Hollow words.

Coymay“You don’t have a week to think about what you’re doing, and you need to recover quickly in order to perform in the game on Tuesday. We’ve stayed tight as a group the past couple of days to make sure we are physically and mentally recovered. We’re now confident and looking forward to tomorrow night.”
 ”We’ve got a second string side here which could go on to win the league.”
The first of those comments was made by Cardiff manager Ole Gunnar Solskjær at the pre match press conference for last night’s game with Middlesbrough and the second one was made by centreback Sean Morrison about three weeks ago following the 1-0 defeat by Wolves.
Based on what was on offer last night at Cardiff City Stadium as the team slumped to their third defeat in four matches (the only point picked up during that time being when we were largely outplayed at Fulham by a side who avoided defeat in the Championship for the only time this season), those two quotes are just meaningless and hollow words.
I cannot speak for others and, for now, I’ll just stick to this season, but the way I feel currently is that as each game comes along, I become a little bit more optimistic about it’s outcome – this is going to be the one when I finally see some signs of cohesion, a plan and the quality that everyone keeps on telling me we have. Yet, it all ends with the manager having to admit that, for spells of the game at least, that was the worst we have played so far this season. I don’t think Ole has said that so far about the truly dismal 1-0 loss last night, but, if he doesn’t, then it won’t be because it isn’t true – we hit new lows against a Boro side that didn’t really have to play that well to record a win which was much more comprehensive than the scoreline suggests.
Going back to those quotes and, in particular the Morrison one, the manager’s habit of ringing the changes after every game (there were four last night plus a positional change) means that it’s hard to know what our second eleven looks like, but here’s a side made up of players who have not played any league football this season yet;-
Moore; Barnum-Bobb, Turner, Gabbidon, Oshilaja; Noone, Wharton, O’Sullivan, Harris; Velikonja, Healey
It's obvious that Ole has a lot of faith in Frederico Macheda - I think it's reasonable for the manager to expect more than he's got in the last two matches from the player.

It’s obvious that Ole has a lot of faith in Frederico Macheda – I think it’s reasonable for the manager to expect more than he’s got in the last two matches from the player.*

Not quite a side to win the league then, but when you consider that, just seven matches into the campaign, there are twenty two Cardiff players I couldn’t pick because they have been featured in the Championship for us then it’s not too shabby a line up – don’t forget as well that we have players such as Joe Mason (who scored a hat trick last night), Joe Lewis and the two Kevin’s, McNaughton and Theophile-Catherine, out on loan.
So, even if what Morrison said is over the top, you would have thought somewhere among the twenty two who have played, the eleven in that team I picked and the seven I believe it is who the manager has chosen to loan out, we should be able to put together a starting eleven that comes up with more than we saw last night – after all, we are talking about forty players who have played first team football for the club here.
I have been arguing for a few weeks that our squad isn’t as good as the hype suggests, but that isn’t to say that we don’t have the quality within it to come up with far, far better than we saw last night.
As mentioned earlier, whereas Norwich showed for about two thirds of Saturday’s match why they currently top the league, Middlesbrough needed to look not much more than a mid table outfit to beat us pretty comfortably – they may well have it in them to play better than they did, but it was still more than enough to see off a Cardiff team which the BBC stats tell us had one effort on target in the ninety minutes, but, for the life of me, I cannot remember it.
There wasn’t much on display which put me in mind of the summer’s entertaining World Cup, but one thing that did was the way that Boro took a leaf out of the book of quite a few sides we saw in Brazil by looking dangerous when breaking from what were defensive set pieces for them. The first evidence of this came after about ninety seconds when Adam Clayton played a long diagonal pass to Albert Adomah who was in glorious isolation on our left hand side. Adomah took the ball forward and crossed to where centre forward Kike scored from about eight yards out with no Cardiff player besides David Marshall anywhere near him.
It was a dreadful start for Bruno Magna who was part of a remodeled defence that saw him line up alongside Juan Cala in the middle, with an uncomfortable looking Matt Connolly outside them on the left. Although there were times when, understandably, he looked a little out of sync with his colleagues, I thought the Gabon international was one of our better players – mind you, given what was going on around him, he only needed to look adequate to manage that.
What was Cardiff’s response to this early setback? Well, in a truly desperate first half, there wasn’t much – Cala was not too far away with a header from a Peter Whittingham corner and a long range effort by Anthony Pilkington may have caused Dimi Konstantopoulos one or two alarms before going wide, but, apart from decisively dealing with a few corners and crosses, the ex City loanee had a very quiet evening.
Despite, never really getting to see the whites of the opposing keeper’s eyes, City did liven up somewhat in the second half – the introduction of Gunnarsson for the languid (there are other, less complimentary, words I could have used there!) Macheda couldn’t help but improve things in that department, while LeFondre for Dæhli (again on the periphery of things) gave Kenwyne Jones a bit more support up front than he had been getting.
The pressure mounts on a manager who has not been able to deliver the exciting, attacking football we were promised by those who appointed him.*

The pressure mounts on a manager who has not been able to deliver the exciting, attacking football we were promised by those who appointed him.*

However, if there was a positive from last night, it was the performance of Javi Guerra. I thought the reaction to his cameo against Huddersfield was a little over the top, but I was impressed last night and, based on what he has shown in the rare chances he has had so far, he offers more than at least two of the strikers who seem to be further up the pecking order than him.
That said, why it was Pilkington who made way for the Spaniard baffled me. The winger may not have had a great game, but, with his departure following Dæhli’s, City gave up on any attempts to play with width as, the full backs apart, the pitch may well have been only as wide as the penalty area for all of the use City made of the room on the outside.
So, once again, it comes back to our manager and the decisions he makes. To be fair to Ole, when the team plays so poorly every match, it hardly makes a manager think “I’ll go with the same side next time”. So, to that extent, I believe his tinkering is a slight red herring. What I find truly concerning is that, following those words about staying tight and being physically and mentally recovered from Saturday which I quoted at the start of this piece, what we saw last night was the best his charges could come up with – sadly City looked nothing like a side putting their bodies on the line for their under fire manager.
Ole didn’t inspire confidence last season, but he had the excuse that it wasn’t really his team. That proviso no longer exists and he has been given more financial backing and freedom than I for one thought he’d get during the summer. I think it’s pretty obvious that the wage bill for the current squad is the second highest in our history – it’s not just that we are watching crap football, it’s crap football that is costing a club with a near nine figure debt (according to the last accounts) an absolute fortune!
Ole will probably shuffle the pack on Saturday at Derby, but why should the outcome be any different there than it has been in the majority of matches he’s been in charge of – as I keep on saying, it’s the lack of any signs of progress that is so damning for our manager and the last four days have seen a hemorrhaging of support for him among the fanbase, are those in the Boardroom, reluctantly, coming to the same conclusions as the club’s dwindling support?
* pictures courtesy of http://www.walesonline.co.uk/
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9 Responses to Hollow words.

  1. The other Bob Wilson is understandably reluctant to sound harsh and it brings little joy to any of us to say it. But Ole has clearly not impressed his vision or his passion on the players. ‘Rotation’ and the ’search for balance’ have an important role, especially when having to play a lot of fixtures; and the shirt colour nonsense doesn’t help. But these are side issues compared to the basic task of firing up his squad. The only conclusion must be that Ole himself will be fired and a replacement brought in who does know how to inspire the people who play for him.

  2. ROD GROVES says:

    Trust me we are going no were under Oli go back and listen to his press comments when being interviewed and digest what he has been saying about HIS players and you will come to the simple conclusion he is totally lost, He has brought in the biggest squad in Cardiff citys history,and most look average, i would prefer a squad less by 10 but more players that can play at this level and if you get thin on the ground you use the up an coming youth players from the academy ,that by the way is why you have the academy in the first place, to produce players for the first team .i watched Hull play Westham this week and we have not got 1 outfield player that would get in there team that is a fact ,and shows how they have singed good players and we have on the hole singed crap ,i could carry on for hours pointing out Oli,s failings he has to be sacked now so a new man can try and find a first team 11 that can avoid the drop to league 1 and that is all i now hope for ,last point the appointment of Oli was totally the wrong one and is going to HURT us for a very long time .

  3. Roy says:

    I’ve supported Ole up to now, convincing myself against all the evidence that it’s going to come right sooner rather than later, but now I’m gone. Sorry, Ole. You’re a nice guy and all that, but it’s time to go.

    With great sadness and a heavy heart, I say goodbye.

  4. Matt N says:

    Thanks Paul,

    I was going to have my comment read solely “Matt Connolly. Left back.” But there were a couple of other performances other than that of the under performing manager which are worth comment (I do not blame a right footed centre back being played completely out of position for anything).

    Last night was the first game I’ve seen in the flesh for two years. It was not a welcome return. Whitts was looking a shadow of his former glory, Adeyemi and Macheda were absolutely anonymous in the first half, and Pilkington, although showing flashes, lacked any kind of final ball. What was hugely apparent was that the players have very little rapport with one another. So many final balls just played into touch because the run of the receiving player was misread. Players have to play together week in week out. The passes then complete themselves – you know where Brayford is going to be, you know what Pilkington is thinking.

    A couple of positives. Guerra. Wow, what a touch. Fantastic composure and an ability to glide across the pitch. Bruno looks a large unit and had some nice touches and distribution. A little slow I thought, but that might be match fitness. Kenwyne was an excellent target man. But to not test a goalkeeper like Dimi over the course of 90 minutes is I itself a crime.

    Finally the crowd, although not a full house, the humour on the terraces has not diminished, and the atmosphere is finding its feet since I was last at CCS. Loves the reaction to the phantom goal.

    Back again for the Rumbelows Cup!

    All the best.

  5. Dai Woosnam says:

    Thanks for the report, Paul.
    I feel sorry for Vincent Tan. Very sorry indeed.
    And to think it all came from loving Manchester United…
    Let me explain.
    It starts by wanting the team he has just bought to wear Man U colours. He cannot obviously say this, so he explains it away with his daft “lucky colour” theory.
    He then decides he wants a chap who was groomed as a manager by no less than Sir Alex. Fatal error.
    Well because Ferguson’s magic was not some tactical wizardry, but simply the FEAR OF GOD factor that he could instill into all his players. That is how they won games.
    But as for Fergie being able to spot or groom a good manager himself? …FORGET it!
    The man is a hopeless judge of “managerial material”. Just look at his personal choice of successor, David Moyes! We all know what a car crash THAT was.
    Best thing Vincent, after Ole has frittered away your millions, is to realise that your love affair with The Reds is over! And you might decide that the most politic and expedient thing to do is to show that your love affair is over, by rejecting their shirt too.
    Yes I realise that the last step may be a step too far. I do not like being intimidated by large groups either (whether it be at the polling station -highly topical – or on the terraces), but it would be seen by me as a wonderfully magnanimous act, (though some of your opponents might see it -wrongly – as a craven capitulation). And that last aspect might stop a proud man like you from going the whole hog and switching back.
    Main thing Vincent is “keep away from DJ, I beg you”.
    We have suffered enough.
    Thanks again, Paul, for your report.

  6. Matt N says:

    Dai – interesting theory, perhaps you are right! Couldn’t agree more on the DJ comment.

  7. Dai Woosnam says:

    Thanks Matt for your kind comment.
    Of course, it is a “given” that I can prove none of this: that these are THEORIES of mine. And Lord knows, I’ve been wrong in this life, more often than I have ever been right.
    But I like to think I am not exactly clueless when it comes to understanding some people’s psychology: and Vincent Tan has never seemed to me to be the slightly crazy, totally inscrutable “Chinaman” that one found in the pages of Victorian crime literature.
    Au contraire: he strikes me as a very “open” sort of guy.
    Take the business of sacking Iain Moody. Now for the moment, forget the “was Mr Moody guilty of anything that would guarantee instant dismissal in any other club?” question.
    It is not the “sacking” that I zeroed-in on: it is what happened next. The act that brought the Media’s derision on Vincent’s shoulders.
    He appoints a 23 year old on “work experience” to replace Moody!! Now come on folks, stop a moment and think.
    Read the sub-text in that act, please.
    Yes it is possible that it was all an attempt to court possible investment in the club by the chap’s billionaire dad in Kazakhstan.
    But surely to God, Vincent was telling us what he thought of the role itself? And if he was, I am with him 100%.
    Oh yes, no doubt someone will write in and say “all Premiership clubs have a Head of Recruitment” (though I doubt if many of them are behaving like the headless chicken that Iain was, with 47 flights in one calendar month*)
    There was a time when everyone thought the world was flat; that the sun moved around the earth; etc… and to think counter was deemed as heresy.
    Well, the football establishment is the quintessential example of a professional group who resemble Flat Earthers.
    Because one club has one of these parasites, they all must have one.
    Listen, they have never beaten the old scouting system of a salaried chief scout and his band of amateur scouts who are paid expenses only (with bonuses when their “finds” make the first team).
    So, let us all cut Mr Tan some slack for once.

    * And this was deemed to be proof positive of his industrious nature? Oh yes? Tell that to the marines.
    And we saw the fruits of his labours in the seemingly hopeless Andreas Cornelius, and the vastly overpriced Gary Medel.
    But I won’t knock Iain’s skill at accruing airmiles.


  8. ROD GROVES says:

    Oli has gone ,that is the fist thing that has gone wright for a wile ,taking everything in to consideration he was the worst appointment in Cardiff city,s history ,how he ended up being the manger i will never know 1 were in the premier league he is appointed to try and avoid the drop ,so he brings in 3 players from Norway for a relegation fight 1 gone on lone to Celtic the other 2 left 1 useless and 1 youngster with blonde hair who looks not bad but not that good this season so far jury out on him we will see.What on earth made oli think that they were going to help in a relegation battle,that was the start.So we were doomed and went down, i am told Tan was advised to sack him at the end of the season but made the decision to run with Oli in to this season witch he did another massive mistake,Oli was never going to be any good and Tan let him bring in all the new players i can not understand it, good job he has got billions and i hope he does not get fed up loosing money .

  9. The other Bob Wilson says:

    Thanks for all of your replies. I kept on hoping Ole could turn it around, but it was the lack of any proof that came remotely close to suggesting he could that makes me welcome today’s news despite me having a lot of sympathy for the man – now I just hope we get someone in quick.

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