Cardiff City managers 1963/2011 – mediocrity rules.

Yesterday on here I said that Jimmy Scoular and Dave Jones were the best two City managers I have seen at the club since I watched my first game in October 1963 – given that there have been some on the messageboards who have expressed the opinion that Jones does not deserve to be rated that highly, perhaps I should explain the reasons why I feel that way.

For a start, these two managers have the best record in Cup competitions – Scoular took us to two Quarter Finals and a Semi Final in the Cup Winners Cup and we also had our best ever run in the League Cup when he was in charge, while Jones’ took us further in the FA Cup than any manager had done since Fred Stewart in 1927. However, the main criteria in judging any manager has to be the week in, week out league programme which makes up the vast majority of fixtures any team plays and when it comes to this only Scoular and Jones have ever threatened to take us up into top level football in my time supporting the club.

Now, it needs to be said that there are plenty of City managers in the past forty eight years who, because of the prevailing circumstances at the club when they were in charge, never had the chance to do what Scoular and Jones challenged for. Therefore, I must say that the likes of Jimmy Andrews, the much under rated Richie Morgan, Len Ashurst, Frank Burrows and Eddie May were hardly bad Cardiff City managers – even so, I still believe that Scoular and Jones stand above them.

Jimmy Scoular looks on as Brian Clark (his best ever transfer deal?) signs for City in February 1968.

Some perspective is called for here though because I have always thought that in terms of catchment area, potential and history, Cardiff City’s natural home is the second tier of the domestic game (i.e. the current Championship), but that we should have more in common with the top level (Premiership) than the third (League One) – if we were to spend time out of our “natural” level it should be more likely that we would do it because we got promoted rather than relegated.

Now, perhaps I’m being too generous in my assessment there and others would say that we are more suited to the third tier than the first. Even if that is true though, surely at sometime during what is nearly half a century after all, we should have had a manager good enough to get us into the top flight even if it was just for one season? Because of this, I think it can fairly be claimed that even our two most successful managers of the past forty eight years could be said to be failures – Jimmy Scoular and Dave Jones were lucky enough to be in charge at times when this club with so much potential was relatively strong and still couldn’t deliver the promotion that other sides which seem less well equipped for top flight football have managed on more than one occasion.

Jimmy Andrews, a Cardiff City manager who got the club a promotion, wonders what he has let himself in for as Robin Friday signs on the dotted line in December 1976.

Talking of which, I suppose congratulations are in order for Swansea City who got themselves what I believe to be a deserved promotion to the Premiership by beating Reading 4-2 in yesterday’s Play Off Final at Wembley. Yes I know all about them going into administration twice and I repeat that I don’t see what good their promotion is going to do my team, but it must be said that ever since they beat Hull 4-2 to stay in the Football League in 2003, the jacks have given us an object lesson in how a successful football club should be run.

Using my dodgy mathematics, it looks like 2011/12 will be my forty ninth season of watching Cardiff City play. Up to now, City have spent twenty eight of those playing at their “natural” level and twenty playing below it – not once have they managed to climb above it. When you think about it, what a shocking indictment that is of the people who have occupied the Boardroom and managed the team during that time and in latter years the only plan has been for a club badly haemorrhaging money to throw more of the stuff at trying to buy their way to promotion.

Hopefully, the Malaysians will have more to offer than the Ridsdale’s and Hammam’s of this world and, having got their fingers burnt in indulging Dave Jones last year, they have moved to get rid of a manager who many claim have claimed to be our best ever, but, ultimately, has to be judged as another nearly man. Going back to Swansea again to finish, I reckon it’s fair to say that, despite starting each of the last two seasons with a new man in charge. two of their last three managers (Martinez and Rodgers) have been better than anyone seen at Cardiff since 1963.


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