One step forward, three steps back.

CoymayNot won a game all season? Only won one match in your last twenty in all competitions? Well, don’t worry, you are due a visit from the Football League’s comedy club – things are sure to look brighter after you’ve played Cardiff City!

That’s the record Blackpool were “defending” at Bloomfield Road last night when they faced a Cardiff City side that many of their supporters, and some in the local media, thought were showing signs of improvement after an unbeaten run of three matches in the Championship under caretaker managers Danny Gabbidon and Scott Young – the result, Blackpool 1 Cardiff 0.

Blackpool have been a club in crisis for a few seasons now as their owners stand accused of pocketing most of the takings from their season in the Premier League in 10/11. The Oyston family have been in charge at Blackpool for nearly thirty years as father Owen and son Karl (the current Chairman) have overseen their club playing in all four divisions during that time. However, I read somewhere that Blackpool have only paid a fee for two players since their relegation from the top flight and it seems that every summer sees a complete change of playing staff at Bloomfield Road as players are occasionally sold, often released or, in many cases, turn down offers of a new contract and a new bunch of journeyman out of contract players or loan signings are drafted in.

The Oystons point to the new stands at the ground as evidence that the Premier League money has been spent on the club, but their, apparently, very basic training ground (branded a “hellhole” by former manager Ian Holloway) has not had any work done on it in years and their notorious pitch, easily the worst in the Championship, was already showing signs of wear and tear last night.

Last night’s game took place against a backdrop of demonstrations against the home side’s owners as supporters unconvinced by the argument put forward by the Oystons that their club is financially sound because they do not try to buy promotion by putting together squads full of mercenaries, showed their anger at the way their club is being run. Now, I have a lot of sympathy for those supporter’s viewpoint, but the ironic thing is that, at the end of the game last night, the Oystons could claim that the evidence of the ninety minutes had offered proof that their approach works – after all, their team had just beaten the side representing a club that is a polar opposite to theirs.

Ravel Morrison might well have been our est outfield player last night, but that was more of a commentary on how poor many of his team mates were rather him doing anything exceptional - he was good on the ball at times and won us a lot of free kicks, but i never really thought he was a significant influence on the game.*

Ravel Morrison might well have been our best outfield player last night, but that was more of a commentary on how poor many of his team mates were, rather than him doing anything exceptional – he was good on the ball at times and won us a lot of free kicks, but I never really thought he was a significant influence on the game.*

On the one hand, there was the Blackpool way of doing things and on the other we had a club that for nearly fifteen years now has had a spend, spend , spend philosophy which has resulted in massive debts. Whereas Blackpool have the most basic of facilities in terms of ground, pitch and training facilities, Cardiff’s players do not want for anything on those fronts and, not for the first time, flew to an away game this weekend.

In terms of wages, the Blackpool and Cardiff players are, surely, on different planets – this is a guess, so I may be way out, but it wouldn’t surprise me at all if City’s playing wage bill is more than ten times what Blackpool’s is.

Yet, for most of the game, it was the Blackpool players who looked like they wanted it more, they consistently won fifty/fifty challenges all over the pitch and were easily the better side in a first half in which Cardiff played as if they fully believed the ridiculous claim (which was resurrected in the local media yesterday) that “Cardiff had the greatest squad assembled in the history of the Championship”. There were fancy flicks and step overs (which almost always failed) aplenty from a group of players who appear to believe they are so talented that opponents should just step aside and let them parade their talent.

Many of City’s huge and expensively assembled squad have extensive experience of the Championship and you would have thought they would know by now that this division just does not work like that. If you have talent, then you have to earn the right to display it by putting in the hard graft first. This team seem unwilling or unable to play with the intensity you need at this level – I’ll be generous for now and say that in many cases, the spirit is willing, but the body cannot respond as required. We have looked unfit compared to other sides right from day one and so I would argue that another black mark should be entered against the previous management, who already have a large charge sheet against them. in terms of pre season fitness training.

On the other hand though, David Marshall was arguing a couple of days ago that Gabbidon/Young had restored City’s fighting spirit. Well, I saw little evidence of that last night – as mentioned before, Blackpool were consistently winning 50/50’s all over the pitch for about 80% of the game and it was only in the closing quarter of an hour or so that the side roused themselves somewhat as they they began to make their alleged superiority count.

Kenwyne Jones has been one of our better players this season, but, for most of last night's match, he resembled the disinterested performer we saw last season - Kevin Ratcliffe was pretty scathing about his fitness levels on Radio Wales after the game and, on last night's evidence, it's hard to argue with him.*

Kenwyne Jones has been one of our better players this season, but, for most of the match, he resembled the disinterested performer we saw last season – Kevin Ratcliffe was pretty scathing about Jones’ fitness levels on Radio Wales after the game and, on last night’s evidence, it’s hard to argue with him.*

City raising their game late on, probably combined with Blackpool tiring as they began to pay for their hard work they’d put in for the first seventy five minutes, resulted in them dominating the possession stats for the first time in a league game this season, but their figure of 61% possession only went to prove the point that having the football for the majority of the game isn’t a guarantee of success. City lacked the ability to make all of that possession count and the fact that only two of twenty goal attempts of theirs were on target, offers the clue that, this time at least, the strikers could not point to a lack of creativity from the players behind them as the reason for the opposing goalkeeper being given a quiet time.

While our midfield were, once again, far from dominant, even when we had two strikers on the pitch the television commentators would talk about crosses into great areas that no one could get on the end of and, although of course not all of them came from strikers, only getting ten per cent of goal attempts on target tends to tell a story – sub LeFondre’s wild effort blazed over the top with a couple of minutes left encapsulated a lack of composure and technique shown throughout by our forward players.

At the start, I called City the Football League’s comedy club and I stick by that – when you look at the expenditure this summer, it’s a joke that the result of all of that spending is the outfit that is stumbling along in the bottom half of the league with it looking at least as likely that we will drop lower rather than climb higher.

This is also the club which has been pursuing a manager who has never been in charge at this level in his career for the past fortnight or so as they try to arrange compensation with his former club. Now, I happen to think Russell Slade might turn out to be a shrewd appointment, but the fact of the matter is that, with reports this morning contradicting earlier ones that a formal announcement of his appointment was imminent and we may be kept waiting until the middle of next week before he takes over, we have played four Championship fixtures while we wait for him – all of this time, seemingly better qualified candidates, who we would not have to negotiate with former clubs over, are left kicking their heels presumably because they are considered too much of a risk when it comes to working harmoniously with our owner.

When you also add in that we are the Bluebirds who play in red, there are plenty of reasons why supporters of other clubs laugh when the subject of Cardiff City is brought up – I’m one of many fans of the club who might do the same thing if I didn’t find what has happened to it over the past year so sad.

Pictures courtesy of





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6 Responses to One step forward, three steps back.

  1. Rob Kinsey says:

    Why we are failing – part 22:
    A goalkeeper that cannot influence what is happening higher up the field, so appoint a new captain who is an outfield player.
    Two attacking wingbacks who leave the centre of the defence exposed.
    One central French defender who is consistently covering for the other exposed centre back.
    A midfield that lacks a general, speed and guile.
    Wingers who do not have the speed to beat a full back.
    Insufficient forwards in the central goalmouth area when crosses come into the goalmouth area.
    A pedestrian group of players who need a kick up the backside by an authoritarian manager.
    A team that defends first and foremost and uses attacking flair when chances come which they invariably do at some point in a game.
    A manager who sets up a team to grind out results, which is how you get promotion from The Championship.
    An owner who appoints professional football people who have experience of running a football club and lets them manage without interference.
    The sackings of Dave Jones and Malky Mackay.(Does anyone remember the success these two managers had at this club – weep if you do)

  2. Dai Woosnam says:

    Thanks for a great report, Paul.
    Let’s not call Kenwyne disinterested though: let us call him UNinterested. Disinterested had a special meaning that used to mark it out from its more commonplace brother: it meant “having no axe to grind or no vested interest”.
    Yes I know that the incontinent use of disinterested by the masses means that it now sees itself in the dictionary as being a synonym for uninterested, but I figure that people like you and me should fight to keep it special and say “Vive La Difference”! After all, we have STANDARDS and wouldn’t be seen dead writing words like restauranteur for restaurateur, or spelling the good old Lallans word “crack” the totally false Irish way of “craic”. (There is nowt remotely Gaelic about it, as it was a spelling invented by the Irish Tourist Board circa 1968.)
    Old Sigmund is working overtime in my subconscious again, as it occurs to me that my sudden preoccupation with language must be because I decided on writing this post to mark the passing of the finest writer to ever call himself a Cardiff City fan.
    Dannie Abse was a fine poet and a lovely man.
    I recall meeting him one evening in Caerphilly Library circa 1989, where he had come to do a reading and a Q&A. Afterwards, he did not seem in a hurry to get home to Ogmore-by-Sea, and was happy to chat to anyone who was interested.
    I had asked him two questions on literary matters in his official presentation, so now with most of the 20 strong audience exited into the night, we were able to talk Cardiff City.
    And I was delighted that he had the same Cardiff hero that I had: Danny Malloy. I think (from my slightly hazy memory) that he said that only Alf Sherwood had a greater place in his affections.
    A lovely man, so sorely missed.
    Particularly sad that his last decade would be so terribly blighted by that tragic car accident which claimed his wife Joan on the M4 near Pyle in 2005: a crash which he survived. Ironically he was returning home to Ogmore-By-Sea from another similar poetry reading.
    It was no consolation to him that he was deemed blameless, and the other driver involved got heavily fined for careless driving and banned for a year.
    He was not a vindictive man.
    Pity he should have gone with City at such a low ebb. I loved the man and his gentle way of speaking.

  3. Dai Woosnam says:

    I should have provided this link Paul to him giving a reading at the Chapter Arts in Market Street, Canton in 1997 when he was about 73.
    Here he delivers his “Return To Cardiff”.
    A lovely bitter-sweet quality to it.

  4. The other Bob Wilson says:

    Thanks for your reply Rob, hard to argue with anything you say really – we’ve been a poorly run football club for virtually all of the time I’ve been a supporter, but when you also add in the poor stuff we’ve seen on the pitch and the money it’s cost to put together the current squad of, mostly, ordinary footballers, the past year stands out as one of the worst I’ve experienced at Cardiff.

  5. rhondda blue says:

    we will not win many games with our present midfield, much to slow and ponderous, no one goes in to tackle anymore. every game I’ve seen this season we have been second best all over the park. no midfield backing up our forwards when we do attack and no cover from the midfield when we defend. marshall should never be captain, he can’t organise his defence never mind the rest of the team (to far away from the action and not vocal enough) can someone tell me why he constantly kicks the ball out of play down the touchline when we have no chance of winning the ball, and why do we keep every one back defending a corner when we should keep at least one man up. also whitts if you are going to keep taking corners to the near post, for god sake put someone there, it’s starting to get annoying when you keep doing this. Mr Slade you have a big job on your hands to try and sort this mess out, we will be lucky to finish 8-10th hope I’m wrong.

  6. The other Bob Wilson says:

    I’m not 100% sure about this Rhondda blue, but I’m pretty certain that Blackpool left a player forward for the corner we had about twenty seconds before they scored – if ten of our players back in our penalty area to defend a corner cannot prevent a goal why should eleven? Unless it’s in the final minutes and they’re a goal behind, opposing sides tend to leave at least one man and their keeper back even if we have all eleven defending, so, with someone to take the corner, we have a three man advantage in our penalty area when defending it – we shouldn’t need that many, two should be more than enough.

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