According to the print media, transfer windows always seem to “slam shut”, but, nationally at least, the loan window closed with a gentle click yesterday – there was plenty of business done among Football League clubs, but it was Cardiff City who were involved in the transfer which made most headlines. Time was, this would have meant we had brought someone in as we chased promotion, but not any more – like Matt Connolly last week, this was another instance of us letting a player go to a Championship rival who was looking to be playing Premier League football next season for “business reasons”.
This time, leading scorer Kenwyne Jones was allowed to join Championship leaders AFC Bournemouth on a deal until the end of the season (although the striker’s tweet yesterday saying “Thank you to all the Cardiff fans for your support its been a pleasure….” hardly sounded like someone who was coming back to Cardiff for 15/16).
Now, I described Connolly’s loan move to Watford last week on here as “bizarre”, but there were a couple of responses to that post of mine who saw it as a decent business for a club looking to cut costs. I was not convinced about this and came back with a response saying that I was concerned that any savings made could be more than lost if a fairly small number of current season ticket holders saw us hawking first team players around to other sides in our division as another reason not to renew for next season.
However, with Jones widely reckoned to be the biggest earner at the club currently and Bournemouth, reportedly, having agreed to paying all of his wages, a six figure loan fee and a similar sum if they are promoted, the “business reasons” argument does have more merit to it this time because the potential savings look to be far higher than they are with Connolly.
On the footballing side of things, I’m also more amenable to the Jones loan deal than the Connolly one. The defender’s versatility and ability to play out from the back are commodities that we don’t have much of in the back lines that will be playing until the end of the season, but, although Kenwyne has been our best forward this season, I’d also say that his presence in the team can at times dictate the way that we play – besides that, there are his rather widely differing levels of commitment from game to game as well!
Even so, I’m not aware of any of the other four members of the nothing to play for club in the Championship (the four sides immediately above us – Leeds, Sheffield Wednesday, Charlton and Blackburn) letting current first team players leave to aid other club’s promotion challenges.
In his reaction piece to Jones’ departure, Steve Tucker said supporters had responded to the loaning out of our top scorer with “a weary shrug” – I think he was right there, it certainly was my reaction when I first heard about it.
Maybe there are those at the club who would prefer a weary shrug reaction to their “business decisions” to shows of anger from fans amid calls of “sack the Board”, but I’m not sure they’d be right to do so. The latter option at least would show a degree of passion for the club from those responsible, whereas, increasingly, the impression I get at matches and in conversations with other supporters is that people are rapidly losing interest in the team.
Going back to Steve Tucker, it was illuminating to hear Nathan Blake talk about his impressions of how many Cardiff fans are feeling right now in the online show the pair of them do most Mondays. Blake spoke about the lack of a “philosophy” at the club – on the face of it, this would be appear to be something that would be a long way down any list of things that are wrong at Cardiff City, but I thought Blakey was pretty convincing in his argument.
If you were asked what individual clubs in the top two divisions “stood for”, I think you’d be able to make a decent guess in the case of more than half of them. In the cases of the more successful and stable ones, the approach is one that has been stuck to for years. Cardiff, on the other hand, lurch about like drunks on Caroline Street in the early hours of a Sunday morning as they veer from a throw money at it approach to the current severe austerity phase and, generally, this has been the pattern at the club for the last fifteen years.
So, maybe there is a Cardiff City philosophy after all, perhaps it is to stumble from one extreme to the other when it comes to football finances and to make all the usual noises about developing their own players while looking to fill any vacancies in the first team squad that may arise by recruiting from outside at least 90% of the time?
Nathan Blake was right in many ways, but he didn’t mention what, for me, is a huge factor in this breakdown in relations between the club and many of it’s supporters – the general level of incompetence in the way it is run both administratively and financially,
To give an example of what I mean, while the Cardiff based media concentrated solely on the Kenwyne Jones deal, the Newport Argus carried this damning story about young striker Rhys Healey who the club recalled from his spell at Colchester recently. Now, while the Welsh FA are, perhaps, portrayed as the villains in this case because they did not grant the required international clearance, the story also says that there was “confusion” over the terms of the original deal with Colchester and the decision was taken that he didn’t qualify for another loan move.
So, Cardiff recalled Healey from one club apparently because he wasn’t getting enough starts with them, arranged another deal with a second club where he was going to play every week. Instead, the player now finds himself in a position whereby, judging by County manager Jimmy Dack’s “Rhys can’t play for the rest of the season now, he’s going to essentially have a career break” comment anyway, he may not even be allowed to play for City’s Development team!
Someone at Cardiff must have negotiated the loan with Colchester, but it appears that they weren’t thorough enough – it seems to me that if there is a villain in this case, it’s this person.
It’s often the case, that when you are struggling you get no luck either and so I’m sure many of the season ticket holders who received an e-mail from Cardiff City yesterday urging them to join the England Supporters Club will not get to know about the subsequent clarification City issued stating that it was a Football League communication sent to all seventy two clubs. City were blameless this time, but their “previous” will ensure that they’ll be held responsible by large numbers of fans who are only aware of the e-mail they received.
Ironically, City seem to be on something of a charm offensive lately as they try to rebuild relations with fans, but, even if you forget about the rebrand, I’m fairly sure there are many who will have noted that for a couple of seasons the priority at the club seemed to be all about how they treated visiting supporters, while, at the same time, the owner occasionally spoke about City fans in a way many found insulting.
When you think where the club was two years ago and where they are now, you can only give that weary shrug at the degree of ineptitude the club has shown on so many levels. We are reduced to agreeing to deals that see first teamers playing for someone else over the next couple of months because we have had two seasons now where so few of those employed by the club in positions of management, both on and off the field, have done their jobs to even a competent level.
Before finishing, I should also add that there was also a loan arrival this week as Semi Ajayi, the young Arsenal centreback who impressed while scoring twice in a trial appearance for the Development Team in their recent 4-2 win over Coventry, has come in for the rest of the season – it seems he will not be featuring for the first team, but, with his contract at Arsenal up this summer, he fits the bill for the current version of the schizophrenia case that is Cardiff City.