New season, but the same old problem threatens to hold City back.

Coymay

Only once in the twelve completed seasons we’ve had at Championship level since our promotion in 2003 have we scored less goals in a league campaign than the fifty six we got in 2015/16. That was in 2004/05 and it’s hardly a coincidence that this was the one season in which relegation was a realistic proposition from January onwards - we didn’t go down that year because of a good defensive record which saw us concede fifty one times in our forty six games, but the meagre forty eight goals we managed for ourselves told it’s own story.

It is possible to finish in the top six by scoring fifty six goals or fewer (in fact, Birmingham managed to go up automatically in 08/09 while only scoring fifty four times), but, besides yesterday’s opponents, only Bristol City, in 07/08 and Brighton in 13/14 have managed to do so since 1988.

No, you generally need to score something like ten to fifteen goals more than we managed last season if you want to be one of the six teams the promoted teams will come from every year – in the most basic terms, the biggest challenge new Head Coach Paul Trollope faces is where can he find those extra goals from?

Last January, the two players who were generally first choices up front for us left the club, while a deal to bring in a striker to replace one of them never came to fruition. Kenwyne Jones’ loan, Joe Mason’s sale and the collapse of the deal to sign Tony Watt meant that we played out most of the second half of the campaign with just one specialist striker who was considered a realistic contender for a first team and even Kenneth Zohore was considered to be more of a back up for winger turned striker Anthony Pilkington than a regular starter.

Things have improved since then to the extent that we have made the Zohore loan a permanent deal and we’ve also brought in Kenneth Gounongbe on a Bosman from Belgium. However, yesterday’s 0-0 draw at St. Andrews against a Birmingham team that had the better of the 1-1 draw which rounded off last season back in May at Cardiff City Stadium did nothing to dispel the thought that we don’t have the firepower yet to boost our goalscoring figure for the season into, say. the  sixty six to seventy range.

Yes, I know that it’s just one game and a nil yesterday is hardly conclusive evidence that the squad we currently have will, again, end up short on goals. However, if you also look back on our more recent pre season fixtures there is evidence there that we aren’t going to find goalscoring easy unless we can add more firepower to the squad.

Seven goals in wins over Shrewsbury and Osnabruck gave the hope that last season’s biggest weakness had been cured and, with Lex Immers scoring inside two minutes in the next game against St. Pauli, the goals were flying in for a while, but I think it’s instructive to look at what has happened since that goal as the matches we have played have become more competitive.

Even when we were scoring, the goals we were getting included some with a freakish nature to them with goalkeeper’s clearances being charged down by strikers and crosses from wing backs flying over the keeper’s head and into the net. Indeed, the winner against St. Pauli was a soft own goal which owed something to good harrying by Zohore, but more to a comical back pass and some dodgy keeping.

We’ve played something like three hundred and thirty minutes of football since that Immers goal and in that time we’ve scored that flukey own goal and a penalty by Peter Whittingham against Bochum. Again, there’s plenty said about the folly of reading too much into pre season games and, who knows, the same group of players could be making me look stupid in a couple of weeks from now as the goals rocket in from all angles, but, for now, the only evidence we have to go on suggests we are going to find scoring as difficult as we did last season.

Last season was a frustrating one in some ways because we were able to maintain a promotion challenge of sorts until our penultimate game. So, on one level at least, you could claim that we weren’t far off being a top six side, but the reality for me was that we always lacked the overall quality to merit a Play Off place. We had a wholehearted and, generally, united group of players, but there wasn’t the something extra there to enable us to compete on level terms with the Sheffield Wednesday’s and the Derby’s.

I know this is a time of year for optimism, but I do feel that some progress has been made in closing the gap in terms of getting into the top six on some levels. For example, I’ll cover this in a bit more detail shortly, but the more flexible tactical thinking of our new Head Coach  appears to be finding a way of playing more to our strengths than Russell Slade ever managed, while you would hope that someone with the reputation of Rylands Morgan can make those slight improvements in fitness and conditioning which can count for a lot in a league where so many of the teams are evenly matched on the ability front.

Yes, it’s one game only, but yesterday we went to the ground of a team that were able to come out even (won two, drew two and lost two) in their fixtures with the promoted teams last year and turn in a performance that, by general consent, should have had the game won by half time.

As for why this was not the case, well some of the credit for this has to be put down to Birmingham’s keeper. A few years ago, it appeared to be that, no matter who he was playing for, Jon Stead always seemed to score against us - Tomasz Kusczak is like a Stead at the other end of the pitch when he faces us, he always plays well and I’m not sure if we’ve ever won a match in which he has been in the opposition (just done my boring statto bit and we haven’t).

Yesterday, Kusczak was at his best in the first half to deny an Immers header and a superb Whittingham volley. The save he had to make from Pilkington was a more routine one as Pilks got a lob all wrong from the sort of chance that you would guess an awful lot of teams in  the Championship would put away.

Frederic Gounongbe's competitive debut for Cardiff City will always be recalled with descriptions of his incredible miss from just two yards out - it'll be interesting to see if Raul Trollope gives him a chance to put things right in the televised League Cup tie at Bristol Rovers on Thursday.*

Frederic Gounongbe’s competitive debut for Cardiff City will always be recalled with descriptions of his incredible miss from just two yards out – it’ll be interesting to see if Raul Trollope gives him a chance to put things right in the televised League Cup tie at Bristol Rovers on Thursday.*

The second half saw the home team come into it more and David Marshall had to make decent saves to deny, first, Diego Fabbrini from distance and then, sub, Jack Storer from much closer in. However, neither of these efforts came as close as the Immers shot from twenty yards which cannoned back off the crossbar and so, you’d have to say that City had the better of it on the balance of chances and I’ve not even mentioned the very early candidate for miss of the season that Gounongbe managed  yet!

Now, before going on, I need to say that no player should be judged solely on one incident, but, by firing over from around two yards out after Declan John had exploited an error by David Cotterill to put over a low cross which left Kusczak helpless, Gounongbe has a howler of a miss to his name that is as bad as any I’ve ever seen from a City player.

To miss an opportunity like that on your competitive debut is unfortunate indeed, but when you’re someone who is trying to win over a fanbase that is, it seems to me, somewhat sceptical about your ability to succeed in the Championship in the first place, then it has the potential to be so much more than that.

Hopefully, Gounongbe will be able to show he has a lot to offer in the coming weeks and it’s to his credit that he didn’t hide after his horror moment – he has aerial ability and seems to have decent pace for a target man type striker. However, after a miss like that, his first competitive goal for the club cannot come quick enough.

Returning to the subject of Paul Trollope being more capable of finding ways to utilise our strengths more effectively, the obvious thing that playing with three centrebacks does is allow you to get more players in the team from the area where we have most strength in depth.

However, what it also might do is provide the way to best solve the Whittingham problem. As the years go by, Whitts will have been here ten years in January, I feel it’s become harder to fit him into the team. Russell Slade found one way of doing it last season by putting him out on the left where he responded with a few goals and some impressive displays for a while, but, increasingly in the view of many, it was becoming harder to use him as one of a central midfield pair in a 4-4-2.

I’ll admit that, as I watched Whitts dictating play with his still excellent range of passing in the videos I saw of our matches in Germany, I found myself thinking that it’s all well and good him spraying the ball about like that in these games, but he’ll never be allowed so much time and room in the Championship.

After yesterday, I’m not so sure about that any more. Certainly, if you’re  playing any formation which involves a central midfield two against us, you are going to struggle to get near Whitts unless you withdraw one of your strikers or a number ten to look after him, but the danger of that is that he sees so much of the ball in the way we are trying to play now, that it could become something of a full time job for any “man marker”.

With the facility to play either a two man strikeforce or a lone striker and a very advanced number ten, it seems to me that 3-5-2/5-3-2  covers most bases tactically as long as your wing backs are good enough and fit enough to cope with the very high workload that position provides if you are to do it most effectively.

On that score, it was heartening to see that it was John who rivalled Whitts in most people’s analysis of who played best for us yesterday. It was a first league start since our final Championship match of 2014 for Declan and no player exemplifies the damaging attitude of Russell Slade towards the younger members of professional playing staff more than him.

Having championed his cause for a couple of years, I accept that there are still justified questions to be asked about his defending yet, but he has earned the chance he was given against Birmingham after the quality of his displays in pre season.

Mind you, I doubt it if John would have started if it hadn’t been for the withdrawal of Fabio from the eighteen man squad yesterday following an inquiry about the player from another club. It turns out that, according to the local press at least,  the Brazilian (one of those players whose deal with the club is up next summer) has a release clause of £2 million in his contract and, with, newly promoted Premier League team Middlesbrough strongly suspected of being the club behind the aforementioned enquiry, there has to be a good chance that Fabio will be on the move soon.

Sixty eight games since he last started a league match for the club, Declan John was in from the first minute yesterday - he's now got the chance to earn a first team place on merit that he was denied by a manager who is talking about his new club's tradition when it comes to bringing on youngsters, then picks a team with an average age of twenty nine and only one player under the age of twenty five in it (Wales qualified Morgan Fox is twenty two)!*

Sixty eight games since he last started a league match for the club, Declan John was in from the first minute yesterday. He’s now got the chance to earn a first team place on merit that he was denied by a manager who is talking about his new club’s tradition when it comes to bringing on youngsters, but still picks a team with an average age of twenty nine and only one player under the age of twenty five in it (Wales qualified Morgan Fox is twenty two) for his first competitive fixture!*

With there still being no sign of tangible interest in Macheda, LeFondre and Dikgacoi, the trio “officially” available for transfer, it seemed inevitable that members of the first team squad would be the ones who would have to be sold to guarantee the funds would be available to bring in the striking reinforcements alluded to earlier.

I wouldn’t rule out moves from other clubs for other members of yesterdays’s team and subs either, but, if we were to sell a player for a couple of million quid soon, what would that get us in terms of goalscorers?

Paul Trollope explained yesterday that changes to the rules for loaning players for this season which see an ending to the emergency loan system have altered the way sides will approach that side of the game – from now on, players will have to be signed before the summer window closes and kept on at least until the next window opens in January.

All of this makes me wonder if the majority, if not all, of any further incoming transfers will be in the form of loan deals. However, it’s sobering to think last season £2 million was largely accepted as being the loan fee paid by Reading for Watford’s Matej Vydra, who is generally regarded as having been something of a flop at the Madejski Stadium.

Unless we are tracking some gem of a player no one else in the Championship knows about (highly unlikely in my view), we probably need to be realistic in our speculation as fans regarding any striker we bring in and, it shouldn’t be forgotten either that, having lost Scott Malone (a player described as having a heart the size of a pea by Iwan Roberts on Rob Phillips’ Radio Wales phone in yesterday!), we’ll almost certainly need a new full/wing back as well.

I’ll end by talking, somewhat reluctantly, about our other wing back yesterday. It seems that Jazz Richards has upset some City fans by not doing the Ayatollah when asked to by the travelling support – Wales Online  were straight on the case with this truly devastating story within hours of it breaking.

As the story points out, Richards was playing for our age group sides as a boy before he ever played for Swansea, but this made no difference as those on social media rushed to condemn the player. The trouble is that, while the lynch mob were baying away, a few City fans who were at the game were pointing out that Richards had, indeed, done the Ayatollah (albeit at the fifth or sixth time of asking) in the first half in front of the City fans as the team defended a corner.

Bizarrely, some weren’t pacified by this turn of events, because they didn’t like the stealthy or sneaky nature of Richards’ Ayatollah, so it seems that now simply tapping your head is not enough, you need to do it with PASSION (what an overworked and, sometimes, pointless word that is – I heard someone who works in a fish and chip shop saying he serves chips with passion last week!).

There was a time when City fans were, rightly, regarded as being among the most passionate in the game,  but a stupid rebrand put paid to much of that and since we switched back to blue, Cardiff City Stadium has virtually become a passion free zone unless Wales are playing there – many talk about the atmosphere not being as good as it once was at City away matches as well.

However, sign an ex jack who doesn’t do the Ayatollah clearly enough and it seems that all sorts of people rediscover their lost passion for Cardiff City in protest – maybe this amazing transformation will mean that over 20,000 will turn up, without the considerable carrot of free admittance being offered, next Sunday when QPR come to town?

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

 

 

 

 

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14 Responses to New season, but the same old problem threatens to hold City back.

  1. Anthony O'Brien says:

    Hooray — back to comprehensive reports of Cardiff’s endeavours in real games.

    I listened to the game on the wireless yesterday, and have now read Paul’s report which as always is fair and perceptive. And last night , I saw the Channel 5 football show, which was a tale of stop/go/stop with more adverts than an Argos catalogue. Even so, they did show Gounongbe’s infamous “miss”. The received opinion is that he missed an easy goal. I assumed this was because the ball came to his right foot but having seen the actual incident, I think the goal opportunity was not that easy. It’s an old adage in football that you have to be in a position to score in order to miss, if you know what I mean. He had done what all good centre-forwards should do and made a beeline for the goal — but in so doing he moved slightly too far forward so that he had to pivot to make contact with the ball. If he had been twelve inches further back, he would have scored. And over the years I’ve seen dozens of incidents in which onrushing forwards have missed supposedly easy goal chances in exactly the same way, even from world class strikers.

    Paul, you also mention our main strikers from last season. From my point of view, one of Mr Slade’s greatest mistakes was to stick with Mason and Jones far too long. It effectively meant that Cardiff were playing with ten or even nine men at times. At least Gounongbe made his presence felt at the front! The wireless sages assert that he may now have a psychological problem, a lack of confidence in front of goal. This has to be nonsense, given that he consistently remained the penalty-taker at his previous club. To do so, a player must have reserves of self-belief and confidence. I predict that, given the right ball, he will be an asset to the team.

  2. Dai Woosnam says:

    Thanks, Paul for your full report, as usual. You leave the others standing…including Michael Morris…who admittedly I have not read for at least three years.
    Three comments:
    1. AMO is right in asserting the sitter was not quite the sitter it seemed. However my reasoning is different.
    I suggest that Declan crossed the ball with much greater force than he needed…with the result that there was always a possibility that it would bounce off our striker’s foot with some degree of irregularity.
    That said, it remains a miss that will haunt him.
    2. Pity that Kenny’s daughter has upped and returned to Sky Sports. She was the one saving grace in that C5 programme. And last night’s 80 seconds’ worth showed one moment Lee Peltier will want to forget.
    Did you see that sliced attempted clearance with his left foot from the edge of his penalty area? Is his left foot just for standing on?
    3. Please tell the numpties who complain about Jazz failing the Ayatollah test, that the place where you fail Ayatollah tests is…
    (wait for it)…
    …TEHRAN.
    Cardiff City fans are top of the 92 clubs when it comes to moving deckchairs on the Titanic.
    If it wasn’t acting like kamikazes holding treacherous TAN OUT banners whilst the City were STILL playing in the EPL – the same top tier that some of us who grieved when we last left it half a CENTURY ago, had waited all this time to return to – or having a hissyfit over a daft colour change…God love us if now comes ANOTHER diversion, designed not to unify, but to rock the boat.
    Two of the finest players I ever saw ANYWHERE (not just in a City shirt), were proud Sons of Abertawe. I refer to king John and Prince Ivor.
    These Fifth Columnists acting on behalf of Kamikazes United, should move lock stock and barrel to Iran.
    And take their blasted squalid banners with them!
    DW.
    P.S. Can you please Paul comment on my response to your grounds quiz, which I have posted there?

  3. Dai Woosnam says:

    Oh, I forgot to say…
    If you want us to solve the age-old problem of firing blanks, then you need a club that is not living in fear of stepping on the toes of The Thought Police …the shock troops of the Politically Correct.
    Okay, I will put my cards on the table. Yes, I know she still looks a million dollars and is still perhaps the prettiest woman in these islands, but everytime I see the Nation’s Sweetheart on my telly, I switch over to ANY channel, to ensure I do not have a stroke.
    And I cut up my Santander card long ago, and sent it back to them…with the reason why.
    “Kicking a man when he is down”…
    God bless Joe Hart (never thought I would say that, as I am no fan of his) for going on holiday with Chedwyn Evans recently.
    Some months ago, when his previous verdict was declared unsafe by the High Court, I urged we sign Chedwyn.
    We had not the moral courage.
    (And I choose those last two words deliberately.)
    When he is found innocent on that second trial – as he assuredly will be – I hope Blades fans will get her name off that stand, and put his on it.
    Great to see him on the scoresheet yesterday.
    And btw, this is emphatically NOT a political posting, but a football one.
    If the guilty as hell Lee Hughes, and the marginally LESS heinous Luke McCormick can be given a second chance, then as sure as heck we can employ someone who people like me have supported from Day One, as an innocent man. Albeit a foolish one and someone who cheated on his partner.
    But those last two aspects are thankfully not hanging offences.
    Were they to be, there would be a worldwide shortage of rope.
    DW.

    DW

  4. Russell says:

    Phew we’re back to normality bread and butter footy.

    Thanks Paul for your write up , at least you saw beyond the trivia of other away fans.

    From media reports and your good self it does seem we could have won with ease if it wasn’t for an inspirational goalkeeping performance.

    Think your right, goals plus is what we need , however promotion it’s not that easy , Fulham hit 66 last year and finished 12 points below us.

    I think the championship is becoming a cautious animal ,with teams built with strength and sronb tatical discipline from the back .

    What we miss is a bit of magic from those players that play with a freedom and can change a game from nothing . I honestly can’t see anyone on the horizon who may deliver that in the current squad, let alone purchasing one for the money we may have to spend .

    I hope the new lad does well up front , as it does seems he has some genuine pace, and is an ariel threat .

    Let’s hope we can get some early results under the belt, and from that confidence and some risk taking will follow.

  5. Barry Cole says:

    Nice one Paul and as we settle down for the new season the same old same old is still staring everyone in the face. The game itself wasn’t brilliant but we definately had the better of the shots on goal or in the case of Freddie not on goal.
    He was there exactly where he should be, and he needs to focus on the fact that if and when that happens again, he will put the ball in the net. He must not let it deflect him but use it to his benefit. That said we still need a forward with a good cv on goal scoring. If that doesn’t happen quickly the work of the team will begin to lose the impetus on winning games because the hard work of the defence and midfield will continue to come to nothing. There is nothing worse than having dominated a game we lose 1-0.
    That person will cost money but should we not get promotion because of the reluctance to purchase at this stage because we have players to move on then the major loser will be tan.
    I can’t see him ruining his business by doing this. That’s why all of a sudden we are likely to sell Fabio.
    I don’t think the team is quite right yet and changes will need to be made to produce a cohesive unit.
    As an aside and I promise this will be my last input this season, I note that slade gave his usual after match defeatist speak as charlton lost their first game. I looked at what he said and realised how lucky we are that his era it’s now long gone. It’s such a pity we didn’t dispense with his services earlier as suggested by the majority of fans. Had that been the case we could have been in the premier now

  6. The other Bob Wilson says:

    Thank you for your replies – Barry, I think Russell Slade must have read a book over the past week where the term “value the basics” was used a lot;-

    http://www.cafc.co.uk/news/article/2016-17/charlton-athletic-russell-slade-bury-3224888.aspx

    http://www.standard.co.uk/sport/football/bury-2-charlton-athletic-0-addicks-will-struggle-if-they-dont-value-basics-better-says-russell-slade-a3313601.html

    Gounongbe’s career goalscoring record is impressive, he is almost up to a goal every other game, so he’s certainly used to scoring, but I suppose the question has to be, how much is the Championship a step up from the levels he has played at? It seems a bit strange to me that someone with a record like his (he’s scored seventy seven in around one hundred and sixty matches) didn’t attract more interest when he was available with no transfer fee needing to be paid – I say this because usually clubs like to tell us how many other teams they beat off for a new signing’s signature (e.g. Lex Immers reportedly turning down four Championship teams to come here), I’ve not seen any such stories about Gounongbe.

    As for his miss, I accept that he was slightly wrong footed and I’ll play along with the notion that the cross was overhit for now, but it was still an absolute shocker. I questioned whether he will be able to handle what is almost certainly a step up in standard from the Belgian League to the Championship, but the truth as I see it is that, with a goal record like his, Gounonbgbe has to be used to putting away chances like that in his sleep – it doesn’t matter if it happened in the Championship or down the local park on a Sunday morning, it was a dreadful miss. However, the reassuring thing is that he cannot really be as bad as he looked when missing that chance and almost hitting the corner flag with a shot a few minutes later. The sooner he gets off and running on the goal front, the sooner we can start making proper judgments of him – my gut feeling is that he will fall some way short of maintaining his career scoring rate while at Cardiff, but it goes without saying that we’ve got one of the bargains of the season if he does.

    Russell, my theory that another ten to fifteen goals will get us in the Play Offs is based on us maintaining our goals against figure for last season. Now, with Fabio, probably, leaving, Malone gone and Peltier not best suited to a wing back role in the attacking sense. there have to be questions about a possible vulnerability on the flanks, but, if we can keep Manga, Connolly and Morrison and with Peltier looking solid in the role as well (I agree with Dai about his defending in the incident he described mind), I’m confident we’ll be good enough through the middle.

    I agree with you about us lacking that bit of attacking sparkle and that it will be expensive, probably too expensive, to go out and buy someone who could provide it – my feeling is that we are more likely to see loan signings from now on and I’d say our best chance of getting a “flair” player, and a goalscorer for that matter, is by bringing in a youngster from a Premier League club who we will probably never heard of before and they are able to adopt to the Championship easier than expected.

    As for Jazz Richards, I see the club have released a video which doesn’t show him doing the Ayatollah, but you can hear chanting asking him to do so and then a cheer a few seconds later – this is exactly what happens when a player responds to the requests from supporters, so I can only assume the same applied this time – hopefully, that will be an end to the matter, but, unfortunately, I have a feeling that it won’t be.

    One last thing, did you see my answer to your Grounds quiz question Dai?

  7. Anthony O'Brien says:

    Players should be concentrating on the game. not tapping themselves on the head to satisfy a noisy section of the crowd — who, incidentally, in the light of Charlie Hebdo, et cetera, might have to be careful it doesn’t upset fanatics of a certain persuasion! As I remember, it was something made up by Sam Hamman, whose attachment to Cardiff was primarily a money-grabbing exercise, and he — unlike Mr Tan —should therefore be removed from our consciousness.

  8. Dai Woosnam says:

    Oh gee…there are times when I wish I had said the exact words some of you say.
    Usually, it is Paul who nails a truth more succinctly than I ever could.
    Today it is Barry and AMO.

    First, Barry.
    Guess what?
    As soon as I saw MISTER Slade* on the C5 programme last Saturday night, trotting out his favourite mantra, I thought of Barry. And how I had attempted to give him a hard time for his low cunning in always referring to the man in lower case…i.e. “slade”.
    And I felt somehow that it had been MOI who had been barking up the wrong tree these past two years, not Barry.
    Suddenly, seeing slade** going into his “let’s deflect any penetrating questions with a smokescreen of my mantras” mode, made the scales fall away from my eyes, and realise that Barry Cole who has had his teeth into Russell Slade from the get-go, is someone who is worthy of our congratulations for his prescience.
    Now, Barry, please turn your attentions to the subject that AMO zeroes-in on in his second contribution. Even by AMO’s high standards, this was a startlingly eloquent contribution, and really NAILED a deep truth.
    Barry, please make it your life’s work to rid us off this pathetic Hezbollah*** gesture. Yes I realise that Cardiff is a wonderfully inclusive and cosmoplitan city, but come on folks, puh-lease. There is a limit.
    Let us firmly confine it – and that egregious blighter, Sam Hammam – to the dustbin of history.

    And a final point…thanks for the response to my comment Paul on your latest grounds quiz. In my defence though, the comment was not there when I wrote my above question early in this page’s posts.
    Needless to say, you explained things perfectly. I should have guessed there’d be a method in your (non) madness, so-to-speak !!
    * my joke at my own expense.
    ** gosh…he has got ME at it now !!
    *** I trust that I have not got that wrong. Maybe I have the wrong group or sect…perhaps they are the lot who self-flagellate instead.
    I regret that many an infant has been removed from the breast knowing more about world religions, than I do. All I can tell you from my “three times a Sunday” boyhood visits to my Porth noncomformist chapel, is that a violent tapping of one’s bonce would appear so alien an act that it would lead to one’s bonce being “seen to”, at Bridgend (our local place of psychiatric care, to Cardiff’s Whitchurch or Newport’s St Cadoc’s).
    So let us not be seen as a club where the supporters have acute psychiatric problems.
    Instead, if we HAVE to have a head gesture, let us adopt the old mime that EPL managers use (to justify their £2m a year salary).
    That is to say, use right and left index fingers and repeatedly rhythmically point to the sides of our heads just in front of the top of our ears.
    Then we can be seen to be a club of strong THINKERS…and not of HEAD-BANGERS.
    And judging by my first impressions of Mr Trollope, we may well have a reasonably cerebral character at the helm now.
    DW.

  9. Russell says:

    Do agree Anthony , I have felt for a long time there has been some hypocrisy going around with Tan haters and the strange Sam following, I guess the later was using some for his own gain. Banging ones head in the same fashion as the fanatics in Iran is a worry, and probably not the most comfortable behaviour for some of our foreign players to exist alongside.

  10. Anthony O'Brien says:

    In a belated and probably ineffectual attempt to clarify what I wrote earlier, it is not the head banging as such which I was relating to possible terrorist reactions, though I think the fans’ insistence on head banging in the middle of a game where constant concentration is vital is at the least counter-productive, but rather was I referring to the potential insane reaction which the very word attached to the head banging might generate, since the word itself means “sign of Allah”, and this to certain warped minds might seem provocative. Russell also makes a good point that “some of our foreign players” (presumably everywhere in the land) might also feel uncomfortable with the whole charade. All I hope is that the exaggerated furore of the shirt colour does not resurrect itself into the equally debilitating furore of who and who didn’t head bang.

  11. Mike Herbert says:

    On holiday in SW France and just caught up with the excellent detailed report from Paul and the interesting additions from “the usual suspects” Many thanks to you all! Last season was probably the first in which I failed to make at least one trip to Wales from my home in Cornwall to watch City. I just wasn’t inspired by what I saw on TV
    or read here or in the papers. New Manager New Hope. I have a strong feeling that I will be coming up this year. For what it’s worth, my view on the “Ayotallah” is that all the players should line up around the centre circle at the start of the next home match and all do it together – for the LAST time – then go into a group huddle and let the fans copy that! If they announce their intention to start the new season by consigning the Ayotallah to history and explain why, it would be a positive step forwards. Come on Bluebirds!

    is Tahiti

  12. Dai Woosnam says:

    A further thought on the favourite clichés of managers like Russell Slade, and football pundits generally.

    I observe their speech mannerisms, almost as closely as I do the footballing style of those managers’ teams.

    Sometimes, their verbal idiosyncrasies scream out at one, viz., Glenn Hoddle’s penchant for the word “situation”; Ray Wilkins’ obvious Tourettes with the two words “young man” (which he is incapable of going more than fifty five seconds without repeating); and Mark Hughes’ love of the phrase “it has been well-documented”.

    But sometimes these quirks are less obvious.

    One that may not be apparent to all of your readers Paul, is the reliance on one verb by Norwich City manager Alex Neil, in almost every interview. And now that he is back in “our” division, watch out for his interviews on C5. The Football League programme, may only show a snippet of any interview, but I guarantee that any twenty seconds of Alex speaking will have him using the verb “to think”.
    “I think/I thought” features almost throughout his every utterance.
    No bad thing, methinks….(ouch!)
    The more managers think, the less they rely on the Russell Slade type clichés.
    DW.

  13. Dai Woosnam says:

    Yes, AMO is right…that was a perceptive comment by Russell regarding our foreign players and the effect of this head-banging nonsense on them.

    And Mike Herbert’s suggestion of a final performance is a masterstroke, and had me LOL.

    Only trouble is – much more seriously – that the whole Bluebirds Head-Haka thing might get us going viral on YouTube, and make the CCS a target for ISIS.

    (Mind you, by the same token, it could have the reverse effect and we could become the most popular team in …
    Iran and other Shiite communities !!)

    No…strike that bit in parentheses. We would rather not think about such an eventuality, eh? !!
    DW.

  14. The other Bob Wilson says:

    One game in and part of this blog is already demonstrating that standards will not drop during the 2016/17 season – I’ll leave others to discuss whether my writings also merit that compliment or not, but the responses they get have been first class for a few years now and they show no sign of declining in quality – once again, thanks to all of you for what you add to the blog.
    Regarding the Ayatollah, I’ve always liked it and have defended it’s use on the grounds that it is something that it unique to our club, but, after the events of the last few days, I find myself thinking that Mike’s suggestion is a good one – maybe it’s had it’s time and we should move on. In saying that mind, I don’t think it’s the Ayatollah per se that is to blame for the whole Jazz Richards mess because I can’t help believing that another stick would have been found to beat him with if the Ayatollah did not exist.
    I’m not going to post a link to it, because I don’t want to depress you, but there’s a thread on the most popular City messageboard (which I have long since stopped posting on) discussing Jazz Richards and the Ayatollah – it’s drawn 169 comments and has been viewed more than 21,000 times. Since this whole issue blew up, there have been plenty of confirmations from people who were there that Richards did do the Ayatollah and the club have released a video which, they say, confirms that he did, but, as far as I can make out, none of those who formed the lynch mob on Saturday night and Sunday have apologised for getting it wrong and there are instances of people posting subsequently and talking as if it was a matter of fact that Richards refused requests to make the gesture – I fear the damage may already have been done in some people’s eyes and nothing will be able to change that, after all we all know who he used to play for don’t we.
    One last thing about the Ayatollah, Sam Hammam may have milked it for all that he was worth in his early years at Cardiff, but it was being done well before he arrived. This article
    http://www.walesonline.co.uk/sport/football/football-news/what-ayatollah-cardiff-city-fans-11717867
    confirms what I’d been told a long time ago – the Ayatollah made it’s first appearance at Sincil Bank, Lincoln around 1990.
    As for managerial cliches, I was aware of Hoddle’s situation and Wilkins’ young men, but Mark Hughes (who I think tends to talk a lot of sense when he is not being a typically one eyed football boss) and his it’s been well documented is a new one on me, as is Alex Neil’s thinking/thought. Actually, the more I think about it, the more I believe Russell Slade was one of the worst cliche merchants we’ve had at the club, there were stacks of times I’d listen to him chat away in a personable manner at one of his press conferences for around twenty minutes and then ask myself “but what did he actually say?” at the end of it. Besides his new value the basics line, Slade has been keen on getting new signings “into the building” at Charlton lately (Malky Mackay, who was never short of a cliche or two during his time at Cardiff, used to use that one a lot) and I admit I’ll be dipping into his pre and post match comments in the coming weeks, especially if Charlton struggle, to see if he comes up with any new ones.
    Obviously, it takes a little time before the examples of managerial mumbo jumbo peculiar to each of them can be recognised, but, judging by the little I’ve heard of him so far, Paul Trollope appears to score refreshingly low on the cliche monitor – time will tell whether he is one of those who can talk a good game without delivering the results on the pitch, but I like what I’ve heard from him so far.

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