Usually on a mid week match day the thought that City are playing in a few hours time is never far away and I find myself being reminded of it every few minutes. By contrast, I suppose it’s says all you need to know about how low priority last night’s Capital One (League) Cup Third Round tie at West Ham rated for me that hours passed by without it even entering my head – indeed, it had slipped my mind completely since mid afternoon until I looked at a clock and realised we were kicking off in twenty minutes time.
Therefore, I wouldn’t be too surprised if a few of the eleven Cardiff players who found themselves stood on the Upton Park pitch at a quarter to eight needed some time to remember why they were there and what they should be doing – sorry for being flippant there, but, judging by a start which saw them go 2-0 down in seven minutes on their way to an eventual 3-2 defeat, it’s fair to say that City were somewhat slow out of the blocks last night.
Now, years of listening to football games on the radio have taught me that it’s wrong to jump to too many conclusions about the match you are listening to – it’s better to wait until what you see for yourself if highlights are shown later or hear what people who were there watching the action have to say before you go too over the top in your praise or criticism. That said, there are times when it becomes so obvious what is going on that you can definitely get a mental picture of how the match is panning out -maybe it was the fact that Ed Miliband made his speech at the Labour Party conference yesterday afternoon, but the term “omnishambles” kept on coming to mind during the first forty five minutes.
As I mentioned earlier, there are times when it’s pretty obvious you don’t have to be wary of what is being said on the radio. For example, when Iwan Roberts uses words like “sloppy” and “criminal” about a side which concedes a goal within twenty odd seconds when it was they who kicked the game off, then there’s not much you can disagree with is there. City conceded again within minutes despite having a throw in of their own seconds earlier and it would have been 3-0 shortly afterwards if Joe Lewis hadn’t pulled off a great save which came a few seconds after City had been taking a corner.
From the sound of it, the only good thing to come out of the thirty five minutes after West Ham went 2-0 up was the fact that we didn’t concede again, but then, with the half time whistle about to be blown, Craig Noone fired home a tremendous shot after cutting in from the right and City went in at the interval just the one goal down.
Judging by the intensity with which City started the second half, Noone’s goal did not save the team from a half time rollicking. They kept up their improved performance for the next half an hour or so and an equaliser eventually came about when Peter Odemwingie scored his first Cardiff goal in his first start for the club when he scored from close range following a run by Jordon Mutch. After that, you got the impression neither side wanted extra time as they tried to settle things within the ninety minutes and it was the home side who got the decisive goal on eighty eight minutes when Vaz Te headed in a Collison cross.
So, it’ll be Premier League fixtures all the way for the club now until early January and the Third Round of the FA Cup. I don’t believe Malky Mackay will be too upset with that and, as is nearly always the case with our manager, he concentrated on the positives to come out of the game when talking to the media saying “I am asking people to give me headaches in who to pick for Premier League games and four or five did that. Peter [Odemwingie] was excellent.”.
Besides Odemwingie, I’m guessing Noone did his cause no harm. The last game I saw him play was against Swansea for the Development team and he wasn’t great, but, when he is on his game he can provide some of the game changing qualities that I feel we are short of. Noone was an “in and out” performer in the Championship last season, so it’s hardly as if he’ll come into our Premier League team and be a model of consistency – in fact, with us largely playing matches in which the priority will be to avoid defeat rather go for victory, I don’t see him being used much until December when we start a run of home fixtures in which I’d like to think we will be adopting different tactics to the ones seen so far at Cardiff City Stadium.
I get the feeling that Jordon Mutch might well be one of those four or five our manager mentioned as well, but it it’s virtually certain that Malky wasn’t thinking of John Brayford when he talked of players who had given him a headache. The ex Derby right back was withdrawn at half time for Kevin McNaughton and is one of two players signed for seven figure sums in the summer who have had what could be termed a problematic start to his Cardiff career. The other player concerned is Andreas Cornelius, but, in his case, the problem has been a persistent ankle injury – with the fully fit Brayford, on the other hand, it’s hard to avoid the feeling that Malky is far from convinced by him.
When Brayford played the full ninety minutes of the pre season game with Chievo I assumed he’s be our right back for the visit to West Ham for our first league game a fortnight later, but he didn’t feature at all against Bilbao seven days later and he’s not even made the bench yet for a Premier League match. Brayford is unique amongst recent City signings on the domestic front in that I did not read one critical comment about him from a fan of his former team when I went on a few Derby messageboards in the days following his signing – he’s also been called the best right back in last season’s Championship by some within the game (including our manager) and yet it certainly looks to me as if he’s going to have to wait until that FA Cup tie in January before he gets another first team chance here.