Batten down the hatches – storms forecast for the Cardiff City Stadium area!

Coymay

I watched Cardiff City sides play three different matches yesterday and, on an individual basis, they left me entertained, thrilled and frustrated. Yesterday evening, as I contemplated what I had seen, both on the pitch and off it, at the end of what has been quite a momentous week for the club, I had a sense of concern for what the future held for City – it looks like there could well be stormy weather on the way.

Before going on to discuss the football that was played, I should set the background against which it came. There has been some coming and going on the transfer front in the past seven days. Paul Trollope had talked about the need to recruit a goalkeeper, a full back/ wing back (preferably with the ability to play on both sides of the pitch) and a striker before the transfer window closes on Wednesday night and there have been developments on the first two of those fronts in the last forty eight hours.

Bolton goalkeeper Ben Amos joined us on a season long loan deal on Friday and Aston Villa full back Joe Bennett arrived via a free transfer yesterday. Amos, who has first team experience with Manchester United, was Bolton’s first team keeper throughout last season and I daresay he would have been this one as well were it not for the fact that, as one of that financially stricken clubs bigger earners, they really needed to get him out on loan or off the books entirely now that they are in League One with it’s far lower television money and, presumably, lower gate receipts.

It’s fair to say that the on line opinions I’ve read from Bolton fans about Amos have not tended to be complimentary ones. Now, it needs to be said that they were never likely to be when you consider that he was playing behind a defence which conceded more goals than any other Championship club last year.

However, the problem I have with him is that I cannot forget that, in what I believe are his only two previous appearances at Cardiff City Stadium, he gifted us a goal each time as he was outjumped by Heidar Helguson while playing for Hull in 12/13 and allowed Kenneth Zohore’s near post shot to get past him in our 2-1 win over Bolton last season – I’ll try to give him the chance I give all new players, but it’s hard to get those two goals out of my mind for the moment.

As for Bennett, he was regarded as quite a prospect when he signed for Villa from Middlesbrough in 2012 at the age of twenty two. He was a fairly regular member of the team during his first season as well, but has spent most of the two previous campaigns out on loan at Championship clubs with spells at Brighton, Bournemouth and Sheffield Wednesday.

In fact, Wednesday looked to have signed him permanently during the summer, only for the deal to be blocked at the last minute by Villa owner Dr Tony Xia because he thought his club shouldn’t be letting players join possible promotion rivals when they would not be paying all of their wages. Now, you can say that the fact that Bennett has been allowed to sign for us tells a story as to how the good Doctor rates us this season, but the truth is that we were probably prepared to pay all of our new man’s wage, hence Villa’s willingness to do a deal.

So, Bennett, who it is said can play anywhere on the left, but has never played on the other side of the pitch as far as I’m aware, has not come cheap despite there not being a transfer fee. Again, he does not appear to be too highly rated by fans of his former club, but, as someone who has played an awful lot of football in this league down the years, he strikes me as being a decent addition to our squad.

The reality at Cardiff City for getting on for two years now is that players coming in has to mean that others must go out and Friday saw the announcement that Kagisho Dikgacoi had left us. As one of the three very big earners the club have been desperate to get rid of all summer, you might think that this was very good news, but the addition of the words “by mutual consent” told the story that the player had, in all probability, been given a fair sized payment by the club to help him on his way.

One of the few bonuses to emerge this season has been the form of Kadeem Harris. The winning goal came down his side, but he was left completely isolated by his team mates as he generally fulfilled his defensive duties well - I'd still like to see him getting forward more, but he's the one who is making the best job of the wing back role so far.*

One of the few bonuses to emerge this season has been the form of Kadeem Harris. The winning goal came down his side, but he was left completely isolated by his team mates as he generally fulfilled his defensive duties well – I’d still like to see him getting forward more, but he’s the one who is making the best job of the wing back role so far.*

Given how much he cost us in wages and how little he did for us on the pitch, the overriding feeling of this Cardiff fan to the loss of Dikgacoi was one of good riddance, but that’s far from the case with the other, almost certain, departure from the club within the next few days.

When the news of Simon Moore’s departure to Sheffield United first broke, I consoled myself by thinking that it should at least mean that the club was very confident of keeping David Marshall for at least the first half of the season – not a bit of it I’m afraid.

Sadly, the best player in our squad and the best goalkeeper I’ve seen at Cardiff missed yesterday’s home match with Reading because City have accepted a bid by Premier League side Hull City for him. Paul Trollope confirmed in his post match press conference that Marshall had agreed personal terms and would probably be undergoing a medical tomorrow..

Marshall’s imminent departure has to be a very big blow to supporters who I hope and trust will still wish him all the best for a move to the top flight which he undoubtedly deserves  Almost as bad for me though were the reports that a meeting was held with Academy staff on Friday where they were told that there would have to be as many as twenty redundancies (voluntary if possible, but compulsory otherwise).

Now I should emphasis that none of this has been confirmed officially and so there is still the hope that there is no truth to the rumour, but the sources from which it has tended to come from mean that it has the feel of being authentic to me. It’s not really fair to be too harsh about this decision, if it is true, without having access to what the club’s financial ledgers are saying, but, nevertheless, I can’t help feeling that this cost cutting exercise could end up doing far more harm than good.

Anyway, it’s high time that I started talking about those three games mentioned above and, having always been someone who has opted for the bad first when asked the question “do you want the good news or bad news?”, I’ll start with the first team’s game!

Trying to be positive, I’ll say that the 1-0 loss by virtue of a very late goal by one time figure of fun for Cardiff fans, Yann Kermogant was not as awful as our home defeat (we’ve already lost as many home matches now as we lost throughout the whole of last season) to QPR a fortnight ago.

For a start, it didn’t take us our usual hour to get a shot or header on target, Reading’s keeper was forced into action three times in the first half and there were some good headed chances that went a begging during this period.

With a couple of other presentable headed opportunities being missed after the break as well, I find it hard to reconcile Reading manager Japp Stam’s claim that his team deserved their win – not when they did so little to work stand in keeper Ben Wilson.

Wilson, who signed a two year contract extension last week, had no chance with the goal, but it must be said that he failed the only real examination he was given as he dealt poorly with a Sean Morrison miskick which looped up into the air and dropped just under his crossbar – City scrambled the resultant shot off the line, but were not so fortunate when wing back Kadeem Harris was left with two opponents to deal with and the resultant cross was swept home by Kermogant with less than two minutes of regular time remaining.

The fact that we lost points thanks to a goal conceded inside the final five minutes for a second consecutive match is a concern, but, for me, it’s the fact that our new 3-5-2/5-3-2 formation just isn’t working, in home matches at least, that is the most pressing problem.

It all looked so good in theory with three central midfield players, hopefully, ensuring we were not over run in that area as we have been so often before and wing backs on either flank bombing forward to get crosses and shots in.

Unfortunately, the reality has been so different. We are playing the Wales version of the three centreback system which sees players who primarily think like full backs selected as wing backs, so what we play is more 5-3-2 than 3-5-2. To be fair to Harris (who, of course, could never be described as primarily a full back), he did try and make things happen down the right in an attacking sense, but the way our wing backs are being deployed in games at Cardiff City Stadium means that, tactically, we appear to be treating it as an away match.

When your strikers are as limited as ours as are currently, you would like to think others in the team would try to compensate by getting forward as much as they could – our wing backs should be prime candidates to do that, but it hardly ever happens.

You would have thought help would come from central midfield as well, but, apart from the odd early foray by Aron Gunnarsson (who is surely best suited to a deeper role) it never happened. Whatever Gunnarsson, Peter Whittingham and Joe Ralls were doing for most of the match to cause them to offer Anthony Pilkington and the ineffective Lex Immers (nowhere near as influential for us so far as he was last season) so little support, it wasn’t trying to work out what to do with the multitude of possession we were enjoying.

Now, I’ve come around to agreeing that possession of the football isn’t as all important as I once thought it was, but, even so, the thirty two per cent possession we “enjoyed” yesterday just isn’t good enough when you are playing three central midfielders.

Anyway, that’s enough of about the first team for now, let’s talk about the far more enjoyable youth matches I watched at Treforest a few hours earlier.

Sometimes you can be at that venue and have a choice of two games to watch being played about fifty yards apart and still think what am I doing here? Not yesterday though, the two matches with Crystal Palace were great value with so much going happening on both pitches that it was impossible to keep track of all of the action.

I spent most of my time watching the Under 18s and before I get around to what happened I should just mention that, for the first time in my half a century and more of live football watching, there was a woman referee in charge. Now, I thought she favoured Palace somewhat, but then I would say that wouldn’t I and, at no time, did I find myself thinking “bloody woman referees!” – I wouldn’t say she was brilliant, but I’ve seen hundreds of worse men refs than her.

As for the game, I think the best way to describe it is to use captain Cameron Coxe to show what was good and not so good about the Under18’s performance in a match they lost 5-3. Coxe is a full back (he played on the left against Palace, but is usually used on the right), well he’s more than that really, he’s also a wing back – in fact, he’s just the sort of wing back I’d love to see in the first team for home matches because he spends more time contributing on the ball in the opponent’s half than he does in his own.

Yesterday, the team were playing a 4-2-3-1 formation, but even though he was supposed to be a full back, he was still playing more like a winger and contributed a fine goal to take his tally for the season to three I believe. There’s nothing wrong with such a sense of adventure in full back play in the modern game though – in fact, it’s actively encouraged at some clubs.

However, it’s usually the case that there are two central midfield players screening the centrebacks while the full backs play so far up the pitch – City only really had one yesterday in Jarrad Welch and he and the two centrebacks had an almost impossible task at times when Palace counter attacked because City often had as many as seven players in advanced positions.

From what I saw, Palace just about deserved to win a match between two evenly matched sides, but the Academy team played better in defeat than I’ve often seen them play in victory.

Saving the best for last, I now come on to the Under 16s’ 6-1 win. I can remember Ken Choo and Russell Slade saying in a meeting with Supporters’ Trust.members last winter that we had some outstanding prospects in the Under 16 age group. Certainly, the way the likes of Sion Spence, Keiron Proctor and Sam Bowen were able to seamlessly slot into the Under 18s yesterday  suggested that they were talented players, but that certainly didn’t mean that the more ordinary players were left to get by in the younger age group.

Now, I should just say here that I suppose that much that happened could have been down to Palace being awful at the back and it may be that they concede six or more every week, but I very much doubt it! If the Under 18’s attacked with a zest, purpose and freedom barely ever seen from the seniors, the Under 16’s played the most outstanding and effective counter attacking football I’ve ever seen from a City youth team.

I must have watched about half of the game either close up or from that distance of fifty yards away and what soon became apparent was that they were absolutely murdering Palace with their attacking pace.

I wish I could put names to faces to play a limited part in giving these kids some of the recognition  that they deserve, but I can’t – what I will do though is describe two goals I saw which really testified as to their attacking potency.

The first came in the first half (City led 4-1 at the interval) when one of the centrebacks intercepted, brought the ball out from the back and played a lovely pass through to free our number nine I think it was, who cut in from the right and fired a precise shot from the corner of the penalty area across the keeper and into the net.

If that was a fine goal, then the one I saw from closer up to make it 5-1 was outstanding. The build up was similar to the earlier goal as the other centreback, intercepted, moved forward confidently and sent a lovely pass into the path of the number nine in an inside right channel. The striker still had plenty to do, but made scoring look so simple with a gorgeous chip from twenty odd yards over the stranded keeper to complete what I believe was his hat trick.

Joe Ralls hasn't quite been at his best in our home matches so far and the trio of central midfielders that started yesterday will, surely, be looking over the shoulders when fixtures resume after the fortnight's international break when Emyr Huws will have to come into first team consideration, Pictured with Joe is Chris Gunter who I suppose may have been playing his last match for Reading given some of the transfer speculation there's been since the Euros.*

Joe Ralls hasn’t quite been at his best in our home matches so far and the trio of central midfielders that started yesterday will, surely, be looking over the shoulders when fixtures resume after the fortnight’s international break when Emyr Huws will have to come into first team consideration,
Pictured with Joe is Chris Gunter who I suppose may have been playing his last match for Reading given some of the transfer speculation there’s been since the Euros.*

If the sort of attacking pace that the seniors can only dream of was behind this marvelous win, it should be said that pace alone will only take you so far even in the modern game which values that commodity so much, but when you’ve got the talent to go with it, you’ve really got a chance.

All of this should be a really good news story at a club in desperate need of something to lift spirits currently, but, as so often happens at City, it has to be qualified by that word “but”. If the rumours about redundancies are true and these lads really are as good as they looked yesterday, then you have to wonder if we are going to be running a cut price Academy, how many of them will still be at the club when they reach an age where they come into first team consideration?

I think most supporters will appreciate that there is a need for financial prudence (there are things like the FFP regulations to be obeyed after all), but we are currently operating at a level in the transfer market many steps below sides which are not in receipt of the £8 million parachute payment we are having this season.

I would argue that we are currently in the same sort of position as we were for the majority of the Ridsdale years whereby we had to sell one or two of our best players every season in an attempt to remain financially viable.

Say what you like about Ridsdale, he had the knack of keeping supporters enthused every summer by making some eye catching signings, whether it be the veterans Fowler, Hasslebaink and Sinclair in 2007 or bargains like Chopra, McNaughton, McPhail, Loovens and Roger Johnson – add to that an Academy which produced a steady stream of youngsters good enough to shine in the senior team and you had an operation that was able to keep the punters onside when it came to on field matters at least.

Although much of the blame for our current woes lay at the door of Messrs Mackay and Solskjaer, they weren’t responsible for rubber stamping the deals between 2013 and 2014 which played such a part in seeing our debt levels rocket despite the huge level of income from television during our Premier League season.

There have been one or two signs lately that they are learning from past mistakes, but I don’t think it’s unreasonable to suggest that the transfer Committee system has been a disaster for the club given the number of poor or can’t be arsed players on huge salaries it has lumbered us with.

I wish David Marshall all the best at his new club, but I can’t help thinking that there may be more first teamers leaving before the window closes – the mess we have got into with goalkeepers offers all of the proof you need that we are operating very much on the hoof when it comes to transfer policy.

As things stand, the £3 million or so guaranteed income we are going to get from Marshall’s transfer (I understand that the much quoted £5 million is a maximum figure) means that we have had a transfer income of something like £6 million this summer.

With the Lex Immers, Emyr Huws and Joe Bennett signings making quite a dent in that figure I would have thought there may be a reluctance on the part of Messrs Tan, Choo and Dalman to release the sort of funding which would be needed to get us a striker of the quality we so patently need. Hwever, based on what I’ve seen so far in our home matches in particular, they are, figuratively speaking, dicing with death if they tell Paul Trollope he will have to look at cheap options to try to solve our striking, and goalkeeping, woes.

The money men might not think there is any chance of this squad going down, but combine our lack of firepower, pace and squad depth with the general feelbad feeling there is around the place and, oh yes, we can, and could well, be relegated this season.

Sorry for this being such a long piece, but it’s going to be a bit longer yet I’m afraid because Jon Candy (whose high quality photos of matches I’ve often made use of on here in recent years) has received a letter from the club asking him to stop taking his photos from now on. Now, it seems that Football League rules state that the club is well within their rights to make such a request, but it doesn’t half strike me as something of a sledgehammer to crack a nut approach when you consider that, as far as I know, Jon has never sought to make a profit from his photography.

Anyway, I’d like to express my sympathy towards Jon and thank him for his efforts down the years, I, and more particularly, this blog will miss his pictures – the day when this will be a photo free zone, when it comes to match action at least, draws ever closer I’m afraid.

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19 Responses to Batten down the hatches – storms forecast for the Cardiff City Stadium area!

  1. Anthony O'Brien says:

    An interesting report as usual. It’s good to learn that Cardiff now have so many young players with speed and talent, but knowing Cardiff it’s not impossible that we’ll never see them at the highest level. Also, I’ve heard a rumour that they are now being told to pay for their own kit, which to me seems to be a disgusting policy decision from the powers that be. There was almost certainly evidence of penny-pinching in yesterday’s game, as exemplified by the fact that many of the new stewards seemed to be extremely young and therefore presumably cheap.

    As for the game itself, a team set up to scrape a 1-0 result got what it deserved, albeit that the result was the wrong way round. The much-vaunted “wing-back” system virtually went out of the window with the selection of Jazz Richards at LEFT wing-back. His defensive work was good, and he did achieve one good shot on goal (with his right foot, of course) but the attacking impetus was minimal. Of course, it is now part of the Cardiff tradition to rely on players out of position. For example, neither Pilkington nor Immers have the instinct of a centre-forward, and both are showing signs of frustration, especially when they take up good positions and fail to get the ball. Gounongbe is clearly a centre-forward at heart, but his lack of goals (not always his fault) risk making him a source of mockery among many so-called fans. Lack of scorching pace through the middle remains a major defect for Cardiff. There was one incident yesterday when a Cardiff player broke away and the first man to get forward in support was Peter (“Methuselah”) Whittingham. The value of pace, incidentally, was highlighted on another occasion when Kadeem Harris was able to sprint across field and foil a Reading attack down the right,

    Speed in another area is a further problem for many Cardiff players — namely, speed of thought. Every free-kick, corner or throw-in has now become as predictable as chips for dinner in Benidorm. Surely, professional footballers should, at some time or other, be able to produce a surprise, even if it’s only a quick throw-in, or a throw-in to a the feet of a colleague lurking outside the goal area!

    To add to my unfortunate litany of negative comments, why wasn’t Emyr Hughes given an opportunity yesterday to show his worth in a dreadfully underperforming midfield?

    I habitually try to be fair-minded. believe me, and I accept that players and management deserve to be given time to sort out their problems, and yet I came away from yesterday’s debacle with one name on my mind — Craig Bellamy!

  2. Blue Bayou says:

    To lose to a late smash and grab goal to a team as poor as Reading were yesterday, is a concern, although these things happen in football.
    Then again Reading were no worse than QPR, who we also managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory from! Possibly one positive to come from these games is that we still have a few days left to convince the Transfer committee that we need to invest in a new striker before the Window closes on Wednesday, if we want to have any chance of making the playoffs.
    Also, I remember during saying during last season, when Wales Online ran ‘Should Slade be sacked’ polls after any setback, that Russell Slade will only appreciated by some fans after he has left us.
    Does the fact that we have already lost as many home league games this season, as we did for the whole of last season under Russell Slade surely point to the fact that we ought to recognise him for that at least?
    Unfortunately, probably not. Some fans will still complain about the style of football that was on-show in some of those games. Probably the same ones who said they’d prefer to watch a different style of football, even if it meant us finishing lower down the league.
    I think they may be getting their wish this season – even 7th place seems a long way away at the moment!

  3. Richard Holt says:

    I’m observing events from foreign fields Paul and even from this distance it’s all a worrying picture. I’ve a feeling an important chapter in our sequel ‘The Journey Back Down’ will concern itself with developments over these few weeks.

  4. Dai Woosnam says:

    Thanks Paul for your ever-thoughtful, philosophical take on events at the CCS. Gee, you don’t show up those literary tarts at Wales Online. Delme Parfitt writes a piece on Marshy’s departure that he should be ashamed of. Any ten year old submitting it to his teacher, would have it returned with the words “needs much more work”. All he did was full it full of tweets…and even gave us each of those twice, to pad it out.

    Do these hacks do ANY work at all for their handsome salaries and their press passes (the latter meaning they can walk not just into sporting events, but to virtually every commercial attraction in Britain, on the production of that pass, and a glib promise of a promotional article*)?

    Now, re The Bluebirds…

    Hilaire Belloc is whispering in my ear…and the question is, will the whisper turn into a stentorian voice? And then into a Belloc BELLOW…?
    Viz., one of his most famous couplets…
    ‘…
    And always keep a-hold of Nurse
    For fear of finding something worse.
    …’
    And thus very soon, people become nostalgic for the days of Russell Slade..?

    I can just imagine our Barry Cole going into a dead faint at the prospect !!

    But Paul Trollope is beginning to worry me.

    And the warning bells are really ringing off the wall, with the purchase of Joe Bennett. I would not take this fellow on a free transfer…and minimum wage £7 an hour.

    If I was ever immodest enough to apply to go on Mastermind, he might be my specialist subject.

    How come?

    Well, that’s easy to explain. Eddie Walker – apart from being a magnificent singer/songwriter (check him out on YouTube) – is one of my closest friends, of many years’ standing. And he lives in Middlesbrough.

    And about 4/5/6 years ago (I forget how long…I lose track of the years), he me sent a pic of his grandson and Joe Bennett. He told me how nice JB had been to the boy.

    Well, that made me take an interest in looking out for the player, whenever the Boro (and later, the Villa) were on TV.

    Alas I have to report that every time I have seen him, he has given a 3 out of 10 performance. That bad…honest.

    And added to hopeless distribution, poor heading and ineffective tackles, he has shown a sneaky love of the shirt pull and the dark arts. And shows no discipline, and is seemingly unashamed when he lets the team down.

    I wish I could share your view Paul that he is a decent addition to our squad. Alas, to me, he is a diabolical decision to waste money. If Paul Trollope thinks he is a footballer, then I have no remaining faith in Mr T. Simple as that.

    As for our friend Kermorgant…I cannot dislike the guy, and feel happy for him, having really felt for him when his extravagent Panenka did not come off that night. Yes it was not the game to try that silly penalty in…and indeed, had it been not a play-off semi final shoot-out, but even an ordinary league game, you only take such penalties when you are five goals up.

    So a shocking error. And one deserving of the Leicester fans’ wrath.

    But wrath is one thing.
    Crucifiction is another.

    Thus I have always felt a certain warmth for the Frenchman…so if we had to lose to the team with – in Jaap Stam – easily the scariest looking manager of all 92, then Kermorgant would have been my choice for the bloke I wanted to score the winner.

    And hey, this gives me a chance to paste out again on your blog Paul, my favourite version of Bright Eyes…the best football based re-working of a song melody …EVER.

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Iad3gV-9C1U&autoplay=1

    And finally a word on David Marshall.
    I feel really sorry for the keeper at Hull. Did he not pull off a few blinding saves yesterday against Man U ?! Golly…if only HE would come to us…instead of Ben Amos…although in truth, I know little about the latter, and do not find my animus running full throttle over him, like it does with the appalling Mr Bennett…a chap who must have a silver-tongued agent, that is all I can conclude.

    * I have known a goodly number of journalists down the years, and trust me, they will not pay admission prices for ANYTHING if they can help it. That NUJ press pass is worth its weight in gold, and flashing it, gives one gratis entry into all sorts of places.
    Not long ago, I paid to enter Lincoln Cathedral. A journalist friend with me, just flashed his card – like a detective sergeant showing his warrant card – and was given free entry, without even a question.
    Not for nothing did my old friend and regular email exchanger, the late, always irascible, Ian Skidmore, call his autobiography…”Forgive Us Our Press Passes”…!!
    DW.

  5. Dai Woosnam says:

    Oh dear…just spootted I missed a vital word out in my second para…

    It should have read…you don’t HALF show up

    Apols.

  6. Barry Cole says:

    Paul the warning bells are ringing louder and louder as it seems that the suspect transfer team are now looking at lafferty. I was at pains to point out that this position will cost money and if we didn’t get it right then there is a good chance that we could face a relegation season. It’s not just getting this position right with a goalscorer holding a goal cv but we are desperate for a quick thinking and moving midfielder?
    I am not here to chastise Trollope although he took the role on as he will have to take what is given to him from an inept transfer committee who simply do not have enough football knowledge. Whilst this continues there is only one way we are going and having seen tans responses to spending is always in the negative then it’s simple what will transpire. We will continue to lose games and the players will continue to lose belief and suddenly it’s too late.
    Lafferty will never be the answer and it’s another cheap call from the transfer team, it maybe too late but we really need someone in with experience and get these clowns out of ruining our club.
    Tan made an effort last year and fans responded but yet again he has lost it He simply doesn’t have a clue how to deal with the fans and it obvious he really hasn’t anything left to give to us. His only hope will be to say it as it is and hope that we understand what the is because at this stage the only plan I see is relegation.

  7. Russell says:

    I left the ground deflated, I joked to others about missing Slade’s tatics,and results, I wonder know if I was trying to tell myself it was and would be better with Slade still in charge ??

    We are playing with a tactic the team cannot deliver in its current state, and we have no pace of zeal about us so teams are never really on the back foot.

    We need to move out the old guard midfielders who have no pace ,and shake it up with youth and pace,yhe risk is worth taking as the current lot will take us down in my view.

    Anitger issue I had with our current manager and his team yesterday,why name ALF on the bench and then leave him their, when we were crying out for a striker .

    On the subject of keepers I know Amos was well thought of at Utd, and is a very good outfield player. Most clubs in our situation with a 31 year old on the books with big wages would sell,so sadly I agree with the Marshall move,if it provides necessary funds, he us my second favourite keeper behind Ron Healey.

    Finally I looked at the club’s we have played and they are in the majority in the top half of the table, and we competed well with them ,especially then away games.

    Here’s a thought 442 at home 352 away.

    Paul thanks again for the review’s of the youth games ,at least gives me an uplift of some progress at tge club.

    Finally I would like to share my thoughts on the club. They are reducing the overheads, for a possible buy out, perhaps ,ir our owner is not of the best health or interested any longer ,and wants out. He is keeping very low key and away from comment. It might be just FFP ,but I doubt it, something is afoot holmes

  8. Clive Harry says:

    Just a quick comment with apologies to Barry. He mentioned our football transfer committee as ‘not having enough football knowledge’. I presume this was a typing error and he meant ‘not having any football knowledge’. Hope this helps.

  9. Dai Woosnam says:

    Neat line there from Clive. Certainly, the signing of Bennett* would suggest to me that the transfer committee are clearly about to do a footballing version of The Producers…take your pick as to who is our version of Mel Brooks.
    Talking of black comedy…
    It is bad enough that I allude to the serious subject of cruel death in a footballing comment, but that I cocked-up the spelling of “crucifixion”, is pretty shameful for a three times a Sunday ex-Rhondda boy, like me. (Just spotted it 5 minutes ago. I really oughta proof-read my scribblings.)
    Just evidence – if you needed it – that I never use a spellcheck. And that I have been too addicted in adulthood to reading FICTION…and not “fixion”…!!
    Oh, and btw, I really do know the difference between a para and a sentence…although you would wonder at it in my 5.30 pm today post.

    Before closing, I note the England squad just announced. I feel vindicated. Just under two years ago, Paul, I wrote (words to the effect) on your blog after one of Russell Slade’s first games at CCS against Forest, that in the last twenty minutes, Cardiff were seemingly up against a superman who was unplayable.
    He was my first name in my Championship team at the end of that season. I note Paul, that you did not quite share my belief in him, as he was not in your team of the year.
    Great to see Sam Allardyce pick him, after Bilic has been playing him out of position, of late.
    I refer of course to Mihail Antonio.
    WHAT a player !!
    DW.

  10. MIKE HOPE says:

    A great analysis of our current predicament from TOBW and regular contributors.
    I think we all agree that we need more pace throughout the team and that our so-called wing back system is actually a back 5 with the backs getting forward no more than you would expect from a flat back 4.
    Bolton fans opinion of Amos and Dai’s inside knowledge of Joe Bennett does not inspire confidence that better times are ahead.
    I enjoyed the ‘Brighteyes’ song though; if the talented but depressed Leicester fan who produced it could only have known what was just three or four years away!
    I’m a bit surprised by Barry’s pessimism as he spent most of last season telling us that we already had the players for automatic promotion.
    My understanding of the club’s financial outlook is that Vincent Tan has promised that over the next four years he will convert the indebtedness into equity thus producing a debt free club if and when someone else takes over.
    I think it is safe to assume that he was talking about the debt as it stood at the time of the promise and he had no plan to mop up further losses over the four years.
    As he examines his burnt fingers from the Malky and Ole era [with contracts awarded by the latter still a drain ] it is unlikely that he will give much thought to the ’speculate to accumulate’ theory.
    I fear therefore that we face a further period of cost cutting until our wage bill is on a par with our income which after the end of parachute payments will come mainly from possibly diminishing gate receipts.
    Mr Tan will perhaps bear in mind that selling or buying a player for £2 million is equivalent to about five thousand season tickets.
    In the short term we have to hope that from September 1st our manager will be able to mould the players available to him into a team that is worth supporting and paying to watch.
    In the longer term or in current management speak ‘going forward’ perhaps Mr Tan will sell to a billionaire Chinese colleague looking for a Championship club playing in blue and needing only investment to get into the Premier League!

  11. The other Bob Wilson says:

    Plenty of stuff to consider here in another interesting set of replies. Just a few thoughts regarding some of the points made.
    1. AMO, it seems to me that a team should be able to get by with one, perhaps even two players who are not being used in their optimum position, but that could, arguably have been said about Harris, Peltier, Richards, Gunnarsson, Ralls, Whittingham, Immers and Pilkington on Saturday – Noone then came on to play in a role which he has barely ever played in before!
    2. Blue Bayou, Russell Slade did a good job in some respects, a decent one in others and a downright awful one in others. As I keep on saying (but keep on failing to stick to myself!), the time to make judgments on the squad will be on Thursday when we will know who Paul Trollope will have to work with for the next four months. At the moment though, the omens don’t look good if the Kyle Lafferty rumours are true – I genuinely believe that we’d be in a similar position as we are now if Slade was still here and was having to manage in the circumstances Trollope is.
    3. Richard, I mentioned that we are about a year behind where Blackburn are if the club continues it’s “progress” since getting promoted – recent developments make me think that maybe I was being a tad optimistic there. I’ve thought all along that decent money would be available to Trollope for these last few days of the window if we were able to get the wage bill down and sell one or two first teamers, but I’m not as sure as I was about that now.
    4. Dai, I’ll wait and see about Bennett – I’m not expecting anything brilliant from him, but plenty of managers seem to have decided that the Championship is his level and the Sheffield Wednesday manager seems to be a decent judge of a player. Yann Kermogant will always be remembered for one thing by City fans, but whenever I’ve seen him playing for Charlton, Bournemouth or Reading in recent years, he’s quite impressed me. Pleased for Antonio, given his form in 2016, he’s in the England squad on merit.
    5. Got to say that I broadly agree with you Barry. For me, Lafferty is a player of some talent who has under achieved throughout his club career and for a fair part of his international one as well – he also seems to be a bit of a loose cannon and at 28, I don’t see him changing too much now. I was horrified when we first linked with Jay Bothroyd and at the moment I feel much the same about Lafferty, but I also had a realisation that Bothroyd’s ability levels were so high that there was a player who was easily good enough for the Premier League if a manager could get him to buckle down and apply himself and, fair play to Dave Jones, he came as close as anyone to doing that with Bothroyd. With Lafferty, although I think there is talent there, it’s not to the same level as with Bothroyd.
    6. Well said Clive!
    7. Russell, agree with you about the problems with the new system being down to more than just the lack of a good striker and about LeFondre. We need another keeper now to come in and be the first choice because I don’t believe either of the current ones are good enough to play forty matches for us this season. No matter what the table says at this time of the season, I think all three sides we’ve played at home have been pretty poor. There are plenty who seem to feel the same way as you about a possible sell up – I think Vincent Tan would be interested if someone showed an interest, but I just don’t see why anyone would at the moment.
    8. Mike, I agree about the lack of pace and that we are currently setting up like an away side no matter where we are playing. Regarding debt to equity, I’m party to some news on that which should break fairly shortly, but, for now, I’m sworn to secrecy – I agree with you though that the conversion talked about would be for the debt as of a certain time, rather than being a continuous process. From Vincent Tan’s perspective, the current lack of spending is entirely understandable and I don’t believe that the fans have a right to be too critical given what’s happened in the past. That said, it’s so frustrating that with Cardiff it always has to be one extreme or the other. In the summer of 2013, the club were at a crossroads, the two sides who were promoted with us (Hull and Palace) took the correct turning and we didn’t – the final league table of 2013/14 stands as a huge indictment of all at Cardiff at that time (with the exception of a few of the players) when you see where we finished up compared to those two sides I’ve mentioned and I’d say we are now at a stage where the bungling of the transfer Committee has cost us a lot more than Malky Mackay did with the Cornelius signing. Until Fabio left, I don’t think there was one player signed by the transfer Committee that had been sold by us at a profit – we messed up when we were really splashing the cash, but we’ve also got it badly wrong most of the time when we’ve tried to be more cautious as Messrs Tan, Choo and Dalman have taken a more active part in the process.

  12. Barry Cole says:

    In reply to mike I certainly did say that we had the team to get promoted last season with a decent manager we would have reached that dizzy height.
    This year we have lost Fabio and marshall and I still think we may lose another player before the transfer deadline. I have seen what has come in and yes my thoughts have changed quite dramatically.
    Needless to say I have also continued to bang the drum on getting a decent and costly centre forward with goals on his cv but for that to happen we need a midfielder capable of turning defence into attack quickly.
    But I will still be there as I have renewed my season ticket now mr slade has departed and Paul Trollope will get the same time to make improvements that I gave to slade. Unfortunately slade didn’t make it , I hope Paul does and if he does under this cloud then all credit to him

  13. Dai Woosnam says:

    Dear me. Honestly, there are times when I genuinely wonder if I am going gaga.
    Today is one such.

    Seems like I am on a losing streak right now. Elementary spelling howlers I almost deserve “crucifixion” over, and now I have led dear Mike up the wrong garden path.
    Gee…I don’t know what I was thinking about when I said “Bright Eyes” !! Call it a senior moment.
    It was of course “Total Eclipse Of The Heart”. (When I freakishly found this masterpiece while surfing YouTube a year or so back, I stuck the link up for Paul and our gang here, with proper attribution to the Neath Nightingale’s biggest hit. Don’t know what came over me to confuse it with the Mike Batt number…not remotely similar.)
    Sincere apologies Mike. And since what little reputation I have as a writer, has largely been in the field of music, I am this morning looking suitably embarrassed. God knows how “Bright Eyes” made its way from my brain to my fingers. I put it down to being so upset at the signing of Joe Bennett. I note I put an asterisk by his name in my last posting and forgot to follow up with a footnote. For the record, such a footnote would have read ”he physically looks the part though, is enviably lean and is far from slow”.

    Will sign off now with Bonnie Tyler’s voice in my inner ear. And a recollection of my days selling wine throughout South Wales.

    I recall – circa 1984 – calling on a regular customer, Alan Pope the chemist, in Dynevor Street (or was it ROAD and not street?…yes it WAS road) in Skewen. And saying to him, “I keep meaning to ask you Alan…does Bonnie Tyler come from around this part of town?”.
    And his reply was priceless…
    “Ah, Gaynor Hopkins you mean! See that house opposite…and the bathroom sticking out? Well that was where Gaynor would practise…she liked the acoustics you see! And we could hear her singing all the way down the road. And light-heartedly we’d shout up at her to ‘pipe down, as you will never make a singer Gaynor’. How little we knew!”

    And that should fire a warning shot across my bows. I can just see the headlines at the end of this season as Joe Bennett is announced as Bluebirds Player of The Year.

    And they say God is deeply serious…!!??

    All I can add is that if Joe Bennett is the Fans’ Player of the Year, it must have been – by definition – a relegation season…(excuse my gallows humour).
    DW.

  14. Clive Harry says:

    I know this is rather off topic but for those of you interested in films, I’ve heard that Rhys Healey is starring in a remake of The Invisible Man.

  15. Anthony O'Brien says:

    Clive,

    I can’t see it at all. Anyway, I thought Lord Lucan was in line for the part, and there was going to be a horse scene with Shergar.

  16. MIKE HOPE says:

    Dai, no need to apologise,I didn’t think it was the song about the rabbits-you’ve read the book you’ve seen the film now try the pie!
    The lyrics of ”Total Eclipse” include the line- ”turn around bright eyes ” so I think we both have a get out.

  17. Lindsay Davies says:

    Paul. I’m sorry I’m such an infrequent ‘visitor’ to the Mauve and Yellow these days…and, to the Stadium.
    I admit to making my judgments from my Wolf’s Lair overlooking London’s Hampstead Heath, having long given up my Season Ticket during the ‘reign’ of OGS. (First Great Western abandoning the Quiet Coach – where I used to encounter Kinnock and Abse – didn’t do much to encourage the round-trip, either).
    Anyway, these thoroughly entertaining exchanges have only made me gloomier.
    I like the easy way out – blame OGS, or Slade (more Noddy Holder than School of Art, as I once said, via e-mail, to the Supporters’ Trust; it’s how I ‘met’ Paul). I haven’t the intellectual energy to delve into the running of the Club – I just know ineptitude when I see it.
    I think it’s time that Trollope reverted to writing interminable novels of Victorian Episcopal life – certain to be more gripping than what he’s putting out at the moment, and Dai “Three Times On Sunday” (those were the days) W would enjoy them.
    Eavesdropping :
    “Who’s your top scorer, then?”
    “Shane Duffy.”
    “What sort of bloke is he?”
    “Dunno – he plays for Blackburn.”
    Boom, boom.

    By sheer coincidence, I’m about to move even further from Godzone – East, to Norwich.
    In spite of the dire state of things at our Club, it’s unlikely that this Bluebird will become a Canary, although I did like that team of Mark Bowen and Dave Phillips.

    all the best,
    Lindsay
    (Still a Member of the Supporters’ Trust!)

  18. Anthony O'Brien says:

    Have you heard what Idriss Saadi has just done, and how he did it,in effect, like a natural striker? I am still shell-shocked that he hasn’t been playing regularly for Cardiff, who have chosen to send him out on loan, ostensibly to improve his confidence and fitness., To quote that great beacon of truth, Bill Clinton, in another context, that is “b.s”. I am bound to ask, what have Cardiff City done in his time at the club to undermine Saadi’s confidence, and to allow his fitness to become a problem? He is among the best natural strikers I have seen, and from the beginning g I have regarded him as the answer to so many of Cardiff’s attacking and goalscoring problems, and yet he has been ignored just as much as Rhys Healey (mentioned above). I accept that fitness might have been a source of some hesitation in deploying his qualities on the field of play, but there has been ample time to sort that out. And if anything is likely to destroy a player’s confidence, it is to be left out of the team or sent out on loan when, in his heart of hearts, he must feel that for some reason (unknown to we lesser mortals) he is and has been the very man that Cardiff needed and have needed for a long time. I am tempted to sign myself in Daily Telegraph fashion as “Disgusted of Cheltenham”. I despair of another unfathomable decision by the powers that be, but fortunately I am able to control my anger if not my puzzlement !!!!!!!

  19. Dai Woosnam says:

    Dear AMO,
    Seven exclamation marks?
    Are you trying to usurp my position as the undoubted King Of Otiose Punctuation ?!
    (I jest of course…and you make a very solid point re Saadi).
    Talking of “news”…is it rught that Marshall is going for just £3.5m? Was his contract about to expire? Quite a contrast to the bsllpark figure of £5-£6m a year ago, being apparently about to be offered by Pulis and Martinez.
    Dear Mike,
    Thanks for reminding me of the words “bright eyes” appearing in both of the lyrics.
    That old “subconscious” doesn’t half work overtime for us all, eh?
    Dear Lindsay,
    I’ve read a few Trollope novels and found them considerably better plotted than his 2016 namesake’s team tactics. Ha!
    And finally, to any citizen of Skewen reading this: if Alan Pope is still alive (and he may well be, being an approximate contemporary of mine)…PLEASE trust me, him being a “chemist” was certainly not a code for some illicit substances being sold with the booze! (Weak joke from me.)
    Rather, it was just that the profusion of chemists in the South Wales Valleys licensed to sell booze, meant that in some towns every third customer seemed to be a chemist*. And momentarily, as I thought of his shop opposite Bonnie Tyler’s childhood house, I thought of him as a chemist…but today my head has cleared and I can say with conviction, that in reality, he was a good old fashioned off licence.
    * this goes back to before the days of supermarkets, to when the Chapel was still king.
    And Mrs Jones could not be seen coming out of a pub’s “beer-off” carrying alcohol, or she might be denounced from the pulpit by her chapel deacons on the following Sunday !! Much better to have her drink wrapped in a brown paper bag by her chemist. That way, it looked “medicinal”.
    And that folks, is the reason why the South Wales Valleys had -,per capita – the greatest number of licensed chemists in the UK…i.e., the sheer number of noncomformist chapels.
    And a century later, with so many turned into BINGO halls, maybe we hold the – per capita – record there too!
    DW.

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