Miserable fare at Leckwith following Warnock’s shake up of City’s Under 23s.


Last Friday this story appeared on the Wales Online website and as it contained widespread quotes from Neil Warnock made at that morning’s press conference held prior to the Brighton match, there is no need to doubt the veracity of the piece.

There’s still no confirmation as to who the up to ten players who have been told that the club are prepared to release them are, but, as there is every chance that they’ll all be youngsters who I’ve watched for five years or more as they moved up through the Academy, I find it sad that they do not have a future at Cardiff.

However. I must admit that I find it impossible to argue with our manager’s logic. The lack of Academy graduates breaking into the first team in recent years is proof that the club’s Development system is not and has not been working and, although I still maintain that the attitude of one of our previous managers in particular was a significant contributory factor to this situation developing, having players in their early twenties who have no chance of getting into the first team is no good whatsoever to either the club or the lads themselves.

Recent line ups for home Development team matches have seen more first team squad members involved as maximum advantage of the rule which says you can have three outfield players over the age of twenty three in the starting eleven has been taken. With that in mind, yesterday morning I speculated in the Feedback section on here that the line up for that afternoon’s game with Blackburn in the Premier League Cup would be a mixture of such players and teenagers (i.e. the sort of selection that you used to get for the old style reserve team games from five or six years ago).

In the event, it turned out that I couldn’t have been more wrong as not one player who you would see as a first team contender currently was involved – Mark Harris and Jarrad Welch, who are still young enough to play for the Under 18s this season, started, but the rest of the side consisted of players who would be classed as young pros, with many of them falling into the exact category the article says were the prime candidates for being released.

I hope City are able to have another look at Harrow Borough's Ibrahim Meite because yesterday's game was hardly one in which you would expect a trialist to make much of an impression.

I hope City are able to have another look at Harrow Borough’s Ibrahim Meite because yesterday’s game was hardly one in which you would expect a trialist to make much of an impression.

Just as in the previous home game against QPR, there was an interesting name among the City substitutes – Australian Under 21 international Peter Skapetis was a scorer against QPR and, this time, Ibrahim Meite, a twenty year old winger/striker at Harrow Borough who has been attracting a lot of attention from Football League clubs and had a trial with Premier League Champions Leicester City in October, came on at half time in place of Eli Phipps.

Unfortunately for Meite and a bigger than normal crowd at Leckwith, the game he joined was an awful one which made Saturday’s dull stalemate against Brighton look like a game between Barcelona and Brazil!

I’ll not go into too much detail describing a 0-0 draw that the club’s dedicated Twitter feed described as “a tight and tactical game” (but I’ll just call crap!), in fact, here’s what I had to say about it on a City messageboard yesterday evening;-

“Finished 0-0 and I’m afraid I’ve now watched two goalless draws in the bitter cold where very little happened in forty eight hours. At least on Saturday we were gaining a worthy point against a good side, but today’s game had nothing going for it at all. The only effort worth recording from City was a shot from thirty yards by Tommy O’Sullivan that the Blackburn keeper did well to tip over the bar, while Blackburn’s number six wasted a good chance when he headed a deflected cross straight at Luke O’Reilly. Apart from that there was a lot of balls bashed up in the air by both teams, but what good football there was tended to come a bit more from City who were able to work some promising crossing positions only to invariably get the final ball wrong.

Just reading about Ibrahim Meite – he came on at half time and started on the right wing before going into a more central position after Mark Harris went off. To be honest, he didn’t do a great deal to take the eye – there was a half hearted penalty shout as he tried to get on the end of David Tutonda cross, but, to be fair, it wasn’t the sort of game where a trialist would come in and impress – best players for us were probably the centrebacks James and Baker with the latter continuing what has been a good spell for him at this level.”

Having now watched two minutes of “highlights” of the match on the club website, I’d say I was right in saying that O’Sullivan’s shot was the only worthwhile goal attempt we had, but Blackburn did force quite a good save out of Luke O’Reilly late on with a header from a corner.

For what it’s worth, the draw leaves us with two points from thee matches in a group which, besides Blackburn, features Burnley and Sunderland – I’m not sure if it is one or two to qualify, but, even if it is two, it seems to me that we need a minimum of six points from our last three matches to stand much chance of progressing.

Finally, it seems the changes at Under 23 level are not limited to the playing side – I’ve been told that Kevin Nicholson, who I believe had been at Cardiff since the Malky Mackay days, has left his job as Development team manager and the fact that he has not been in the dug out for the last three games I’ve seen (Michael Johnson looked to be in charge yesterday) strongly suggests that this is, indeed, the case.*

*the club have just confirmed that Nicholson no longer works for Cardiff City.

This entry was posted in The stiffs and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Miserable fare at Leckwith following Warnock’s shake up of City’s Under 23s.

  1. Anthony O'Brien says:

    This evening (Tuesday) I had the pleasure of listening to Neil Warnock in a question and answer session at a pub in Pontypridd, which raised £500 for Velindre hospital. He had volunteered to come to Pontypridd not only because he has personal reasons to help raise money for cancer sufferers but also because he wanted to reach out to Cardiff City supporters in the Valleys. As someone rightly said to me afterwards, he’s a man you’d want to play for.
    One of the questions was about the cut back to the Under-23 squad. He said that he insisted on telling the players face-to-face, and did so at this early date to give them time to find another club where they could get first-team football, though they will, if required, still have a contract with Cardiff until the summer. In effect, he was saying that if the older Development players have not broken through into the Cardiff first-team squad by this time, they were unlikely to do so in the future. This makes sense. However, the aim is now to bring through younger players and give them opportunities to reach first-team standard.
    Mr Warnock also said that Craig Bellamy is still around the club and doing a good job with the youngsters. Some time ago Craig Bellamy had agreed to sign for Mr Warnock, but said that if his dream team of Liverpool came in for him, that’s who he’d sign for. This is exactly what happened on deadline day, but Craig made a point of personally phoning Neil Warnock with the news. As an obvious straight-shooter himself, Mr Warnock appreciated the way in which Craig Bellamy had been up-front with him.
    Asked about Peter Whittingham, our manager said he would still have a role to play, but not necessarily in every game. In addition, he has regular comprehensive reports on Cardiff players currently on loan.
    One of the main reasons he chose to come to Cardiff was that Cardiff wanted him — end of! His wife then looked at the various blogs and sites relating to Cardiff City and told him that the fans actually like him. Thus encouraged, he forgot about retirement and joined us. How glad I am he did so!

  2. Clive Harry says:

    Thanks for the report Paul. I was working and was disappointed I wouldn’t be able to watch but I feel a lot better having read that!
    Something undoubtedly had to be done at U23 level with players seemingly stagnating and hopefully, the proposed changes will have a radical effect. I’m actually writing this whilst listening to the County game and despite being two down, the commentators have again been impressed by Rhys Healey. Perhaps regular first team football will finally see him fulfill his early promise and impress Colin.

  3. The other Bob Wilson says:

    We saw two awful Monday afternoon games at Leckwith earlier in the season didn’t we Clive (0-0 against Charlton and 0-1 against Barnsley with the goal coming from a rebound after a penalty had been saved) – the Blackburn was another level down (at least!) from those two and you would have had far more fun in work.
    I listened to a bit of the County game as well and it sounds as if Healey was playing quite well, but I’d say that we are now at the stage where he’d be getting into the Wharton/O’Sullivan type situation if he came back here next season and was in the Under 23s team every week – he’d be better off signing a permanent deal for a lower division club I reckon.
    Thanks for that about last night AMO. Neil Warnock is putting younger City managers (as an aside, have we ever had an older manager than him?) to shame with the way he is touring the area meeting City fans – there’s already been that well attended night at Cardiff City Stadium, a meeting with supporters in Maesteg, last night and that visit he paid with Ken Choo to the Penderyn Whisky factory last month.
    On the subject of the reforms at Academy and Under 23 level, I’m told that midfield player Sion Spence (who only turned 16 in October) tweeted that he would have been in the squad for the game on Monday were it not for an injury – I hope this is not one of those stories that creates a bit of a fuss when it comes out and is then quietly forgotten about, but that little snippet of news suggests it’s not going to be and so, again, Neil Warnock is showing himself to be someone who backs up his words with actions.
    Interesting comments about Craig Bellamy which back up one or two little things I’ve heard regarding the youngsters at the club – I’m guessing Warnock tried to sign him when he was at QPR.
    Glad to hear those comments about Peter Whittingham, he’s still the best at the club in many of the facets of midfield play and it should also mean that he will complete ten years with us – it’s an outstanding achievement for any player to stay with any club as a first team player for a decade these days.

  4. Clive Harry says:

    Paul, I hope referring to me as Colin isn’t subconsciously drawing a parallel with the other well known ‘Colin’ nickname!

  5. The other Bob Wilson says:

    Just noticed it now before I came across your second message Clive. We do have a Colin who often posts on here, so maybe I was thinking of him – sorry about that.

  6. Dai Woosnam says:

    Thanks Paul, for enduring the miserable December Leckwith weather, and football that mirrored it.
    Was also very struck by AMO’s account of the Pontypridd pub visit. Hope Neil was looking a little less gaunt than he has of late: the boy needs fattening up. I can recommend a good fish and chip shop in Ponty…though, in truth, probably average by Grimsby/Cleethorpes standards.
    And, btw, AMO…as you know, I used to sell beer, wines and spirits to many Ponty pubs. What pub was it? And what was Neil drinking…? As for the latter question, I guess that the “Woodward/Bernstein” in you will surely have ensured that such information was neatly entered into your reporters’ notebook.
    I jest of course, AMO. But seriously, I would love to know the pub. I still wince at memories of the watering hole of another Woodward – this time Tommy Jones Woodward – viz., The Greyhound, and the Irish landlord who 23 years ago did a runner and took me for close on £2K. The warning signs had been there…he had taken to sleeping some nights on the pool table, being unable to climb the stairs to his accommodation. But alas, I only found this out …subsequently.
    And when the gumshoe in me eventually after a myriad bum steers traced him to his brother’s place in Chislehurst, and I sent him a letter asking him to pay me, I got a snooty letter back from the CAB asking me not to harass their client…!!
    Ah…we do indeed live in interesting times. Carey Street, where are you when we need you? And as for the CAB…stop believing people who do not deserve your belief.
    By comparison, Cardiff City have no problems at all. A great manager at the helm of a weakish squad that may well not survive the drop. Players who were vastly overpriced like Sean Morrison who I still have hopes for …but up front…he is not a true defender.

    And finally a playful note to Clive…there are worse epithets than that to come one’s way! As I always say, I am impervious to any insult more subtle than physical assault, and when I have been called that, I have been happy to take it in my stride, warm and secure in the knowledge that I have thus not impregnated some beauty and thus done my bit to avoid the overstocking of the human race.
    And if only Tina Turner had the slightest idea of the frequency of our imaginary encounters, she would breathe one mighty sigh of relief … !!
    Enough of my (semi) witterings…thanks again Paul, and the MAYA team.

  7. Anthony O'Brien says:

    In answer to Dai’s query, the pub in Pontypridd which hosted Neil Warnock’s question and answer session was “The Rose and Crown” on the Graig. In mournful testimony to how the landscape and tastes of the town have changed it is now the only genuine public house between the Tumble and the heights of Penycoedcae, The sole survivor on the Tumble itself is the former “Greyhound”, now horrendously renamed as “the Skinny Dog”. The Greyhound in days of yore used to be a depository of items reflecting the sporting history of Pontypridd, but presumably no longer. This small, cramped pub once boasted a large oval-framed photograph of Frank Moody which he had donated after boxing in American but I hardly think it still graces the walls of the place. (Frank Moody gave my grandfather the same oval-framed photo, and it’s still on show in my house, though sadly no longer recognised by anyone).
    Unfortunately I did not have a reporter’s notebook with me and so have to rely on a very untrustworthy memory as to what Neil Warnock was drinking, but I can confirm it was non-alcoholic and limited to a single glass. What struck me about him was his willingness to be there and sign autographs and pose for photos at the end of the session, his honest and easy going style (I jest not) and his manifest love of football. He also genuinely wants success for Cardiff City as well as reaching the record of eight promotions, but what I think was also apparent was his wish to stay in football when he finally retires, presumably with Cardiff, and become some kind of wise old adviser to the new management. He clearly delights in the game too much to withdraw entirely. And I, who once regarded him merely as a pugnacious and often biased critic of referees who were doing their best, now regard him as a good man at heart who is Cardiff City’s best bet eventually to become a successful side in which we can all take pride.
    One final thought, Dai: Tina Turner! As an old pop song has it (by Bobby Vee?) “Mammaries are all I have to cling to”.

  8. Colin Phillips says:

    I believe it was the Rose and Crown, Dai.

  9. Dai Woosnam says:

    Thanks to Colin and AMO for The Rose And Crown.
    I recall coming down the hill one evening rush hour, and passing it on my left, and deciding to turn right down Union Street to avoid a gridlock by the traffic lights.
    Only problem was that it was a “no right turn”…and a bobby was there to issue me with a fixed penalty document.
    As for Neil Warnock, I think I always liked him right back in the days when he had that war with Megson, and got sufficient of his own players red carded, as to make the ref abandon the game …as he only had 8 players left…!! I cannot recall if he was fined for that cunning stunt.*
    But I do agree that his bullying of officials was not a particularly endearing quality, and I used to feel nothing short of COMPASSION for any linesman on his side of the pitch. But I always knew that Warnock the MAN was a man with a big heart and a most winning personality.
    And this has been brought home to me in recent years with him often appearing as Alan Brazil’s sidekick on Talksport. And he comes across ever-so-well…albeit that he has a semi Tourette’s habit of mentioning his beloved schoolboy son William every programme without fail..!!
    Btw…just as we know that Jose Mourinho stays in The Lowry Hotel in Manchester, do we know where the new Cardiff management trio are living? Are they all in The Vale Of Glamorgan spa hotel?
    * With apologies to Blackadder. And try saying those two words quickly some ten times.
    Almost as hard as “red lorry yellow lorry”…and with far more embarassing pitfalls …!!

  10. Dai Woosnam says:

    Oh, I forgot to say, AMO…
    …re the Bobby Vee allusion: wrong part of the anatomy!

    I was rather thinking of the song made memorable by Art Garfunkel (among a great many others)
    “I only have THIGHS for you”.

  11. Royalewithcheese says:

    It was Bobby Darin.

Comments are closed.