When it was announced that part of the £100 million that the club’s Malaysian money men were prepared to invest in the club, I don’t think anyone really expected Cardiff City to be spending something like £6.4 million (I’ve taken that figure from the most common values given by the media to the various “undisclosed” fees we paid) by the middle of the last week of the summer transfer window. However, with the two signings we made in the days before that window, that figure has now gone through the £10 million mark – while there has to be some concern that we are indulging in a Hammam like policy of buy now and then pay the lender later, it has to be said that Vincent Tan and co have delivered spectacularly on their pledge of significant spending on the team this summer.
The first of those two signings I mentioned was long term target Craig Noone. The Brighton winger (who, apparently, was in fine form in the match against us at the Amex Stadium ten days ago) signed for a fee reported as £1 million, so ending a pursuit that has gone on throughout this year. When Noone signed a new contract after Brighton had rebuffed our approaches for the player during the January transfer window, it was assumed that this was an end to the matter, but the player, who has impressively worked his way up from non League level after being released by Liverpool at he age of just ten, remained on City’s radar and they acted quickly when they were made aware that his club were now willing to sell. In fact, the info I’ve heard from someone who doesn’t tend to get these sort of things wrong is that it was Brighton’s need to sell to enable Gus Poyet to bring in the players he needed (they bought four of them in yesterday) that was the catalyst for the deal taking place and in the end, City got their man for a fair bit less than they offered for him eight months ago.
Hopefully Noone will help provide the trickery and pace that City have lacked in wide areas over the past season and a bit, but it was the signing yesterday of stirker Nicky Maynard for a fee said to be as much as £2.75 million which has sent out the clearest of signals as to their intentions for this season. Around a year ago, Bristol City rejected a bid of £6 million for Maynard, who had a year left on his contract at the time, by Leicester City, but the wurzels were reluctantly forced to concede that the player was not going to sign a new deal with them and, eventually, sold him to West ham in January for around £2 million. Maynard played a part in getting the Hammers promoted, but there were persistent rumours throughout the summe that he did not feature in their Premiership plans – I first heard he might be a target for City about two months ago. With West Ham having brought in Andy Carroll on loan on Thursday, they agreed a fee with City for Maynard and the transfer was finally confirmed in the hour before the window closed.
Maynard is yet another product off the Crewe conveyor belt of talent and, at 25, still has time to develop his game further. As it is, he is a proven scorer at this level and, without thinking too hard about it, I can come up with three very good goals he’s scored against us down the years – the first in the 1-1 draw at Ashton Gate in March 2009, the second in the wurzel’s 3-1 loss at Cardiff City Stadium last season and the third, the goal for West Ham that put them 3-0 in the Play Semi Final at Upton Park. Like Noone, Maynard will add pace to a squad which was certainly in need of more of that commodity and has shown the strength needed to play a lone striker role during his time at Bristol, but whether we play one or two up front, our strikers will need a better service and more support than they have been getting since early this year.
Finally, that calculation about our total transfer spend earlier did not take into account Craig Bellamy’s wages, but, for a few days it looked like we might not be paying him them any more because there were widepsread rumours that he was going to retire from the game. The rumours soon spread and I, for one, certainly thought there could be some credence to them for a few reasons – first, Bellamy had talked in a press conference at the time of him moving here that he could well have retired if Liverpool had insisted on him staying with them rather than allow him to come home for “personal reasons”. Second, there was the suspicion that the money to pay for Noone and Maynard would come from wage savings the club would make on Bellamy and, finally, sources which had been proved to be very accurate over the course of this summer (one on Twitter and two who have PM’d me from time to time) had very strongly suggested that there was something to the Bellamy to retire rumours.
It got to the stage where Malky Mackay was asked about them in his pre-match press conference yesterday and the club moved to try to quash them completely when Director Steve Borley released a statement at the player’s request denying that he had any intention of packing it in – Bellamy will not be playing on Sunday, or, in all likelihood, for Wales in the upcoming matches with Belgium and Serbia because of a torn calf muscle. Now, I’m sure that there will be those who’ll think that there’s no smoke without fire, but that’s a pretty categoric denial in that statement (as there was in our manager’s denial in his press conference), so that should be an end to that matter unless or until something happens to resurrect the rumours I suppose.