Ineptitude wherever you look.

CoymayRussell Slade served up his fiercest criticism of his side so far after Cardiff City limply exited the FA Cup at the Fourth Round stage after a 2-1 home defeat by Championship rivals Reading. Talking about the second half no show that was instrumental in a 1-0 interval lead being turned into a third defeat in a week, the manager said “It was probably the most disappointing 45 minutes since I’ve been here. I would probably have walked out myself if I’d been in the crowd in the second-half.”.

Anyone thinking that Slade was just trying to deflect criticism away from himself there should also note his ” I’m the manager and I take all the responsibility for players not performing to the levels required.” comment – the manager was at least saying all of the right things after the game.

In my book, our manager deserves sympathy for being lumbered with implementing the transition that is seeing the end of us being, according to Slade anyway, a Harrod’s shopper to become something far more mundane (and realistic it has to be said) – you can choose anyone of several modestly priced retail outlets to describe our new status.

Yesterday saw two more of the sort of departures that epitomise a process that is called “down sizing” by business managers who, presumably, believe that the use of such a term makes the loss of their job easier to bear for those affected. At least we appear to have got our money back for John Brayford – the right back, who was arguably our most consistent performer before he began to play a full part in the woeful team displays of the last two months, has joined League One club Sheffield United with whom he had a successful loan spell last season.

Brayford’s replacement is another player who Russell Slade has managed before. Lee Peltier, who has been signed from Huddersfield for a “nominal” fee, is primarily a right back, but he has also been used on the left, in a holding central midfield role and in central defence during a career that has seen him play for Liverpool (he never got into the first team at league level though) , Yeovil, Huddersfield (two spells), Leicester and Leeds as well as loan spells at Hull, Yeovil and Forest. I’ll give Peltier the same chance to play a few matches before coming to any judgment on him as a City player, but he’s not been starting regularly for a team that is below us, albeit only on goal difference now, in the table.

Apart from soem fine saves by Simon Moore, virtually the only real moment of quality the team provided in the whole ninety minutes yesterday - Kenwyne Jones' bullet header puts us 1-0 up*.

Apart from some fine saves by Simon Moore, virtually the only real moment of quality the team provided in the whole ninety minutes yesterday – Kenwyne Jones’ bullet header puts us 1-0 up*.

The other departure was Kimbo who joined Messrs Cala, Eikrem and Berget (don’t think there are any others) in the contract mutually terminated category. Besides having more natural talent (yes, even Berget) than most of the players still at the club, I’m virtually certain that all of them would not have said “oh that’s fine, don’t bother paying me any of what I’m owed under the terms of my contract” when the mutual termination of their stay at Cardiff was first put to them.

My point is that there has to be a real possibility that these mutual termination deals are costing the club a very significant sum of money – money which could have been allocated to the transfer budget under different circumstances I’m guessing. While I’m in speculation mode, was the Peltier signing (we are also close to securing a, desperately needed, midfield player according to our manager) and Kimbo departure dependent on us receiving that money from Sheffield United for Brayford?

So, as I mentioned before, Russell Slade is deserving of some sympathy, but, in my case anyway, that is being totally dissipated by the absolutely dreadful brand of football that he appears to be insisting on from his team. I know I’m like a stuck record with this, but the sort of “kick it as high and as far as you can” (Fabio, poor after been given a chance at right back yesterday, had no problem with the first part of that instruction, but often found the second bit beyond him I’m afraid!) approach we are paying good money for the “privilege” of watching these days went out with the ark – or the late nineties anyway.

There are those who tell me that they are pleased that we are no longer “shopping in Harrods” because they have a dread of the sort of player Slade would sign if he was given serious money to spend and, given his, seemingly, slavish devotion to the traditional English, not British, long ball game, you’ve got to say that they have a point.

After about half an hour of yesterday’s match, I turned to my mate and said “finally, some football” when we played a couple of passes between the centrebacks and then worked the ball from left wing to right while keeping it on the deck for the whole time and making about thirty yards downfield - it was nothing spectacular, but it involved five or six passes before Reading put the ball out for a throw in and I’m struggling to think of another passage of play we came up with after that which bettered, or even matched, it.

I’m certain I wasn’t the only supporter who groaned inwardly when they learned that the our front two would be Kenwyne Jones and Alex Revell. Playing two target men might have been a worthwhile ploy back in the days of John Toshack and Brian Clark when a combination much heavier pitches and footballs, inferior player fitness and a far looser interpretation of what constituted foul play led to a slower, more static and less cerebral game, but it’s cumbersome and limiting now – I’ll return to our two strikers later, but, suffice it to say for now, that it was a ploy that never looked like working.

Even during a first half which we, arguably, just shaded, Simon Moore was, by some way, the busier of the two keepers and it was the visitors who were playing what little football was on show, but there were grounds for some slight optimism at the break based on what had happened in the first forty five minutes. Given that, Reading manager Steve Clarke and his coaching staff had an important fifteen minutes to try and sort out with their team a way in which they could turn things around – within about thirty seconds of the restart, it was pretty obvious that the time had been put to good use, because the visitors began with a purpose, intensity and tempo that they had not shown in the first half, but were able to maintain for the rest of the game.

So, while Reading were putting things right in that quarter of an hour, what was happening in the home dressing room? Well, based on what we saw in the second period, I assume the players sat around playing cards, fiddling about with their smart phones or speaking to their agents, while our manager and his coaching staff nipped outside the ground for a half time fag.

When there are so many candidates to choose from, I’m not sure if yesterday’s second half performance really was the most disappointing since Russell Slade took over (there’s the second half showing against the same opponents back in November for a start), but, suffice it to say, it was truly dismal. City had no answer whatsoever to Reading upping the pace and Slade appeared powerless to do anything to improve things – his substitutions, while understandable to some extent, were reactive.

Tom Adeyemi (why was he left out in the first place?) came on for Revell as a predominantly defensive measure at 1-1 because, so predictably, Whittingham and Gunnarsson in central midfield weren’t able to cope as soon as Reading started to play with a little confidence. Adeyemi’s introduction brought about a change to the 4-4-2 diamond system used at Middlesbrough, with Kadeem Harris accompanying Jones up front, Noone moving to the tip of the diamond and Gunnarsson to the base of it. Adeyemi and Whititngham were in the centre on right and left respectively, but the narrowness of this new formation enabled the impressive left back Jordan Obita in particular to play like a winger for the remainder of the game (he provided the assist for the winning goal) meaning that Reading were always getting two on ones against Fabio  - it was even two against none at times!

With Matt Connolly on for Ben Turner because of the latter’s injury just before half time, Slade only had one more substitution left. Federico Macheda for Harris was a predictable switch and the Italian was at least able to get people to their feet when he appeared to burst clear of the last defender only to be forced wide and crowded out by covering Reading players. This incident happened right at the end of the match and after going 2-1 down, City did at least rouse themselves for what may not have been a grandstand finish, but it did get the visitors thinking about defending for a while.

The way we finished the match might have been seen as a positive in some respects, but, I’m afraid all it did for me was, yet again, question the attitude of some of the players. They’re a strange bunch, because there are times when, despite the lack of quality on show, most of them give the impression that they care about what is happening and then you get occasions, like the majority of the second half yesterday, where they appear to be sleep walking towards defeat – for me, the fact that they were able to raise their games so late in proceedings suggests that they had more to give than they were showing between the fiftieth and ninetieth minutes.

If proof were needed of Slade’s antiquated approach, it came in the form of post match messageboard comments regarding how Connolly never made himself available for the ball to be thrown out to him by Moore to give City the option of building from the back – Connolly is good at this by Championship standards and he did it a lot when playing centreback under Malky Mackay (who was criticised for his direct approach, but it was as nothing compared to what we’re seeing from Slade). However, instead, Moore knocked it long to our two towers up front and another defeat on the possession front (this time by 57/43, meaning that, apart from the game with lower division Colchester earlier this month, we’ve lost it in our last thirteen matches) was assured.

Returning to the players, apart from asking why on earth is Slade still picking Peter Whittingham if he is going to insist on us playing a style of football he is totally unsuited for, I’m going to concentrate on the four players in yesterday’s system who were charged with doing our attacking.

I’ll start with Kenwyne Jones who in the first half was, by some distance, the best attacker on the pitch and, for me, only Scott Malone of the other outfield players, was a candidate to have been better than him throughout the ninety minutes. Until the match went into added time, Jones was responsible for the only two occasions when we looked like scoring, first when a lovely bit of skill for such a big man worked himself the space to fire in a shot that Adam Federici had to turn aside with some difficulty and then when he got a run on his marker to score with a fine header from Whittingham’s corner.

However, Jones was as poor after the break as he was good before it. When Macheda got clear in those closing minutes, there seemed no great desire from him to get forward to support his striking partner and he also showed little intention of imposing his physicality on his direct opponents. Alongside Jones, Revell played like someone who had little confidence that the system he was being asked to play in would work. He worked hard again, but to no great effect and was often surprisingly easily brushed off the ball by the Reading centrebacks.

Frankly, Kadeem Harris looked like a little boy lost out there yesterday. It can often happen to a player that he sees very little of the ball in the opening stages and, when this happened to Harris yesterday, it seemed to leave him tense and over eager when chances to impress came to his way later – I argued last week that he should be given a good run in the starting line in the coming games and I stick to that because he can give us some of the pace and unpredictability that we so lack, but I was surprised Slade persevered with him so long yesterday and many more performances like that will see him back in the Development team sooner rather than later.

Finally we have Craig Noone. Now, I try not to be over critical of our players on here, but, for weeks now, he’s been next to useless for us. Every now and again, he’ll show a little bit of the ability he undoubtedly has (he did it two or three times yesterday, but, as is nearly always the case, nothing comes from it), but he’s a shadow of the player who gave Pablo Zabaleta such a torrid afternoon just over a year ago. Noone’s crossing has gone to pot in recent weeks and there’s a selfishness to his game now which sees him shoot every time he gets within thirty yards of the goal in a central area – he, rightly, drove the normally placid Jones to distraction when doing it from one of the few promising breaks we had in the second half.

In different ways, all four of the attacking players in yesterday’s starting line up, turned in performances which just weren’t good enough. As I mentioned earlier, there was only one outfield player who played to an acceptable standard for the ninety minutes, so they certainly weren’t alone in doing that. In fact, it’s become the norm for the large majority of our players to come up short every time they play – our record and league placing suggests that we are mid table in every respect.

However, you would expect a mid table side to mix the occasional good afternoon or evening in with all of the bad ones and, for me, that just isn’t happening. In terms of level of performance from our players and all four of the men who have been in charge of the team, this season has seen standards that are some way below mid table Championship level.

According to Nathan Blake, Hal Robson-Kanu had not scored on a Saturday for two years, but it was the Welsh internaitonal's goal two minutes from time that gave his side their fully deserved win - for City players all of there's left is another game where they are going to be booed off the pitch by their fans at the final whistle.*

According to Nathan Blake, Hal Robson-Kanu had not scored on a Saturday for two years, but it was the Welsh internaitonal’s goal two minutes from time that gave his side their fully deserved win – for City players all that’s left is another game where they are going to be booed off the pitch by their fans at the final whistle.*

We are very poor on the pitch, but we are, arguably, worse off it. On the face of it, with the team back in blue and season ticket prices announced for 2015/16 which are pretty reasonable given the ending of the five year price freeze, there should really be a lot of goodwill being directed towards Messrs Tan, Dalman and Choo at the moment, but it seems to me that the decision to end the rebrand earlier this month was an effort to deflect attention away from everything else that is wrong at the club, while the season ticket rates strike me as a purely commercial decision based on how much they could reasonably expect given the lack of quality of the product on offer throughout 2014/15.

Mehmet Dalmam has had a go at picking the manager and now Vincent Tan has as well and the result has been the same – pretty disastrous. It’s rumoured that Mr Tan will be coming to his first game of the season next week when we entertain high flying Derby and, unless we put in a performance the like of which hasn’t been seen by a Cardiff team this season, he’ll finally have a chance to see how turgid and depressing Russell Slade’s team is.

If the club’s transfer committee has been functioning as we were told it would be this time last year, then all three of the men named earlier will have played a full part in the recruitment of a group of players who are now either being sold at a loss, loaned out  or paid off to have their contracts terminated.

People are talking of Mr Tan making significant inroads into the amount of money he is owed by the club this month as most of the high earners disappear, but there has to be a reasonable possibility that players such as Guerra and LeFondre (soon to be leaving for Bolton on apparently) will still be having large parts of their wages paid by Cardiff while they are on loan and is it beyond the realms of possibility that, just as Ridsdale’s Leeds did a decade ago, some of the players transferred out permanently will still be having some of their wages at their new club paid by us?

Throw in the full or partial paying up of wages for those released by the club as well and I believe that the amount of money being saved by the club and, by implication, finding it’s way to Mr Tan is significantly less than many think it is. These are people who pay a rumoured £5 million for a centre half on transfer deadline day (having paid a reported £4 million for another one a fortnight earlier), then tell the Supporters Trust in a meeting fifteen days later that the club will be in “serious financial difficulty” if it does not go up this season, then three weeks later appoint a manager seemingly with a brief to drastically cut the wage bill in January – everywhere you look at Cardiff City these days you are faced with ineptitude and inadequacy.

*pictures courtesy of http://www.walesonline.co.uk/

 

 

 

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12 Responses to Ineptitude wherever you look.

  1. Big Al says:

    Very depressing read. We keep talking about players and right now we need to talk about the Leadership off it.
    The job taken on by Slade is huge and unfortunately his first team management are just not good enough to deal with it. I am sure VT is aware of this and hopefully he can come up with a solution on his next visit. In my view we need someone like Bellamy involved in this change process. He has the technical nous and passion needed to get us through this difficult period.
    Try it Russell before it’s too late for you.
    Big Al

  2. Greyprawn says:

    A good read as always but a depressing read. The club is a mess both on and off the pitch and performances like yesterdays debacle are just not good enough. Some people were moaning about the atmosphere yesterday but a rather muted CCS waz a reflection on how poorly we were playing.If the players and the manager can’t be bothered then why should the fans be bothered trying to gee them up?

    It’s a sorry mess and I believe that there’s something more to all this – the sickly patient needs reviving before it’s too late. Slade is not the doctor to make the patient better.

  3. Graham says:

    Big Al in his comment mentions ‘passion’ – we have “Fire and Passion” in the badges on our shirts but very little of either can be seen in the hearts and legs of our players .. managers get players playing for them [or they're in trouble - Alex Ferguson's hairdryer treatment], playing for each other, and for the Club. That’s what managers do and why some are paid [a lot] more than others. Our players at the moment are just doing a job – and not very well.
    Last week in commenting on the misery of having been at Norwich I asked for a week’s wages to be taken from any player who just hoofed the ball up field towards, more or less, the area where our [non-existent] 7′6″ forwards were waiting for it! And I asked for Craig Noone to practise, and perhaps perfect, making accurate centres.
    What we’ve got is very little football : passing the ball quickly, neatly, to other players in the same team, preferably going forward, and doing that after having a quick look around to see where everyone else is. Instead we hoof it upfield in hope. Unfortunately, Kenwyne Jones gets a lot of [deserved] acclamation for his goal-scoring BUT anyone looking at the statistics would see we score almost all our goals from balls lofted upfield or from the corner flag towards him. So we keep doing that again and again because that’s actually been how we’ve been getting our goals. Aaaaargh!

  4. Big Al says:

    Bellamy’s new role for me assistant Manager. VT and RS just do it and see the difference.
    Big Al

  5. rhondda blue says:

    another load of sh@te by rusty spade and his gang, i think it should be no win no pay, draw half pay, then we might see a bit more passion from these so called stars, they are so overpaid they could not give a toss about the fans. their wages are the ruin of the game. after the disgraceful showing at middlesborough, they refused to go over and applaud the few faithful fans ( rusty included) that made the horrendous midweek trip. what we do in training I don’t know, they can’t even pass the ball two yards to each other, our club is going down the pan big time, it says it all when brayford quits our club when he drops a division. I wish vt would come out and explain the reasons for the fire sale and which direction our club are going as I only see one way and that is down to div1. rusty and co must go, this so called football is worse then when we were in the dungeon div, at least we had an excuse then, we were skint.

  6. Anthony O'Brien says:

    With Kenwyne Jones leading the attack, Cardiff are almost bound to rely on up and unders, but unfortunately he does not win the ball cleanly enough to find a team-mate (assuming there is anyone with the football brain to show sufficient anticipation) and he seems to lack stamina and also mobility (apart from his ability to perform somersaults). Possibly the best way to deploy him would be in the last fifteen or twenty minutes when Cardiff are desperate for a goal or hanging on to a slender lead – yes, it could happen, some time, I hope – when he is able to attack the ball in his own area to head it clear. Revell would seem to be a better option for the rest of the time as his willingness to challenge for virtually every ball lumped forward continues throughout. Overall, however, a sea change is still needed in the team’s approach, or perhaps more accurately a change in the composition of the team. A strong holding midfielder is still required, as are men who can control the ball rapidly, even when under pressure, and pass it accurately to fast-moving team-mates who are able to move swiftly into space. Sacking the manager would be a futile gesture at this time. He is bound to be fully aware of what is required but is constrained by the players he has inherited. As Alf Ramsey showed nearly fifty years ago, your tactics need to be geared to your players, not vice versa. I accept that some of the Cardiff team would be expected to play attractive and winning football but are not, for whatever reason. Either they get their act together, which at the moment seems unlikely, or they get replaced by others with greater skill, speed, energy and commitment. Given the right players, the tactics and style of play, as well as the results, would then have a chance of improving.

  7. Richard Holt says:

    A lot of nails hit on the head there Paul. When I first suggested that the sequel to ‘The Journey Back’ should be ‘The Journey Back Down’ I was half joking. No joking now – as a club on and off the field we’re only heading in one direction I’m afraid.

  8. The other Bob Wilson says:

    As always, thanks for the replies. The most depressing thing for me is that supporters can go on about what is wrong with the team until we are blue in the face, but all of the signs are that it won’t make one iota of difference!
    There’ll always be minor disagreements when supporters discuss their team, but, broadly speaking, it seems to me that most of us are fairly united in what is going wrong with the team. Invariably, discussion settles on a central midfield that simply has not been good enough over the course of the season and yet, up to now, we have not done anything about trying to sort things out in this area of the pitch.
    In saying that, I’ve been given the name of a midfield player we hope to sign early this week. Now, I must say it would take a special player indeed to come in and sort out all of our midfield woes by himself – sadly, there’s nothing in the player whose name I’ve been givens career so far to even remotely suggest he is that player – I just don’t see those making the decisions at the club having the ability to turn things around.

  9. Dai Woosnam says:

    Paul,
    Good morning to you at 4.25am.
    Woke up from a bad dream.
    Haunted by that comment on the BBC1 screening of the Cambridge ManU game.
    They mentioned that the ManU squad had cost two hundred MILLION quid to assemble, while by contrast, the Cambridge squad had cost SEVEN ….THOUSAND.
    And to think that I thought that the contrast between the Arsenal v Bradford payrolls of two seasons ago could never be beaten (the only Bradford player to cost the club a transfer fee was James Hanson who had cost a paltry £7,500).
    And this has got me thinking about the millions that have been frittered away by Mackay and OGS. Frankly, were these two people military men, they would now be facing courts martial.*
    But the only man in my opinion to be good value for money – John Brayford – is let go to Bramall Lane, where he is of course a cult hero. And we even lost a few hundred thou on him!
    My friend Anthony O’Brien – whose judgment I admire – tells me that he has heard that Brayford had an insufferable ego, and this got him into immediate trouble with Malky and meant he was frozen out.
    Well, let us imagine it was/is true …which incidentally, I don’t actually believe for one minute.
    What does it tell you about Malky Mackay, in that he could play politics with Vincent Tan’s money?
    And the insufferable ego is surely Mackay’s, in wanting to teach JB a lesson ?!
    It seems he was offended (a widely believed allegation) when he told Brayford that he (JB) had as yet achieved no great heights as a player, and Brayford unwisely responded by questioning MM’s own playing credentials!
    Mackay should have been able to take – and I will use the word for once correctly! – such BANTER in his stride, instead of taking it out on a fine player in a fit of hubris.
    And at the CLUB’S expense…a club that he professed to MANAGE.
    I believe had JB been an ever-present last season, the team would still be in the top flight…albeit they’d have retained their place just by a whisker.
    One man can make all the difference.
    And I say this to dear Anthony: ask yourself this. Do you genuinely think that Nigel Clough is the sort of chap who would tolerate a prima donna for one single minute?
    Of course not. He has a lot of his dad in him.
    I will close by saying that it is a national scandal how two Cardiff City managers have been allowed to throw untold millions down the drain. Vincent Tan was far too good and lenient a man for both of those idiots to deserve.**
    Any Assembly Member reading this blog should please table this question to the First Minister in the Senedd: “Will the First Minister please put it on record that the Welsh government DEPLORES the shambolic mismanagement in the transfer market of their two recent managers Mackay and Solskjaer, and consider they have brought shame on the capital city of Wales?”

    Kindest,
    Dai.
    *No not a typo! I just know my plurals!
    ** And too subtle for most of the fans and press. When he replaced Moody with the fence painter, the irony of the act was completely wasted on the masses.
    He was telling anyone who still had any activity going on between their ears, just what he thought of the whole ROLE that Moody had been hired to undertake!
    And quite right too. Moody’s job was filling a trendy role that -because other top clubs have similar – is deemed a viable one. It never was, and never will be.
    DW

  10. Anthony O'Brien says:

    In response to Dai,
    I hold up my hands! Your comments on Brayford are totally convincing and I believe I owe him an apology for repeating gossip which had no real foundation. Nigel Clough (and anyone connected to Sheffield United, of course) would certainly know all about Brayford and clearly there was great delight in securing his services. He has been excellent for Cardiff this season, and all I can find wrong with him is a beard and haircut that do nothing to enhance his undoubted good looks. Good luck to him with a team who want him, and who he wants to play for.

    AS for the likely cost to Cardiff of the cancelled contracts and loan deals which Paul has accurately sussed out, all I can say is: sometimes the best option is to cut your losses. Big transfer fees and wages (comparatively speaking) do encourage big egos, and there’s nothing wrong with bargain-basement scrounging if it does produce real bargains. At least players who have tasted the reality of the lower divisions are likely to be hungry to perform when signed by – for the moment – an ostensibly “bigger” club. Heart is often as much a real quality as skill, if not more so.

  11. The other Bob Wilson says:

    I agree with you to a large degree about Brayford Dai, but, after being just about our most consistent player for the first three months of the season, his more recent performances had been pretty poor (in fact they coincided with the time Russell Slade starting playing him at left back!). I should also record in the interest of balance, that it was Ole who loaned Brayford to Sheffield United, so it wasn’t just Malky Mackay who didn’t want him at Cardiff last season.

    I’ll tell you what, I’ll give you the one about the painter and decorator being some sort of subtle joke by our glorious leader that we were all too thick to get. I suppose the transfer Committee that he belongs to is a joke as well – you know the one where the manager, Chairman, CEO and Mr Tan (or his representative) get together to discuss new signings to make sure that we don’t have any more disasters like the ones we saw in the summer of 2013 whereby Messrs Tan and Lim were forced to sign off deals because the evil Mackay and Moody told them to.

    Yesterday, the club announced that a fifth player had had his contract terminated by mutual consent – four of them were signed by our transfer committee within the past year.

    Ordinarily, it would be quite harsh to blame a club’s owner, Chairman and CEO for poor signings, but they raised the stakes by talking about how their Committee would be an improvement on what had gone before.

    Last Febraury, Mr Tan said;-

    “But now I’m involved, I know the value and I study. Every business I don’t know, if I spend enough time – a couple of months – I will know a lot. I know quite a lot about football now. I know the value of players and we won’t do stupid things.

    In the January transfer window, I was very involved. We spent about £6m for seven players. In the summer, we signed seven players and committed almost £50m. I want to make sure we spend correctly. If I’m involved, I make better business decisions, getting better value for my money.
    Next summer I’m sure we will do better transfers because I will be personally involved. We’re not going to let our manager run wild.”

    All of that sounded good until the season started and we got to see all of these “better transfers” in action.

    Last summer I was saying that only David Marshall was blameless out of the playing and coaching staff and the on and off field management for our relegation because he was the only one of them who had done his job to the standard required. Much the same applies this season if promotion was always the aim (which I’m sure it was) – far too many people at Cardiff City (Mr Tan included) are not very good at the role they perform at the club.

  12. Dai Woosnam says:

    Thanks Paul, for your – as always – well considered response.
    I just need to add a few extra thoughts…
    First, I always knew that Ole was the guy who sent Brayford out on loan. And I have never claimed anything to the contrary.
    But Malky did the massive initial damage by freezing him out for several months. Deliberately losing him in the Bermuda Triangle of The Vale at Hensol.
    And then Ole on taking over, compounded the damage, by clearly swallowing Malky’s line that JB was somehow non-kosher, and giving-in to what I guess was not Sheffield United’s first request to take JB on loan.
    So that is my first point.
    And here is my second: thanks for accepting my reading of the fence-painter’s promotion.
    It frustrates the dickens out of me that a clever man like Vincent Tan should have been so lampooned by the British press, for what was a very sophisticated statement: the subtext of which struck me straight away.
    And if you want, I can explain the 4 man transfer committee too.
    Somebody told VT about George Graham and the Scandinavian agent.
    And with the Cornelius deal in the forefront of his thinking, he maybe got paranoid, and suggested that in future three men rubber stamp the manager’s moves in the transfer market.
    But I do not think he is/was saying here “we are the equals of the manager in our footballing nous”.
    Nowt of the sort.
    But the subtext is clearly “there will be no bungs, no hidden agents’ fees, and most vitally of all, no mysterious secret paybacks of half the agent’s fee, as occurred under the Arsenal stewardship of that resolute, upright Scot, who had seemingly positively personified the finest kind of Scottish rectitude, in the best traditions of a John Reith or an Alexander Fleming.
    And another Scot, hewn from the same kind of rock, had set Vincent Tan’s mind to wondering.
    To me, it is that simple.
    “Never again on my watch” was clearly VT’s new clarion call…even if his suspicions were not necessarily well-founded.

    Keep up the good work, Paul.
    Kindest,
    Dai.

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