Anti climax as Manchester City win as they please at awe struck Cardiff.

I’m not going to spend a few paragraphs trying to describe what it is that makes those watching enjoy a football game that they will recall with affection in the future, but, despite the presence of one of the greatest Premier League (and old First Division) teams ever, the biggest crowd watching a Cardiff City match in more than forty years and nationwide television coverage on the BBC, our 2-0 loss to Manchester City yesterday in the Fourth round of the FA Cup didn’t possess whatever it is that makes a football game great, or even memorable, in my opinion.

I’ll accept that this is a harsh judgement, but I came away at the end of it all feeling curiously flat. Manchester City had lived up to their billing and so I suppose they had fulfilled their part of the bargain, so, presumably, it was our contribution which led to my sense of anti climax?

The trouble with being too critical of our contribution towards a game where I found it hard to shake off the feeling that, if we had scored, our opponents would have promptly gone straight up the pitch to restore their two goal lead is contained in those very words – recognition has to be given to a Man City team that were a long way from having the individual and collective off day that was required to make yesterday’s game into a memorable occasion, as opposed to the procession it became.

Right from the first whistle, the visitors looked as if they meant business and the warning bells had been ringing even before Joe Ralls was, perhaps harshly, penalised for a foul on Gundogan in the fifth minute. What followed though brought home the size of the challenge facing City as Kevin DeBruyne drilled his twenty yard free kick under the corner of a jumping City wall and into the corner of the net as Neil Etheridge looked on helplessly some ten yards away from the other side of the goal to where the ball entered the net.

In some circumstances, a goal like that would be seen as something of a fluke, but you just knew that it was not bad luck that had undone City, it was a combination of talent and attention  to detail that you see only from the very best.

For a start, De Bruyne has form when it comes to scoring free kicks in such a manner – as shown with this one from last season. Secondly, the scorer revealed after the match that Pep Guardiola had noticed during his scouting trip to watch our Third round replay win at Mansfield that all of the players in our wall had jumped when defending a free kick in a similar position.

So, combine an ability to do things with a ball that you don’t see from most other sides with a scouting system that picks up the small details when it comes to weaknesses in upcoming opponents play and you get an idea of what City were up against yesterday.

However, it goes further than that. I’d known about Guardiola’s “six second rule” and had seen his Barcelona team of around eight years ago (the best club side I’ve seen) combine amazing talent with an almost fanatical work ethic in their quest to completely dominate all opposition, but it was another thing to be actually at a game to watch how hard they worked to regain possession on the rare occasions when they lost it.

So many of the people around by me would cheer whenever a City player managed to get a toe in to win the ball as, for no more than a second, they sensed that the opportunity was there to put together a swift counter attack, but, invariably, just as quickly as possession had been won, it was lost again as it was our opponents who would be sweeping forward on the counter to threaten our goal once again.

For me, the one thing above all others which makes Guardiola one of the great manager/coaches is that he has a knack of producing sides which combine outstanding football skill with a tremendous work ethic – nearly fifty five years of watching football at all sorts of levels has taught me that you can often get one of those qualities in a side, but it is very rare to get them both together.

Therefore, I went to yesterday’s game with the attitude that we would be up against a side that was better with the ball than any team we had faced this season – no great surprise there, but there was a feeling that they may well be the best we had come up against when not in possession as well.

However, it was only when I saw the whole Man City package in action that I fully realised the size of the challenge we faced. Before the game, I had said on a City messageboard that, although I couldn’t see beyond a Man City win, I thought we could cause them problems in a couple of areas.

I’ll come to one of them later, but the other one was from attacking set pieces where I figured what would be a significant height advantage could pay dividends. However, when we were awarded free kicks in the sort of areas that usually allow us to send Sean Morrison and co up from the back to cause Championship defences plenty of problems, our opponents yesterday simply set their defensive line so high that it became very hard for whoever was taking the free kick to connect with their target in an area which might put the Man City goal under threat.

When it came to corners, I’d read a fans column on Wales Online last week which said that City had a “puncher’s chance” of causing an upset. I thought that was quite a neat way of describing our chances of making it into Round Five, but it shows the extent to which we were unable to lay a glove on our opponents that we only gained two corners all game – they came in quick succession sometime around the eightieth minute with the first, taken by Joe Ralls, producing  a scramble which led to the obligatory shout from the Canton Stand for a penalty for handball whenever the ball goes anywhere within yards of an opponents arm and the second was carelessly wasted by Junior Hoilett.

Morrison and Callum Paterson were able to get their heads on the odd long throw and occasional free kick to provide a hint of what might have been, but, generally speaking, the visitors were just too canny for us in the way they went about defending their goal.

So, all of the above needs to be borne in mind in any assessment of our performance yesterday – various people (including our manager) had called Man City the best club side in the world in the build up to the game, but I can’t say that with any certainty, just as I can’t state categorically that they are the best in Europe, but what I am clear about is that they are the best, by some distance, that this country has to offer, so, inevitably, they should have been too good for us.

Yet, I just cannot shake this feeling that not only did we make it easy for Man City to slip into their rhythm right from the first whistle, but also that the way we went about trying to recover from conceding that early goal played right into our opponent’s hands.

Yes, I know the challenge facing us was about as tough as it gets, but there are precedents out there involving teams from our division that show that it is possible for a Championship side to give Man City the sort of testing encounters that they so manifestly didn’t get yesterday.

Early in the season, albeit in a game between two under strength teams, Wolves took Man City all of the way at the Etihad in the League Cup before succumbing in a penalty shoot out following one hundred twenty minutes of goalless football. More relevantly, just as in the first leg, it took a goal in added time to separate Guardiola’s team and Bristol City at Ashton Gate last Tuesday as they clinched a 5-3 aggregate win against opponents that had shown the temerity to “have a go”at their betters both at home and away.

Sadly, we started the match in a manner which reminded me of the recent game at St James Park where Newcastle sat with ten men behind the ball from the off as they tried to bore Man City to distraction (it didn’t work, they also got beat 2-0) – Neil Etheridge had already been forced into the first of a string of good saves before DeBruyne’s early strike.

I found myself comparing our timidity in those opening minutes to what we had seen from Newport County as they more than made up the huge gap (bigger than the one between us and Man City I’d say) in terms of league position, playing strength and resources to come out of their game with Spurs at Rodney Parade on Saturday disappointed to have only drawn 1-1.

It did look as if we had found some of Newport’s boldness for a while as Hoilett’s long range shot was grabbed just before it crossed the line after it had been fumbled by keeper Bravo and Joe Bennett did very well to get clear of his marker to whip in a beautiful cross that Paterson was very close to nodding home, but, largely, the second of the two things I thought we needed to do to cause our illustrious opponents defensive problems refused to happen.

I’m referring to rediscovering Kenneth Zohore’s attacking mojo. I thought he showed up pretty well at times as he held on to the ball when under pressure and was able to bring team mates into play, but his hesitant response when played into the sort of areas where he could have stretched Man City’s full backs and central defenders was very telling.

The Zohore of the second half of last season and the early part of this one would have used his pace and power to drive at his opponents in a manner which would have got a crowd that was desperate to applaud anything that their team did even adequately involved, but, instead,  Zohore’s response appeared to betray someone who is going through something of a crisis of confidence when he gets into the sort of situations that he was relishing a few months ago.

Also, unfortunately, yesterday’s match only reinforced something that I think was generally accepted by City fans – we are very poor at passing the ball for a team that currently sits third in the Championship.

Of course, given what I’ve already said about how difficult Man City make it for you to retain possession, you could hardly expect one of the poorest sides in the second tier when it comes to keeping the ball to suddenly start popping it around like, say, Fulham on a good day, but the fact that we barely seemed to try to pass the ball in a half decent fashion before someone resorted to lumping it was still disappointing.

This season especially, the  Championship seems a league where more sides are resorting to a long ball game and, with so many of our recent signings being six foot tall or above, we very much seem to be going down the road where we are looking to succeed through power based, direct football.

Although, increasingly, it seems to me that we need to pass the ball better than we do (maybe the, up to now, pretty anonymous Marko Grujic can eventually help bring about an improvement in that department?), we might just have enough to turn our current high position into a top two or Play Off winning one come May – although I can’t help thinking that their passing was probably better than ours is currently, there are sides that have made it into the Premier League playing similar type football to us (Sheffield United and Stoke spring to mind).

Yes, I know we were up against the best yesterday and it should not be forgotten that Hoilett was unlucky with a fine shot that flew narrowly over as we managed to build up some pressure towards the end of the game, but, while our present way of playing just might be able to get us promoted, I saw nothing yesterday to indicate that we would be able to survive, let alone prosper. in the Premier League if we continue to undervalue possession of the ball in the way we do at the moment.

I cannot finish without mentioning Bennett’s sending off. First thing to say is that the tackles were out of character for a player who had only been shown red twice previously in his getting on for two hundred and fifty senior appearances. At the ground, I thought the full back’s foul on Leroy Sane was a cynical one aimed at stopping someone from moving into a goal scoring position that was worthy of a yellow card, but having watched it again now, I thought it was far worse than, for example, the one that saw Sunderland’s N’Dong sent off in their recent game down here and so, surely, a red card would have been the correct punishment?

Neil Warnock made a fair point I suppose when he argued that it’s hard to get tackles right against players that can move as quickly as Sane does and I completely agree with our manager about Bennett’s second yellow card. Having got lucky with the first challenge (as his team did when a goal by the impressive Bernado Silva was ruled out thanks to a very dubious looking offside decision), it’s hard to know what went through the full back’s mind as he dived into another tackle well into added time which ensured that he will miss next week’s game at Leeds. The match was as good as over at this stage and our manager described Bennett’s poor second tackle as “absolutely pathetic” and “disrespectful to his team mates”.

Bennett’s dismissal put the tin hat on an evening that saw a team that has done so well this season cast in a pretty poor light – I had gone to the ground not expecting to see us featuring in tonight’s Fifth round draw, but hoping that we would do ourselves justice, I’m afraid I don’t think we did.

 

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26 Responses to Anti climax as Manchester City win as they please at awe struck Cardiff.

  1. Lindsay Davies says:

    Bang on the money, Paul, in pretty much every particular.
    Drawing no inspiration from Rodney Parade, we looked over-awed and – consequently – really inept.
    To play with barely any passion, and yet to commit some truly appalling tackles seems to me a formulation that’s unforgivable.
    I guess all pacts with Warnock are Faustian – short-term gains, followed by moral emptiness.
    Food for thought.

  2. Matt N says:

    Hi Paul

    An accurate report as always of not just the match but the feeling of the game. I had pretty terrible tickets going in at gate 14 and sitting in row B, not just from a viewing point of view but atmosphere as well. I had hopes that a full capacity CCS might recreate that cauldron we had the last time the team top of the premier league visited us in the cup, but it wasn’t anywhere near. I remember that afternoon watching the Leeds players nervously glancing at each other moments before the whistle and even more so after Gordon’s reducer on Ferdinand in the opening minutes and you just knew every player was up for it as much as the crowd was. (Not that I condone Bennett’s challenge on Sane mind you!)

    I do wonder how it may have played out with Bamba and Gunnarsson had been on the field – the two who can drag a performance not just from themselves but from the two or three players surrounding them – if we could have sparked something more, but in honesty Man City were an awesome force. Unbelievably quick and powerful and as you say, the research for a free kick facing a lower league team points to a team which is at the pinnacle of football in this country from a playing and coaching (and financial!) standpoint.

    I expect we can all trot out the focus on the league line now at least…

  3. Alan Higgs says:

    Can I applaud you for a first class appraisal of yesterday’s match.

    On yesterday’s performance our team gave a clear indication of its lack of composure on the ball.

    To often having won possession the ball was just lumped forward in the hope it would be picked up by a team mate. Invariably however it was collected by an opposition player who used it to good effect as we were unprepared for the intricate build up of the next attack.

    In a way it may be evidence of why Neil Warnock can have success with his formula to get sides promoted to the Premiership but lacks the guile and know-how to shape a team’s philosophy to handle the demands expected in the top division.

    On yesterday’showing promotion to the Premiership would again be shortlived.

  4. barry Cole says:

    well paul I think you have hit it on the head. This was one game when we needed heart and we failed miserably. Like you the feeling coming away from the match was just disappointment as to how we played. Credit where credit is due man city played us off the park and we didn’t seem to be able to respond. I thought eldridge had one of his better games but was at fault for the first goal as he had positioned himself at the wrong end of the goal. A middle position may have resulted in at least an attempted save. Is it me but when I saw the bennet tackle and I thought sane had actually kicked the ground when I saw the highlights. The tackle was bad but not a sending off but his second tackle should never have been attempted.
    Grujic wasn’t at the races going forward but he did some good defending. Paterson and Ralls played well in midfield but then we come to the forward line. I am concerned that mendez lang is playing in front of Pilkington as I haven’t really seen him in the team for some time. Poor old ken you are spot on here it seems his confidence has taken a battering and Warnock has to achieve the same thing as last year very quickly. That said we are desperate for a goalscorer and by that I mean a person who can and will put the ball in the net. The talk about Mcgoldrick worries me as I cannot see any improvement on what we already have. It has to be grabbham or maybe shane long or else its goodbye premier as we are falling short of scoring goals and no matter how many clean sheets we have its not going to be enough to get us to the position of top two.
    this next few days are going to be very interesting indeed, do we go for broke or do we hope that we have enough in the locker for the next few months. After yesterday I don’t think we have

  5. BJA says:

    Paul, as usual, a thoroughly sensible and accurate review of proceedings yesterday. I came away from the ground with the feeling that we had got away with just conceding two goals, but on any other day, it would have been three had not Silva’s strike been allowed.
    What a classy side Man City are. Determined, pacy, skillful and, most importantly, an awareness of where their team-mates are on the pitch. Their movement was to be admired and their possession statistics of 74% demonstrates how much they appreciate having the ball. So many really good players, De Bruyne being quite exceptional.
    On the other hand, we looked positively pedestrian apart from Hoillett. It seems that the others were awestruck, but I may well be exaggerating. It was good to see the stadium full, and at times giving the support that the team needed. But there were times when the that vocal support was missing, and the stadium depressingly quiet.
    So it is off to Leeds we go, and without Bennett ( two bad “tackles”, more “assaults” really). And who will be joining us this week, if anyone. Although Bogle was on the bench yesterday, I read that NW now regards Pilks as his back up main striker. So why did we sign the aforementioned?
    Since NW has been in charge, just about sixteen months, he has signed no less than 18 players, three of whom have already left – Chamakh, Richardson and Felscher. Of the remaining, and here is my subjective view, currently only Messrs Bamba, Damour, Etheridge and Hoillett may be regarded as being a success. Patterson, Mendez- Laing and Ward have had their moments, and it is early days as far as Grukic and Wildschutt are concerned. But in my view, Camp, Tomlin, Feeney, Halford, Bryson and Bogle have added nothing to the team and if the departed three are added to this group, exactly half of NW’s signings have been a waste of money. I find that disappointing, and must question our leader’s judgement.
    As previously mentioned in my earlier responses, there are heavyweights behind us gathering pace. We really need to re-discover that early season sparkle soon and if Gunnars is close to regaining fitness, he may well be the catalyst needed.

  6. Anthony O'Brien says:

    As always, report and comment of the highest quality. The most disappointing thing about the game for me was the mass exodus of so many fans after Manchester City’s second goals. True fans would not act as if we were on a sinking ship.

    Putting partisan bias aside, in a curious way I enjoyed the game. Just to see the manner in which Manchester City went about their task was a joy to behold, and I say that as a Cardiff City fan — and equally a football fan — for over sixty years. However, I mentioned to my grandson near the end that Manchester’s total command began to look like show-boating, and that in consequence one of the Cardiff players would almost certainly be sent off before the end. This has ever been the way in football. No-one likes to be shown up.
    As I mention my grandson, I should draw attention to one of his comments to me near the end. By this time Paterson had effectively become a centre-forward, and my grandson remarked that Paterson was racing for and winning plenty of aerial challenges which we hadn’t seen earlier in the game. I don’t think it is confidence which is lacking with Zohore but something closer to the Lion’s lament as he strolled along The Yellow Brick Road.

  7. HarryKirtley'sGhost says:

    Thanks Paul as ever, for a most detailed report.
    And you are spot-on for wishing that we could have had an injection of the Rodney Parade spirit and performance.

    It won’t surprise you that I don’t share our dear colleague Barry’s view on “that” tackle. And this horror incident and the Cardiff player involved, is what I really want to restrict my comments to…and so will say noting on Grujic’s anonymity, and the tv pundits being wrong to accuse the lino of getting the disallowed goal wrong. (Sane was indeed in the keeper’s line of vision, and the top of his shoulder did make him technically offside, and we must remember that scoring with the top of your shoulder is not handball. So trust me, had there been VAR, then the “goal” would still have been disallowed.)

    Now to the big controversy that has TalkSport’s phone lines in meltdown…

    Let me start by saying…
    You know…there are participants who, when you saw them running at full speed, just LIFT your heart. In rugby union, David Campese; in cricket, Michael Holding; in rugby league, Martin Offiah; in track and field, Michael Johnson; and when it came to running across your cinema screen and through the auditorium, there was the incomparable Forrest Gump.

    But when it comes to association football, there is no need to go back to George Best or Diego Maradona for a player in history who could move more beautifully than a current player. For I respectfully submit that I have never seen a player move more gracefully and yet swiftly, than Leroy Sane.

    What happened to him yesterday brought shame on my club: a shame compounded by the post match comments of a man I have long championed…Neil Warnock.

    Joe Bennett’s last ditch tackle on Sane was the worst tackle I have seen from a player of my hometown club in my sixty three years as a Bluebirds fan.

    It made the worst tackles of the headstrong young Don Murray in the mid-to-late 1960s, seem like powder puff affairs.

    The only tackle I have ever seen as bad in a Cardiff game, was in some ways uncharacteristically, by the young Denis Law, playing ironically for …Manchester City (!!). It was a tackle which ended the top flight career of the finest wing half I ever saw in a Cardiff shirt…Steve Gammon. It caused a compound fracture of Steve’s leg, and the fabulously talented Denis was forever to be booed when he played an Ninian Park again. (I know that our esteemed MAYA colleague “AMO” O’Brien was at the same game, and he too has never forgotten it.)

    But back to yesterday’s game. Hugely disappointed that Neil Warnock did not withdraw Bennett at half time, ban him, and fine him a month’s wages. Alas, however, he allowed Bennett back on for the second half. Fortunately there is a God of sorts, for Bennett got a second yellow.

    But what kind of justice is that? That tackle on Sane at the end of the first half was simply …CRIMINAL. It was worthy of a lot more than just a one game ban that Bennett will now get.

    And Neil Warnock has gone down in my eyes with his ridiculous post match comment aimed at Guardiola that “this is England” …(sic). I am sure that he will live to regret that comment.

    Just for the record, that was a deliberate attempt by a person wearing a Cardiff City shirt not to get the ball, (he knew that Sane was far too fast for him)… but to take out an opponent…at all costs.
    Not just “no pasaran”. But no pasaran …on steroids.

    Now, the day we signed this fellow, I wrote to my MAYA friends about my serious misgivings about what I saw as flaws in his make-up…and that included his character traits. (I was shot down in flames by a brave man hiding in anonymity in the verdant bushes of Mid Rhondda.)

    It is to Mr Warnock’s credit that he has turned Bennett into a half decent performer. One though, who gets a remarkably free ride from the press. Take the recent Mansfield equaliser: yes there is an element of pinball in the Cardiff box, but who finally presents the ball on a plate to Danny Rose? JB of course. But not one newspaper reported it.

    And so due to Neil’s tutelage, those doubts I have had regarding Bennett’s playing ability, have been partly allayed, this past two years. But as for doubts re his character …?

    Ah… boy, did they not come surging back with this horror tackle.

    That Bennett did hold his head in his hands on the pitch and go out of his way to immediately apologise to the stricken Sane and his angry teammates, was entirely predictable. That Neil Warnock then went on to criticise the second yellow card tackle, and not the nightmarish cynical first, was not.

    Neil seems to think that missing next week’s Leeds game is the real crime that Bennett committed. Well Neil, it is time for you to retire, if you cannot tell that first tackle from the second.

  8. russell roberts says:

    Thanks Paul , you called in in these well chosen words for me ” I came away at the end of it all feeling curiously flat “” .

    I was slightly disappointed though with a few things :

    Manchester City did not try put us to the sword and show off the dazzling skills the possess.

    Our contribution could have had a bit more grit and adventure ,some shots outside the box , couple of runs into area , attempted dribbles , fall overs in the penalty box ,attack the ball from corners

    We were so nice to them until Joe decided to take next weekend end ( what a silly comment )

    I felt Patterson , Ralls , Etheridge and Morrison did very well the alter being my City MOM .

    I think in hindsight the games Man City have played against Championship set them up nicely to deal with us .

    We are a very blunt instrument at times up front ,just hope we sign someone or two.

    However on a realistic loyal note, it was tough day for all of them , they were facing potentially the best in Europe ,who were of quick of mind and foot , we were chasing shadows ,when we had the ball we were quickly pressed into error , so hats off to everyone’s effort , and it saddens me to say , well done to Wolves and Brizzies for rocking their boat as they did , as Man City are a class act ,we did okay in only losing two nil ,so third in effort behind them

    The worst part of the day though , was watching, listening to all those bloody alleged Cardiff fans who never turn up week in and out, and now we find them rocking with their pets and grannies to probably watch Man City not us , see you all a week Tuesday hopefully v Bolton , i’ll get to down there early to avoid the madness and crush .

    Bring on Leeds and Bolton , real footy time , no celb’s landing in helicopters or queues

  9. Jeff Blight says:

    Thanks again Paul, agree with everything in your summary, just like to add this Mancs team were as good as anything I have seen in the flesh whilst watching the City for over 50 years and so much better the the last light blues team that visited us.

    Feel it’s time to change the system, playing 2 wingers is no longer working. When did Mendez last score? Zohore is isolated and doesn’t win his headers. When did he last receive decent service, probably the Leeds game when he had 2 put on a plate.

    The substitutions were like for like and confirmation that the manager has little confidence in either Tomlin or Bogle, 2 players he paid reasonable fees for. I believe the manager has gone on record as saying he hasn’t got a good success rate when buying forwards, which doesn’t inspire confidence with the transfer window about to close.

  10. Huw Perry says:

    Thanks Paul. You and others have said it all and captured all my thoughts and frustrations.
    A real privilege to see football of the highest quality from Man City but wish we could have shown a bit more fight. Damage limitation in the end and agree with all the feedback that we have a way to go to play the type of football to compete at the top level with this squad.
    What struck me was feeling of panic that set in when we were attacking and lost the ball as you just knew we were going to get caught out by the sheer speed and skill of our opponents on the counter-attack. In the end just had to watch and admire, but would love for us to have shown some fight – and string some passes together.
    Let’s all cheer the County next week now!

  11. MIKE HOPE says:

    When I watch Man City as a neutral I enjoy and admire the way they justify football being called the beautiful game.However, I am not a masochist and got no pleasure from watching Sunday’s game.
    I see no point in criticising our tactics or attitude as we were up against a team with eleven players superior to our own and , unfortunately, we met them on an afternoon when none of them had an off-day.
    If we had gone for all-out attack we could perhaps have scored a goal but who would have preferred a 10-1 defeat!
    Dai’s ghost has been waiting a long time to say ‘I told you so ‘ and perhaps deserves some indulgence but I think his comments are more over the top than Joe’s tackle.
    It deserved a red card but if he thinks Bennet deliberately and successfully aimed his studs at Sane’s shin whilst travelling at that speed he must have a high regard for the precision of Joe’s tackling.
    I saw it as an attempt to trip Sane (what some call a professional foul or taking one for the team) which went badly wrong because of Sane’s pace.

  12. Clive Rymon says:

    Hi Paul,just a quick response from me as everyone has has made all the relevant points so succinctly,my only gripe was Warnock comments pre match that we would be chasing shadows or words to that effect may have had an effect on players attitude towards the game that we really did look overawed,let me state that I have always been a admirer of Warnock but this time he may have got it wrong.

  13. The other Bob Wilson says:

    Morning everyone, as I seem to be spending so much time these days in my pursuit of finding somewhere to live (had an offer accepted for a house in Treherbert last week), I find I have less and less time to answer your messages in much detail, so here’s a few quick replies to some of the points raised – as always, thanks very much for your feedback.
    Lindsay, I agree with you – as I mentioned, I wanted to see us do ourselves justice, I don’t think we did, but, also there was little to credit us with in terms of attitude or tactically.
    Matt, I’d like to think that, if not at Leeds levels, the atmosphere would have been among the best seen at the new ground if only City had given the crowd something to get excited about. I was struck by how so many of those sat around by me (none of whom I recognised as faces you see at league matches) were prepared to get right behind the team for things like an attempted tackle or a pretty ordinary pass completed, but the enthusiasm soon died down and I’ll be surprised if I see more than one or two of them at another match this season.
    Welcome aboard Alan, it’s great to hear from you. I agree with all that you say, Man City are the best around, but I thought we could have some success if we got at their defence. However, in the event, they kept us at arm’s length and barely had to break sweat defensively – less able Premier League sides may encounter more problems in coping with us if we got promoted and played in the same way (i.e. hit and hope), but I’ve no doubt that the large majority of them would cope – we have a side that may be just good enough to get out of this division, but we would have no chance of doing a Burnley using such a basic approach.
    Barry, I think you are being a bit harsh on Etheridge for the first goal. As for strikers, it’s being reported this morning that we are back in for Madine of Bolton – I’ve just posted on a messageboard that I cannot get too excited about any of our reported targets, I suppose I’d opt for Grabban out of the ones we’ve heard about, but not with much enthusiasm.
    Anthony, it seems to be the way things are these days – some “supporters” head for the exits as soon as they think a game is beyond their team (I suppose we should be grateful for small mercies, because I thought it was as good as over as soon as DeBruyne’s shot hit the back of the net! Did I hear the Man City fans signing “we’re taking the piss” as their centrebacks and keeper kept the ball for two or three minutes in the second half or did I imagine it?
    Dai, regarding Bennett’s tackle – reckless and deserving of a straight red card, yes, but deliberate? I don’t believe so. I don’t mean this as a defence of Bennett, but I can imagine the dressing room bollocking any player who does not commit a foul under those circumstances would get from his manager and/or coaches, not to mention the muttering of team mates blaming him for any goal that was conceded. I hate the term “taking one for the team” which has crept into players, pundits and media people’s vocabulary lately, but that’s me speaking as a lover of the game of football – if I was earning my living from it, I think I would be in a tiny minority in the event of me still feeling the same way.
    Fair point about Man City having a better idea of what to expect Russell. As for the “plastics”, I was pleasantly surprised by the ones around by me, but it was a bit galling to see the whole row of seats in front of me empty when there was still about three or four minutes of the first half left – I don’t think we’ll see too many of them against Bolton, but, to be fair, very little happened to make them consider coming back for the next match did it.
    Jeff, Mendez-Laing’s last goal was back in August at Wolves I believe – to be honest, I don’t see him starting too often in the next few games. You mention Bogle and Tomlin, I wouldn’t be too surprised to see either of them going out on loan somewhere tomorrow.
    Huw, I know plenty of City fans who won’t be cheering County on next week, but I’m not one of them – not the best of draws for them if they do pull off a miracle at Wembley is it, but I suppose Rochdale away would give them a great chance of a Quarter Final place.
    Mike, I agree that the result would almost certainly have been the same whatever our approach would have been, but I believe it was defeat with honour for Bristol City last week and it certainly wasn’t for us on Sunday. Regarding Bennett’s tackle, I think you make a very good point regarding the precision of his tackling given the speed Sane was travelling at.
    Clive, that thought did cross my mind – Neil Warnock meant it as a joke of course, but I did wonder if it might end up backfiring at the time.

  14. Colin Phillips says:

    Paul, why on earth are you doing considering moving to Treherbert?

    The Rhondda Valleys are dying on their feet.

  15. The other Bob Wilson says:

    Sorry for missing you out from my earlier reply BJA! I think the perceived wisdom for months was that Neil Warnock had done a brilliant job in the transfer market, but, as someone who has no great dispute with your views on his signings, I think a few people (e.g. Mendez-Laing, Damour and Bogle) need to start showing the sort of form they did in their early games for us – apart from, say, Bamba and Hoilett, I’d say our better performers this season have tended to be people who were already at the club when our manager arrived.

  16. The other Bob Wilson says:

    Beggars can’t be choosers Colin, I cannot afford to keep on living in Cardiff and even this house is towards the upper limits of what I have to spend.

  17. HarryKirtley'sGhost says:

    Oh dear…
    We had a quite deliberate assault on a very fine young German footballer that will see him out of action for six weeks*. As Sane started his wonderful fateful run, I clocked Bennett heading off in hot pursuit from his starting position some 25 yards away, and as they both picked up speed, I honestly said to my friend when it became clear that Leroy was too fast, “Bennett’s gonna do him here!”.
    And boy, did he not do him good and (im)proper…!!

    And now, after having an unofficial assault and battery merchant in our team, we are apparently buying an official felon… Gary Madine, a fellow who has recently finished his 18 month sentence for the same offence of assault.
    I don’t know…only the other day I was knocking Cookie for wanting to employ a full time psychologist for the national team.
    Well, given Lee Tomlin’s recent past, maybe we should have an official Cardiff City probation officer accompany the team on all away trips…to help stop them doing a runner.
    Come back Greg “fingers” Farrell, and the ghost of Robin Friday…

    * of course if our team had any REAL moral class at all, we would sideline this character Bennett without pay for as long as Leroy Sane is out of action. It is to Neil Warnock’s credit that he has kept this chap on the straight and narrow this past two years.
    I salute Mike for his witty comment above, btw.
    At least let us get some gallows humour out of the most shameful tackle I have seen in a Cardiff game since that Denis Law tackle back in season 60/61.

  18. HarryKirtley'sGhost says:

    Oh I forgot to add…what a pity we have not had the finances to buy Jordan Hugill. Now there is a proper centre forward. I cannot recall when an opposition player impressed me more… apart from maybe a certain Ryan Fredericks who kept sailing past the City left back at will…
    I momentarily forget the name of that left back…
    ???

  19. BJA says:

    Paul – Hope that your impending move to the upper reaches of the Rhondda will not prevent you from making your usual post match comments. I confess that those of us who avidly follow your contributions would wonder where on earth we could find such balanced reviews were such comments be absent on a regular basis. Anyway, good luck to wherever you eventually lay your hat.
    My recent subjective review of our transfer dealings prior to yesterday’s merry-go-round suggested that we had six failures on our books. So, I was interested to learn that three, Camp, Bogle and Tomlin have been shipped out. I confess to being happy with that. As far as Madine is concerned, I think I may have preferred Grabban
    ( disappointed that Villa have secured his services on loan ) and flabbergasted that we had £6 million to spend.
    Ward for Tomlin gives us another mid-field/striker option with more energy than Tomlin, but he has not appeared for Forest too many times this season.
    Whatever happened to the young Newcastle lad who I understood was in Cardiff to have a chat. Is it just possible that he may be one of the trialists that will put in an appearance against Watford this afternoon. I intend to be there to find out.

  20. HarryKirtley'sGhost says:

    Next time we meet, Paul, I will tell you a story or two about my years selling booze to pubs and off licences in Treherbert. A wonderful place.
    When I lived in my native Rhondda Valley, the people of Herbert Street in the town, used to all go on holiday together. Up to 80 or 90 at a time. What camaraderie…!! Maybe they still do. If I wasn’t rushed today I would check it out with Mr Google.

    If you lived in the next street? Well, presumably…tough. Get your own plane for Benidorm…!!

    What a rugby ground, btw. To get there, you have to start climbing the Rhigos Mountain Road. In Treherbert RFC’s heady days of success, it is no coincidence that their star wingers were both Nepalese mountain sherpas, straight out of the pages of the quite peerless Gwyn Thomas.

    I used to supply Michael Pritchard and his dad before him, at their incredibly profitable Spar supermarket there. I think Michael sold it about 13 years ago. And one time mid 80s, we played squash together a few times at the (then) Holiday Inn, Mill Lane in Cardiff.

    What a lovely chap…as dependable as the North star. I eventually went to live in England and we lost touch. But I remember him and his dad, with great fondness, and I will never forget Mike’s house in the best street in Penarth (he commuted daily). Dros Y Mor it was called. Views to die for, across the Bristol Channel. And what a house.

    Incredibly futuristic. Like that house in the Jacques Tati film Mon Oncle. TVs came out of the ceiling…different lighting came out of the floor. And what a jacuzzi the boy had…!! Different class. He told me it had to be lowered into the house by…crane…!!
    Amazing jets of water. As good a jacuzzi as the one I used to use when I attended The Holiday Inn leisure club.

    How the other half live, eh Paul….quite a contrast to the end of terrace Wimpy house I was then living in. The walls were so thin I could hear the little kid next door say his prayers (I several times corrected him when he faltered)…and hear his father change his shirt…

    Walls so thin indeed that I could even hear the bloke the other side of him, change his …


    …mind…!!

  21. HarryKirtley'sGhost says:

    Correction.
    That should have read “Wimpey” house.
    Apols.
    I was not living IN a hamburger…
    Though I confess I was in those days living ON them …
    As evinced by my morbid obesity and diabetes type 2 of today.

  22. Royalewithcheese says:

    Dear HKG
    How come you were frequenting the Holiday Inn leisure club?

  23. The other Bob Wilson says:

    I like what I’ve seen of Treherbert Dai. The minuses I’ve seen with it are that it doesn’t take much traffic at all to get the road congested for the last five miles or so when you drive there and there aren’t many shops around where the house is (it’s about a half a mile north of the railway station). My sister and my brother in law have been very good and have come along to the three properties I’ve had offers accepted for and they have also been there for two or three other houses I’ve visited and we all agree that, even though there is still some work to be done on it, this is the best of the properties we’ve looked at by some distance – just hope the surveyor thinks the same thing!
    BJA, I plan to keep on going to the Under 18 and Under 23 matches as regularly as I can, but I’ll have to hang about for an hour or two if there’s an Academy game at Leckwith kicking off at 11 on a Saturday followed by a home first team game and the idea of driving home in the rush hour traffic after a 3 o clock kick off weekday Under 23 match doesn’t appeal to me much.
    Anyway, this moving house lark has been dragging on for virtually a year now and experience has taught me that there’ll probably be something that crops up to cock everything up!

  24. HarryKirtley'sGhost says:

    Paul, my best wishes for your move to Treherbert. Think of me whenever you pass through my hometown of Porth…as its name translates, it is the gateway town to the two Rhondda Valleys …and not Pontypridd.

    And now to answer the question above your last posting here on this thread…where Rwc asks how I got to be a regular at the Holiday Inn Leisure Club…

    Dear Rwc,
    “How come?” you ask.
    Easy.
    I was introduced to it by my dear friend still today …Javed Ahmed. Now living in the Harrow area.
    Javed (sorry, “Javid” as he spelt his name…I kept expecting it to be spelt as in “Miandad”) grew up in his dad’s supermarket, Holmesdale Mini Mkt, Holmesdale Street in Grangetown. His late dad Maqsud was a lovely man, and a friend of mine.

    Javid then grew up to have a supermarket of his own in Barry. He married young to a similarly young Muslim wife, and invited me to his wedding reception in Barry Town Hall not that far from Jenner Park. A big affair was that wedding. I remember every table had a giant Pepsi and a giant Fanta bottle. How interesting to see a booze free wedding reception…!!
    The fact that I was selling him booze, and he was selling it on to his customers, made me wonder if we were not due to have the whole force of the Koran come down on us…but fortunately the Ayatollah (who was around at the time) did not issue a fatwah against me!
    After the reception, I was amongst a handful of guests invited back to his home in Bonvilston.
    Lovely family. Quality people.
    And to answer your question, Rwc, Javid was a member of the Holiday Inn Leisure Club, and he introduced me.
    A lot of people in Cardiff were. They used to use their squash courts, gym, swimming pool and jacuzzi. I found the squash courts even nicer than those at the St Mellons Hotel, where I used to play. So I switched loyalties.
    I remember some real characters there in The Holiday Inn Leisure Club . One elderly chap I got friendly with, was totally blind. I asked him his home village…he replied “You will never have heard of it. Nobody I meet in Cardiff has ever been there.”
    I countered with “try me?”
    He replied…”a tiny hamlet called Trefil”.

    I shocked him by telling him that just a few days previously, I had called on the pub in the village….a tiny place the size of Manmoel…!!

    Ah…happy days…

  25. Royalewithcheese says:

    I’ve just finished writing a short account of my life. It sounds like yours would occupy an encyclopaedia. Don’t stop. Always a good long read! Have you published anything?

  26. HarryKirtley'sGhost says:

    Dear Royalewithcheese,
    Just spotted your sweet note…nearly a fortnight after you posted it.
    Sincere apologies for my taking my eye off the ball.

    To answer your question, Rwc…
    …in hard covers ? No.

    In newspapers, journals. Oh, yes, quite a lot, down the years.

    However it is ONLINE where the action is today…the game is up for newsprint, and bookshops, as assuredly as 100 years ago, it was up for the horse-drawn carriage.

    And I reckon that they should pay authors for NOT writing books. …there are too many philistine and tedious books published annually…books that quickly get remaindered. We should pay authors for NOT writing, in the same way as the EU pay farmers for not producing certain crops ( i.e. what is known as “set aside”).
    Is it not amazing that more hard copy books are published in the UK every year than are published in the USA…a country with FIVE times our population?

    I have hundreds of pages online…just google my real name in quotes. My words are also used by a number of musical artistes in their promo material.

    Thanks again, Rwc. Very decent of you. Sorry for my tardy response

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