Cruel defeat for City as squad limitations are laid bare.

First thing to say is that yesterday’s 4-3 defeat to Barnsley was the most dramatic home match I’ve seen in ages – in fact without giving the matter too much thought, I can only come up with two second leg Semi Finals (against Leicester in 2009/10 and Palace in 11/12) which, possibly beat it in terms of club games played at the new stadium.

When we pulled back to 3-3 with a couple of minutes left, I asked what do we do now, settle for the point which, given the circumstances it would have been gained under, would have maintained the feelgood factor that had built up following the victory over Wolves on Tuesday. or go for the win and leave ourselves vulnerable to an opponent who had shown themselves to be very effective counter attackers all afternoon?

It was a question I asked while being close to hundred per cent sure what the answer was. The momentum of the occasion and the atmosphere it engendered meant we were always going to go for the win – you only had to see the way Aron Gunnarsson grabbed the ball to take back to the centre spot after our equaliser to realise that.

As a fan, this was exactly what I wanted us to do and the truth is that, given the speed Barnsley showed when getting forward throughout the ninety minutes, they may have been able to fashion a winner anyway if we had taken the “boring” option of being a bit more cautious during the remaining minutes. I say this because I also thought it was a match which laid bare a host of fundamental problems that showed why Neil Warnock has only tended to play down expectations as to what can be done this season.

When people were talking of Play Off challenges after City had taken seven points from Warnock’s first three matches, the manager was saying things like it’ll probably get worse before it gets better, while his non stop references to what he was hoping to do in the January transfer window said all you wanted to know about what he thought of the strength or otherwise of the squad he had inherited (the fact that he chose to add four players to it before his first game in charge also tended to give the clue that he thought we were far from being in a false position in the table).

Bearing this in mind, the manager’s post match comments yesterday were very interesting. I mentioned on here after the Wolves game that Anthony Pilkington had said that there had not been a true Warnock dressing room rant since he had arrived at the club, but this sort of thing strongly suggests that some of the team at least were on the wrong end of his tongue (probably at both half and full time) yesterday.

The manager makes particular reference there to the two Barnsley goals which highlighted one of the major differences between two squads which, to be honest, don’t seem to have much in common.

I’ll say here and now that I cannot remember the last time I’ve seen a Cardiff team score a goal like Barnsley’s second and third ones yesterday (actually, the goal with which Peter Whittingham completed his hat trick in what may well be the last 4-3 match we played before yesterday, against Sheffield United at Brammal Lane, springs to mind now, but that was more than seven years ago).

To me, the statement which makes up that last paragraph says a lot about the sort of team Cardiff City have become in recent years. In fact, that probably should read the sort of team we have been for the majority of the time I have supported the club, but I’ll return to this theme later, because first I want to talk about the thing that so annoyed our Neil Warnock yesterday – our defending.

I agree with our manager when he said all four goals were poor ones to concede, but it’s those two length of the field breakaways that seem to have upset him most, because he feels that steps to deal with such things had been taken in the lead up to the match and were not adhered to by a couple of our players (presumably the pair of outfield players who did not go forward for the free kick and corner the goals stemmed from?).

Those who respond to my scribblings on here are a perceptive bunch and there was a reference  a few days ago to how we were nearly caught on the break by Wolves a couple of times after we had won a free kick or corner and sent our centrebacks forward. It had also been noticeable to me that Whittingham was having to do some pretty desperate covering and tackling as Brighton looked to break from our attacking dead ball situations in the home match before that.

It seems that opponents have spotted that what is our greatest attacking strength (an aerial attack from free kicks, corners and throw ins) also opens the door on one of, many it would appear given our goals against record this season, many defensive weaknesses.

What Brighton, Wolves and now Barnsley have done in our last three home matches goes to the heart of so much of what modern football thinking is about – football is probably as much about counter attacking today as it has ever been and our opponents yesterday struck me as very good exponents of this art, but they were also helped on their way by the fact that we appear to be so ill equipped to deal with it.

Let’s face it, any team that is relying on a player like Whitts so much in such positions is asking for trouble. To be fair to him, he has done pretty well recently in this department and he was unlucky yesterday when, having worked really hard to get back after taking the free kick, his interception saw the ball go straight to Josh Scowen to present him with a tap in for Barnsley’s third goal.

While mentioning the third goal, I’m going to digress for a short while to talk about Ben Amos. Having watched the highlights of the game a few times now, I’d say this is the only one of the four goals Amos should share a portion of the blame for. The keeper was certainly culpable for Wolves’ goal in midweek and his charge from goal for Scowen’s goal only made Barnsley’s task all the more simple, but I don’t see why he should be held responsible for our opponents first and last goals – there are many on the messageboards who are doing this.

I thought Sean Morrison left the scorer too much space for the first goal, but there was also a fine ball played by the impressive Conor Hourihane and an outstanding header by Sam Winnall in there as well – that header was placed to perfection and left Amos with no chance. Also. for the fourth one, I think it’s reasonable for a keeper to expect his centreback and left back (Bruno Manga and Peltier in this instance) not to let an opponent, in this case Marley Watkins, to burst between them and leave them both trailing in his wake, so ours was caught on the hop somewhat when this duly happened.

As with all of Barnsley’s goals, the problems started ahead of Amos. For the second one, we were in trouble once Craig Noone’s powder puff challenge for a header left Barnsley in control of the ball eighty yards from our goal with only two of our outfield players in front of them. It didn’t help our course either when another one (think it might have been Junior Hoilett) fell over as he chased back, but as was the case, all afternoon, Barnsley were able to prove that they had significantly more players with real pace in their team than we do.

So, Amos was not a major culprit behind our loss for me, but what I will say is that I feel our defence does not have much confidence in him and, as I’ve mentioned before, there’s been a lack of the sort of saves another impressive Barnsley player (the Wales qualified Adam Davies) made yesterday from him throughout his three months in the team. I can’t help thinking that if we had Davies in goals for us this season, our goals conceded figure would not be among the worst in the Championship.

It was always going to be hard for any keeper who was seen as David Marshall’s replacement and, possibly, I’m misreading our manager here, but I found his refusal to discuss Amos in yesterday’s post match press conference to be pretty revealing – I’ve thought for a while that goalkeeper was one of the positions Neil Warnock wanted to sign someone for next month and and I’m even more convinced of that now.

Not everything our manager said reflected his frustration at what he had just watched though. For the second successive game, Warnock spoke in very positive terms about striker Kenneth Zohore and, on the subject of the Denmark Under 21 international, I’m going to repeat myself here by praising the contributions of those whose views you’ll find in the Feedback section of this blog by saying that the responses to my piece on the Wolves match also included an analysis of Zohore’s technique when jumping for high balls in which the writer compared him unfavourably with Heidar Helguson who, I would guess, is about three or four inches shorter than him.

It was because of this that I watched Zohore more closely than normal yesterday when it came to his aerial prowess. In fact, it’s probably more accurate to say his lack of aerial prowess, because, to borrow an analogy from another sport I’ve used before about him I think, he doesn’t punch his weight when the ball is in air.

As the Barnsley centrebacks won header after header from balls pumped in Zohore’s direction in the first half, this was one of the main reasons why I coupled him with Craig Noone  when saying “they’re both playing as if they’re thinking, well I did well enough on Tuesday to keep my place in the starting line up for a few games”.

I didn’t think Zohore did that well in the first half, but it seems our manager disagrees with me because he was glowing in his praise of the player afterwards – I should say that I thought he was much improved after the break mind. Warnock did repeat his claim from earlier in the week that Zohore was one of a small group of players (is Emyr Huws another one I wonder?) who he had thought were a little lazy in training and that he needs to get a bit fitter, but he also said that he was looking to spend “decent” money on a striker in January,and, based on what he had seen in the last two matches, he wouldn’t be able to get better value for money than Zohore.

Neil Warnock also paid Zohore a compliment while bemoaning the sort of finishing which saw Hoilett, twice, and Rickie Lambert blow great scoring chances, when he said that he wished that they had fallen to him and, when asked what sort of striker he has been looking for, his reply was “one like Kenneth Zohore”.

The more I think about it, the more I believe that many of us, including our manager perhaps (after all, he did call himself “a lucky sod” when he said he wouldn’t have found about Zohore if was hadn’t played as badly as we did in the first half on Tuesday night!), have been fooled into thinking that, because of his size, Zohore can only play in a certain way.

I’ve said consistently, that although they all have their little differences, essentially, we only have one type of striker in contention for the first team these days – that is, targetmen. I’ve been expecting us to try to sign a mobile, nippy striker in the Chopra/Earnshaw mould, but when you have someone who has that ability to to move centrebacks about, has a bit of pace and power about them and could, with experience and the right coaching, become a real presence in the air, why not go for someone of Zohore’s size, rather than the shorter player I’d been expecting?

I’m not as convinced about Zohore’s finishing as our manager appears to be and I’m not saying he can become the sort of stylish, and unplayable, front man Jay Bothroyd was when the mood took him, but I see some similarities between the two players. For example, on Tuesday, his pace was able to earn himself a bit of space about thirty yards from the Wolves goal and the pass provided when it came was weighted so perfectly that Anthony Pilkington didn’t have to break stride before taking a touch and scoring. When Zohore found himself in the same sort of position yesterday late on in the game, the pass was, again, of exactly the right weight to Kadeem Harris, I think it was, only for the momentum to be lost by a combination of a poor first touch and a wrong decision by the receiver.

Yesterday Barnsley needed some dogged defending, good goalkeeping, helpful refereeing (the same ref who should have awarded us a penalty in the dying minutes at St. James Park last month this time missed a blatant handball in the box and there were two challenges in quick succession in the second half which could have seen us awarded spot kicks on another day) and some luck to gain their three points, but they were also very, very good at what they were good at.

I was most impressed with Barnsley’s pace and penetration going forward when I watched them in the League One Play Offs last season and the step up in standard has not seen those abilities being diluted either based on yesterday’s evidence. However, it’s not just speed that Barnsley possess, it’s players with the technique and composure to get things right while playing at pace.

There are some signs that Kenneth Zohore may have a bit of that to his game, but, sadly, I don’t see many of his team mates with those abilities – I mentioned earlier that we don’t score goals like Barnsley’s second and third (or fourth, for that matter) ones, but it’s not just pace our squad lacks, it’s also the reliable feet and calm, clear, minds that enable you to cash in on the opportunities your speed has won you.

It’s only fair to say that we played some good stuff going forward in open play and twenty two goal attempts to Barnsley’s ten may tell a story about our profligacy, but it also tells one about the “flow” of the game. However, where Barnsley looked like an attacking unit, we seemed like a team that was benefiting from moments of quality from individuals.

Only Newcastle have scored more than Barnsley’s thirty eight goals from twenty two matches in the Championship this season and so the attacking potency they showed yesterday was not a one off. The Yorkshire club have put together a squad that plays good, modern day, football in an entertaining manner consistently, largely, of players signed for modest sums from the lower leagues, many of whom know what it feels like to be rejected by so called bigger teams.

Speed of body and mind appears to high on the list of attributes that manager Paul Heckingbottom looks for when recruiting players and, watching his team yesterday and comparing it to the character and make up of our squad and the things that many supporters will tell you we’ve lacked for years, I couldn’t help but think that for “speed of body and mind” at Barnsley, read power and physique at City in recent years – in fact, while it would be wrong, to say it has been forever thus at Cardiff, it sometimes feels like it.

 

 

 

 

 

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17 Responses to Cruel defeat for City as squad limitations are laid bare.

  1. Russell says:

    Thanks Paul , you have pretty well summed up my thoughts of yesterday’s game , a lot of our group could not attend , im glad I did what a great event, yesterday typified why I started watching and loving the game some 45 years ago.

    I felt Connolly was by far our biggest weakness, followed by Morrisons lack of awareness and speed, fans around me did the usual blinkred thing and looked to pick out and blame Marshall as if they still suffering from post “” marshalldepaturess “”.

    Warnock for the first time has in my view got it wrong with not picking Bennett, he is a true full back with pace, if he looks back at the video of the game he will see pace killed us followed by composure ,and as you point technique ,right through the Barnsley team , they will beat a lot of teams this year ,wouldn’t like to play them now in a semi final play off.

    Thought Whitt’s was exposed by his lack of ability to deal with their quickness of foot, against Wolves he had no opposition in midfield ,yesterday he did, and you could see it , his pass wide in the second to Peltier , rather crossing himself summed it all up , think Gunnerson told as much as well, folk around me moaned about Peltier woeful delivery ,ironically missing the Whitt’s failure in the matter.

    Zohore I felt looked okay and I’m sure he has lost a few pounds look leaner and not so flat footed.

    It’s a pity about Emyr Hughes along with Bennett he potentially could bring to our team some young, fresh pace and technique , something our aging team needs.

    Lambert should have buried the late chance and we would have all gone home happy, however masking some big deficiencies on the day.

    Gosh what an important win that was against the woeful Wolves,who own yesterday.

    What a crazy league,watch us go and beat Brighton , draw at Bentford and lose against Villa .

    Great game though.

  2. Anthony O'Brien says:

    One of the first things I do of a Sunday morning is look for our Blogmeister’s comments, knowing that they will be sensible and perceptive. I am never disappointed. And in a strange way I was not totally disappointed when Cardiff conceded so late in yesterday’s game (although it seemed like the end of the world when it actually happened), But it was always on the cards, given Barnsley’s speed and skill on the counter-attack. As Paul rightly states, the most dangerous moments for Cardiff tend to be when they are crowding the opposition’s goal area waiting for a free kick, corner, or long throw to arrive. But I cannot fault Cardiff going for a win rather than hanging on desperately for a draw, as has so often been the case and so often leads to a late goal being conceded.
    What yesterday’s game also showed is that speed alone is not enough in a footballer. Skill and a football brain are equally important, and even the speediest player needs to be selected in his most optimum position. Take this as an example — Zohore’s pass to give Kadeem Harris a goal chance was — in the precise words of our Blogmeister, “of exactly the right weight — only for the momentum to be lost by a poor first touch and a wrong decision by the receiver”. I don’t really blame Harris because he is a right-sided player forced to operate on the left. If the receiver had been left footed (even the much maligned Craig Noone) we would probably have seen a goal. I honestly fail to see the benefit to be gained by choosing to put round pegs into square holes (unless it is a one-off crisis situation). A winning team makes optimum use of a player’s strengths!
    Kenneth Zahore’s strength is to receive the ball to foot when — as Paul Evans again has pointed out — Zohore is capable of intelligent and accurate passing, even though his headwork under pressure from a defender is not what would be expected from a man with his physical attributes. He tends to have feet of lead on those occasions, and compounds the problem by ducking his head like some latter day Richard III when the high ball comes towards him. The answer is, as I say above, pass the ball to his feet (preferably his left foot). But can Cardiff playera actually achieve this feat?
    In terms of passing, I thought even Whittingham was surprisingly poor yesterday. I’m not discounting his contribution to Cardiff’s first goal or his reflex action in hammering in a goal himself, but overall his passing seemed to be too often off the pace and laboured. Again, he is perhaps playing too often in positions not best suited to him, and I think that in the game against Wolves, for example, he could have done a lot more to clase down the shot which led to a goal. The blame was far from being just the goalkeeper’s.
    All that being said, what a wonderful crowd and player response in the latter part of yesterday’s game — until the very last minute, of course. But to repeat myself, Cardiff were at least “going for it” and, in spite of Barnsley’s characteristic counter-attack, it was good to see our team going for a win, determined at least to go out with “a bang not a whimper”,

  3. paul says:

    I went on the phone in last night and stated Warnock had his team set up wrong. Barnsley had pace and attacked our full backs utilising their pace, and won that battle. Yet Warnock stuck the whole game with Bennet on the bench, a player with pace.
    Whitingham is too slow, legs and thought. He is constanly taking one touch too many and is then rushed with his passing. How many aimless balls did we see from him, against wolves too. Great goal though.
    Pilkingtons touch has deserted him. Lambert missed the chance at the end but the lay back was too short and he was meeting it with a defender almost on him when a good lay back would have given him a clear chance. Barnsley when passing found their men in the box with crisp well positioned balls. 5 on target 4 goals speaks volumes.
    Leighton James replied to me that you cannot answer pace. Yes you can. Keep the right players back, tug them back as they were doing to us.
    Correct about Zahore, he cannot jump when it is down his throat but why not try something different. Get to the by-line and pull a ball back and give him the chance to run on to a cross.
    Credit to Barnsley they knew where we were weak and attacked it. out wide, full backs.
    To get caught once on the break is bad but 3 times is disgraceful. The players should be docked their wages.
    Whittingham did not help with 2 poor dead balls into the box. Sitting on the side i could see how quick they were so those dead balls should have been pin point accurate to keep them penned in. 1st did not beat the front defender and the 2nd was straight into the keepers arms. 2 goals.
    We have 3 or 4 players who are not quick enough in thought or movement, give it and go. Whitts passd the ball to Harris on the left and stood still, 2 players went on to harris and robbed him. If whitts had gone down the line one of thise 2 would have had to go with him. Bone idle.
    As for the ref i did nit realise he was the idiot who had the newcastle game but it summed it up when he spoke to the captain in the 1st half about the number of fouls then later only lectured their centre back for the number of fouls while pointing to different areas of the pitch. I could not see the hand ball but I already knew he was not going to give us anything that would clearly help us. Penalty of or a sending off. Did he warn the keeper for the time wasting. Nope.
    my team.
    Amos
    Petier
    Morrisson
    Bamba/Manga
    Bennet
    Pilks
    Ralls
    Gunners
    Hoillet
    Lambert with Zahore running off him.
    Bench -
    Wilson
    Huws
    Noone
    Fred
    Connolly
    Harris
    Manga or John.

    that is until January when we spend big on bringing in Hennessey. messi up front running of lambert Stones at centre back Walker right back Rose left. Ramsey alongside Gunners, or am i asking for too much.

  4. Barry Cole says:

    Spot on Paul and the only comments I need to make are
    1 a brilliant and enjoyable match and credit needs to go to a very good outfit that is Barnsley. But to be honest while we continue to miss all those easy chances we will not take teams apart like we should have done yesterday.
    It was a case of you score three we will score four and we just didn’t have the answer to the counter attack. But boy was it enjoyable.
    A fair score including the oaf of a referee that missed the blatant penalty should have been 8- 4 . I would have enjoyed that much better.
    2. The defence and I take manga out of this equation. It was totally non existent when it needed to be strong. I believe Warnock is going through the options but peltier was run ragged out of position and connelly just isn’t at the races. The defence misses bennet as well as bamba. Morrison is a liability in defence but more later.
    3. The forwards really need to look at themselves, so many easy chances missed yesterday. Everyone of the forwards including hoilett, pilkington, Harris, Zahore and lambert missed chances that were easier to hit the net than miss. Zohore did some good work but I can’t see him as a regular goalscorer. They have all had their chances yesterday and the majority have failed miserably.
    4. Warnock correct that the team are lacking and it’s fairly obvious that the change will start in goal. Amos cannot be blamed for the defensive errors and only the rush to the head for the third goal could you actually put the blame on him. That said there were chances to clear that move as well. But what is happening is that the defenders have now a lack of confidence in the goalkeeper which is not his fault entirely. Having had their mistakes covered by Marshall previously suddenly the mistakes are not being covered up. So I do see where Warnock is coming from here but he shouldn’t wallpaper over the defenders. The Manga/Bamba axis would suit us better alongside bennet and ? Peltier. Still not convinced by peltier.
    That we desperately need another Earnshaw/ Chopra / bothroyd forward line who did put the chances away ( mostly)
    Back to Morrison, he cannot defend for toffee but as an attacking force he causes mayhem. He does miss a number of chances but he normally wins key duels. Does he do enough to keep his place then the answer is no. It’s no good scoring at one end or creating chances if you are making mistakes at the other end. Bamba and manga have had the chances as well and therefore these are the two who should take the defence forward. Which of course leaves the problem that manga either goes in January or travels to the African continent. I am more glad that I am not tossing Warnock balls in the air ( no pun) on his defensive options.
    I can see a large number of movements in January I just hope Warnock has got his
    Transfer kitty in place.
    Just one final note I did say I was looking at getting 10 points from the four games up to Brentford. That isn’t going to happen annd I don’t think the top six position I really thought we were capable of has all but gone. I have no doubt that we will clear any thoughts of relegation in the new year but have to admit that Warnock was right that we may get some reverses but the show goes on, but what a roller coaster, I am thoroughly enjoying the football again after two plus years of mediocracy. Upwards and onwards the bluebirds

  5. Dai Woosnam says:

    Thankyou, Paul…as ever.
    As for paul lower case…enjoyed your humorous dream team, but the idea of John Stones as our centre back seems more a NIGHTMARE than a dream.
    Not that we don’t have our current nightmares. Was it the Grinning Kamikaze who paid well north of £4m for that grossly incompetent defender, Sean Morrison? Gee, he must have had a heck of an agent, to make us shell out that much dough, on a fellow with so little defensive nous.
    I believe it is school games masters, that are a lot to blame. They pick a team of twelve year olds, and see the young Morrison and the young Steven Caulker and say “you will make a strapping centre back”…and that becomes their position for life. But all the time, they are being played at the wrong end of the pitch.
    Will Neil help avoid us being relegated? I hope so, but the squad is so weak in quality and so very unfit, that I only see Rotherham, Wigan and Burton in the same mess as us…so it will be any three from 4, methinks.
    Neil, you can start to improve our chances by making from New Year’s Day, the captain of a EURO 2016 quarter finalist country, captain of our team too.

  6. Russell says:

    Exuse me Paul for asking a general question of all your contributors:

    “”" should Morrison be captain ,or
    even play in our first team after January “”.

  7. Clive Harry says:

    Hi Paul and Bloggers,
    Being an extremely good looking and intelligent bloke who is also tactically brilliant regarding football, I am nevertheless extremely modest. This means that following my comments on the Wolves game, I’m not the sort of chap to say ‘I told you so’. Consequently, on this occasion I would just like to say “Lee Peltier – I TOLD YOU SO!” Somebody as limited and one footed as he is was always going to suffer when put on his weaker side. With Connolly and Morrison also generally missing in action, yesterday was a defensive disaster waiting to happen. With our midfield pedestrian and our finishing sloppy, we actually did well to play our part in such an entertaining game. However, I think this team has now gone stale and needs surgery – something which Saint Colin is well equipped to deal with and virtually said as much after the game.
    I hope to be at the U23’s game tomorrow evening to see if there are any clues about what surprises may be in store for us.

  8. Clive Harry says:

    Russell – No he shouldn’t!

  9. Royalewithcheese says:

    Sometimes a defeat is not to be sniffed at, not when you’ve been where we’ve been and the performance is now so improved, not when you’ve been entertained and it could so easily have gone our way, not when you’ve got a dodgy goalie handicapping you from the word go. That’s 3 goals Amos* can be blamed for in 2 matches. I thought he was ok before: now his replacement will be top of W’s January shopping list. Just like centre forward won’t be! Of course we could do with a 20-goal-a-season man, but I doubt we’ll get one on our budget. Not bothered now though. Zohore** is transformed. Not Drogbe, but you can now see the family resemblance! I’m very impressed by him now. If only the other forwards played as well. Hoilett missed good chances, Lambert a sitter, Noone and Pilkington weak.

    Sometimes too you’ve got to put your hand up and give the opposition due credit. Four times Barnsley passed the ball through us on the break in a manner befitting Arsenal. Ok one can question our defending, but Barnsley did it very well. If they did that every week they would be near the top of the table. That’s just football, isn’t it. Sometimes you just catch a team on the wrong day when they’ve got the Midas touch. We came storming back, got a third goal to equalize on 90 minutes, only for Lambert of all people to then miss a sitter and ‘the predestined’ to get the winner with virtually the last kick of the match!

    I’m happy. In Whitts, Gunnarson and Zohore (the way they are playing now), also Bamba or Bruno*** (presumably W will have to trade one) and Peltier (on the right) we have a strong core, Bellamy is now in charge of youth development, Tan is committed to paying off all our debts AND we have a great manager.

    Thrilling times. What more can an old man ask for?

    *Not entirely his fault of course, but Amos WAS accountable for the first goal imo. (Wrong reaction: needed short step to left before diving)
    **Knocking Zohore for not heading the ball like Heidar Helguson is very negative. Also, focusing on his lack of goals thus far. I think his speed and his endeavour and his vitality under Warnock have been a revelation. A great prospect now. He’s not missing sitters like others and his decision making is good. I think the goals will come. He has come very close with efforts very much of his own manufacture.
    ***If I was Warnock, I might talk this one over with Tan again. A defence built round Bamba and Bruno might make all the difference. Bruno would have to agree of course that charging up the Championship with us would be a whole lot more gratifyinging than obscene wages in the Premiership for being battered at a Hull or sitting on a Tottenham-type bench.

  10. Robert Thomas says:

    I cannot believe the people on here who continue to criticise Whitts. The guy has never had pace, but continues to be head and shoulders above others in terms of technique and passing/crossing ability. You have to ask where we would be without him, given our knack of scoring from set pieces.

    The Barnsley defeat exposed our lack of pace at the back – all 5 defenders had a nightmare. Holliet and Lambert missed sitters and again Noone flattered to deceive – one trick pony who refuses to go outside defenders. Zohore has to be persev ered with and given a run.

    January we have to sell Bruno and get in an experienced keeper, and a quick striker to play off Lambert/Zohore. Anything else would be a bonus. We won’t go down, but expect some nail biters on the way to season end. 17/18 will be interesting !

  11. Anthony O'Brien says:

    The curious thing about Kenneth Zohore and heading the ball is that, despite his shortcomings about reaching it when launched into the sky by his own goalkeeper, he is not bad at all in getting his head to the ball when it is delivered on the run from the corner-flag area. Sadly, crosses of this nature are few and far between. In addition, as is natural with a tall man, Zohore is not blessed with a low centre of gravity. This is usually counterbalanced by a big man’s upper-body strength, but as yet Zohore does not seem to have developed such strength in line with his physique. There is obvious room for improvement, which will likely come with time, but I am still rather surprised that Mr Warnock sees the answer to his centre-forward dream in Kenneth Zohore as things are at the moment, unless Cardiff widemen start crossing the ball from the wing immediately instead of having to turn inside and into traffic.

  12. Dai Woosnam says:

    Is Paddy Kenny retired now? I note he is player/goalkeeping coach at Sixfields Stadium…but a chap called Adam Smith seems to be in the goalkeeping jersey.
    And if he has not retired his towel and water bottle, can we please have them in use at the CCS?
    I am sure that his current boss from Tylorstown will loan him to us. And remember, Paddy is not that old. He is several months younger than Gigi Buffon, still one of the top 5 keepers in Europe and still between the sticks at The Old Lady.
    On a less serious front, let us get the binman from Llandudno out of retirement. Yes I know that his avoirdupois is fast approaching mine, but that has two advantages. First, it stops him trying to “do a Neuer” and going walkabout (a la Amos), but second, it helps him “fill the goal” more fully.
    And that thinking did not do Fatty Foulkes much harm, did it?

  13. Adrian Lloyd Pickrell says:

    I am not happy at all with being as far down the table as we are at the moment. However I cannot see us going down and I sincerely hope that I am right here.
    I remember many people were craving last year for more excitement, regardless of where we were in the table. Well I think we all agree that the current games are a definate improvement over the boring bum-numbing games we have followed over the last few years. I did not expect City to turn it around against Wolves as they did, I certainly did not expect the 1-3 on Saturday to become the 3-3 and go to the bitter end heartbreak.
    A certain spirit seems to be present that was not present last season. How often have we seen a City team fight back like that in recent times?
    I am confident the worst is behind us and I am looking forward to the next few games.

  14. BJA says:

    Paul – I’m a little late in responding to your usual excellent summary, and I have now had also the chance to review the comments made by your followers. And most seem to repeat the view that I made after the Wolves game that we are so vulnerable to the counter attack when we are launching balls into the opponents’ area from corners, free kicks and long throws. Why should that be? Surely NW must see that there is a need to post a player mid-way between the opposition penalty area and the half way line to guard against the counter attack.
    On Saturday, we had no such presence even after the second Barnsley goal and poor Whitts was by passed rather easily as their player advanced towards our area. And another point, well made by most of your contributors, I think we had no-one capable of keeping pace with any of the Barnsley attackers. Now that is a worry and has been all season. So clean sheets for us are unlikely with our present defensive incumbents.
    I know you expect Bruno to go ( and that’s a pity ), so that leaves in the centre of our defence our Captain, Bamba or Connolly ( definitely not a right back ). On current form, only Bamba should be selected. Does our ex Arsenal youngster Ajayi deserve a chance?
    And speaking of players who should be given a chance, what about O’Keefe? He has energy and could well have occupied the space to which I refer when we attack from set pieces.
    So as we embark on the second half of the season, we have a team where a number of our established players have failed to perform to the requirements of such a hugely competitive league. Who comes and goes we will know soon, but surgery is required and I expect a number of regulars to receive “For Sale” notices placed around their necks. I really didn’t expect that when we kicked off against QPR.

  15. Colin Phillips says:

    As BJA says above I’m late to the party and almost all my points have been made by other contributors.

    Briefly, why play Peltier have left back when we have one at least as good in Bennett? Connolly is not a full-back and he is becoming a liability with his fouling. Whittingham should have all defensive responsibilities taken away and be played in front of two midfielders who are better at defending, that should allow Whitts the opportunity to move further forward, at times this season he has been deeper than our two centre-backs.

    On Saturday we committed football suicide over-committing at set pieces and having no-one, with any pace at all, to leave at the back.

    On the positive side, Paul, there were plenty of goals at the Canton end!

  16. The other Bob Wilson says:

    A great set of varied and intelligent replies – thanks to all involved.
    Even if I had a few hours to spare at this busy time of year, I don’t think I’d be able to comment properly on all of the points made, so here a few musings of my own that came to me when reading all of the replies;-
    1. I agree that this was an easier defeat to take than most – in fact, in some ways, I’d say I came out of the match in a better mood than I was after a few of our wins in recent seasons.
    2. Not sure how much football Lee Peltier has played at left back in his career, but the man who I rate as our most consistent and best defender (I’m talking purely about the art of defending here) has not looked his normal self while playing there. We need Bennett’s pace back in the team and Peltier at right back and Bennett left back seems much more natural to me – the fact that we have not had this combination in place for our last three matches represents Warnock’s first real selection gaffe to me.
    3. It’s an indictment of him in a way given his physique, but I feel Zohore is better when the ball is played into his feet.
    4. Barnsley were very effective counter attackers and they have been for the past year (on 19 December last year they were in the bottom four of League One!) – it was no one off that they came up with on Saturday.
    5. That said, they cannot have played against many more sides in that year as “helpful” as we were! I agree that O’Keefe is the type of player who might have been able to have stop Barnsley counter attacks at birth by winning those second balls around the edge of their penalty area, but I think he may well be one of our January sales as he doesn’t seem to get a look in these days and, as far as I know, isn’t injured.
    6. Someone asked about Semi Ajayi. Based on the little I’ve seen of him, I’d say he has improved this season, but, at 23 and with no first team experience behind him at Cardiff, he seems like a candidate to be in those ten or so Development team players that Neil Warnock has said we are prepared to let go (especially as his contract is up at the end of this season).
    7. The way we defended on Saturday and the way we have done so in nearly all of our matches so far only serves to beg the question, how on earth did we manage to stop Brighton from scoring – even moire baffling is that we managed to do it pretty comfortably.
    8. Yes, hopefully, the great Canton end drought is now well and truly over Colin – Barnsley scoring as many down that end as the previous eleven visitors had between them was a bit like overkill though!

  17. Stephen Fairhurst says:

    Just like the Barnsley winner I am posting a reply at the very end. I have to act contrary to others and say I think we should have thanked our lucky stars we had got away with a point and defend strongly. As in a previous game when we went backs against the wall with twenty minutes to go, a tad early I think , the mindset should have been defensive. Noone did go round the outside very early but as he was on the right and then had to get the ball onto his left to cross, the defender easily took the ball from him. Why are players on the wrong sides as it just makes things more awkward and the opposition aren’t deeply concerned or bamboozled. If I can see a handball like that on Saturday from my position up in the stands how did the linesman or referee not. And the Barnsley players at 3-1 seemed happy to let the referee explain their transgressions at length. I wonder why! A mistake can be definitely considered a mistake when you do the same thing twice with the same result so that sums up my thoughts on the deja vu Barnsley goals. Echoing others I think Morrison should be upfront and not allowed back over the halfway line and I assume like in schoolboy matches the better right back goes to the left but with Morrison upfront Connelly can go to centre half. Bamba at the back shouting orders and Manga further forward with others to mop up when things go awry. Understandable not all quickly made decisions come off i.e. Richardson but a little wary of what may come in even with a little thought as I not sure the incomers will be the nippy runners with quickness of thought that we need. With full respect to Eddie Braben’s classic line we have all the players we need but they’re playing in the wrong places (or left on the bench or not picked at all!.)

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