Finishing – in danger of becoming a lost art?

CoymayCardiff City returned to action yesterday after the latest International break with a 0-0 draw with lowly Preston North End at Deepdale. That scoreline suggests an unremarkable game which adds a little more to the suggestion that the 2015/16 Cardiff City will be worthy, hard to beat, but a little dull, as they continue along their  pursuit of a Play Off place which I fear will always be just beyond them if the spending plans outlined in this story turn out to be accurate.

However, among the welter of statistics that are produced from every match played these days is a truly remarkable one which goes to the heart of a modern day problem which does not just apply to Cardiff City – where have all of the finishers gone?

Yesterday’s, on the face of it boring, 0-0 contained 35 goal attempts (18 for Preston and 17 for us) – that’s comfortably more than any other Championship fixture played so far this weekend. So, although the score may indicate otherwise, the stats suggest it was a game which both sides were trying to win. However, the really damning stat is the one which says that home side managed just the one on target effort, while we came up with only the two.

Three on target efforts out of thirty five is not very impressive is it and tells you all you need to know about why a game, which seemed to be full of worthy intentions, turned out to be the borefest the scoreline suggested it was.

A look at the Feedback feature on here will show that there was a discussion about the lack of quality strikers available to Wales following my piece on the Andorra game in which I’d also made reference to this. My own view on the situation is that the problem with Wales is mainly down to there simply not being any quality finishers out there who are being ignored by Chris Coleman – he is picking the best available to us, but, in each case, their goalscoring record for their country says it all (the brilliance of Gareth Bale is covering a multitude of sins I’m afraid, but it was becoming harder to do that as the qualifying campaign came to an end and it’s going to be even tougher to do it next summer).

Wales are not alone in lacking natural strikers, but we do seem to be harder hit than most at the moment – it’s not even as if there are journeyman types around who make careers for themselves by scoring consistently in the lower leagues (like the Nogan twins did for example) who Coleman could take a punt on in a friendly game to see if they might provide an answer.

Of course, the days are long gone when a Wales manager would come along to a Cardiff City game to see if they had a player who could cure his striking woes, but it is instructive to look at the players we do have available to us in forward positions who are realistic contenders for a first team place.

Kenwyne Jones, who was absent yesterday with an injury picked up while on Trinidad duty which may keep him out for some time, is I would suspect, rated by most as the best striker available to us. His majestic header at Forest and his brave one against Wolves show what he can bring to any team at this level, but they remain his only goals of the season so far.

For all of aerial threat he can carry, I struggle to remember any other times he has come close to scoring with his head this season  and he is one of many Cardiff players I wouldn’t feel confident about him scoring if he had a run in on goal with just the keeper to beat from, say, forty yards out.

Alex Revell brings hard work, stamina, knowledge of his position gained by years of playing there, decent aerial ability and better ball skills than he is often given credit for to the table, but a look at his career record on Google tells you that, even at lower levels than the Championship, he cannot be relied on to bring you goals.

Declan John finally saw some first team action this season when he replaced Sammy Ameobi for the last minute or two of the game. For the latter, the feeling continues that he offers more in wider or, perhaps, deeper areas than when he plays as a central striker as he did yesterday. One other thing, why the red kit?*

Declan John finally saw some first team action this season when he replaced Sammy Ameobi for the last minute or two of the game. Regarding the latter, the feeling continues that he offers more in wider or, perhaps, deeper areas than when he plays as a central striker like he did yesterday.
One other thing, why the red kit?*

Sammy Ameobi was given a second starting chance in a central striking position of the season yesterday and, although David Marshall’s sending off at Rotherham meant that it would be harsh to read too much into what happened there, I think it is fair to say that we’ve seen little from him so far to suggest he could be the twenty goals a season striker that every manager wishes for.

It is hard to tell whether Ameobi does have the necessary finishing ability, but this is mainly because he has had so few goalscoring opportunities to prove things one way or another. However, the fact that he is now well into his third month as a Cardiff player and we still don’t know rather tends to confirm the impression that he isn’t really someone who has the instincts and understanding to find himself that yard or two of room in crowded penalty areas.

Finally we come to Joe Mason. Now, I’ve been a consistent supporter of Joe on here and on messageboards over the years and I will continue to be because in terms of finishing ability and general penalty area awareness, I believe he is the best we have available now at the club.

With a scoring rate of five from eleven Championship matches, Joe is on target to get to that twenty goal mark if he plays a full season, but most revealing to me  is the stat which said that, prior to yesterday’s game, he was at the top of the Championship chart for most on target goal attempts.

While, like most of his team mates, it was a subdued showing from Joe Mason yesterday, I still believe he is the most likely out of all the players currently available to supply the finishing precision and composure that the stats show was missing yesterday.*

While, like most of his team mates, it was a subdued showing from Joe Mason yesterday, I still believe he is the most likely out of all the players currently available to supply the finishing precision and composure that the stats prove was missing yesterday.*

While he’s not faultless, the mess he made of a simple chance at Forest shows that, and it could be said that five goals is somewhat disappointing for someone at the top of this particular chart, it does show that, if you give Joe a chance, he tends to hit the target and that there is potential for his scoring rate to improve.

Looking elsewhere in the squad, Anthony Pilkington’s scoring record at previous clubs has been pretty good, but his goal return, and the general standard of his shooting, is poor at Cardiff. Craig Noone always has a spectacular goal in him and he’s not had too many chances to show what he can do this season, but, lately, he’s another of those for whom the last place you expect the ball to end up when he lines up a shot is in the net.

I always feel Joe Ralls (why was he withdrawn at half time yesterday – we aren’t half going to miss him if he is ruled out for any time by injury) should score more and there is Sean Morrison’s ability to score from set pieces to be considered as well, but it is hardly a squad which suggests it’s going to put away something like one in  two of the chances it creates is it.

Of course, there is a player I haven’t mentioned yet – one who I believe has it in him to be the best finisher at the club. Going back to the run in on goal from forty yards scenario I mentioned earlier, I can remember Peter Whittingham being presented with exactly that sort of chance a couple of minutes into our Fifth Round FA Cup tie with Wolves back in 2008 and Dave Jones saying after the match that he knew we were going to score from the opportunity because of the player it fell to.

Whittingham will be remembered for the spectacular long range goals he scored, but there was a time when he was a composed and adept snapper up of those closer in trifles that all good goalscorers rely on to boost their tallies and he could also be counted upon to come through when given time to think about things – like he was in that run from the halfway line against Wolves.

Yesterday, Whittingham came close to getting the matchwinner when his late free kick was superbly turned aside by home keeper Jordan Pickford, but his personal drought from these opportunities now stretches beyond three years. When you think about how you used to feel when Whitts stood over a free kick, that’s another remarkable stat which starkly illustrates what City have been missing during the latter seasons of his time with us.

It may be declining stamina, loss of confidence, playing to orders or there might be other reasons for it, but, with us getting less penalties than we used to, the goals have almost dried up completely for Peter Whittingham these days and it’s hard to see how they will return to the levels seen when he was in his pomp. This wouldn’t be so damaging if City had been able to replace the goals and finishing ability Whittingham provided until around 2011/12, but we haven’t been able to.

Back in the 60s, Jimmy Greaves made a huge impression on me with the way he kept calm in frantic penalty areas and often passed the ball into the corner of the net. Greaves was the consummate finisher, but a process which started in the 1966 World Cup when Sir Alf Ramsey preferred the more prosaic Roger Hunt’s industry to Greaves’ natural gifts has me wondering if merely scoring goals is enough to guarantee you a starting place in a modern game where defending from the front and running the channels is considered to be an essential part of a striker’s armoury?

Based on what we saw of him last year, I would back the Ramsey approach when considering the merits of the currently injured Federico Macheda (who does possess good finishing ability), while Eoin Doyle must be concerned that, despite being 27 and possessing a very good goals to games ratio at his previous club, his manager at Cardiff still sees him as “work in progress”.

Below first team level, Rhys Healey has got the “knack” at Under 21 level and Eli Phipps did for the Under 18s, but there have to be question marks about their ability to maintain it as the level they play at improves.

No, strikers who ensure that there are far more on target efforts in matches which have thirty five goal attempts than three are like gold dust. If there is someone out there at the sort of price we can afford who is capable of banging in the goals at Championship level, you would have thought that plenty of our rivals will know about him. On balance, we are probably lucky to have someone like Mason, while we can hope that we are all going to be very pleasantly surprised when Idriss Saadi (who played an hour for the Development team in a friendly at Portsmouth last week) gets fully fit.

Finally, if anyone at the club gets to read this, a bit of a moan about yesterday’s Under 18 game against Ipswich (which we won 3-1). You’ve been helpful in the past in letting me know things like kick off times and venues for these games, so, can I ask that you do something on the website or on the Under 18s Twitter site to clarify these details from now on. I know there was something posted on the latter yesterday, but it was done so late that I missed it and so, with the previous home match being played at Leckwith (as they have been at this time of year in previous seasons), I set off for there only to learn later that the match had been played at Treforest.

I know most who go to these games are relatives and friends of the players who will have known where the game was being played, but there are also a few of us who want to come to these matches because we are just supporters of the club. In my case, I am also willing and able to do more in my own small way by providing regular pieces on here on games played below first team level – I enjoy these matches and it was disappointing to miss out on one yesterday through no fault of my own.

*pictures courtesy of



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10 Responses to Finishing – in danger of becoming a lost art?

  1. Another excellent resume of what went wrong yesterday. However, I’d like to make the point that a centre-forward does not necessarily have to be a goal-machine if he leads his line properly and contributes to situations from which others can score.
    In other words, if Cardiff do not give Alex Revell, their ONE AND ONLY worthwhile centre-forward a run of games, Russell Slade must surely consider his conscience and ageing and probably blinkered armchair critics like myself feel unhappy with his judgement.
    I often wonder what factors underpin his team selection, and too often feel a sense of disappointment and even alarm when I see the team-sheet. Yesterday provided a prime example. Did the manager really think that Ameobi was the best man to lead the attack? Play him, by all means, but in a position where he can actually do something to help the team and the quality of football played. As I have said many times, Ameobi is not a centre-forward but a wide-man or someone (as with Joe Mason) playing off a genuine centre-forward. Give Revell a chance, Russell!!!!

  2. Dai Woosnam says:

    Thanks Paul, as ever.
    I suppose one should be thankful for ANY “result” from Deepdale.
    I have never forgotten the shameful 9-0 defeat there in 1966. To think that it happened just days after the housebreaker Greg Farrell gave the greatest single performance I have ever seen from anyone in a City shirt, in that epic game against the Boro under floodlights that May.
    And then there was that 6-0 stuffing that Dave Jones’s team took in 2009, when they were wanting just 2 points to seal a play-off place with still 4 games to go. SIX-nil …that was the power of his motivational team talk !!
    And the die was cast for the remaining three games with that cowardly result.
    So we should be thankful for a game where Preston are scoreless, I guess.
    And thankful also for…
    (wait for it…)
    …the wise words of “AMO” O’Brien, of Danylan Road, Pontypridd.
    His comments above are spot-on re Revell…who I note was brought on in the 76th minute yesterday. Far too late.

    And now get ready for a “first”* from me.
    A first anti-Russell Slade comment in all my many postings on your site.
    I know fans accuse him of being too parsimonious in the transfer market. I, by contrast, am now gonna accuse him of the opposite: of throwing money down the sink.
    What, Russell, pray tell me, is the point of paying a million for Doyle, paying not much less for Revell, O’Keefe and Kennedy, when they do not really feature in your plans?

    Mr Tan ought to cut his purse strings and INSIST Russell shows us what chops he and Paul Trollope have as coaches.

    “Make do with what you got” was a philosophy that carried the British nation to victory over the evil madman Adolf Hitler, and it should be de rigueur with football managers.

    In the War we melted down our metal fences** to turn them into guns and armour: let us melt down a halfback if we need a full back or a striker: in other words GET WORKING on “coaching” down at Hensol.
    This remember, is a world where a reserve Cardiff City goalkeeper has just scored – reborn as a STRIKER, mark you – a vital goal to send Northern Ireland to glory in France next year.

    Anything is possible. David Marshall could well be a “30 goals a season” front man.
    (Okay so the inside of my cheek is bruised a little from that last remark…but you get my gist.)

    So dear Mr Tan, STOP Russell potentially wasting fans’ money, and insist he makes do with what he’s got !!

    * No, the “first”can hardly be about MotD. Yet again I am driven nuts by a stupid pass back and an even more stupid piece of playing the ball out from the back by the Villa keeper, when he should have put his boot behind the ball and aimed upfield for the head of Rudy! And this American has “form” in this department! He did just as criminal a thing at least twice last season.
    But were I Randy Lerner, I would not be hardest on his fellow countryman. He should reserve his full opprobrium for his manager, and sack Sherwood. Any coach/manager who allows his players to pass the ball back from the halfway line, should not even be coaching a Sunday League pub team.
    ** You will love this bit of football trivia.
    When I moved to Grimsby, I noted that Cleethorpes Pier seemed incredibly short (not much longer than the one at Burnham on Sea).
    On inquiring I learned that it had been deliberately half demolished to stop Jerry’s soldiers invading by mooring next to the end of it and walking into town!
    (You Cannot Make Such Things Up…it is just too rich !!)
    So, having taken 5 minutes to digest that splendid little nugget of information, I then suggested that the iron had been used for the War Effort.
    Ha…but no. Not remotely, as it turned out.
    It appeared that it was used to rebuild a stand at Leicester’s Filbert Street, heavily bomb damaged.
    I still pinch myself, wondering if I dreamed that fact up.

    So come on Russell Slade: rebuild a few players!

  3. Geoff Lewis says:

    Thanks Paul,
    Always look forward to your report and the excellent responses from Anthony and Dai. I am in full agreeance with all of the comments.
    Just cannot understand sometimes why players are bought, but hardly used, I know you need cover etc., but why pay circa £1million for Doyle and then send him out on loan?
    I thought towards the last few games last season that Mason/Doyle had a good understanding and were starting to put some order in their playing capabilities.
    We as a club seem to be unlucky with injuries Turner , Macheda now Manga and Jones.
    Still unsure about Jones to me he is a player if things are not going well for the side. he will disappear into a cloud, on his day he has the ability to do better, we need triers in that department.
    I agree Ameobi is an outside player not a centre forward. Slade must have been impressed by Revell so lets give him a run of games .
    Dai, Greg Farrell what a player and one of the strongest right footed shots I have seen to wear a Cardiff shirt- this brings back memories.
    If we intend to finish in the top six, should we not be putting the lower teams like Preston to the sword and come away with a win. I am not sure if we are promotion contenders just yet, we entertain Middlesbrough on Tuesday night see what happens then, this should be a good test for the team. Mind you are they not one of our bogey sides who seem to beat us at home, a remember a few defeats in the last few years?
    Paul no doubt you can let us know.

  4. Barry cole says:

    As good as ever Paul
    I too arrived at preston for the last game of the season In 66 and couldn’t believe the capitulation by the cardiff team as nine goals went in, I was there as well when we lost 6-0 and unbelievably lost our top six place. How about 5-0 at new year.
    I have never taken to slade especially after last year. I have vowed not to renew my season ticket while he is still there as I cannot believe the dross he produced as manager would still see him in charge this season.
    I believe he has had a lot of luck but that will even out as the season goes on. With him in charge I don’t see anything other than mid to lower table. We have the players and not they ones he has brought in, to more than get into the top six we just need a good manager to get the best out of them.
    So onto this weekend, I have decided to go to games where I can judge just how much we are moving in the right direction. After Rotherham , Brighton and now preston , we are in fact going backwards.
    We were lucky that another 9 goals didn’t go in at Brighton, we were completely outplayed by the then bottom team Rotherham and this weekend was the Pitts. Two powder puff teams with the only highlight being noone produced one of the worst displays I have ever seen and there were some poor games last year.
    I know that slade being tans yes man will keep his job for the immediate future but eventually and maybe too late for us, he will have to sack him.
    Whether it’s me but I noted that without Trollope we again get into the rubbish that slade produced before his arrival.
    Finally I have my season ticket money ready but will not part with it until I see proper management at this club. Until then I will pick and choose games I wish to see. Unfortunately the games I have watched so far this season do not fill me with confidence and the worry of yet another wasted season with slade in charge is starting to become a reality.

  5. The other Bob Wilson says:

    A mixed bag of replies this time which, as always, are very welcome – I’ll just make a few quick comments on some of the issues within them.
    First, Alex Revell. It’s interesting that when Revell scores for us, they tend to be good goals (e.g. our goal of the season last year against Brentford and a fine volley at MK Dons in the League Cup tie in August). However, this only tends to emphasise the complete absence of the sort of “poacher’s” goals that Joe Mason has specialised in this season. If, as I suspect he will, Russell Slade opts for his normal formation tomorrow, I think I would probably prefer to see Mason playing his normal number ten role with Revell, rather than Ameobi, in front of him, but it seems to me that Middlesbrough (who, week in, week out have had the best defence in this league over the last season and a quarter – despite having a keeper who I see as an accident waiting to happen for most of that time!) will hardly be losing any sleep over the prospect of facing that front two.
    Geoff, our home record against Middlesbrough lately has followed a sequence of win, lose, win, lose, so there are reasons for optimism tomorrow! Realistically though, I’m not optimistic – as Barry says, some of our recent performances (albeit I’m thinking of away matches here) have had a depressingly last season look to them. People forget that we were awful at Rotherham before the Marshall sending off, while the only good things about Brighton were the result and our goal and, although we livened up after the break on Saturday, too many players had an off day.
    Finally, a few words about Vincent Tan. Barry, I have my issues with Russell Slade as well, but, overall, I don’t see him as our main problem – for me, that’s Vincent Tan. In that Echo article I posted a link to, there is talk about how the club’s “hierarchy” believes the squad is “more than capable of excelling in this season’s Championship”. Now, there’s a few things to say at this point. First, the article may just be inaccurate rubbish, but I must say it has a ring of truth to me and if it is the truth, then it’s pretty obvious who the “hierarchy” being talked about is! If Mr Tan believes this squad is good enough to excel in the Championship, then I’d be fascinated to know what matches he is basing that opinion on. To be fair to him, we did turn in what is, arguably, our best performance of the season so far in the only match he has seen (QPR), but I’ve not seen anything yet from the squad that has had me thinking we were going to excel in the league this season – hang on doggedly in the chase for a Play Off place, possibly, but, be a real power in this year’s Championship? Not on what I’ve seen.
    Despite the reservations about recent away displays I mentioned earlier, there has been an improvement (mainly in terms of team spirit and general attitude) this season and I’m more than willing to praise Messrs Slade and Trollope for achieving this with what is a minuscule budget by both the recent standards of the club and the standards of teams receiving a very generous parachute payment. Our early performances especially this season suggested that we were only a shrewd signing or two away from having a squad which could “excel”, but, in true all or nothing Cardiff style, it seems that our leader’s wallet will remain closed for the foreseeable future. With the best chance of getting a return on his investment surely lying in us getting back into the Premier League, it seems to me that Mr Tan’s business judgement when it comes to Cardiff City is beginning to match the football judgement he has shown during his time with us!

  6. Dai Woosnam says:

    Okay, gents …so I know I am in a minority of one* but you lot come to BURY our “Caesar Tan”, whereas I will always PRAISE him.
    The greatest benefactor BY FAR that my club and your club has had, in my longish lifetime.
    And as for Russell Slade: give me mid-table mediocrity with an honourable man at the helm, than Champions League under a personable scoundrel who is hellbent on shafting his owner.
    The INTEGRITY of Cardiff City is far more important than what DIVISION we play in.
    Paul, you will recall that when RS was appointed, several friends here in Grimsby expressed surprise…bordering on shock.

    Oh, they liked Mr Chips** well enough: thought him to be a decent man. But did not see him as Brian Clough’s kid brother…or even Alan BUCKLEY’S come to that!

    And I said to you at the time, “City will never go down under RS, but neither will they make the play-offs”.

    To me, he is a nicer version of that Funeral Director, Roy Hodgson***, and about as inspired.

    That said, whilst he is a safe pair of hands (and no more than that), I am convinced that Mr Tan should not give him a penny more: alas, he does not appear to have spent the money wisely.

    * but that has never bothered me over much…only dead fish swim with the stream!

    ** Not a reference to him being a schoolmaster! But a reference to the fact that he had arrived at The Mariners from the now demolished “Theatre of Chips”, aka The McCain Stadium.

    ***BTW, have you noticed they are repeating that Specsavers TV ad (with the great punchline) where the two pensioners eat the sandwiches. People try to tell me that it is NOT Roy, but his brother…but I will take some persuading.

    Kindest, as ever,

  7. Paul,
    I think it somewhat unfair to criticise Vincent Tan for not knowing about football, and he’s never claimed that he does. Certainly he must know “a man who does” and it may be that’s where the problem lies. However, unless I’m, much mistaken, it was only because Mr Tan has other irons in the fire in regard to teams he now owns that Cardiff were able to acquire the services of Idriss Saadi (and I have a feeling no transfer fee was involved). Whatever, Saadi now remains “Maybe, just maybe” as my perennial hope for this season. And if Mr Tan is to be shown the door (or rather, plunge through it of his own accord) where would that leave us?
    I’m also taken by Dai’s rather novel idea that football managers should have a degree of integrity. Do they even know it exists? How I wish that were so. If Russell Slade does possess even one iota of this admirable quality, which in Dai’s excellent judgement seems to be the case, then I’m all for him. But it’s his managerial decisions which are starting to trouble me and then, no doubt, the old cry that “there’s no sentiment in football” will emerge as surely as our politicians say there’s no sentiment (ie. moral standards) in dealing with China or Saudi or whoever.
    To finish, I laughed out loud at Dai’s linking of Roy Hodgson to the Specsaversrs advert.

  8. Dai Woosnam says:

    Sincere thanks for introducing me (and your myriad readers) to “AMO” O’Brien. I say that, NOT because he occasionally pays me compliments: but rather because his contributions are always thoughtful, even when I am not 100% in agreement with them. And add to that his ability to write the occasional killer line.
    I promise you Paul, I would swap a hundred of my lines for this one of his is his latest comment above:
    And if Mr Tan is to be shown the door (or rather, plunge through it of his own accord)

    Don’t you just ADORE that choice of verb?!!

    But before I sign off, let me make a quite serious point.

    AMO says:

    I’m also taken by Dai’s rather novel idea that football managers should have a degree of integrity. Do they even know it exists? How I wish that were so. If Russell Slade does possess even one iota of this admirable quality, which in Dai’s excellent judgement seems to be the case, then I’m all for him.

    Do I really KNOW that Russell is a man of integrity?
    The answer is of course “No I do not”.

    How can any of us ever REALLY know that about ANY football manager? In truth we cannot.

    We can only back our hunches. Russell has an unblemished PERSONAL reputation (in contrast say, to Steve Evans, given the Elland Road job a few hours ago). And so my hunch is that in MORAL terms, Russell is clearly a man to go into the jungle with.

    Note that I say “moral terms”, not necessarily FOOTBALL terms. (Indeed, if the leopards and snakes play football, maybe all bets are off !!)

    But what is beyond a peradventure of a doubt is that he must not be accused of genuflecting to his owner. That is quite simply vile ABUSE, and I for one will always rail against it.

    I mean to say, does anyone accuse Louis van Gaal of being sycophantic toward the Glazers? Or suggest Mourinho kisses the feet -let alone 31 inches higher – of Roman Abramovich?

    Of course not. So we must stop abusing our manager in such a filthy way. Especially as ours has shown himself to be the very ANTITHESIS of such a groveller.

    Remember how brilliantly he walked the minefield of the “shirt colour” issue? Brilliant, I thought.

    A sycophant would have immediately sided with his owners. But we never heard Russell say anything remotely along the lines of “red is the new blue”…
    Yet a half century before, that quintessential “own man” Don Revie, took over at Leeds, where the Chairman had changed the colours to all white a few months previously. And the “blue and yellow” brigade were still resisting the change. Remember their colours were famous and unusual. King John Charles had scored a phenomenal 29 and 38 goals in successive League seasons just 5/6 years before in those very colours.
    Yet what did Revie do? He got straight behind the change to white, and dressed it up as emulating Real Madrid…founded 1902. But he could equally have based the change on our very own Real Abertawe, founded 1912.
    But get behind the change he did.
    I never liked the dour bloke, and sided with Cloughie/Michel Sheen in the 44 day war. But I would never have called him a YES MAN in a thousand years, even if he did quickly fall into line with his new chairman’s wishes.
    However Russell never ONCE trotted out the Vincent Tan line! Au contraire: he made a couple of coded remarks that told me he was taking the Dannie Abse line of “I wish Vincent had not done it, but we can learn to live with it”…which was my thinking too.

    Russell’s remarks were along the lines of “the shirt colour controversy is certainly one I can do without”.

    Now folks…you don’t have to be a Kremlinologist to be able to deconstruct that line. A child of six can see that it is NOT a sycophantic one.

    So, when it comes to our manager, as Max would say…”chwarae teg boys”!!


  9. The other Bob Wilson says:

    I could fire off a long and detailed reply full of opinions as to why I view Vincent Tan as I do Anthony, but I won’t do that – I’ll try to analyse his time at Cardiff factually. Firstly though, here is a link
    in which Mr Tan talks about his football knowledge – nearly two years down the line, there is much in that piece which doesn’t show our owner in the best light now.
    Still, that’s just my opinion, from now on I’ll try to deal with facts. So, on the credit side, I’d say the following can be said about Mr Tan;-
    1. One of his first acts upon becoming involved with the club was to pay off a debt to HMRC which had led to court appearances by the club in the early months of 2010 – the club have been free of such embarrassments since then.
    2. As with quite a few of the facts I’m presenting, there will be arguments as to how much Vincent Tan was responsible for what happened, but we’ve reached a League Cup Final, got promoted to the Premier League and reached the Play Offs in the Championship in 11/12 during the time he has been with us.
    3. While the degree to which financial backing in terms of playing budget ensures playing success can be argued over, there can be no doubt that it certainly helps and for large portions of Mr Tan’s time at Cardiff, managers have been given budgets which must have made them the envy of many of their rivals.
    4. Mr Tan has transferred a small portion of the debt he was owed by the club into equity.
    On the debit side, I believe the following apply;-
    1. When Mr Tan’s investment and involvement was confirmed in May 2010, we had just finished fourth in the Championship over a forty six game campaign, last season we finished eleventh in the same league and, currently, we are eighth with around a quarter of the 15/16 season gone – it seems clear that playing standards at the club have declined under Mr Tan’s stewardship.
    2. At the end of 09/10 our average attendance was 20,717 – after five matches of the current season, it stands at 14,341 (there are seventeen clubs in our league with higher gates than us in 15/16), so attendances have declined by around 40% under Mr Tan.
    3. Is there anybody in the world apart from Vincent Tan who thinks that changing our kit to red was a good idea which benefited Cardiff City Football Club? I daresay there are some, but I strongly maintain that the facts show that it wasn’t. How can it have been when there still hasn’t been any evidence put into the public domain which proves the club made money from it? It is also, surely, unarguable that the rebrand had an adverse effect on the fanbase from which it has still not recovered. By the same token, is there anyone among our fanbase who can realistically argue that the atmosphere at matches improved as a result of Mr Tan’s decision to play in red?
    4. According to Mr Tan, there was a “bargain” struck between supporters and himself whereby they would accept the change to red and in return the club would get a new training ground and our owner would transfer the debt he was owed by the club for the loans he had provided into equity. Three and a half years later, we are still waiting for the training ground and debt to equity looks as far away as it’s ever been.
    5. Another promise made in the summer of 2012 was that a new stand would be built to bring the capacity of the ground up to 35,000. At the time, many supporters, including myself, questioned whether such expansion should take place before City had established themselves in the Premier League and events have proved them right. With Wales doing so well, the extra seats are great when you go to watch your country, but the humiliating decision to close the new stand for club games this season is all the proof needed to show that the club lacked footballing and financial judgment in going ahead with the scheme at the time it did.
    6. To be fair, although proof of the sort of financial irregularities often hinted at regarding our transfer dealings in the summer of 2013 remains as elusive as ever, it’s fair to say that it certainly appears as if Mr Tan was more sinned against than sinning when it comes to the overspend which caused so many problems on and off the pitch during our season in the Premier League. However, even here, Mr Tan could surely have made life easier for himself by ensuring that there was someone in the CEO role who had the experience and knowledge of football business and financial management to ensure that he and our owner would not be taken advantage of in the manner referred to in the link I posted earlier?
    7. I’d like to think that many would have at least a degree of sympathy for Mr Tan over the way he was portrayed by the national media during our season in the top flight – I’ve said fairly often on here that I think he was right when he said some of the British media was “quite racist”. Even so, can anyone seriously argue that he didn’t bring a lot of the criticism he received on himself? That link I posted provides two examples of what I mean – first, the truly bizarre appointment of Alisher Apsalyamov as Head of Recruitment and, second, the relentless criticism of a former manager when, surely, his best efforts should have been directed towards trying to keep us in the Premier League.
    8. Returning to that link, you only have to read what Mr Tan says about our recruiting in the January 2014 transfer window and our anticipated dealings in the summer of that year to see that the much trumpeted at the time transfer committee was something of a disaster – so many of those bought were sold at a loss and, although there was the occasional good signing or two among them, the impact the transfer committee’s signings during 2014 must have had on our debt levels would have been huge.
    9. I could go on, but I’ll finish on that debt. The overall debt figure shown in the 2009/10 accounts was around £29 million (which I thought was a terrifying figure at the time), but this excellent piece
    puts our net debt as of 31 May 2014 at £133.7 million. Hopefully, some big money departures and the much lower transfer spending of the last year or so means that the figure is a lot lower now, but the last accounts filed at Companies House by the club show that our debt level almost quadrupled in the first four years of Mr Tan’s time with the club.
    Maybe, I’ve allowed my opinions to blur the facts occasionally, but, I get so frustrated when I compare what Cardiff City has become under Vincent Tan to what Leicester City have become under Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha. The most charitable interpretation I can put on the above is to say that Mr Tan has been a very poorly advised owner who has paid for his stubborness and naivety in terms of the rebrand and his failure to ensure that there have been sufficient people with the relevant football business management and finance experience at the club.
    Finally, I agree with you about Dai’s Specsavers advert – I’d not seen it before.

  10. Dai Woosnam says:

    Very sound stuff, Paul.
    As always I am deeply impressed as to how you present your argument, with such an impressive array of always-relevant statistics.
    But here is the rub.
    You Paul think it matters considerably how much of the debt Mr Tan converts into equity. I am not sure I share your view.
    In the final analysis, Vincent has invested a small fortune…a fortune that he is possibly never going to be able to call back in, successfully.
    Trust me, I chose my word most carefully when I called him a benefactor. For if the club went belly-up, after the Government and Banks have taken their cut, the most lucrative fire sale IMAGINABLE would only recover a small portion of his losses.
    And I well understand Mr Tan now being reluctant to keep pouring his money into a bottomless pit, given the quite shocking hostility that he still faces.
    Even your dear self – a man I regard as Sweet Reason personified – are still reminding us of his folly in making the daft colour change.
    We all KNOW it was daft Paul.
    At heart, he probably knows it now also.
    But let us not make a stick of it to keep hitting him with, eh…
    Particularly when he had the magnanimity to see the error of his ways and back down on it.
    But as I said at the time, lots of the “blue till I die” brigade will mistake magnanimity for weakness.
    And so it has proved, alas.

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