Campbell with decider as City do just enough to reach last sixteen.

CoymayTime was that City making the Fifth Round of the FA Cup was considered a real achievement and when you consider that it only happened three times (71/72, 76/77 and 93/94)  between 1959 and 2007, that viewpoint is entirely understandable. I suppose the competition’s decline in relevance during the Premier League years goes some of the way to explaining the lack of “Cup fever” greeting our progress to the last sixteen of the tournament with yesterday’s 1-0 win at Bolton, but I would say it’s also got something to do with it being the third time we’ve done it in six years – in fact I had heard it said that we were suffering from something of an FA Cup drought considering that it had not happened since 2009!

So, new boss Ole Gunnar  Solskjær has his second win, but, truth be told, City’s performance yesterday had a lot more in common with the sort of ground out wins which became a habit this time last year as we maintained our advantage over the chasing pack under former manager Malky Mackay than it did with the more flamboyant fare Ole wants us to display.

The BBC’s match stats show a total of three on target efforts over the ninety minutes, but, as David Marshall had to make two sprawling saves in the second half, Bolton’s alleged single shot on target looks a bit dubious – two for us looks right though because, apart from the goal, I cannot remember home keeper Lonergan having to deal with any on target shots apart from a late effort by Kimbo.

It was a game low on thrills and spills then, but, ironically, it was one of the latter which decided it – Lonergan making a mess of a routine looking catch and presenting Fraizer Campbell with a close range opportunity from an acute angle which he duly tapped in.

Fraizer Campbell scores the goal which ensures we have an extra fixture in February - the home game with Fulham on March 8 would have to be rearranged if we made it into the Quarter Final.

Fraizer Campbell scores the goal which ensures we have an extra fixture in February – the home game with Fulham on March 8 would have to be rearranged if we made it into the Quarter Final.*

 

Just like at Newcastle in Round Three, it was the introduction of Campbell and Craig Noone which made the difference for City. This time they were both brought on at half time and it was the winger whose cross led to Lonergan’s error and Campbell’s seventh goal of the campaign (not too bad a figure at all considering City’s league position and goalscoring record). Although he was only on the pitch for around a quarter of an hour, City’s third substitute, Mats Møller Dæhli, also made an impact as the youngster made a very favourable impression with some delightful touches and perceptive passes which offered the hope that he might just turn out to be as good as the hype which has accompanied him from his early days at Manchester United suggests he is.

Ben Turner, Mark Hudson and Kevin McNaughton may be three players who might not see much first team action in the future if Ole really does place as much importance on passing the ball well from the back as it’s sometimes been reported he does, but here. as City ended a run of eleven consecutive defeats at Bolton, they coped more than well enough against a home side obviously lacking in confidence following their 7-1 thumping at Reading last week. The two centrebacks were completely dominant against Welsh international Craig Davies who received little support from his team mates in his lone striker role and this only helped add to the impression that you were watching the sort of performance we saw at places like Birmingham and Leeds last year where City were high on efficiency, but pretty low on flair.

It was City’s effective defending which took the eye during a poor first half. They did pass the ball in the middle of the park better than Bolton at times, but there was little or nothing from them in the terms of end product and they went through a spell after the first quarter of the game where they turned over possession too easily.

Unfortunately, new signing Magnus Wolff Eikrem, who was making his first start for the club, was particularly culpable during this period – he did do some good things in possession, but gave the ball away badly in dangerous ares twice and it wasn’t really a surprise that he was one of those to make way for Campbell and Noone at the interval.

Sadly, but predictably, the other City player to be withdrawn was Andreas Cornelius. Having done quite well in two recent Development matches where he had got almost a hundred and eighty minutes game time, you would have hoped that the expensive striker would have looked more the part when he was given another start with the seniors, but, if anything, his performance was worse than what we’d seen before. It wasn’t all bad from Cornelius – he started quite well and did show a bit of pace and strength to shake off an opponent and put over a dangerous cross which left back Ream did well to clear as Kimbo waited to pounce, but, strangely this seemed to lead to a loss of confidence rather than a gaining in it because after that he completely failed to utilise the physical attributes he has been given and, overall, the home centrebacks Knight and Mills, fresh from that mauling they got at Reading, can seldom have had as easy a forty five minutes this season as this one.

There’s not much else to say about the game really except for me to repeat the somewhat forlorn hope expressed in my piece on the Newcastle match that the draw for the next round of the competition will see us get a home draw because it’s been so long now since we had one that I’m beginning to forget if my season ticket counts or not for such matches!

So, I thought I’d finish by doing a round up of what’s been happening recently in terms of actual transfers and rumours as to possible targets as well mentioning the games played by the Development team and the Under 18’s in the past week. Dealing with the last bit first, I’d already mentioned that Andreas Cornelius had played a second match for the Development side, well it became five wins from from five games this season with Swansea at senior, Under 21 and Under 18 levels when a couple more efforts by the prolific Rhys Healey and a comical own goal by home captain Scott Tancock were enough to provide a 3-1 victory which takes the team six points clear at the top of the table – the sending off of captain Deji Oshilaja for a professional foul providing the only negative from the game.

As for the Under 18’s, they followed up a 2-1 win at Millwall on the weekend with a 3-2 win at Oxford United to reach the last sixteen of the FA Youth Cup – captain Macauley Southam, winger Abdi Noor and midfielder Tom Burridge (from an excellent free kick) getting the goals which earned  a home tie with Chelsea at Cardiff City Stadium on 18 February in the next round.

On the transfer front, John Brayford has reunited with former boss Nigel Clough by heading off on loan to Sheffield United for the rest of the season, joining Filip Kiss (Ross County), Joe Ralls (Yeovil) and Nicky Maynard (Wigan) who have all left on temporary deals. Also departing has been striker Rudy Gestede whose loan move to Blackburn was turned into a permanent one earlier this month and, with three goals in his last four Championship matches, Rudy is making a good start to life at his new club.

It also looks pretty certain that Peter Odemwingie will be signing for Stoke in the next day or two with the potteries club taking over the remaining period of his Cardiff contract after his summer move from West Brom, which I’m sure virtually everyone will agree has not been a success. There will be no fee involved, because Ole confirmed after yesterday’s match that Kenwyne Jones will be joining us in a straight swap deal. If the deal is completed it means that, in many ways, we will be replacing one signing of someone who came to Cardiff with much to prove with another one – I thought Odemwingie would be looking to prove something to his old club and the boost he got from a new environment would see him do well at City in the short to medium term and that’s pretty similar to how I feel about Jones.

My hopes for Odemwingie proved to be false ones, but if Ole can get Kenwyne Jones motivated and firing for the rest of the season, then he’s got it in him to be a real handful at Premier League level – it seems a risk worth taking to me (especially when  you consider Odemwingie’s Cardiff career was going nowhere).

Ole also stated that a permanent deal had been all but completed for Manchester United left back Fabio Da Silva. A pretty uninspiring loan spell at relegated QPR last season and a perception that he was living in the shadow of his twin brother Rafael meant that I wasn’t really too enthused when I first heard the rumours (which have been around for a few weeks) of his arrival at Cardiff, but, having read what has been said about him on a couple of Manchester United messageboards, I’m more upbeat about what he can give us.

Kenwyne Jones celebrates a  goal at Craven Cottage - the Trinidad and Tobago looks almost certain to be the target man chosen by Ole Gunnar Solskjær to try and improve our miserable goals for record.*

Kenwyne Jones celebrates a goal at Craven Cottage – the Trinidad and Tobago looks almost certain to be the target man chosen by Ole Gunnar Solskjær to try and improve our miserable goals for record.

From two deals which look like being completed to one which has seemed to be in the bag on at least a couple of occasions and yet has still not gone through. On Thursday it was being reported that Wilfried Zaha was undergoing a medical before his loan move and could well be playing at Bolton, but with no more concrete news in the following three days yet, it seems that there might well have been a hitch in negotiations. Zaha may well end up at Cardiff, but I won’t be distraught if he doesn’t – he’s  a talent for sure and I don’t think Palace would be in this division now if he hadn’t been playing for them last spring, but to read some of the stuff the local press were coming out with a couple of days ago, you would have thought we could be signing someone in the Messi/Ronaldo class rather than a kid with plenty to prove who has not started a Premier League match yet.

A couple of rumoured targets are Wigan centre half Ivan Ramis  and Argentinian international winger Ignacio ‘Nacho’ Scocco. There are Wigan fans who say they would have stayed up last season if it hadn’t been for the cruciate knee injury that kept Ramis out for the last four months of the campaign and he would appear to be the kind of footballing centre half Ole wants, but this is another deal which seems to have gone cold after looking well on the way to going through a couple of days ago when  it was being reported that our bid had been accepted. Scocco, who had a tremendous goalscoring record at Brazilian club Internacional last season, is, apparently, a target for us and Sunderland – if this is true, then I would say that the prospect of an appearance of a Wembley appearance in the League Cup Final for the Wearsiders would appear to give them an advantage we cannot compete with except by offering well over the odds when it comes to wages.

Finally, it was hoped that our latest signing from Molde midfield man/striker Jo Inge Berget would be in the squad for the game at Bolton, but his international clearance did not come through in time. Berget, four times capped by Norway, had told Molde that he had no plans to renew his contract once it ran out this summer and so this is a signing which I assume did not cost us that much – whether he is the sort of player who can make a difference in our fight to stay up remains to be seen.

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

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6 Responses to Campbell with decider as City do just enough to reach last sixteen.

  1. Dai Woosnam says:

    Fine report, Paul.
    Is it my imagination, but does Turner play better when alongside Hudson?
    And one other thing: is it not strange how many City fans feel passionately about the colour of the SHIRT, but hardly have a care for the colour of the SHORTS.
    Seeing them again yesterday, made me realise now much better they look in white.
    Kindest,
    Dai.

  2. Geoff Lewis says:

    Hi Paul,
    As Dai said another fine report on the match and the recent transfer activities
    Watching the game yesterday, I agree that Turner seemed to play better when Hudson is along side him.
    Whitts a slight improvement, but his free kicks, leave a lot to be desired. Mason and Kim are to lightweight, Campbell and Noone they say it all when they came on. Cornelius alas send him out on loan say Newport County or some lower division club.
    Daehli as stated a cameo performance- Do we really need Zaha at the price he will cost?
    If we get Ramis albeit a steady influence in defence with Fabio at left back.
    I do feel that Ole must get rid of some more deadwood in the squad.
    Cheers
    Geoff

  3. The other Bob Wilson says:

    Not sure if you are aware of this Dai, but there was a vote on the colour of the shorts we’d wear this season. The choices were two different shades of red, black and white – I voted for white and, for reasons I cannot begin to understand, black got the most votes.

    As for what you and Geoff say about Turner playing better alongside Hudson, I’d argue that he played better than he has been recently – Turner and Caulker were doing fine earlier in the season. Bolton were pretty one dimensional in their attacking play yesterday and their approach played into Hudson and Turner’s hands – I’d say that combination would struggle against Premier League sides more subtle methods based on movement and technique.

    Geoff, the Echo was saying that Ramis is not as high priority a signing as the others who look to be joining today are, so I’m not so sure he’ll be signing now.

    As for Zaha and how much he is costing, I’ve just put on the messageboard that I suppose the club viewpoint is that he will be well worth the money if we stay up and pocket another £60 odd million next year. I’d also say that, in terms of transfer fees at least, I doubt it if we have spent that much. For example, I’ve seen it said that we paid £4 million for Dæhli whereas I have it very reliable authority that it was really something like £600,000 – that said, I agree that we do probably need to ship a few more out by the time the window closes because I feel we may well fall foul of the Financial Fair Play rules if we don’t.

  4. Dai Woosnam says:

    Geoff – thanks for agreeing with me on the Hudson/Turner axis.
    You also ask if we need Zaha? Thou canst not be serious, surely? Please do not be a David Moyes and be “suspicious of true genius”, as I remember a friend of mine watching Robin Friday’s debut with me, tut-tutting my claims that this boy had it all.
    Look, Geoff, the general opinion right now is that Wilfried is a SHOW PONY …albeit, an extravagantly GIFTED one.
    But I do not mind being in a minority of one. It has never bothered me in my life.
    And so I unashamedly declare …No… he is sooo much more than that (a “show pony”, that is).
    This boy has EVERYTHING.
    All the skills of a Laurie Cunningham …and then some! But will his career be as volatile as the Black Pearl’s?
    I fear it might. Unless he gets the right manager.
    With the right manager the sky is the limit. He has it in him to be the second British national to make a World X1 … Gareth Bale is the only candidate right now.
    Thank God he has not come with Malky still there. He would have stood no chance with a negative manager like a Malky/Moyes …guys who want ABOVE ALL to avoid defeat, rather than, ABOVE ALL to win.
    But please do not think he is another Taarabt: he is a Taarabt with twice his skills, and real aggression and a little bit of devil.
    Talking of Taarabt: I have just watched the live streaming of the Fulham cup tie with the sound down, and my national radio commentary on.
    And guess who Alvin Martin said was the man of the match? John Brayford of course. He was IMMENSE today.
    (Now Geoff, it is Fabio you should maybe resist!)
    Both Martin and the main commentator BOTH said that he was Clough’s new loan signing from – wait for it – …DERBY COUNTY.
    I find that error speaks VOLUMES.
    If you told them that Malky and Moody while on their madcap spending spree had bought this brilliant boy and then seemingly sent him to some gulag for four months, they would not have believed you.
    Life is getting more and more a PURE mystery to me.
    The Spendthrift Twins pay nearly £8m for the Danish Footballer of the Year, who appears to be playing in a pair of boots two sizes too small! Yet they gave this guy a 750% pay rise! YCNMIU*
    Here are all us Brits limited to 1% and he gets 750%. Were they duped by his agents?
    In future Vincent and Mehmet must do all the negotiating with Ole’s targets, after the Spendthrift Twins have surely disqualified club managers from this role for ever at CCFC.
    And to think that the blighters have got away with it. Made Vincent appear the villain!
    But back to Zaha.
    I remember writing an email to Paul following the Palace play off 2nd leg when he said that Whitts was the best player on the field.
    I told Paul that I then must have my eyes inserted wrong! To me, Wilfried was head, shoulders and TORSO above anyone else on the field.
    * = You Could Not Make It UP (even if you tried!)
    Kindest,
    Dai Woosnam
    daigress@hotmail.com

  5. Dai Woosnam says:

    It is me again.
    Sorry OBW, our postings crossed in the post so-to-speak, and I had not seen your “shorts” reply, when I clicked SEND 5 minutes ago.
    Yes I was aware of the shorts vote …and I was mighty relieved that the all red strip as modelled by Mark Hudson was given a firm thumbs-down.
    Pleased that you too prefer white to black.
    And that leads me on to an observation.
    These days, when two teams playing with black shorts meet, one team almost invariably changes shorts colour. Why?
    Presumably for the TV audience. But why?
    Back in the days when we all had B&W televisions, one could just about grasp it, if say, one team played in green shirts and the other in red.
    But today, with plasma screens and the like …?
    It is a nonsense, is it not?
    Oh and finally …
    A word on the socks.
    I far prefer red to black.
    (Mind you, it grieves me to say that Swansea stole a march on CCFC last year with their fantastic away kit in Welsh national colours! Michu looked the works in those green socks!)
    Kindest,
    Dai Woosnam
    daigress@hotmail.com

  6. Geoff Lewis says:

    Thanks Paul/Dai,
    You are quite right about Zaha, he could well make the difference between relegation and promotion and increase our revenue if we stay up for next season. I retract my statement he may well be another Robin Friday what a player for such a short season. I note Paul you mentioned the great Greg Farrell the other day- he could turn it ON. Before your time Brian WALSH was not a bad winger late fifties early sixties.
    Happy Days
    Geoff

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