Pilkington continues to prosper in new role.

CoymayAfter about forty minutes of yesterday’s match with Preston, I asked my mate sat next to me who, with Peter Whittjingham and Craig Noone, both scorers from the spot this season, missing with injuries, he thought would take a penalty for us if we were awarded one.

His answer was Whittingham’s replacement, Aron Gunnarsson. I must admi, that I tended to agree with him because I had a vague memory of him confidently scoring one in some penalty shoot out somewhere.

The fact is that we were both overlooking the most obvious candidate, City had an in form striker who, from memory, had taken penalties successfully at previous clubs and so, when we awarded one about five minutes later, it was Anthony Pilkington who stepped forward to score from the spot. You just knew this was a very important first goal in what had, up to then, been a tight affair between two sides who were both looking in on the top six from a distance which may have appeared too far to the loser.

Ten minutes from the end, with City still 1-0 ahead, Pilkington got a second opportunity to show his prowess from the spot and he went on to dispatch this one more emphatically than he had done the first to confirm what turned out to be a very important 2-1 win which lifted us to seventh, while also cutting the gap from the top six to three points.

I think I’m probably right when I say that games won by a penalty are often perceived as somewhat fortunate victories because scoring from the spot is not quite seen as the equal of finding the net when a goalkeeper has ten others trying to help him out. I suppose such thinking applies in particular if you are a supporter of the team on the wrong end of the penalty decision, so, you have to imagine that the impressive turn out of Preston fans in what was our biggest home crowd of the season must have headed back to Lancashire feeling they’d been very unlucky to have been doubly penalised.

I’ll give my take on whether such feelings would be justified later on, but, certainly, it is pretty rare for a side to be given two penalties in one game. Off the top of my head, I can only think of two previous matches where we have been awarded two spot kicks this century – the first was when Graham Kavanagh netted from both of them to give us a 2-0 win over Northampton in 2001 and there was also Michael Chopra’s first match in his second spell with us when he scored from the first one, but saw his second saved in a 2-1 win over Palace in 2008.

Rightly or wrongly, it’s a pretty widespread feeling that a referee who has given a penalty to one side will be looking to “even things up” by awarding one at the other end – failing that, the team given the first penalty will be very lucky to get another one, no matter how clear cut the offence.

Strictly speaking, referee Brendan Malone didn’t award us a second penalty, the linesman on the Ninian Stand side of the pitch did and, speaking as someone who had a perfect view of the incident from about twenty yards away, I’m pretty certain that the man with the flag got the decision right – my only query at the time being whether the first instance of Paul Gallagher pulling Tom Lawrence’s shirt occurred outside the area or not.

I daresay it was the fact that Mr Malone initially waved play on which upset the Preston players, because, having accepted the first penalty decision, awarded for an obvious looking foul on Pilkington by Paul Huntingdon with barely a murmur, the visitors protested long and hard about the second one.

From my perspective though, the offence took place on the blind side of the referee and so it was not altogether surprising he missed it, but I believe the correct decision was made because the system worked as it should do with the linesman, correctly, playing a leading part, as opposed to just letting the man in the middle get on with it.

Just one more thing before I finish with penalties. Going back to that era when Chopra rejoined the club (2008/09) it seemed like we were being awarded a penalty every game. Of course, Messrs Chopra, Bothroyd, Ledley and McCormack were not slow in going to ground back then, but they also moved at speed with the ball in the penalty area and had quick feet which drew opponents in tp make challenges they shouldn’t have. With Chris Burke arriving to add to the, at times, mesmerising Whittingham as well, it was not really surprising that we were on the right end of so many penalty awards.

For what would be the first time in absolutely ages, a Cardiff City player may have done enough to merit being named as a candidate for the Championship's Player of the Month award - Anthony Pilkington smashes in his second penalty to complete a great February for the converted striker.*

For what would be the first time in absolutely ages, a Cardiff City player may have done enough to merit being named as a candidate for the Championship’s Player of the Month award – Anthony Pilkington smashes in his second penalty to complete a great February for the winger turned striker.*

Perhaps the sheer volume of spot kicks we were given seven or eight years ago are a factor in why  the seasons since then have seen us receive so many fewer penalty awards, but the most likely explanation for me is that we have not had so much attacking depth and quality in a squad since then.

Certainly, our current batch of forward players struggle to match up to that set of predecessors, but, with three penalties, correctly in my view, awarded to us in our last two home games, perhaps we now have a group of players that are better equipped to draw defenders into expensive errors when defending in their penalty area? Pilkington and Lawrence have the skill, speed and balance to lure defenders into mistimed tackles and with Whittingham and Noone to come back from their injuries, perhaps we might be seeing more spot kicks being awarded in our favour than we’ve become used to in recent years?

Anyway, back to the game, Preston arrived in South Wales in a very confident frame of mind on the back of four successive wins that had seen them close to within a point off us – I’m guessing only Burnley would be above them in any Championship form table over the past ten games.

In the event, Preston looked exactly what their record indicates they are – they average less than a goal a game at either end of the pitch.

Using a system I saw described in the North West press as 3-5-1-1, the visitors, once again, were putting the emphasis on defence, but having been without important attacking players through injury for long spells of the season, they can hardly be criticised too much for such an approach. If you compare where Bristol City and MK Dons, the other two sides to be promoted last season, are in the table to them, you can see that Simon Grayson has done a great job this season despite the perceived disadvantage of his team having come up via the Play Offs rather than automatically..

Preston’s defensive efficiency played a big part in turning the opening half an hour or so into a game like so many at this level whereby teams cagily probe for a weakness while making not conceding their first priority, but, even so, City were occasionally able to show the attacking fluency which proved to be too much for Brighton last weekend.

Granted, it was more luck than ability which led to Pilkington’s cross curling on to a post and then out, but when the mobile and sharp striker got his head to a cross from Scott Malone, a goal seemed certain only for a combination of great goalkeeping from Anders Lindegaard and the same upright hit earlier to deny him. Lex Immers, again intelligent and neat as he builds an impressive understanding with Pilkington, headed narrowly wide from a cross by Lee Peltier and, with Preston only having a scuffed Adam Reach shot across goal to offer in reply, City were deservedly ahead at the break thanks to the first of the penalties.

Preston’s need for a goal saw a change to a more conventional 4-5-1/4-3-3 for the second half with the introduction of Callum Robinson to play as a left winger. The switch helped to ensure Preston saw more of the ball in the second half and, consequently, they did more of the attacking.

In truth though, despite being able to work themselves some good crossing positions, Preston were still looking punchless in front of goal.

Whether by accident or design, City spent the second half looking like the away side. If it was intentional, then it was understandable to a degree I suppose because, by scoring, they had already done enough to, in all likelihood, ensure that they wouldn’t lose the match.

As it was, a second home goal still looked more likely than a first visiting one with Lindegaard again doing well to foil Pilkington, while the striker than had a shot defected not too far over.

Despite their seeming lack of ambition, City were still looking comfortable. Defensively they were pretty strong as David Marshall’s 250 League appearance for us remained a quiet one which involved little more than the collection of the occasional cross, but, with Stuart O’Keefe, Joe Ralls and Gunnarsson all a bit “samey” in midfield, I thought the range and pace of pass an in form Whittingham gives us was missed.

Having Ralls in a more left sided position may have given left back Malone the confidence to push on more because he became our most effective wide attacker in the last forty minutes or so – Ralls (who, for reasons which elude me, has been said to be in need of a rest by some in the local press in the last week) automatically tracks back if the full back on his side goes forward and Malone prospered in what is the most impressive part of his game.

I had a go at Malone after the Middlesbrough match, but, here, as he did little wrong defensively, he was one of our best three players – I see the challenge for him in the coming weeks being exactly the same as the one the team faces, can they put together a run of consecutive convincing performances?

Lex Immers has added a lot to City's play since he's been here, but he was denied a third goal for the club by a superb piece of goalkeeping by former Man United keeper Anders Lingaard who, having tipped a Pilkington header on to the post, reacted very quickly to turn aside the Dutchman's follow up.*

Lex Immers has added a lot to City’s play since he’s been here, but he was denied a third goal for the club by a superb piece of goalkeeping by former Man United keeper Anders Lindegaard who, having tipped a Pilkington header on to the post, reacted very quickly to turn aside the Dutchman’s follow up.*

By contrast, with Peltier being occupied by Robinson, Lawrence on the right became something of a spectator. People have said that our lone Welshman is more convincing on the wing than he is in a more central area – I’m not convinced about that. After a very good first half, Lawrence was a lot less involved in the second period against Brighton as well and I thought, with the personnel we were missing yesterday, that a Christmas tree type formation which saw Lawrence and Immers used centrally behind Pilkington would have been a decent variation.

I daresay Russell Slade’s response to a suggestion like that would be along the lines of we got the result playing like we did, so what does it matter? Fair enough, but, although I certainly don’t want to be seen as aligning myself with opinions such as the “I’d rather not see us reach the Play Offs if it means Slade staying” line I heard on the Radio Wales phone in last night, I must end by saying I was, once again, left a little flummoxed by our manager’s substitutions.

Firstly, while I accept that the second penalty should have meant that the three points were ours, the fact is that we do have a bit of previous when it comes to defending 2-0 leads this season and I thought all the switch which saw Kagisho Dikgacoi replace Pilkington did was offer Preston a slither of hope where there should have been none.

Pilkington was confident, hunting a hat trick and, surely, willing to give another ten minutes for the team, while Preston would have been more wary about committing defenders forward if he was still on the pitch. Instead, we lost what Pilkington was giving us and what Immers was doing defensively in his midfield slot- Lex has made a very good impression so far, but, based on what I’ve seen, he’s more effective in midfield than he is up front.

Also, what had been a samey midfield trio became a samey midfield quartet with Dikgacoi in there and having all of those defensively minded midfielders on the pitch still didn’t mean that Robinson had any of them near enough to him when he sidefooted home from around fifteen yards out to make it 2-1 with three minutes of normal time left.

With four minutes added time shown on the board, our manager then ensured that this would be stretched by a further minute by making two more substitutions – maybe there are stats available to those in the game which show that such changes work in favour of the team defending a lead, but it has always struck me as odd that managers want to prolong the game when, surely, the ideal thing is to get it over and done with as soon as possible?

A jittery crowd saw Robinson sky a free kick from a dangerous position over the bar in the time which remained, but the fact that Preston offered so little going forward throughout means that, in my opinion, they couldn’t use the penalties as justification for any “we wuz robbed” claims – penalties and dodgy substitutions or not, the better team ended up with the three points yesterday.

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

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13 Responses to Pilkington continues to prosper in new role.

  1. Russell says:

    Thought we were much better than Preston, who are a typical steady no risk type side,which is what we were early season.
    Pilk’s is exceptional at the moment a strong, skilful player,looks good up front, I think he could play anywhere across the midfield and foward line. And he looks like he wants to play every game and moment.
    Immers looks comftable on the ball ,like you I think forwarding midfielder is his most effective position.
    Yesterday players were running at pace which will usually buy you a penalty atbsone point as it did in those glory days of penalties awarded to us, just hated the bmemory of McCormack miss v Ipswich ,eek still hurts.
    As per last week we are seeing some mentally tough performances e.g. Malone who struggled against a talented Boro side, recovering well and justifying Slade picking him.
    Substitution were negative and the wrong ones , Saadi woukd nhave veen intresting instead of Ameobi,must be a contract stipulation he lays if fit and explain how we grabbed him from the clutches of other’s.

    I think we will sneak a play off slot, we do look strong and organised, just lacking that continuity of results getting positives against the Brizzies and the lot from Yorkshire is key now.

    Oh no we might need a result against Ipswich, can seen it now 0-0 89th minute penalty to us , eek.

    Bread and butter time now.

  2. Russell says:

    Sorry for the grammar , too many pints last night , and a new tablet and its annoying keypad, along with poor typing at pace, looking for a penalty I guess it’s a red card though Lol.

  3. Anthony O'Brien says:

    AnthonyPilkington, one of my favourite players because of his intelligent movement, anticipation, work rate, and ability to use either foot even when dribbling at speed with the ball (an almost unique quality in football at any level), needs a strike partner to run with him in a two-pronged attack. Lex Immers, is a clever and skilful player whose control and short passes are usually of high quality, but he is not blessed with the pace to move forward in tandem with Pilkington. His best position is obviously just behind the striker or strikers. Nature has it right: when you see hawks circling, they do so IN PAIRS, with one or both able to strike at the unfortunate mouse or rabbit vainly trying to hide in the grass. By the same token, Pilkington who is always on the move and willing to challenge for any ball, high or low, needs someone to go forward at pace to support him in the threat on goal and to interchange positions to create uncertainty among defenders. This incisive running is still a Cardiff bugbear. There is still a glaring lack of genuine pace (Adelante as Dai the Welshman would say).
    Which brings me to Idriss Saadi.
    Has Saadi been signed simply to polish the bench with his bum? When is he going to get some actual match practice, or is he doomed to short-lived cameo appearances like Ameobi before being discarded? I am puzzled by his Lord Lucan-like role. I’d like to think that he is being held in reserve as a secret weapon to be launched upon a string of unsuspecting opponents in the weeks ahead, or is this idea so much pie in the sky? If he had been given at least some game-time in the second half yesterday, Cardiff would possibly have had a more positive attitude and opportunity to be attack-minded. I am eager to see him in tandem with Pilkington, though I think just before the second penalty yesterday one of the Cardiff players, whom I think was Pilkington, was limping quite badly, and if I identified him correctly, I thought he would be unable to takle the spot-kick (which he did, I must say, with coolness, power and accuracy). If he is not available, perhaps Tom Lawrence could move back inside, because – as Paul suggests – he seems rather anonymous when playing as a wideman. In this scenario, he too would need a second strike-partner. All this being said, I actually enjoyed some of our football yesterday, and hope there is more to come.

  4. Graham says:

    I was so pleased to see Anthony’s comment about SAADI – not because of Saadi himself, nor because I too continue to be baffled by the thinking behind our manager’s substitutions, but because [along with everyone around me in the Ninian Stand yesterday] I can’t join in the total adulation and uncritical euphoria following Pilkington’s performance yesterday .. I think Pilkington is great and I do want him in our team always, BUT I think he will be the first to accept when he watches the video of yesterday’s game that he should have scored at least 2, perhaps 3, more .. he didn’t do so, not because of great goal-keeping, but because he didn’t do [couldn't do?] what strikers must do : be the ‘fox in the box’ [Roy Keane about Chopra] .. we can name the other ones we’ve had : Earnshaw, Bothroyd, McCormack, and so on and on, and Pilkington just isn’t that sort of a striker and, at the end of the season, when we miss a play-off place because of our crappy goal difference, we’ll understand how daft our team selectors have been .. Anthony Pilkington is playing up-front as a ’striker’ now because we haven’t got one amongst any of the professionals presently on our books, or our manager thinks we haven’t, and hasn’t been allowed to get one, or because we just don’t know what we’re doing .. but we’re hoping!

  5. MIKE HOPE says:

    Apart from a wish to see more variation at our corner kicks I wouldn’t want to criticise any part of the way we won on Saturday.Without Morrison and Kenwynne,the former because he is a real goal-scoring threat and the latter because his perceived threat created space and opportunities for others,the usual high cross into the box looks innocuous.
    The acid test of any substitution is whether it works.I recall plenty of abuse for Slade when he didn’t use subs to bolster our defence and protect leads against Burnley and Sheff Wed.
    Pilkington is obviously going to be a key player for us over the remainder of the season.He is injury prone and was playing his third demanding game in eight days so taking him off had its merits and ,more importantly, this time it worked.
    It’s true that Pilks missed some good goal scoring chances but it is to his credit that he was there to miss them! If he could add Robbie Fowler like finishing to his other talents he would be a £50million player.
    Incidentally, Paul, thanks for your usual great report although I suspect that you are thinking about your [and our] blood pressure when you bemoan the use of substitutes to prolong the agony of time added on. I am told that tactically it gives a breather to a beleaguered defence and halts the momentum of opposition attacks.Whether it works is debatable!

  6. The other Bob Wilson says:

    Morning everyone and, as always, thanks for your replies.
    Russell, people, rightly, called Preston one of the Championship form sides, but I think there is a danger of underestimating how well the wurzels have been doing lately. Everyone looks at that 4-0 defeat by Brighton last week, but they’ve won four and drawn one out of their last six. Their league position might not be great, but they’ve put an awful lot of distance between themselves and the bottom three in recent weeks – I think we should have expected a win at Charlton, but, frankly, I’ll be very pleasantly surprised if we get one on Saturday.
    AMO, I watched Saadi play forty five minutes for the Under 21s about a month ago and, although he scored a good goal, it was obvious he needed more game time before he was ready for the senior side. Since then, he’s played in last week’s Development side friendly with Spurs (not sure how many minutes he got in then) and that’s it, so Slade’s reluctance to use him may have something to do with him not being fully match fit. Of course, you could, quite reasonably, ask what’s he doing on the bench if he isn’t match fit and the only reply I can come up with is that it may be an example of the lack of squad depth which killed Play Off bids by us during Dave Jones’ early seasons with us. For example, I would not have been surprised in the slightest if Slade had brought on Dikgacoi, moved Ralls to full back and reorganised accordingly if a defender had been injured/sent off on Saturday – the only way I reckon Deji would have got on was if we had lost two defenders early, I honestly don’t think there were many fit and available players outside the 18 on Saturday who Slade believes in enough to trust them with a substitute role for the first team.
    Graham, it was great goalkeeping that denied Pilkington on one occasion and good goalkeeping which denied him on another. Maybe his header could have been placed slightly better and I was surprised that he didn’t do better with the chance Immers created for him in the second half, but I’m struggling to remember other examples of him missing chances on Saturday. I agree that he’s playing striker almost by accident and that there are not many other good alternatives to play there at the moment, but I’d argue that, lack of experience or not, Pilkington is doing a better job than any of the strikers we got rid of in January did in the first half of the season.
    Mike, if you believe the first substitution worked because we won, then it’s hard to argue with you, but I would say that we were comfortable at 2-0 before the change and uncomfortable after it. We took off arguably our best player on the day and pushed another man of the match candidate further forward to play as a striker, when I’d say all of the evidence we have suggests he’s more effective playing in the advanced midfield position which enables him to do his share of effective defending. So, in my opinion, we weakened ourselves in two areas of the pitch to bring on a player who was pretty similar to the three central midfielders we had already. We had eight defensively minded outfield players on the pitch, yet Preston were able to find plenty of room down our right flack to deliver a pulled back cross into precisely the sort of area one of those four central midfielders should have been covering – O’Keefe almost got there to put in a tackle on Robinson the scorer, but was it a case of “too many cooks” for Cardiff with some confusion about who was supposed to be marking who?
    Regarding the two late substitutions, so many managers make changes in added time that there must be a logical reason as to why it’s a good idea – I suppose if the change can be spun out so that it takes longer than the thirty seconds set aside for it, then there’s a chance that the team in the lead ends up with less time to play left than there would have been without the changes, but a good ref would make sure that didn’t happen. I’m less concerned about this aspect of Saturday’s substitutions than I am about the first one, but I’d still argue strongly that Slade’s changes made things harder for us rather than easier.

  7. Clive Harry says:

    Although I was very pleased about the win on Saturday, I’ve delayed commenting because I wanted to mention something our manager said last week which surprisingly seems to have slipped under the radar.
    I’ve mentioned before my frustration at his seeming reluctance to use young players or to even give them match day experience so I was amazed to see him obliquely criticising the Club over Regan Poole’s early release and stressing the importance of a youth policy. His apparent reluctance to practice what he was preaching is ironically a direct contradiction to Poole’s present Club Manchester United who despite struggling at times, have blooded a host of young players this season. Marcus Rashford is a perfect example of this having been thrown in last week and scoring four times since. I think if he was with us, he may well have been on the bench for the U21’s or on loan at the County!
    Hopefully, Russell’s comments indicate a change of policy but I doubt it.

  8. The other Bob Wilson says:

    Agree with you Clive. I must admit I find Russell Slade’s pronouncements on youth development a little confusing. In the past, he’s talked about improving the club’s recruitment when it comes to the Academy, but what does this mean? I would assume he’s talking about improving the standard of the youngsters the club attracts (and, possibly, the coaching on offer to them), but he appears to see his successes in this department in the past mainly in terms of the players, like Jagielka, he brought in after they had been released by their first club.
    Of course, there has to be a place for shrewd signings of cast offs from bigger clubs, but, again, you don’t see him talking about what is going to happen to those local boys who, in some cases, have been associated with City since before they reached ten. I may have missed it, but I’m not aware of any public comments from our manager on this type of player – we’ve not produced a first team player via this route for some time now and I’ve got to ask, do we really expect one to come through soon given Slade’s record over the past sixteen months?
    There’s been a slight improvement recently, but, by and large, enthusiasm levels towards the club from it’s fans has been much lower in the last couple of years. However, in my experience, one thing which gets the crowd behind the club again is seeing a couple of young local lads breaking into the team – it also makes sense to look to youth more when the amount you can spend in the transfer market has been curtailed, but still there’s nothing to even remotely suggest such a policy at this club from our manager.

  9. Richard Holt says:

    Great report as ever Paul. A very delayed and pedantic foot note from me. I think you’ll find that our 2-0 win against Northampton in 2001 came courtesy of a Paul Brayson penalty and another (non-penalty) goal from Kavanagh. We may have missed one in that match I’m not sure. Also, Eoin Doyle scored two penalties for us against Blackpool at the end of last season.
    Am hoping to finally get back to seeing us in the flesh against Leeds next week.

  10. The other Bob Wilson says:

    I knew we had two penalties in this game Richard – the match sticks in my mind because of that and the fact that there was a black referee who wasn’t Uriah Renee (think his name was Parkes);-
    but I got some of the other details wrong!
    Someone reminded me of Doyle’s two penalties on the messageboard – my reply was that last season has been wiped from my memory banks!
    See you a week today hopefully.

  11. Richard Holt says:

    I’ll be honest Paul I’d completely forgotten about Doyle’s efforts too but thought I’d trawl back through the records to see who last scored two penalties for us in a league game and was surprised how soon Doyle appeared. Incidentally, the last player before Doyle to do it was Paul Millar against Brighton in 1994.

  12. Colin Phillips says:

    Hi! Paul, thanks for the excellent essay.

    I have to say that Saturday was a much more enjoyable spectating experience than the week before – I wasn’t even cold!

    Very satisfied with the Cardiff performance against a Preston side with little ambition, looking happy to go away with a point. They always had plenty of players behind the ball but we still had the guile to create chances. Pills, Immers and Lawrence seem to have gelled into something interesting. Plenty of energy from O’Keefe and Ralls in midfield, Gunnarson always seemed off the pace, he hasn’t looked fully fit all season. I feel Whitts was missed to some extent, admitted he isn’t the fastest but he has the ability to make a telling pass.
    The defence wasn’t put under a great deal of pressure, Malone does have defensive weaknesses but if he was a great defender as well as being able to give us the attacking options he does we wouldn’t be able to hold on to him.
    I was a bit concerned to realise that we haven’t a great deal of cover at full-back these days, perhaps we should recall Declan John ASAP.

    I am reading ‘The Nowhere Men’ at the moment a book about the life of a football scout and I came across the piece below about our “Gaffer” -

    Three football scouts are chatting; Barry Lloyd (Brighton scout) says: If you don’t go to games, how do you know if you want to sign players? This is a fucking classic, unbelievable. Russell Slade was manager, when I was chief scout, and he asked , “Have you seen Liam Dickinson at Derby?” I said funnily enough, I only saw him play when he was at Stockport. He got twenty-odd goals. He waddles around the pitch, he can’t fucking jump, his first touch is crap, can’t head the ball. Anything else you want to know?” He said to me “He’s playing for Leeds at the moment.” I said, “Fine. I’ll tell you what I’ll do. I’ll have a word with the lads up North, and I’ll have a look on my laptop.”. One of the lads had seen him, and said the only thing he didn’t do was put his hands in his pockets. So any way, it gets serious. Three days later the chairman rings me up, says we’ve agreed a fee with Derby. The story was, Paul Jewell bought him from Stockport for three-quarters of a million quid. He played a reserve game for Derby, which Jewell attended. A week later he goes to Huddersfield on loan. Then he goes to Blackpool and Leeds, on loan. So the chairman rings up and says, ” We’ve negotiated four hundred and fifty thousand for Dickinson.” I said, “You’re having a fucking laugh, aren’t you? Have you seen the reports?” The only reason I’m still in the job is that if I put in a report to the manager, I copy in the chairman. I tell him I’ll give Gwyn Williams a ring up at Leeds, just to get a flavour of the boy. Russell said,” Look Bal, I want him and that’s the end of the story”. We signed him. Within a month, we’re trying to get him out on loan, because he was so bad. And of course Russell didn’t last longer than a couple of months. -

    Doesn’t fill you with confidence does it?

    Any back to the future, Brizzle on Saturday. Thought they were the better team when we played at ours – mind you we are a different side now.

    C’mon City, C’mon.

  13. The other Bob Wilson says:

    Thanks for that Colin – an interesting read! I think we can all argue about how good or bad a manager Russell Slade is, but I would have thought that even his biggest supporters would say that his record for us in the transfer market is patchy. Peltier has been a good, solid signing, on one of his “up” days, Malone can look a bargain at £150k, but there are also those matches where it looks like we paid way over the odds for him. Stuart O’Keefe looks a superb signing at the moment, but this is after a year at the club where the occasional promising display was mixed with plenty that showed why he struggled so much to break into the side. Tony Watt has the ability to be a snip at the price we were going to pay for him and he generally did the business for us, but I notice he has been in and out of the Blackburn team lately.
    I’d give our manager five out of ten for his work in the transfer market so far, but that’s more than I’d give Ole despite his occasional good buys like Pilkington, Sean Morrison and Manga and the same as I’d give Malky who, like many managers, struggled when he had serious money to spend after doing well in the up to £2 million market – Dave Jones did best out of our recent managers for me and I might just stretch to a seven for him.
    Being honest, I’d have no great confidence in Russell Slade’s ability to spot good players if he was given more money to spend this summer, but then I don’t believe that all of the signings we’ve made in the time he’s been here have been down to him – it seems to me that we have someone (maybe at Kortik in Belgium?) who recommends players in Northern mainland Europe and, by and large, we haven’t done too badly lately in that field.
    Think it’ll be a tough game on Saturday, I was impressed by Bristol at our place and they are in good form – with two home games to follow, I’d be pretty happy with a point.

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