Ineptitude rules at relegated Cardiff.

CoymayI suppose being a supporter of a club means that you are always going to magnify the good times into something they aren’t really by proclaiming the team, one of it’s players or it’s manager “the best ever” and exaggerating the bad times so that those same heroes of a few weeks or months earlier become “the worst ever”. It’s also true to say that when you see so much of one team compared to their rivals in the same division, it’s easy to fall into the trap of believing that they are better than they really are or over emphasising weaknesses to the extent that you feel your team is far worse than the ones just above or below you in the table.

So, bearing all of that in mind, I’ll try to be objective here. For example, based on his form this season, our goalkeeper gets into my best ever Cardiff City team, but none of the other squad members do and the manager that I still rate as the best I’ve seen at the club (Malky Mackay) certainly doesn’t get that award on the basis of what he did at Cardiff in 13/14, but what he did in the two seasons preceding that. Having seen sides that have been relegated to the Football League’s fourth section and then finished in the bottom three of that division, none of the squad get anywhere near my worst ever team either – our current manager might not have covered himself in glory over the past few months, but, again, I saw worse than him in the 80’s and 90’s.

Judging our abilities, or lack of them, against other Premier League sides is a little more difficult, but, when you compare us to the teams we have spent the winter fighting relegation with, I think only Fulham (whose relegation was also confirmed yesterday) are serious rivals to us for the title of worst team in the Premier League 2013/14.

Our manager acknowledges City supporters after yesterday's relegation . Behind him one of the most enigmatic players I've ever seen at the club, Wilfried Zaha looks devastated - he obviously cares, but too many of his other performances (especially in home matches) have suggested otherwise.+

Our manager acknowledges City supporters after yesterday’s relegation . Behind him one of the most enigmatic players I’ve ever seen at the club, Wilfried Zaha looks devastated – he obviously cares, but too many of his other performances (especially in home matches) have suggested otherwise.*

Norwich are almost certainly accompanying us into the  Championship, but, despite us taking four points off them, they looked a much better team than us in our two games with them and they generally had a solidity on their own ground that we couldn’t match. Of the others, Sunderland’s ability to get points off the best away from home showed they were able to raise their game to levels we couldn’t reach on their good days and much the same was true of West Brom who, like the Wearsiders, were held back by strange home results against the poorer teams.

No, the only team I saw who were worse than us in both matches we played against them were Fulham, they also shared our capacity to collapse to humiliating heavy losses against out of form outfits or relegation rivals (not as often as we did mind!) and their defensive record was even worse than ours. I don’t see much point in endless Malky/Ole comparisons now, but it has to be said that over the first half of the season, I don’t think there would be much argument as to who was the better team, but since the turn of the year, Fulham have picked up three more points than we have so they’ve been better than us since then – I suppose the best thing to do is let next week’s final league table decide who was the poorer side over the course of the campaign.

Even the games which signalled relegation for the two sides had a similarity to them with heavy defeats against teams with nothing to play for. That said, I’ve not seen anything of Fulham’s 4-1 loss at Stoke, but I seriously doubt if it could have been as embarrassing and deflating as our 3-0 loss to a distracted Newcastle United was yesterday.

On the face of it, a visit to a club that had lost their last six games and was being ripped apart by internal strife that saw some home supporters walking out in protest with just over twenty minutes to go offered a perfect opportunity for us to get the three points which would have carried the fight on into the final game of the season. However, as has happened so many times lately, City turned in a lame and desperately poor performance against a side under real pressure through either bad form or a poor league position.

It was a strange old game. City yet again started dreadfully and could easily have been three down within half an hour, but as the second half wore on with Newcastle still just the one goal to the good, we had the bizarre sight of a home side playing as if they were scared stiff of us! City were having the better of things at this stage, but the amount of respect shown to us by Newcastle was ridiculous with a midfield player and winger being replaced by central defender and sitting midfielder.

I find it very hard to believe Alan Pardew would have been quite so cautious in his approach if there hadn’t been so many people in the ground calling for his sacking, but, to be fair to City, they did manage to create far more very good chances from open play than they normally do. Four spring to mind for me – Fraizer Campbell shot wastefully wide early on when Newcastle keeper Tim Krul dropped a cross, Wilfried Zaha (far and away our best outfield player on the day) did brilliantly to work himself into a position where he shouldn’t really have given Krul the chance to make a fine save, sub Kenwyne Jones shot weakly at Krul from close range after some good work by Aron Gunnarsson and then the Icelandic international wasted probably the best chance of the lot seconds later when home captain Coloccini cleared off the line.

So many of City’s problems stem from their inability to create sufficient chances from open play (we don’t make many from set pieces these days either), but yesterday served as a reminder that, even when chances are made, we are short of the composure and technique needed to put them away.

Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjær was right to be critical of the standard of finishing shown by his team yesterday, but I must admit to being baffled by some of his other post match comments because “With the effort they put in against Newcastle, they did not deserve to lose.” certainly didn’t describe my feelings about what I had just watched from my team.

What at first had appeared to be the oddest in a long line of strange team selections by our manager was partly explained away by the news that Medel, Dæhli and one or two others were absent because of illness, but there was still the questionable use of Gunnarsson almost as an auxiliary striker as he played just behind Campbell, while our top scorer Jordon Mutch was deployed in an almost Medel like deep position (with very limited success). Gunnarsson had shown last season that he can be effective when he makes runs into scoring positions from a deeper midfield position than he was used in yesterday, but in three seasons I’ve not seen anything to hint at suggesting that he could be a success at Premier League level playing in the sort of position he occupied yesterday.

If one player encapsulates the problems many of last season's promotion heroes had within coming to terms with the step up in class, then it might well be Aron Gunnarsson. He had the honour of scoring our first ever Premier League goal, but things went downhill pretty quickly for him after that and he's finished the campaign as a bit part player who was implicated (wrongly say the club) in the leaking of team details to Crystal Palace a moth ago.*

If one player encapsulates the problems many of last season’s promotion heroes had with coming to terms with the step up in class this year, then it might well be Aron Gunnarsson. He had the honour of scoring our first ever Premier League goal, but things went downhill pretty quickly for him after that and he’s finished the campaign as a bit part player who was implicated (wrongly say the club) in the leaking of team details to Crystal Palace a month ago.*

Okay, I know Ole and his coaching staff get to see our players in training and so they are probably better placed than someone like me to know what they are capable, or not capable, of, but when I see the sort of thing I did in the first half yesterday I wonder if any training (particularly on the defensive side of things) actually takes place under our new manager and his staff.

Newcastle’s third goal was a joke as they worked a short corner with no City player within yards of the ball to get in a cross which saw two home players completely unmarked before the second of them (Steven Taylor) scored. At least there was the excuse that the game (and the season to all intents and purposes) was over by then, but how do you explain Fabio going out to cover a short corner an hour or more earlier, turning to shout at team mates and then running back into the middle again leaving our opponents free to work the routine they had originally planned – I wish I could, but I can’t.

I had a difference of opinion with someone about Ole last night as I argued that he should be given a chance in the Championship and he stated that he should go now. When I thought about it afterwards, I realised my argument was a pretty feeble one with the use of terms like “we should do the decent thing” rather proving that point – I also admitted to being influenced to a degree by the fact that Ole appears to be such a likeable bloke. If I had to guess, I don’t think we’ll see a change of manager before August, but the truth, as I see it, is that Ole has undoubtedly taken us backwards in the past four months and he is one of a number of people on the playing side at the club with plenty to prove in the new season.

* pictures courtesy of



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6 Responses to Ineptitude rules at relegated Cardiff.

  1. james hall says:

    Desperately short of class all round. All January signings did nothing to enhance our chance of survival. Signings pre season left a lot to be desired with only Caulker having some degree of success. What of the owner? will he learn from the monumental mistakes he has made or remain his arrogant self? If he withdraws his money as we become a Championship side we are doomed!

  2. Tim Edge says:

    Under Solskjaer we have every chance of ‘doing a Wolves’, whose freefall to League One was accelerated under another clueless Scandinavian manager. Mackay’s mantra as a Championship manager was ‘consistency’ and as a Premiership manager he concentrated on making us competitive. Solskjaer has made us consistently uncompetitive. I have no faith in his recruitment, team selection,tactical analysis or powers of motivation. He should go now, otherwise the misery will continue.

  3. Matt N says:

    Cheers for that Paul. Yesterday was no shock, and my only surprise was my own lack of emotion. Once Gunnarson’s shot was cleared off the line, I zoned out and accepted our fate.
    You raise very valid points about Ole’s questionable selection and positioning of players. It has been his bizarre trademark – I can’t recall one team sheet where I thought “yep, I’d have gone with that”.
    So now to the Championship and the guessing game of who will stay and who will go. Some I would help pack. I think we’ve got to bid farewell to Medel and Caulker, without doubt, and Marshy will be in high demand. I hope we get a good price for them. Bellers will retire – I don’t think he and Ole are on the same wavelength. I also think Whitts might leave us and head back to Villa or the Baggies. I hope Kim has a good World Cup and gets picked up for a fair old fee – I don’t think he fits with the Champo, and he didn’t do as predicted in the Prem. I also think Brentford will come back for young Kadeem Harris. I really hope we can keep Daehli, Noone and Campbell. I also think Kenwyne will do well in the Championship. Our returned loanees (including Dai’s poster boy Brayford!) will give us a good squad.
    The summer I hope doesn’t bring any unwelcome back room surprises, although I wouldn’t put it past us to perpetuate the crises Portsmouth style. Tan could make the gesture many want and return to blue (for the record I support the club, not the colour, but I do know that support needs to be united). Or he might do what many others want and sling his hook! Or the other option is that he remains front and centre and steers us from one PR disaster to another.
    I agree with you that Ole, for better or for worse, will be our manager on the opening day of next season. I just hope he has a good preseason and works out what his team is and doesn’t, as I think he has been prone to do, pick his team based on his opponent – judged on the evidence, that isn’t his forte.

  4. Mike says:

    Very good article, very thoughtfully put together (as usual).

    I must be honest I’ve been totally disenchanted with Ole since his first game against WHU. He seems to have no structure to the football we play, no enthusiasm/drive/passion from him during the game.

    I can never remember watching the Bluebirds where I feel so flat. I hate admitting that but that’s how I feel. I really don’t see him getting results in the Championship to takes back to the PL.

    2014 has been a shambles on and off the pitch…….so so sad!!!!

  5. Dai Woosnam says:

    Thanks as ever, Paul.
    I think you can predict what I am going to say.
    Before I give you my boring two cents’ worth, I would like to compliment Matt on giving me the first really serious bout of laughter I have had since watching Bryden and Coogan doing their Roger Moore in an episode of The Trip To Italy a few weeks’ back. I just loved Matt’s description of John Brayford as “Dai’s poster boy”. Brilliant.
    We need to make sure that Derby do not win the play-offs! Because if they do, I cannot see him wanting to play in the Championship, when all his old team-mates are tasting glory!
    Right, down to business.
    Where do I stand on Ole?
    To be honest, I do not know where I stand on ANYTHING any more. I am a much more confused individual now than I was half a century ago…well, on soccer at least.
    I mean to say …
    we are in a world where Rudy Gestede has now turned into Superman and is heading the ball as well as John Toshack, indeed I would go further, he is heading it like JOHN CHARLES.
    Unbelievable power in the heading! Terrorising central defenders aerially.
    Where has it suddenly come from?
    I ask that, because I can recall a home game round about when the City gained promotion – it might have been that Charlton game, or perhaps it was Barnsley – when he heads a decent chance from around the penalty spot and virtually found TOUCH with it!
    How come the transformation?
    You might say that it is CONFIDENCE. But I would reckon that confidence can only take you so far.
    No, it is CLEAR to me.
    It is down to good one-to-one coaching. Is it Gary Bowyer? Or Jordan Rhodes who has shown him the art, like Big John showed the still schoolboy Tosh?
    Watch Man Utd or the likes come in for him in the summer.
    But anyway, that is by-the-by. I mention it just to show how little I know in reality. I would have bet my house on Gestede never making it …though that said, Malky’s dreadful negative tactics of not playing wingers (or rather playing them – like Craig Conway – as additional full backs (“CC was a false number three if ever there was one!) never really gave Gestede – or Conway come to that – a fair chance. (And light the blue touch paper and stand well back on the subject of CC: I am absolutely seething when I think of the fact that it is invariably a Conway cross that Gestede is thundering into the net! Jeez.)
    But hey, do not let me dai-gress here!* Back to Ole.

    So, GIVEN the proviso that I reckon that after a long lifetime of watching soccer, I am MORE confused now than ever, I will still give you my two cents’ worth.
    Should Ole be kept on?
    Is he a nice chap?
    Yes, he seems to be.
    Are nice chaps the best managers?
    Not often …though Martinez (and to a degree, Rodgers) would seem to disprove my theory.
    But it is not about the fact that the fella does not seem to have enough of the sergeant-major about him. It is his continual bland comments as the Titanic was sinking, never once calling for MEN TO BE MEN. For them NOT to take to the lifeboats before the women and children.
    And above all it is his useless signings of Fabio, the anonymous two Norwegians and Kenwyne Jones that damn him. And of course letting my poster boy go and Nicky Maynard too. (And was it on his watch that Rudy G left? (If so, that will come back to haunt him.)
    Yes of course he bought Mats Daehli…a big prospect. If Ole goes, Mats won’t want to stay. But maybe City can double or even treble their money on him.
    They can sell Caulker too, for more than they paid. He will never make a centre back, but fortunately the London press seem to rate this “colossus” almost as highly as Paul Abbandonato, and SC can do no wrong. (One day they will realise that he is out of position more often, than he is IN it! And he cannot really put in the last-line-of-defence tackle that say a Vincent Kompany or a Tony Adams could do in their sleep.)
    They can certainly sell Gary Medel who was vastly overpriced to start with. And anyway, please tell me why any team needs someone to – and I quote – “protect the back four”?!
    I always thought the back four WAS the protection!
    Why protect the protection?
    It is like putting on a Durex to protect a Trojan!
    Gee…I think I have been living too long.
    A huge wave of ennui has now descended on me.
    I am off to look up Dignitas in the Swiss phone book.
    PS Send Kenny Miller Mk 2 up to Ewood Park on loan so that same genius can teach him to head a ball too. (BTW, to be serious folks: he won’t be a serial scorer in the Championship either. No ice in the veins. Yes he is an intelligent runner, who will run all day, but then, so is Mo Farrah. If someone will pay a million for Fraizer, I would be delighted with the £350K profit.
    PPS Vincent is in too deep, poor blighter, to cut his losses now. But there is a part of me that rather wishes he would up sticks, just to make a point to those 90% of the fans who made it to Tyneside and went out of their way to wear more blue than ever.
    Shameless prima donnas.
    If Vincent goes, those fans will be BLUE alright, when the club is wound up.
    I am beginning to think that some of these fans are Fifth Columnists working for the Official Receiver!
    * The thought occurs that should any reader think that these scribblings of mine are at very least “arresting”, they can write me at my email address to get on the mailing list for my 18 times a year DAIGRESSING. It is free, very amateurishly produced, and is now in its 21st year.
    Not much of its content is about soccer.
    I must be doing something right though as in 2012 I flew twice to the USA for two separate months driving from Maine to Seattle to Florida, meeting various loyal readers in that country.
    Right, that is me finished.
    Time to have a nap and dream about when football WAS football, and when fans supported – as Matt so neatly said – the CLUB and not the shirt.
    Golly, I think senile dementia is setting in! Do you know there is a part of me that secretly wishes that Vincent would try to do a Brooklyn Dodgers and move the club to KL. Ha!
    I guess I am still hopping mad at seeing the sheer DEGREE of blue at Newcastle.
    The fans KNEW that City would be playing in red, and just set out to show that they (the fans) knew best.
    But their psychological slip was showing!
    As I said in a previous posting, it is a most elementary mistake. For how can you expect the City players to believe in their red shirt, when the fans so patently are telling them that it is rubbish …and ipso facto, that the players are rubbish for wearing it!?
    A massive own goal on behalf of the City fans ALL SEASON.
    Without the fans rocking the boat, it just might not have capsized, and miraculously have sailed away from the weir.
    (Yes , I know…clumsy metaphors! Titanic and weirs! Ha!)

    Dai Woosnam

  6. The other Bob Wilson says:

    Thanks for all of your comments – I’ll just make some quick observations in reply.

    1. So much of what happens from here depends on Tan. I don’t see how he can leave the club at the moment without losing a huge amount of money, therefore my guess (and that’s all anyone can do when it comes to how our owner behaves!) is that he’ll be staying and whoever our manager is will have a decent budget to work with this summer – if it is Ole, then I think we may see a complete revamping of the squad because all of the chopping and changing we’ve seen from him suggests he has little faith in what he inherited (or most of those he bought for that matter).
    2. Tim, I thought of Wolves when I first heard about the plans to build the extension to the Ninian Stand during the season – Wolves did something like that when they were in the Premier League and eighteen months later people were sat in those new seats watching them play Gillingham in League One!
    3. Matt, I agree with you about Bellamy and Ole – he’s been “detached” all season and I think his relationship with Malky soured towards the end as well.
    4. As for Ole, we just don’t seem to have an identity with him. Although I daresay many didn’t particularly enjoy it, I thought we always had one under Malky Mackay during his first two seasons with us – people knew what was meant when someone talked about “Malky Mackay type football” – does anyone really have a clue what “Ole Gunnar Solskjær type football” is? This isn’t all Ole’s fault because managing Cardiff City became a far more difficult job this season (as Malky Mackay found out) and I think anyone would have had a struggle to imprint their personality on the club with all of the off field crap that was going on.
    5. Dai, you may be interested in this given your comments about those supporters campaigning for a return to blue

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