfield – Kimbo was a headless chicken yesterday, and I was surprised to see him start. There is uncertainty with the back pairing – Turner was scared to put a foot wrong, so looked very ponderous – it must be obvious to him that he isn’t a trusted partner to caulker! with Cala brought in and Hudson taking his place every other game. The full backs need strong direction, but can’t see who they are going to get it from. OGS needs to bring some stability, and settle on the team quickly. Without the stability, the pressure of a relegation fight, coupled with fear for your own place in the team is a deadly combination.

  5. john Wells says:

    Hudson needs to return as soon as fit Leadership sadly lacking and one of the worst performances I’ve seen from Hudson. Man U must be laughing their heads off we actually spent money on Fabio! On the plus side this season is the tightest Premiership in a long while both at the top and bottom so there is still the opportunity to avoid the drop but we have dropped so many points this season but I suppose all the teams at the bottom can say that. 3 points at home to Villa is a must on Tuesday we can’t allow ourselves to become adrift. I thought we weren’t that bad in the first half yesterday to be honest but as soon as Routledge scored early in the Second half we collapsed.

  6. Big Al says:

    Ole must get on that training pitch today and tommorrow and find his best starting team, stick with it and earn some extra luck by showing lots of courage both on and off the field of play.
    In regards that Derby game, Ole stated the performance in the first half was satisfactory wrong – in my view it was awful. I am sure if he had selected Noone and Mutch from the start of the game we may have got the first goal. Yes – Mr Tan did say Ole was better man than our legend Malky but be warned Ole.. he didn’t say you were a better Manager!!
    Three points from the Villa game Ole…or?

  7. rhondda blue says:

    well what a shocker in all departments yesterday. marshall, bellers and medel free from criticism the rest were a shower of shite.no fight no go no urgency sloppy play sloppy passing no tackles, where do I stop, if these players can’t be up for a derby game they won’t be up for any game, it was a total disgrace and I feel for all our fans that made that trip expecting better (at least a bit of passion)there was nothing. those players should dig deep and reimburse every fan that went. I can take a loss by a better team, but it was the way we collapsed so meekly without a fight that get’s up my back, it was shocking to say the least. Ole please bring back kct because after 2 games Fabio is awful defensively he doesn’t have a clue, whitts, kim in midfield too slow and ponderous and 9 times out of 10 the ball is played backwards and we are putting extra pressure on ourselves, get the ball forward. 2 many players passing the buck, no leadership , no bottle no fight, no guts, prove me wrong against villa guys please or we are going back to the championship. I fear the damage was done in the summer when we never signed any players with premier experience.
    easily pushed around off the ball

  8. Graham T says:

    Oh dear .. oh no! All managers go on about the importance of the ‘12th man’ – the supporters .. and comments so far here – and experience of the last couple of home games – make it clear that our ‘12th man’ is seriously injured .. but yesterday some problems became very obvious : Fabio may be an attack-minded full back but full-backs are our defence and his limitations in that department have been shown again .. Kim’s skill needs room and yesterday he didn’t have it – our opponents were on our toes when we had the ball, and when they had the ball we [apart from Medel] back-pedalled away from them waiting and hoping for a mistake .. having had the courage to bring off Whitts early against Norwich, OGS yesterday should have swapped Kim for Mutch .. better I thought from Whitts – and he even had a go at shooting for goal! But we need leadership on the pitch – I like Caulker’s football but is he the on-pitch leader we need? And, apart from the misery of Ledley scoring for Palace yesterday, as I type this, Fulham – for God’s sake! – are beating ManU so Tuesday is HUGE!! Let’s hope the 11 on the pitch give we watching early reason to be the sort of 12th man we so desperately need.

  9. Dai Woosnam says:

    Well, I thank you for your well balanced piece Paul, and also the contributors to the comments section with their wise observations.

    I will just add my two pennyworth.

    I feel like the only 66 year old 13 year old in the world today. How come?

    Well, you remember how it was when you were 13 and you could “go off people” (pop groups, school classmates, etc.) at the drop of hat? Perhaps you were made of sterner stuff, but I certainly could.

    Well my love affair with Ole has lasted a full 5 minutes.

    I look at Gary Monk and listen to the impressive way he speaks, and think to myself “why in God’s name did Vincent not promote Craig Bellamy?”

    Now hey, I understand that one game proves nothing. Monk may well prove to be a disaster. But knowing how Huw Jenkins understands the skills needed to motivate players to play the Barcelona way (though as you know Paul, I’d take the Danny Malloy/Graham Moore way every time over the yawn-inducing tip tap football that Paul Abbandonato and Huw Jenkins so love), one cannot help believe that Monk will make the grade.

    And in contrast, “my” man Ole yesterday fielded a team selection that was perverse in the extreme.
    No Noone. No Mutch.
    Leaves out Cardiff’s two best players of the past 6 weeks.

    Buys Fabio ostensibly as a left back, presumably because he figured that John, the admittedly two-footed McNaughton and Lappin cannot perform at Premiership level as a left back. Yet plays Fabio at RIGHT back.
    And now I have found out why.
    He is a right footed player like his brother, but their family wanted them both to go to England together to keep each other company and combat homesickness, so persuaded Sir Alex that Fabio was happier on the left.
    He is not …and never has been.
    Now I realise that the twin brothers are pretty similar not just in looks. They are both blessed with a good engine, reasonable speed for little guys, are strong in the tackle, not much good in the air, and both are hotheads with a combined boiling point of ZERO. But I figured the difference was that Rafael was the right sided player, and Fabio the left!

    WRONG, Dai! WRONG! They have no different position: they are BOTH right backs. So, Ole has bought a right back unnecessarily, and sent out on loan the best right back in the Championship last season!

    Fabio was totally to blame for the first goal, and Declan John totally for the second. (He even turned his head twice to see exactly where Dyer was!)

    Turner was largely at fault for the third, although John gave away that senseless free kick that led to it.

    As for Zaha: as I predicted, Rangel psyched him out with his non stop riling. He tried it on Bellamy (and failed) in the first fixture: Bellamy is made of stronger stuff psychologically these days.

    As for Kenwyne …there is no point in selecting him without a winger like Noone to cross the ball.
    A thoroughly dispiriting day.
    Whatever happened to Connolly? He would be a better choice at centre back right now.
    One final thing …it was always apparent that Huw Jenkins would not take a £5m loss by offloading Bony … but would persevere till he came good. Not so with Ole and Vincent.
    Incredible how they took that massive hit on Cornelius, eh?
    Now, sit back and watch AC become the Danish Footballer of the Year again!
    *= You Could Not Make It Up (even if you tried!)

  10. The other Bob Wilson says:

    Thank you all for your comments and what strikes me is that you have all made some perfectly reasonable points, but it shows the mess we are in that they are not all about the same thing – sad to say, there are plenty of things wrong with the club on and off the pitch at the moment.

    That said, I think there is general agreement that Ole got his team selection wrong on Saturday. Now, I happen to think that the Laudrup sacking meant that, no matter who we chose, we were in for a beating because the jacks would be up for the match as opposed to going through the motions like they had been for weeks beforehand, but, decisions like the non selection of Mutch, the replacement of the admittedly defensively suspect Noone with Kimbo of all people and leaving Fabio to cope by himself on the right looked like mistakes at the time and were proved to be so once the action started.

    Geoff, I think less than thirty eight points might be enough.

    Although I accept there needs to be more leadership in the team, I’m not convinced Hudson (even if he was fit) is good enough for this league and I think we’ll see Cala start tomorrow.

    Dai, Connolly has been out injured for weeks and I don’t think a date has been set for his return yet.

  11. Dai Woosnam says:

    Thanks Paul for the update on Connolly.
    Talking of updates…
    I have just (Monday morning) heard of Andreas Cornelius scoring a hat-trick on his first game back in Denmark for FC Copenhagen!
    Is there anything left in this world to surprise us?
    Cardiff City must now be the laughing stock of Denmark. Borrowed their Footballer of the Year for 6 months, never played him in the starting X1 in the Premiership, and pay then £5m for the privilege!
    What a farce.
    And what a weekend.
    Joe Ledley rubs City’s face in the dirt with a vital goal on his debut* for relegation rivals Crystal Palace.
    This is a man City turned down £6m for and then let go for nowt, who the shrewd Tony Pulis** has just “stolen” for £800K.
    And the same weekend as Cornelius and Ledley were chickens coming home to roost, lo and behold, Ross McCormack, who City sold for a derisory £350K when he had alienated DJ by drink-driving, scored another vital goal as Leeds captain. As Middlesbrough and Cardiff – the latter astonishingly allegedly bidding £6m – recently found out, it will take £10m minimum to take the Fans’ Favourite away from Elland Road.
    So forget the debacle at the Liberty. Events in Denmark, South Norwood and Yeovil made it the most disastrous weekend in the modern history of CCFC.
    There was Malky spending money like there was no tomorrow. And now we have Ole throwing it away like there is no TODAY.
    His decision to take a £5m loss on a 19 year old with sooo many years ahead of him borders on the criminally insane. One esteemed contributor to your pages Paul, recently suggested that City put him out on loan to Newport County.
    Listen folks, get in your heads now that FC Copenhagen are a proud and successful team. A bit above Newport County standards, (much as I loved that team and used to regularly attend their home games as a youth). Copenhagen, apart from being the club – before merger – where Michael Laudrup started, also have a surprising recent pedigree.
    In Feb 2013, the mighty Glasgow Celtic lost their UEFA Champions League home game with the all-conquering Juventus, 0-3.
    In Sept 2013, FC Copenhagen DREW their UEFA Champions League home game with Juventus, 1-1.
    And less than two months later WON their UEFA Champions League home game with Roberto Mancini’s Galatasaray. True, Sneijder was not playing that night, but Drogba and the other host of stars were.
    Betcha now that an Ole successor – in the best traditions of the McCormack fiasco – will one day bid £20m of Vincent’s money for a 25 year old Cornelius. And that alas is NOT a joke on my part. Would that it were.)
    Yes, financial madness rules the day at CCS. Spending £2m on the excellent John Brayford and not giving him a Premiership start is INSANITY whichever way you cut the cards. And then sending him to Bramall Lane on loan (no doubt to become the Blades’ player of the season!) and buying the far inferior hothead Fabio for at least a similar sum, is a sign that there is no proper financial management at the club. That the lunatics have taken over the asylum.
    Vincent! Here is a cri de coeur from me! Like I say, “throwing your money away” seems to be the order of the day now at the CCS. You would not let it happen in your McDonalds franchise in Malaysia. Do NOT let it happen here. Try and stop the madness NOW.
    For whom the gods wish to destroy, they first make mad.
    Dai Woosnam
    * Paul – and this will impress the Statto in you – I reckon that Premiership history was made at Selhurst Park when three players, all making their club debuts, all scored in that one game (two players for Palace: one for the opposition).
    ** You said recently that though you respect Pulis, you do not like the way his teams play football. I want to know what is WRONG with the way his teams play football?
    (I geddit that his teams can be TOO physical, but I also know that this is not your main objection to the “Pulis way”. Yet to me, there is a real excitement about his football. Stoke never WERE a pub team. Nor are the Pulis Palace)
    There is plenty wrong with his vastly talented Charlie Adam being allowed to almost finish Gareth Bale’s career more than once, and far less talented Ryan Shawcross coming within a whisker of ending Aaron Ramsey’s dream with that horror tackle, and with Pulis yet having the brass neck to say that both players had no malice in them! But that apart, his Stoke teams played with exciting wingers, good tall strong target men, and full backs who could tackle firmly and fairly …well Wilkinson, it is true, was a Shawcross twin on occasions! And what a shrewd move to have Rory Delap teaching other Stoke players how to take a throw-in. Now he has gone, his star pupil Ryan Shotton has taken over, as their throw-in exponent.
    That throw-in is a wonderful tool at the windswept Britannia Stadium (where hurricanes can blow even on a calm day elsewhere in the Five Towns).
    Let’s hope that Aron Gunnarsson can impart his similar knowledge to the Cardiff squad, now there is Kenwyne up front. A man with physical presence at last, after years of tiny Kenny Millers and Kenny Miller Mk 2 (Fraizer Campbell), needs – nay, DEMANDS – long throw-ins and wingers like Noone in the starting selection to put in the crosses.
    But back to Stoke under Pulis. They were MUCH more than throw-ins and committed tackles.
    Who can forget their 5-0 demolition of Bolton in that semi final?
    Well done to Sir Tom BTW, for refusing to do a Cup Final version of Delilah for them! He did not want to alienate his fans in Manchester!

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