An away draw for City despite one of their players going on a killing spree – allegedly.

Coming up to two months into his job at Cardiff, it’s interesting to compare where Neil Warnock’s Rotherham side were at this stage with what is happening at his current club. Warnock started off at Rotherham with a 0-0 draw against Birmingham, then lost the next two, but by the time he had been there a month, they were winning at places like Sheffield Wednesday and the climb clear of the bottom three was well under way.

Six weeks into Warnock’s tenure at Rotherham, they went to Portman Road and beat Ipswich 1-0. Now, I think most observers would look at the Cardiff squad and the one Warnock had at Rotherham and conclude that he has more talent available to him at his current club than he did at his previous one. Certainly, if transfer fees paid are any criteria in measuring playing ability, then Cardiff are a much better group of players than Rotherham’s were.

So, why is it that getting City away from the bottom three is proving to be a tougher task for Warnock than it was at Rotherham?

I can think of a few answers to that question. First, despite all of that transfer spending, Warnock inherited a squad at Cardiff which lacked balance with a general lack of quality and variety up front in particular – we have too many of the same type of player when it comes to strikers and wingers and the same criticism can also be applied to our central midfielders.

Second, although Warnock has already taken some steps towards improving this situation, we still don’t have enough pace and dynamism in the squad (particularly going forward) and, third, a group of players not generally used to fighting relegation battles have found it hard to cope with the situation they find themselves in – again, there is evidence to suggest that Warnock has gone some of the way towards rectifying this fault.

When all’s said and done though, the league table tells you that Ipswich are not as good a side as they were last season and they have a manager who is coming under pressure from some supporters because, so far, he has not done as good a job at putting together a promotion challenging squad on a very limited budget, when compared to others, as he normally does.

Rotherham were able to win at Ipswich at a time when that club were still genuine challengers for a Play Off spot last season, Cardiff went there at a time when home fans must be looking downwards, rather than upwards, for an indication of how their campaign will end and yet they couldn’t win.

Aron Gunnarsson puts us into the lead after Bartosz Bialkowski had dropped Peter Whittingham’s corner. Yet another goal from a set piece which begs the question, can we only score by preying off the mistakes of our opponents or are all goals scored, whether in open play or from dead ball situations, down to a mistake?*

Don’t get me wrong, any away draw is not bad in the position we find ourselves in and, of course, our cause was not helped by the fact that we were reduced to ten men for the last quarter of the game – I’ll have my say on the Sol Bamba furore later, but, in general terms, we’re going to find getting clear of the drop zone much tougher if we persist in our recent habit of picking up stupid red cards when we play away (Lee Peltier’s challenge on a player like Jack Grealish having already been booked was a daft one).

On the face of it, City were somewhat unlucky as the outstanding Aron Gunnarsson (a runaway leader in any poll for City player of the year so far now as far as I’m concerned) hit a post from twenty five yards and then the same player diverted a shot from Luke Varney that Ben Amos seemed to be able to save into the net to give the home team an equaliser.

Perhaps the most heartening thing to come from the match was the way that City seemed to finish the game the stronger as they pushed on for a winner despite their one man disadvantage.

Going back to the start of the game, Warnock hinted that he would be looking at different approaches from his team for the quartet of “easier” looking fixtures, which started yesterday, compared to what we had faced in the previous four and, on the face of it, he stayed true to his word.

When I first saw the team for yesterday’s match, it seemed that we had reverted to the three centrebacks system favoured by Paul Trollope earlier in the season. Matt Connolly was still in the team, despite Lee Peltier returning after his ban, so it looked like he and Joe Bennett would be full back/wing backs with Connolly moving inside alongside Sean Morrison and Bamba.

What we got though was essentially a 4-4-2 where Bennett featured as a left midfielder, with Gunnarsson and Whittingham paired in the middle and Junior Hoilett pushed up to partner the fit again Rickie Lambert – Joe Ralls dropped to the bench, while the absence of Frederic Gounongbe from the squad suggested he was one of those worst afflicted by the stomach bug which hit the camp in the days leading up to the game.

I must say that, albeit from a distance of around 250 miles, that system has a defensive look to it which doesn’t fill me with much confidence that it will be the way that we climb clear from the bottom three. I can see some logic in the use of Bennett further forward, but his selection ahead of someone like Anthony Pilkington or Craig Noone left us with even fewer possible/likely goalscorers on the pitch and a feeling that we were even more reliant on set pieces for any goals we scored.

Gunnarsson may be performing a lot better now than he was then, but anyone who watched us play on a regular basis during the mind numbing 2014/15 season will know that 4-4-2  with Gunnar and Whittingham in central midfield simply didn’t work two years ago and, with the latter fast closing in on his mid thirties, it’s hard to see how and why things will be any different in the medium to long term this time around.

I still maintain that if Whitts is going to be in your central midfield, you need two others alongside him. Neil Warnock could, quite reasonably, counter that by stating that we have got into our current position by, broadly speaking, playing three in central midfield, so let’s go with just two in there which will enable us to get someone up front alongside Lambert.

The main reason why I cannot see this working over a series of games is that, while I accept possession of the football isn’t the ball all and end all that perhaps I once thought it was, we are seeing so little of it lately that I can see there being repeats of the sort of stuff we saw in the second half of the Brighton match and the latter stages when we were playing Huddersfield. Our opponents completely dominated possession during these times and we cannot have the same happening when entertaining Wolves and Barnsley in games where we need to pick up an absolute minimum of three points and, sorry, previous experience tells me that 4-4-2 with Whitts as one of a central midfield two won’t see us getting those points.

Anyway, three games in a week will represent a test for some of our more senior players which Neil Warnock has hinted may be beyond them these days, so there has to be a possibility that we’ll see a different approach, both tactically and in terms of personnel, when a Wolves team with just one win in their last eleven matches arrive on Tuesday.

There will have to be at least one change of course to the team following the incident which has made so many headlines since yesterday’s game – Sol Bamba’s red card.

Everyone and their dog has been having their say about this “outrage”, but, before I have mine, I should emphasise that what I say is based purely on these pictures only. I’ve read a claim from someone who was at the game that Bamba pushed our physio over with such force as he tried to treat him that he landed on his head and so, there is the possibility that the player may have acted in a far worse manner than the pictures show – for now though, I can only comment on what’s in the pictures.

One other thing, I’ve seen Bamba described as a “hothead” and “volatile” since the sending off, but while it is true that he certainly plays in a wholehearted and physical manner, a look at his disciplinary record since he started playing in this country at Hibs in 2006/07 strongly suggests that while this may have been true at one time, it’s not any more.

Four red cards (including two in 08/09 to go with twelve yellows picked up that season) in his first three years in Scotland indicate that Bamba was no stranger to suspensions when at Hibs, but in the seven and three quarters years since his straight red in an Edinburgh derby in early 2009, the centreback had not been dismissed once until yesterday.

Yes, Bamba has accumulated between five and nine yellow cards in each completed season since then, but, as far as I can tell, there have only been two one game suspensions for five accumulated bookings since 2008/09 – hardly the record of a volatile hothead I’d say.

Bamba’s reaction to a challenge by Ipswich’s Jonathan Douglas (maybe there’s a bit of “history” between the two men?) was right out of character then, but, even if the foul of the Republic of Ireland international was a lot nastier in reality than it looks in that video. it’s still hard to find any justification for Bamba behaving as he did – it was completely over the top even when you consider things like possible provocation.

Neil Warnock argues with Sol Bamba as he confronts the fourth official – from the pictures I’ve seen it was the intervention of Assistant Manager Kevin Blackwell that calmed the situation down enough for Bamba to be accompanied to the dressing room without further outbursts.*

Speaking after the match Neil Warnock sought to blame referee James Adcock for his decision to play an advantage after the foul claiming that the whole thing would have panned out differently if a free kick had been awarded. I’m not sure about that – the video shows Adcock talking to Douglas about the foul after play had been stopped to allow Bamba to be treated, so he not only acknowledged that a foul had been committed, but also that it was worth calling the player concerned aside to talk to him about.

So, if it was the ref’s actions that were responsible for Bamba’s reaction, then it seems to me that it can only be for him not showing Douglas a card for his challenge and it had nothing to do with whether an advantage was played or not.

Peter Whittingham doesn’t tend to play such passes these days, but there was a time when a ball reaching an unmarked Whitts in the centre circle (like it did yesterday after Douglas’ foul) might have seen a City forward running through on goal within two or three seconds. What would Neil Warnock’s reaction have been if such a pass had been played yesterday, only for it to be brought back because the whistle had been blown as Whitts played the pass to give us a free kick for Douglas’ foul?

I reckon our manager got it wrong this time, his comments were made with the benefit of hindsight and, like hundreds in his profession before him, he sounds like someone who wants to have his cake and eat it.

To be fair to Mr Warnock, he did say he couldn’t condone what Bamba had done and conceded that the inevitable three game ban that will follow would be a right and proper punishment for his player’s actions.

However, to read some and hear some of the comments made in the media right after the incident, it’s hard not to start thinking that a three game ban is nowhere near enough punishment. Within minutes of Bamba being sent off, I was listening to comments about him having assaulted his manager, other staff, some team mates and the fourth official and the conversation was veering off into what sort of punishment he could expect for laying his hands on one of the officials – they had already decided Bamba was facing a long break from the game before 5 o clock on Radio 5!

I’ll say again, that I’m going entirely here on what the pictures I’ve seen so far show and I must say that, if Bamba’s reaction was completely over the top then the same applies to virtually everything that has appeared on all of the various forms of media about the incident since yesterday evening.

I’ve seen pictures which show Bamba pushing his team mate Anthony Pilkington away as he tries to calm him down and the player also shoves his manager when Warnock grabs hold of him while Bamba is assaulting the fourth official. Let me emphasise here though that the assault being suffered by the fourth official, as well as the ref, was of the verbal kind, not the physical kind and, as such, I see no reason why there should be any call for a three game ban to be made any longer upon the intervention  of the football authorities.

As far as I know, there are no plans for Preston pair Jermaine Beckford and ex City striker Eoin Doyle to be given a further punishment for the fight they had last weekend at Sheffield Wednesday and so why should it be any different for Sol Bamba?

There was an internal punishment from the club for both of the Preston players and, given what Bamba did to Messrs Pilkington and Warnock, it seems right that City react in the same way. However, there is a punishment for both player and his club in that they now face three games that were being seen as the opportunity to get Neil Warnock’s record for his first dozen matches at Cardiff to stand comparison with his first twelve at Rotherham without someone who has been an inspiration for all, both in terms of his play and his leadership, since he arrived at the club.

According to our manager, Bamba was “distraught” in the dressing room after the game. I can’t help thinking of those times when I’ve done or said something wrong. knew very quickly that it was wrong, but my own stupid pride prevented me from admitting this to others – I reckon that’s how Bamba probably felt in the minutes after his “meltdown”, he’s has been and will be punished enough already and his actions (on the evidence I’ve seen up to now at least) do not deserve the feeding frenzy the media are trying to whip up.

*pictures courtesy of









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9 Responses to An away draw for City despite one of their players going on a killing spree – allegedly.

  1. paul says:

    Sorry I agree with most things you say but I feel you are totally wrong about the idiot ref. I stated my feelings about refs after the Newcastly game so I will not go through it again. As far as refs and the corrupt hierachy go have you all realised how 2 sent of newcastle players had their red cards overturned!!!!!! Hmmmmm.
    Regarding yesterdays idiot, yes he allowed play to continue, Correctly. While doing that he should have watched the game while going towards Bamba to tell him he would penalise the sneaky coward Douglas when play stopped.
    The challenge was studs up over the top and stamping down. Possible leg breaker????
    How would we react, I think I may have reacted in the same way.
    I was listening to Ratcliffe on the radio and he commented how often the Ipswich players were going in high and late. now if the buffoon had stamped (no pun intended)
    his authority on them then this may not have happened, but at least the city players wouldhave known they had some protection.
    Douglas should have had the red but the buffoon did even show him a yellow. As far as him talking to Douglas, it was the coward douglas who hid behind him as he was quaking with fear due to Bamba’s reaction. He was a big boy to go over the top but not big enough to stand away from the ref.
    Was a red card correct?? Yes, No, possibly but one thing is for sure the ref did not have to do it. He made a choice not to card the coward so why didn’t he either ignore Bamba’s reacton or just show him a yellow?? In my opinion the refs love penalising the welsh teams more than THEIR ENGLISH teams and he probably enjoed doing it.
    Going by a statement fromthe egg chasing fraternity, It was just hand bags and 20 paces. Pathetic in reallity.

  2. Anthony O'Brien says:

    In one of the recent away games (perhaps Brighton or even earlier, but not that long ago) I seem to remember Bamba having to be held back by his own players. Paul notes that Bamba’s reaction was “right out of character”, which may well be true as a rule, but because of this reaction any manager of an opposing team would inevitably get to know that Bamba could be encouraged to lose his temper. I’m not saying that Ipswich set out to provoke him, but there seem to have been an inordinate number of high tackles and other malpractices yesterday. I’m not trying to excuse Bamba’s idiotic reaction — just the opposite — but what he has done now is make a rod for his own back. In every game we are likely to see him provoked and tormented in the hope that he will “lose it” as he did yesterday. This is something the manager will have to take into account when he selects the team and decides how he wants his players to perform, but surely he will have the nous to solve the problem.

    Talking of football nous, Paul has once again provided us with an essay in perceptive comment and analysis on yesterday’s game. He clearly knows what he’s talking about, and to my mind his judgements and insights, always well written, are a delight to read.

  3. Anthony O'Brien says:

    On reflection, I think the AWAY game where Bamba lost it was probably Villa — certainly not Brighton which was HOME. Apologies.

  4. Barry Cole says:

    Now as I see it the referee was correct in his judgement so I am going to tackle yesterday’s game in reverse. We had three really good chances in the last few minutes and with ten men we played some delightful football.
    In regards to bamba, having seen all he has achieved since coming here and although I don’t condone it, I seem to think there may be something else behind his very large toys he pushed out of his pram.
    I have no doubt that he is regretting it but we all have done something similar sometime.
    The incident doesn’t change my opinion of his stature in bringing a better balance to the Cardiff team.
    I cannot believe some of the remarks like he will never play again for Cardiff, honestly which planet are they on.
    Warnock got it wrong about the ref stopping the game as I think he did everything right. But I never saw the actual foul so I take it that the ref was keeping the flow going and that would have been to our benefit because we were in the ascendancy at that stage.
    Was there anything else that went on ?
    I don’t think anything would have been said had he not tackled the fourth official or was it the linesman.
    I couldn’t see Ipswich scoring and it had to be a lucky goal for that to happen. Had gunnarson not deflected the shot Amos would have saved it.
    So to the first half where we may not have dominated possession we certainly had more efforts on goal and created more.
    Right from gunnarson hitting the post I felt that we looked competitive and the team played as a unit compared to Ipswich .
    So having tackled the game in reverse, I have no doubt it was 2 points lost here. I cannot fault the teams effort and I can see we are getting better and better with the players we have. But it is glaring that we still are unable to find the net more than once a game on average, we don’t feed lambert enough and we definately need more speed.
    All in all I don’t think the change from bamba to manga will change anything as we seem to be a lot more effective in the back four. Not only that I like the way we are playing knowing it will only get better.
    I will be honest I expected 10 points from the four games , that’s still on but it’s become a bit harder now.
    Let’s see what Tuesday brings my confidence hasn’t been shattered yet.

  5. Russell says:

    Thanks Paul , your comparison of our position now v Rotherhams last year is interesting, yes we have round pegs In square holes however as you point out the talented we have to hand should be better and versatile enough, my guess is Rotherham wanted to survive more than we do , and their less talented squad played by the instructions to the full as requested by NW, and they had better pace.

    As for yesterday the draw was a banker , with or without Bamba,whose passion and commitement we should feed from, I know in my palying days incidents lkke this can gel a unit tighter togther , I would not be surprised if the sending off has a positive spin within the squad, which will be tested over the next two games , the ban thankfully takes in two winnable home games and an away trip to Brentford ,returning for Brighton away.

    Who was to blame ,why and how evil Bamba is doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things ,all that matters, whoever comes in , plays to their strengths as delivers as Bamba did and we get results.

    Upward and onward I say , didn’t see hear or watch the game so can’t really comment, other than it was a half decent point and we need to win our home games ,or we could go down .

  6. Dai Woosnam says:

    Thankyou, Paul…as ever.
    And the previous posters.

    There was a time when we were getting a bit enthused over Russell Slade’s initial success, but there was one voice telling us every week NOT to get carried away with our collective euphoria.
    That voice belonged to Mr Barry Cole.
    And even though we may have thought him a bit of a Jeremiah, guess what?
    His gloomy predictions were vindicated.

    But now, fast-forward a couple of years, and strange things have happened. Whereas even paid up members of the Neil Warnock Fan Club like me, genuinely think relegation this season to be almost on the cards, there is one voice here every weekend who tells us all to lift our spirits and look toward the heavenly pastures of the sunlit uplands of the Championship, where we shall surely be in just 4 months.

    And who is that man? Why…it is dear Barry again.

    It is almost as though he is a throwback to the great Religious Revival of 1904-5 which swept South Wales. It is as though Evan Roberts has filled Barry’s whole being with POSITIVE BELIEF.

    Such a change in a man in a year…well, it is almost Biblical. And for the record Barry, we all hope you are as right this time, as you were two years ago.

    And I loved that bit where Barry says that he will not be thinking …
    How strange “the change from Bamba to Manga”…

    In the jukebox in my head, I can just hear Ella Fitzgerald singing that line in “Every Time We Say Goodbye”…viz.,

    And how strange the change from Bamba to Manga

    [Forgive me folks, but such witterings keep me off the streets at night...and amuse ME, at least!]

    Before signing off, let me get “on topic” a bit more.

    Fifty years ago, almost to the week (17th December 1966) City played Ipswich at Portman Road. I was there. The game ended 0-0. My favourite player in that team had a stormer. Gareth Williams… what a wonderful wing half he was*. Brian Harris also played well, as did the still 17 year old John Toshack.

    At the end of the game I slowly walked back to the railway station to get the train to Manningtree, so as to change to the coast line to get to my bedsit in Clacton-on-Sea.

    To my amazement, who should be on the platform waiting for that same train – first stop Manningtree – were the whole City team, and in front of them were two huge wickerwork kit baskets on wheels…ready to go into the guard’s van.

    How times have changed, eh? And gee…there was no time for players to face the press back then !! They had a train to catch !!

    * last I heard of him he was running the Sir Winston Churchill pub on Gran Canaria. He is 75 years old now. Hope he is still enjoying life.

  7. Barry Cole says:

    Well said , I have a worry with the synergy as I hope I don’t get that nervous breakdown although it was pretty close with slade in charge.
    Let’s see what this next week brings I am looking for the six points

  8. The other Bob Wilson says:

    Thanks for the replies everyone. Cardiff City World subscribers are able to watch a version of the Sol Bamba sending off that shows more of what happened than appeared on Sky and Chanel Five on Saturday in the Extended Highlights package that appears on the club website – here are my thoughts on the incident after having seen these new pictures;-

    The extended highlights of the game on the club website have the best view of the incident I’ve seen so far. There is a slowed down close up of Douglas’ challenge on Bamba (the picture quality isn’t too great mind) and the challenge is a bit more naughty than I thought it was, but it’s hardly the “leg breaker” and automatic red card offence that I’ve seen some claim it to be – definitely a free kick and, perhaps, a yellow card, but no more than that.

    I would have expected there to be much more of a reaction from other City players if the tackle had been as bad as it has been made out to be by some, but they carry on playing while Bamba is down and it takes a while before the ball is put out for a throw in – hardly the actions of players incensed by a really bad tackle on one of their team mates.

    It’s when the physio comes on that things start getting a bit strange, because, for a while, Bamba allows him to get on with his job as normal. However, after about ten seconds, it’s obvious that something happens which makes Bamba lose it and it’s then that he shoves the physio and knocks him over – the force involved would not have been enough to knock him over if he had been stood up, but he was squatting as he treated Bamba and so could not keep his balance.

    It certainly looks as if something was said or done to upset Bamba, but, given that he completely ignores the physio as he gets up and starts walking infield, it cannot have come from the poor bloke treating him who must have had the shock of his life. The commentator says that the nearest Ipswich player to Bamba as he was lying on the floor, David McGoldrick, has “clearly” said something to upset the City player and, perhaps, that’s right, but, after a bit of pushing and shoving with him, Bamba seems less interested in continuing with that and more in speakign to either the ref or Douglas (who is being lectured by the official for his challenge).

    From here, the coverage becomes much the same as in the pictures from Sky and Channel 5 we’ve already seen. Pilkington intervenes and gets shoved by Bamba for his trouble, Morrison then leads Bamba off to the sidelines, where he starts having a go at the fourth official, but the pictures show that the red card is only produced after Neil Warnock becomes involved – if anything, I’d say the ref was a bit slow in sending Bamba off given what had been going on before the clash with our manager.

    Watching it all set me thinking of two things. Firstly, the part in that recent documentary about the game at West Brom where a team of black players took on a team of white players when George Berry told of how he snapped and went into the crowd to confront someone who had been racially abusing him as he walked off the pitch after a game and second, a reserve team game from around fifteen years ago at the old Leckwith stadium against Luton reserves where, in a match where there had barely been a foul, Des Hamilton suddenly knocked an opponent (his name was Bayliss I believe) down with a single punch to his face – Hamilton was walking off before the ref had got his red card out and it later emerged that he had been racially abused by the player he punched.

    Bamba’s reaction is like someone who has seen or heard something that makes him lose it and it does make me wonder if something was said to him about the colour of his skin, but, there is quite a bit to suggest that, whatever got Bamba upset, it was not of a racial nature;-

    1. McGoldrick is black himself, so, to me at least, it would make no sense at all for him to say anything racist to Bamba.
    2. If there was a racist remark made by someone, there were a few other City players around who would have had to have heard it as well and yet, apart from those who were trying to calm Bamba down, there was no reaction at all from them when you would have thought they would have got involved to the extent that there would have been a much bigger fracas if something of a racial nature had been said.
    3. After the red card had been shown, Craig Noone comes to the touchline and it’s pretty clear that he is not happy with what his colleague has done – if there had been something that had happened which would explain, or partly excuse, Bamba’s behaviour, it’s hard to imagine that Noone would have reacted as he did.
    4. I would have thought City would have issued some sort of statement on the matter by now if there had been an allegation or feeling that racist abuse was the reason why Bamba reacted as he did.

    So, although there is now more of the incident available to Cardiff City World subscribers at least, if anything it only makes what upset Bamba so much harder to figure out.

  9. Colin Phillips says:

    Like you, Paul, I thought something had been said to, or about, Bamba for him to ‘lose it’ in the fashion he did.

    Difficult to argue with your rationalisation of what happened.

    Only Bamba can enlighten us I feel.

    Tuesday’s and Saturday’s games now become almost ‘must win’ games and without Bamba who has been outstanding in a defence that has been leaking goals. Let us hope that a couple of our ’strikers’ suddenly find the target.

    Anxious times!

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