Season defining minutes.

CoymayIf we end up getting relegated then I believe those last few minutes of the Sunderland match where we let a 2-0 lead slip against the team who were bottom of the league at the time will be seen as pivotal in our season. The draw they got that evening is one of the factors in Sunderland’s transformation from the certs for the drop they looked in the autumn to likely mid table finishers, but, on the other hand, before yesterday ,Cardiff had not earned a single point since then (including a very damaging defeat by relegation rivals West Ham as more points were dropped at Cardiff City Stadium) and had replaced the Wearsiders at the foot of the table as the appointment of new manager Ole Gunnar Solskjær saw no improvement – in terms of results anyway.

However, if we manage to escape the drop, then I feel two separate periods of play in yesterday’s 2-1 victory over Norwich City will be seen as season defining. At half time, with Sunderland and West Ham having already won, Stoke, Villa and Hull all leading and Fulham drawing after forty five minutes and themselves trailing to another team battling the drop, City were staring at a position whereby a gap that would have begun to look too big was in danger of developing between themselves and seventeenth position.

Within five minutes of the restart though, the match had been turned on it’s head as, aided by Norwich’s habit of giving them the ball in dangerous positions, City tore into their opponents and netted twice in an amazing two minute period which also saw Jordon Mutch foiled as goalkeeper John Ruddy just about managed to turn his shot around the post. Buoyed by being in the lead for the first time in a league game since that Sunderland match, City now set about trying to hold on to it, but the giveaway that night meant that, even if Kenwyne Jones’ unwitting deflection of Mutch’s mishit shot had gone in, rather than hit the post, to give us a two goal advantage, the last half an hour or so was always going to be a nerve shredding occasion.

Craig Bellamy makes his point about what he felt about the crowd reaction to the performance of one of his team mates after scoring the equaliser. Bellamy's goal came from as assist by Wilfried Zaha, the man who replaced the target for some (emphasise some) of the crowd's displeasure, peter Whittingham.*

Craig Bellamy makes his point about what he felt about the crowd reaction to the performance of one of his team mates after scoring the equaliser. Bellamy’s goal came from as assist by Wilfried Zaha, the man who replaced the target for some (emphasise some) of the crowd’s displeasure, peter Whittingham.*

In particular, this applied to the closing minutes, but, this time, Cardiff somehow got through them to emerge with their first league victory since beating West Brom almost two months earlier – the seven games since then having yielded just the one point. On top of the damage the result did to Norwich, Everton had also turned a 1-0 deficit into a 2-1 win against Villa and Spurs had pegged Hull back to get  a 1-1 draw – Stoke had managed a 2-1 win over Manchester United, but, best of all, Fulham had been taken apart by Southampton with their 3-0 loss sending them to the bottom of the table.

Before continuing, I’d just like to make a short point about being the bottom club in any league. We spent a fortnight propping up the division and, even when the situation is as tight as it is in the Premier League, I think just being there has a corrosive effect as far as morale is concerned (certainly in the case of fans anyway) – we had to move off the foot of the table as quickly as possible. Fulham look to have made some good signings in January, but, with a gap of two points (and an awful goal difference) separating them from everyone else and a tough looking next four fixtures, there has to be a chance that they may be in danger of being cut adrift, to some extent at least, by the time they make their scheduled visit to Cardiff City Stadium on 8 March.

Anyway, back to those two periods which just could be the occasions which shape the destiny of our campaign. Each of three new signings had a part to play as City attacked with a verve, pace and quick thinking seldom seen previously this season. The quick thinking came when Craig Noone and Fabio combined from a corner as Norwich snoozed to work the winger into acres of space to deliver the cross which led to the winning goal. This, as well as a few others instances of what looked a promising attacking partnership with Noone, was the highspot of the Brazilian’s afternoon – not so convincing was some of his defending (hopefully rustiness caused by so little first team football lately was a major contributor to this).

Noone’s cross was bundled in at the second attempt by Kenwyne Jones to net his first Premier League goal since December 2012 – a stat which tells you so much about the latter period of his spell with Stoke. Rather like Fabio, his lack of first team football showed, but in Jones’s case it was more to do with him being out on his feet in the closing stages. Apart from that, he showed surprisingly quick feet for such a big man at times while not quite being as effective in the air as I expected him to be and, besides his goal, his most valuable contribution was his defensive work from dead balls as Norwich piled on the pressure late on.

By the sort of coincidence which football often seems to produce, the equaliser came from another player who endured a goalless 2013, but while Jones had managed a few goals in cup competitions, in Craig Bellamy’s case it was his first goal in any game since December 2012. The veteran forward looks to have had a new lease of life in recent weeks and he was effective here in a more central role behind lone striker Jones as he even managed a headed clearance off the line to preserve our lead.

The assist for Bellamy’s goal came from the newcomer who made the most impact in my opinion. Wilfried Zaha lifted both the support and his team when he came on late in the first half and looked like somebody with a point to prove. His pace, trickery and, on this evidence at least, good eye for a pass helped give the team a cutting edge which has been sadly lacking for most of the time this season and, if his attacking influence waned as the second half wore on, there could be little doubt about his commitment to the cause.

If I can just go off theme again for a short while, talk of commitment to the cause brings me on to the reason for Zaha’s very early introduction. Peter Whittingham was having a poor game and things came to a head with just about the worst free kick I’ve seen from him in his seven years at the club – Ole deserves praise for being brave enough to make the decision which changed the match while it was still in it’s relative infancy and , in general, I find his use of substitutes to be one of the most impressive things about him so far.

So, credit to our manager for the change, but not to some of our fans for their reaction, firstly, to Whittingham’s struggles while he was on the pitch and then to the sight of him trotting off the pitch. There must be an element of humiliation for any footballer who gets dragged off for reasons not relating to injury in the first half of a game, and I think it’s fair to say that there was an degree of sympathy in the applause which greeted the decision. However, there were also those who were applauding for the wrong reasons – Cardiff City have always had more than their fair share of fans who are suspicious of players who are talented footballers, but don’t “get stuck in” and I daresay that they were questioning Whittingham’s commitment to the cause as he tried to find his missing form yesterday.

However, just because he doesn’t go flying into tackles, it doesn’t mean Whittingham isn’t a brave or committed footballer. At his best, he is like Steve McPhail or Aaron Ramsey in that they always want the ball and are willing to be ambitious with it no matter how badly things may be going for them. For a lot of his time at Cardiff, Whittingham has been in the same mould – I find it sad rather than annoying that a player capable of so much now looks to the safe, but ultimately unproductive, option so often – I can understand the frustration this causes, but he deserved better than he got from some in the crowd yesterday.

Indeed, Craig Bellamy chose to criticise the attitude of the crowd in his post match interviews – he was right to do so in my view, but I hope he realises that it was only a section of the support that his remarks should be directed at. Even if the stick Whititngham received is put aside, it wasn’t good from the supporters yesterday. By and large, City fans have gone some way towards winning over critics who expected to see a repeat of the sort of behavior and attitude which blighted the club through the closing decades of the last century with things like the fantastic support at the Man City home game, the applauding of Aaron Ramsey’s goals and the aftermath of the Liverpool match seeing us being viewed as a positive addition to the Premier League.

However, for the second home game on the trot, the atmosphere was so flat in the first half and it wasn’t that great after the break either – I don’t think there’s a correct answer to the question as to whether the players should get the fans going or vice versa, but it was definitely a case of the former yesterday.

Of course, much of the anger and the lack of atmosphere is down  to anxiety caused by our league position and it was no surprise that people got nervous as Norwich put us under more and more pressure – in fact, I would say that the crowd was probably more of a hinderance than a help to the team as everyone feared another late, late equaliser from our opponents.

This takes me on  to the second of those periods which could turn our season. Somehow, we got through that last half an hour with our lead intact. According to the BBC stats, Norwich have had a total of fifty eight goal attempts in their two matches with us – the fact they only scored from one of them says a lot about why there are where they are in the table. Twenty seven of those goal attempts came yesterday and, just as at Carrow Road, we enjoyed our fair share of luck on the day – having the excellent ex Norwich man David Marshall between the sticks didn’t do us any harm either.

A trademark celebration, something that had not been seen during a Premier League match for over a year, from Kenwyne Jones after he scored the winning goal.*

A trademark celebration, something that had not been seen during a Premier League match for over a year, from Kenwyne Jones after he scored the winning goal.*

To add to this though, it has to be admitted that a lot of our defending yesterday was not very convincing, but here I’d like to offer a few mitigating factors;-

1. I’ve quite often watched Academy games at Leckwith on the morning of home matches that have been played in high winds, but yesterday was the first time those high winds were present in the first team game I watched a few hours later. The design of Cardiff City Stadium helps make wind less of a factor, but it was as bad as I’ve seen it yesterday and I think this was a reason why our defenders (it tended to be Ben Turner most of the time) sometimes allowed high balls to bounce – it looked bad, but I think it was more difficult to “set” yourself to attack the ball because it was moving about a lot in the air.

2. Ole wants to play a more attacking game and I think most of us are happy with that. Players like Noone and Zaha will help in that respect while we have the ball, but they aren’t the best when we don’t have it. Yesterday’s was the latest in quite a long line of recent goals where the right side of our defence was carved open too easily. I think a full backs relationship with his wide midfield player is as important as the one he has with the centrebacks and part of the defensive problems I mentioned Fabio had stemmed from the fact that he wasn’t getting great help from Noone. On the other side of the pitch, Declan John was left to fend for himself much of the time before Zaha came on and then, what help he got wasn’t the best. This is a consequence of the way Ole wants to play – sides wouldn’t get in down the flanks as often with Don Cowie and someone like Craig Conway offering defensive help, but Ole is more likely to take a risk than his predecessor was and so one of the consequences is we look less secure defensively.

The thing is, despite everything that was against us, the team got through and grabbed a win which, hopefully, laid the Sunderland ghost and, having done it once under Ole, then, perhaps, they won’t find it so tough the next time they are in front with not too much time left. Anyway, I’ll finish by saying that, despite it not seeming that way after the transfer window closed, we will have the new centre back which for me was a major priority for February onwards because former Spanish Under 19 international Juan Cala has been signed as a free agent following his release by Sevilla. On the face of it, his club being prepared to let him go doesn’t sound too promising, but, apparently, Cala had played nineteen matches in all competitions for his old club this season so he must have something about him.

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

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7 Responses to Season defining minutes.

  1. Mike says:

    Well put together and thoughtful article. I must say I too was very dismayed at the very poor atmosphere we created yesterday. I agree from the very start it was flat. I am and always have been a fan that will never openly castigate individual players never mind my thoughts. I have never booed the Bluebirds (and never will) and I always stay to the ned and applaud our team, never matter the result.

    I thought the treatment Whitts got from a fairly large minority was shabby at best. He is a very gifted footballer who has unfortunately struggled the end of last season and most of this season. Let’s hope Ole can re-kindle the spark that made him such a threat and goal getter no so long ago.

    Everything said though it was great to see us get a result.

  2. Dave says:

    Yet another excellent analysis.
    I was also a little dismayed regarding the poor treatment of Whitts. But must admit, I wasn’t aware of it until I watched Bellamy on MOTD. This maybe due to the fact that I was in full panic mode, thinking the worst of the predicament we were in at the time. I too applauded when Zaha came on (as well as Ole for being brave!) – I was hoping he would provide the spark we so desperately needed. Maybe the “applauding for the wrong reasons” was a misinterpretation?? I certainly applauded Whitts off the pitch (sympathetically), but the louder applause heard may well have been that of excitement to see Zaha play and anticipation of the Managers intent to attack. Although a nail biting finish (down to flesh now), what an exciting game, although I don’t think I will be able to go through another last 20 mins like that again. The likes of which we I have not experienced since the Manchester city game.

  3. The other Bob Wilson says:

    Thank you both for your comments. Mike, I agree with your use of the words “fairly large minority” – I formed a definite impression that some of the applause around me were more for Whittingham being subbed than Zaha coming on. However, seeing that Dave wasn’t aware of this feeling, maybe the words “around me” I used are very relevant?

    I was in the corner of the Canton and Ninian stands, perhaps it felt different in other parts of the ground because I have read on messageboards that some were arguing that the reception was down to sympathetic applause for Whittingham.

    It’s funny, the Sunderland finish was similar to the Norwich one in all but the final outcome, but I felt much more wound up watching yesterday. I think the difference was that with Sunderland I was missing my first home match in almost a decade and watching on the telly – I’ve always thought being there at the ground was much more preferable than watching at home, but the downside is that it’s much harder on the old ticker at times!

  4. Mike says:

    Hi Bob, I’m in Block 112 of the Ninian Stand, which is almost in the corner near you and to be honest there is often a quite negative vibe there which really upsets me, even when we are wining, but that’s life I guess, yesterday was however different, it was almost vicious – que sera!!

    Do you know I can’t watch us on TV, I feel helpless!! I perhaps, stupidly, think I influence the game when I’m there, I’ve got to be there or I don’t watch.

    Keep up the great work on your blog.

  5. Dai Woosnam says:

    Thanks, Paul. Fantastic report and all round State of the Union assessment.
    Mostly uplifting until the last para.
    Look I am not remotely xenophobic, but if City are to get players from abroad, try and get them from English speaking countries please! Or failing that Scandinavian countries where English is almost the de facto lingua franca. Mind you, maybe UWIST need the handsome fees City pay them for their English language teaching.
    Look how clever Tony Pulis was in the Transfer Window. Five players …all native English speakers.
    Right. Preamble over as I have now got my one beef re your fine article out of the way.

    Not going to happen Dai and I don’t think it’s worth us, effectively, putting ourselves at a disadvantage compared with most of our rivals.

    I would like to make the following observations in no particular order of priority:
    1. I was worrying that Kenwyne having been frozen out by Stoke and having had fellow players feud with him to the degree that they put a pig’s head in his locker, would be totally unfit to the point of being muscle bound. How would I know for sure if he was or was not? I thought “that is easy-peasy”: let us see if he can do that astonishing goal celebration: one even better than LuaLua’s!
    And guess what? He can! That is proof positive that blowing hard or not, his basic fitness is still there.

    I agree, I don’t think fitness will be an issue with him in the medium or short term – based on his career so far, attitude might be though.

    2. I am totally vindicated on Wilfried. When he was sold by Palace for a silly giveaway price of circa £15m, I wrote you a personal email to say that he was the only world class British player there was (apart from Gareth Bale). You did not pick me up on it, presumably because you did not think such an OTT remark warranted further response. And maybe, you also thought that (a) someone by definition CANNOT be world class if they have no career achievements under their belt, and have never even PLAYED at Premiership level, and (b) deep down yourself thought – like so many other City fans – that he was more suited to a life in the circus rather than a life at the relentless, ultra-demanding coal face of Premiership production!
    My twin sister alter ego Davina Wood recently posted a comment on WalesOnline, to the effect that Zaha was the greatest player since the magnificent John Charles to don a City shirt. By this of course she meant that she was talking not in terms of his having the greatest career since Charlo (manifestly, that would have been daft, cos a whole bunch of players like Robbie Fowler could win easily at the game of asking Wilfried to match their medal count), but in terms of the skills he still possessed when donning that City shirt for the first time.
    Davina was laughed out of court by the WalesOnline readership, and the last time I looked, she had the record “thumbs down” score in the history of the website! Not that it worries Davina or me: only dead fish swim with the stream.
    (We can get into a philosophical debate here Paul about the whole value of the “thumbs up/thumbs down” mouse click. I personally think it especially clueless when the readership of a site is made up of two warring factions: Cardiff and Swansea fans. One lot deliberately sabotages the voting that seems pro the opposing team, and then the other lot respond in kind. And when you get some free spirit like Davina say that Wilfried is pure gold, then it suits both lots of fans to diss such a remark: for Swans supporters, no Cardiff player can, ipso facto, ascend those lofty heights, and for Cardiff fans, well they always saw him as a show pony, did they not?
    I still recall that even such a fair and well-balanced judge as you could pick Whitts as your man of the match in that Palace play-off second leg, whereas to me Zaha was immense that night and never lost his cool despite our boys in blue trying to kick him off the park. And you are still far from persuaded even now. My eyebrow was raised somewhat by this comment in your excellent above piece.
    “His pace, trickery and, on this evidence at least, good eye for a pass helped give the team a cutting edge”
    Five words there jumped out at me there, viz. “on this evidence at least”. Eh? Are you saying it was a fluke? That having a good eye for a pass is a transient thing? That it might desert a player for whole seasons, like the Muse can desert some writers? Surely not?
    Two years ago I knew this boy was was pure gold. That he had the lot. Fabulous speed off the mark, a wonderful footballing brain, every trick in the book (and then some), fantastic physical strength, the ability to shoot with either foot and head the ball like he means it, and the ability to get stuck in. He also has that bit of devil in him: both him and Fabio will need to be careful at the Liberty. They will be provoked by the Rangels and Shelbys. Ole MUST tell them beforehand NOT to lose their cool, or they will both get early baths.
    So, does my acting here like I am the Founder Member of the Wilfried Zaha Fan Club mean to say that I think he will have a career on a par with that of Il Gigante Buono?
    Oh no, it means no such thing. Let nobody wilfully misunderstand me.
    He could well fritter away his talent on the proverbial slow horses and fast women, and most of his energies can be left on the dance floor in a myriad night clubs.
    Has David Moyes not checked out the bright lights of night-time Cardiff? Cardiff City Centre and Cardiff Bay may not quite have the quantity of neon to rival Manchester Deansgate/Piccadilly and the Salford Quays, but golly it has changed, Mr Moyes! The Cardiff light-at-night once resembled a glow-worms armpits: nowadays there is serious wattage and a VIBRANT night life.
    So could Wilfried’s glorious future get derailed at Cardiff? You bet it could.
    He has hardly come to live and work on Caldy Island.
    But all that said, it is more likely to get derailed by managers who have not got the wit to realise that he is a winger and not a wing back. Moyes will surely b**ger him up by trying to turn him into the Leighton Baines he cannot sign. And even Ole spoke yesterday of teaching him defensive stuff. And even you in your above piece talk of Noone and Zaha helping the full backs more in future!
    Eh????
    No no no …a thousand times NO.
    These guys are WINGERS not wing-backs.
    Garrincha, Gento, Stanley Matthews, Charlie Cooke, Jinky Johnstone they never spent their time covering their full backs! What the heck is going on?
    If the full backs cannot hack it, sack the full backs and get new ones.

    It was one game, some way yet to go before you are vindicated in your claim that he is world class. As for Zaha’s good passing on Saturday, it took my be surprise because I’ve thought he’d been guilty of not playing with his head up in the past and it was not a part of his game that had impressed me a great deal previously. Ole is playing an attacking game and so players such as Noone and Zaha are, basically, told to do what they are best at, but the two full backs we used on Saturday are also stronger on the attacking side of the game than the defensive and so their instinct is to join in when we attack. They are so much like other modern day full backs in that regard, so, often opposing teams are facing two players coming at them down the one side. It follows therefore that modern day full backs (many of whom aren’t great defenders) need help when the opposition is attacking and the players who should provide that are the wingers.

    Maybe if Zaha and Noone left the full backs to cope for themselves and stayed up the pitch like old fashioned wingers used to it would make opposing full backs less inclined to push on, but I doubt it if it would in the case of the best sides – even if it did though, modern day players are so much fitter than their predecessors from thirty and forty years ago and they would find other ways of creating two v ones on the isolated full backs. Also, we are stuck with who we have got now, so it’s hardly as if we can get new full backs who are defensively excellent – they could well be out of our price range as well.

    3. You mention Kenwyne not being quite as effective in the air up front as you’d have hoped. You may be right Paul, but what he has is physical PRESENCE. I have been asking for Cardiff to buy a proper centre forward for YEARS, instead of all these relatively tiny leaders of the attack like Miller, Maynard, Miller MK ll (Campbell) and Odemwingie.

    We’ll have to see how it goes – what I will say is that if we could find someone with Kenwyne Jones’ physique and Fraizer Campbell’s attitude and work rate, we’d be in business (time will tell if we have, but the evidence of Kenwyne’s career so far suggests we haven’t).

    4. Cardiff have only one player to perform the 35/65 tackle with almost guaranteed success, and that is Gary Medel. But I have been saying for ages that he needs to be performing those tackles far further forward, well up the field.
    Yesterday, the goal which almost resulted from that deflection off Kenwyne’s chest on to the post, came immediately after Medel made a miraculous such tackle on the edge of the NORWICH penalty area.
    At the Liberty, the opponents’ half is where he needs to be making those tackles. To stop their attacks building from the back.

    Medel scored seven times last season for Seville, but I don’t see him getting one for us this season – it would be interesting to see how he coped further up the pitch.

    5. Which gets me on to my hobby horse of the stupidity of trendy modern thinking when it comes to goalkeepers taking short goal kicks! As I wrote the early part of this, I was watching the end of the WBA-Liverpool game. When will Brendan Rodgers EVER learn? That Mignolet-Toure farcical error was straight out of the pub leagues where they emulate all they see on the box.
    Alas. I fear Ole favours similar stupidity. But were he to think for himself, he should fine his goalkeeper if more than one goal kick a game does not clear the halfway line.

    Come on Dai, off the top of my head, that is the first example of playing out from the back going wrong and costing a side a goal in that manner that I’ve seen all season – I mentioned before that I think sides should mix things up as far as any passing game v long ball debate goes and threatening your keeper with fines if they don’t whack the ball up the pitch 99% of the time is the sort of thinking which, unjustly to some degree, has given the long ball such a poor reputation these days.

    6. Caulker and Turner still give me the willies together. What was Caulker doing in the last minute letting that cross go over his head to an unmarked Bassong? Use your FEET to move back two yards Steven! I would prefer Hudson/Turner for The Liberty, though the three of them are not Premiership quality centre backs.
    My team for The Liberty would be (injuries permitting):

    4-1-3-2

    Marshall;
    ^
    Theophile-Catherine, Hudson, Turner, Fabio;
    ^
    Caulker;
    ^
    Noone,Medel,Zaha;
    ^
    Jones;Bellamy (or Mutch).

    Like most of his team mates, Caulker’s game has slipped a little in recent weeks and I agree it was poor defending for that chance which Bassong should have buried. Turner and Caulker didn’t looked that solid a combination either on Saturday, but the high wind made life difficult for centrebacks (both keepers in the Academy match I watched beforehand would have picked up fines under your system even though they were usually trying to find their strikers with their goal kicks!) and they have less support from the midfielders in front of them now than they did earlier in the season – same goes for our full backs, so it’s only natural that we aren’t going to look too clever defensively at times.

    Not sure about Mutch up front in that team of yours and Hudson is out injured for a month or so – I’d like to see Caulker play one match in that position so that your theory about him could be laid to rest!

    7. Every time I see Joe Ledley’s name I seethe. So he has gone to Tony Pulis for £800K. (Come to think of it every time I see TP’s name I seethe too, since I am on record as suggesting that Cardiff hire him when he was Gillingham manager. After all, here was a chap who as a boy/youth used to stand in the Grangetown Stand as a fan. I guess it still had just not become known as the Grange End in his time, but my command on dates is a bit suspect, so I am not entirely sure!)
    Just think what better position CCFC would be in with TP as manager these past 15 years! No burnt out cases like Lennie and DJ.
    Anyway, back to now. You will recall that one of the most shameful things that DJ did was to turn down TP’s offer of £6m for Ledley …and then let Joe go to Celtic for NOTHING. It is one of the three PROFOUNDLY stupid acts that make up DJ’s Unholy Trinity: the other two were pillorying that wonderful young full back Adam Matthews in front of the cameras – and then letting him too go to Celtic for nothing (I wonder, did DJ and Ridsdale have shares in Celtic?!…well only a sick joke like that could explain such bizarre managerial behaviour); and the third of DJ’s Unholy Trinity of stupid acts was falling out with Ross McCormack when the poor chap got convicted of drink driving and freezing him out. It was never a case of being second choice to Chopra. A forward line of Burke, Chopra, Bothroyd, McCormack and Bellamy would have worked well.
    (And don’t get me started on the disgraceful decision not to renew Chris Burke’s contract!)
    So they sell RM to Leeds for a derisory £350K. The utter madness of that act is now WRIT LARGE.
    Anyway, just 41 months later after that howler of gargantuan proportions, City allegedly go and bid £6m for Ross just before the Transfer Window closed. YCNMIU*
    Truly CCFC has been run by headless chickens. (Oh no, I forgot: that is Blackburn!!!)
    Maybe now, the triumvirate of Vincent/Mehmet/Ole can provide long term stability and some joined-up thinking.
    Will close now, before my eyes do.
    * = You Could Not Make It Up (even if you tried!)

    I agree about Ledley, Matthews and McCormack (who I would always have selected in front of Chopra in his second and third spells with us). As for Pulis, I don’t like the way he plays the game, but I have to admit he’s done a great job at Palace so far – I’m not sure he was ever in the running for our job after he left Stoke because so much of what Tan does convinces me that he wants to turn us into a Manchester United mark two.

    Kindest as ever,
    Dai.
    PS I forgot one vital thing. My friend Graham in Thailand tells me that Cornelius and Malky have the same agent! Tell me please that this surely cannot be?
    If it IS the case, then this is DYNAMITE.

    I would have thought this would have been publicised in the media before now if it were true.
    DW

  6. The other Bob Wilson says:

    Thank you Mike, to be honest I was surprised how calm I was watching that Sunderland match and this was even with me just knowing (typical City fan!) that they were going to equalise.

    They’re pretty good around by me as far as supporting the team goes and, to be honest, I’ve been moaning more than most near me during the first half of our last two games – my moaning is just done in my normal voice and so nobody important (i.e. the team) gets to hear it. Generally, I’d say I’m pretty positive though and I’d find it very tough being sat near someone who was constantly on the team’s back and went out of their way to make sure people knew about it.

  7. Dai Woosnam says:

    Fantastic that you have taken the time to comment on my individual points.
    And comment so impeccably FAIRLY, Paul.
    Obviously we agree to disagree on some points: that is what educated people do.
    Can I use your kind offices to say to my dear friend Graham Pritchard of Aberdare (currently in Thailand) that he must not believe what he reads on some fan forums. He was convinced that Malky and Cornelius had the same agent: I told him that this was so sensational a fact that it would have been general knowledge by now were it to be correct. Glad to hear you kill it dead: Malky has gone down a lot in my estimation in the past two months (by doing his dirty washing in public), and I would not want him to go down more.
    When all is said and done, he changed the Dave Jones atmosphere of seeing the Cardiff soccer fan as very much an EGG CHASER manqué, and always feeling that soccer could NOT be the People’s Game in Cardiff like it is to his beloved Evertonians.
    Malky changed all that by taking the FOOTBALL message to the fans in Cardiff and the SE Wales valleys, by visiting social clubs for evening events when lots of other managers would have their feet up at home. Malky realised something that DJ never did: that Cardiff City have a soccer history to be proud of. And that in Wales, there are more soccer goalposts in schools’ pitches and on sports fields both amateur and professional, than there are rugby goalposts.
    So much for rugby being our national game. It is not. (I say that though I dearly love rugby: I have never understood why the two sports should be mutually exclusive!) But it is no more our national game than Welsh is our national language. It is not. It is ONE of our national languages: as the late Glyn Jones once said to me in the parlour of his Manor Way home, “the Dragon has two tongues”.
    So Malky did a great job in bringing the Cardiff City fanbase back into the fold. And I salute him for that. His success there, should never be forgotten (even if I would like his negative Moyesian footballing philosophy to be forgotten as soon as possible).
    A slight query re one or two of your comments.

    This one for instance:
    ‘…
    Maybe if Zaha and Noone left the full backs to cope for themselves and stayed up the pitch like old fashioned wingers used to it would make opposing full backs less inclined to push on, but I doubt it if it would in the case of the best sides
    …’
    Thanks Paul. I rest my case.
    Bring Kenwyne back for corners, but always keep Wilfried and Noonie up on the halfway. Trust me, even the BEST teams will then keep THREE men back to mark them.
    And this comment of yours slightly raised an eyebrow:
    ‘…
    Come on Dai, off the top of my head, that is the first example of playing out from the back going wrong and costing a side a goal in that manner that I’ve seen all season
    …’
    Eh? Now look Paul, I realise that my short-term memory is seriously SHOT. I honestly could not tell you what I had for dinner last night …even if you put a gun to my head to help make my adrenalin flow!
    But I must have seen about TEN such howlers this season. The question is WHERE have I seen them?
    Several in The Football League Programme. A couple in the German Bundesliga highlights that I watch religiously on ITV4 every Monday. How many in Premiership? [Thinks...] Maybe not many … but one you have definitely forgotten was the Boxing Day shocker that Leon Osman committed when Tim Howard stupidly played the ball out to him instead of taking a proper goal kick. It gave Sunderland a vital win and indeed was the start of their fantastic January revival.
    They might be adrift now, (and one less team for City to worry about) were it not for that incredibly silly goal kick.
    And hey Paul, it is not the OBVIOUS first phase “play out from the back” mistake that really causes that many goals: it is the second phase one. Where the ball has left the goalie to the full back who in turn plays a short pass to to a midfielder …and I submit it is THAT pass that is mis-controlled so often and a goal so quickly then results.
    It is collective madness. So easily avoidable by properly kicking the ball into your opponent’s half.
    Look at rugby. Okay, there was Phil Bennett jinking and sidestepping under his own posts at the start of that famous 1973 try, but that was the exception. In rugby, when the ball is under your own posts, you kick to gain territory!
    And here is the best part: in rugby, they do not have the luxury of having their own men in the opposition half that they can find with that kick!
    One final word: I guess you are right in saying that Campbell would be a better choice than Mutch (and maybe Bellamy too) in my 4-1-3-2 formation above. But I have to make room for Mutch in that team, as he is my favourite City outfield player (and I think the best in terms of gifts and potential, Zaha excepted).
    Alas I could not pick the best City full back as he is on loan to the Blades. The French boy has big defensive flaws, exemplified by not putting the ball in Row Z during that 96th minute v Sunderland.
    Kindest,
    Dai.

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