Slowly but surely, we seem to be getting our Cardiff City back.

On 2 January 2012, Cardiff City, with an eighteen year old Joe Ralls turning in a precociously assured display in the middle of the park, blew away that season’s eventual Champions Reading to the tune of 3-1 to move to third in the table.

A manager with little to work with in the way of transfer funds was inspiring both players and supporters alike in providing a watchable and successful team that would soon be booking yet another Wembley appearance after another one of those penalty shoot wins that took five years of your lifespan that we were becoming used to.

Although the penalty shoot out went against us next time in the League Cup Final which followed, City made their supporters feel proud in that game with mighty Liverpool as a late, late equaliser scored by a player who appeared to know what playing for a club like Cardiff City was all about, gave many supporters what they still say is the best moment they’ve experienced in all of their time following the club.

City lost their earlier momentum as a lack of squad size and not having quite enough firepower up front told towards the end of the campaign, but, even so, making the Play Offs and reaching a Cup Final with a budget which was dwarfed by many of their rivals confirmed that Cardiff City were a vibrant club that looked to be going places – then it all changed because our owner imposed his rebrand and we became a completely different entity.

It would be unfair to blame Vincent Tan entirely for the years of disconnect which followed. To use his words, he “kept his end of the bargain” by providing the funding that was probably the main reason for the comfortable title win which came in the season which followed.

However, although it would be wrong to say that it wasn’t an enjoyable experience at the time, the promotion to the top flight that supporters like me, who were just too young to remember the last time it had happened, had been waiting fifty years to enjoy, was not quite what we had expected it to be. This was because we had done it while wearing red – as much as that might seem unjust and harsh in some respects, I can only say that it didn’t feel like it should have done to me and I’m sure tens of thousands of others.

Of course, red shirts or not, that never to be forgotten afternoon when we beat Man City in our first ever Premier League match at Cardiff City Stadium was a tremendous experience, while beating the jacks a few months later in the first ever Welsh derby at that level was also an occasion to be relished. However, the truth is that they were just fleeting glimpses of what competing in the top flight should have been like – for the vast majority of the time, there was an undercurrent of discontent which had it roots in Tan’s rebrand, but was also being fueled by the fact that the club were making such an almighty mess of what was the best opportunity it had been presented with in decades.

For many, the manager who had been an inspiration was also losing his lustre and, although there was little doubt who commanded the vast majority of the affections of the supporters  when he became the loser in the civil war that had broken out between him and the owner, there were, and still are, those who believed we were going down if Malky Mackay had remained as manager.

The fact that we still went down anyway under his successor only served to increase the sense of anger and frustration that was building up in so many of the club’s fanbase as more and more opted to join those who had severed their contact with City as soon as the change to red was announced.

It was yet another set piece goal and a pretty scruffy one at that, but Joe Ralls’ third of the season meant that a performance which Neil Warnock described as by far the best his side has turned in since his appointment got the reward it deserved.*

Mackay had gone, but the damning indictment of those who had chosen to sack him was that the men they chose to replace him with were proving wholly incapable of getting the feelgood factor, which had sometimes been there under Malky even when we playing in red, back – Cardiff City matches had become occasions to be endured rather than enjoyed.

Even when we won, it tended to be done in a manner that was so dull that it was never going to get the fans back on board. Not even our owner’s tacit acknowledgement that he didn’t know best as he gave up on his red shirts and agreed to a return to blue helped matters much. The damage had been done and a manager in Russell Slade. whose underdog attitude always had me thinking he was in the Championship with a club like, say, Burton Albion, rather than one that had done very nicely thank you for a decade or more, together with a squad of players who appeared incapable of resurrecting that link with the fanbase which had always been a feature of successful Cardiff sides only tended to emphasise the malaise around the place.

Last season there had been a play off  challenge of sorts, albeit about as uninspiring a one as it’s possible to imagine, and the odd sign that the club were finally beginning to get a few things off the pitch right. However, a managerial appointment which just didn’t work out and further justification of the club’s transfer committee’s reputation for incompetence only served to strengthen the feeling that we were a club in decline with a set of fans who were looking on with a sense of resignation.

I’m convinced that the decline I refer to would have been confirmed by the evidence of us playing in a lower league next season if there had not been a change of manager and, of course, it may be that this will still happen. However, to quote a previous Chancellor of the Exchequer the last few months have seen a few signs of the “green shoots” of recovery at Cardiff City.

As I say, it’s too early to say for certain that those green shoots will prosper and grow, a frost could easily come along and kill them off before they can take hold, but yesterday’s 1-0 win over Aston Villa represented the best evidence yet that we may, just may, be getting our old club back under a manager who recognises what Cardiff City is really all about.

Yesterday was the eighth home match played under Neil Warnock and I can genuinely say that I’ve enjoyed all bar the one against Wigan in their own way – the idea that I would find seven out of eight games played at Cardiff City Stadium under the management of any one of Messrs Solskjaer, Slade or Trollope enjoyable is a ludicrous one and, to be honest, I would have said the same about Warnock before his appointment.

However, actually having this man, who I’d spent much of the thirty years before his appointment here despising, in our corner feels right and feels good. Yes, the football his side plays is direct, it is physical (more on that later) and much of it is very pragmatic, but there is also the knowledge that this is a man who knows this level of the game like the back of his hand, he has the ability to spring tactical surprises that actually work and, despite that pragmatism mentioned earlier, he is giving us a City team much more willing to play on the front foot in front of their own fans than his two predecessors ever provided.

So, as I’ve mentioned in one or two earlier pieces, home matches have become more enjoyable under Neil Warnock, but, five years to the day since that Reading game I mentioned at the start and with Joe Ralls again to the fore, the beating of this expensively assembled Villa team moved things on to a different level – this was what supporting Cardiff City used to feel like on one of those very good days that we had become used to experiencing on a fairly regular basis between the years of 2000 to 2012.

There had been a couple of matches (Bristol City and Wolves) under Warnock already which were a considerable improvement on what we had got used to in terms of atmosphere over the past three years. These two occasions had justified the theory (which I subscribe to) that floodlit matches tend to provide the best atmospheres, but there are always exceptions to any rule and yesterday took things on to a different level.

Probably the biggest contingent of travelling support that there has ever been for a game at Cardiff City Stadium certainly helped, but I’d like to think that there would have been a very good response to a game like yesterday’s even with a far smaller away following because we had a team giving everything for the cause playing for us.

If the best atmospheres tend to come in floodlit matches is one of my pet theories, another on the same subject is that Christmas/New Year matches often have a better atmosphere to them compared to “normal” games and, very appropriately, this particular one had a pantomime villain that the audience (or most of them at least!) could boo to their heart’s content.

Most of the post match comment after Villa’s 3-1 win in November concerned Jack Grealish, who was involved in an argument with Neil Warnock about the way he reacted to City’s attempts to deal with the threat he posed.

Now, the methods we used were largely condemned by a local media in the Midlands and the Villa faithful as being “typical” Warnock (i.e we were long ball cloggers) – Steve Bruce was also not backwards in coming forwards either about the “treatment” Grealish had received from us and, to be fair, it did seem pretty obvious that we had targeted him.

So, with that previous meeting between the sides, only having taken place five weeks earlier, ensuring that memories were still fresh regarding the controversy, it was certain that Grealish would be getting a special reception from the home crowd.

I need to say here as well, that Jack Grealish is one of my least favourite modern footballers anyway. Based on what I’d seen of him on the telly and on video, he’s a Fancy Dan player who goes missing when the going gets tough and, for all of his undoubted ability, seldom influenced a game at Premier League level.

Kenneth Zohore volleys Sean Morrison’s header on to the post during City’s period of total dominance in the first half. Within a minute or so, the striker had missed a great chance following a one two with Ralls, but overall it was another performance full of promise from someone who has come on by leaps and bounds in the last few weeks.*

That said, in a team which, I feel, badly missed the ill Mile Jedinak and contained too many of those Fancy Dans for this division, Grealish did not disappear from yesterday’s game and was still showing for the ball right up until the end.

It was what he did after he got the ball though that meant that, despite him showing more courage than I thought he would, having now seen him play in the flesh, Grealish remains high on my list of players I don’t like.

Yes, City once again targeted him and there were some tackles on him which drew justified yellow cards, but it seemed to me that referee Andy Davies (a new name to me) officiated in a manner which was influenced by all of the furore that had erupted over Grealish in the first game between the teams.

I thought Davies looked out of his depth and constantly made poor decisions which affected both teams, but there were free kicks he awarded to Villa as a result of so called challenges on Grealish when he had gone to ground far too easily, In fact, watching much of his performance, I’m not sure if Grealish sees his main function in the team as using his skill and vision to create chances for his colleagues or to keep on falling over to gain his side free kicks.

After the game, Steve Bruce accused City of kicking Grealish from “pillar to post” in both matches, but he did also say that his reaction to what was happening was not what was required as he took his protests too far – in fact having already been booked for sarcastically applauding the ref after being given a free kick, Grealish should really have been red carded late on when he blatantly dived when “on the end” of a non existent Craig Noone challenge.

I mentioned earlier about Neil Warnock’s tactical nous and it was again apparent after his unexpected decision to deploy the available again Sol Bamba in front of the back four. Grealish did go past him once as if he wasn’t there in the first few minutes, but after that the man who has made himself an indispensable member of the team since he arrived in October was master of all he surveyed in that so important few square yards where good modern day number tens can wreak so much havoc if not handled well.

Bamba was one of the main reasons why Villa, for all of their attacking talent on paper, never really created a great deal from open play. In fact, they compared very poorly to Barnsley, who looked so dangerous going forward, in their recent 4-3 win here in an attacking sense – Albert Adomah threatened to be a problem in the first half at times, but Ross McCormack (who in what I was praying was not a case of mistaken bravado, I pronounced had never done anything against us since his move from Cardiff to Leeds) was comfortably kept in check.

When McCormack did make an impact of sorts with a free kick from twenty five yards, goalkeeper Brian Murphy again showed the shot stopping ability that had been apparent at Brentford by tipping the ball on to the bar and there were a couple of other good stops by the veteran from sub Gabby Agbonlahor as we came under pressure in the last quarter of the match.

Before that though it was City who were forcing the issue and they really should have been further ahead after a dominant first half performance. Everywhere you looked in the City side there were performances brimming with commitment, pride and, in many cases, no little skill – Kadeem Harris (who along with Kenneth Zohore and Junior Hoilett was part of a starting attacking trio that made a mockery of that old line about us lacking attacking pace) had, arguably, his best game in a City shirt, scorer Ralls offered reminders of why he looked such a great prospect in that Reading match, Bruno Manga, in what may well be his last game for the club, was a class act, Joe Bennett, who I had been critical of after Brentford’s late equaliser on Boxing Day, but was very good here  and Zohore, in the first half in particular, caused the Villa centrebacks plenty of problems as he continued his attempt to pocket the most improved player at the club trophy at the end of season awards,

Best of the lot for me though was another link with that Reading match, Aron Gunnarsson who personified the reasons why we just might be seeing the start of something that will lead to our club again becoming the Cardiff City that we feared we had lost forever – you know, the one which used to make you feel proud to be a supporter of them. Well, five years to the day since one such performance, they came up with one to match it yesterday.

A Happy New Year to all readers of this blog.

*pictures courtesy of




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31 Responses to Slowly but surely, we seem to be getting our Cardiff City back.

  1. Dai Woosnam says:

    What a wonderfully reflective piece from you Paul. One that helped to explain why we are where we are.
    The fact I thought you a bit hard on Sir Vincent and not hard enough on our “Tan Out” banner wielding/”Don’t sack Malky Mackay” chanting Fifth Columnists, is by-the-by. I still regard it as a magisterial summary of recent Bluebirds’ history.

    And I think that in highlighting Mr Warnock’s willingness to think outside the box, you have in a nutshell pinpointed the difference between him and Malky Mackay, and I would argue, his difference to most of the trendy “play the ball out from the back/pass the ball square and back” merchants from the Paul Clement school, that have been the ruination of our game.
    You see, these are the very people one would expect to be free thinkers…but paradoxically, these modern coaches are lost …deep in the canyons of their “football is a science” dogma. Were these blighters firemen, fighting a fire, they would be too busy passing the hosepipe to one another. Instead of going FORWARD into the heat of the battle and fighting the blaze !!
    And thus these folk are not the free thinkers one might expect them to be. Instead, it is with traditionalists like Mr Warnock, that one really sees a desire to “think outside the square”…perfectly exemplified by his positional move of our Sol Bamba yesterday.
    Well done, Neil.
    (On a day I notice, that our goalkeeper on the 2008 bench in the FA Cup final, scored a magnificent hat-trick leading the attack for Charlton. What does that tell us?!)

    And thanks Paul, for your praise of our lion-hearted Viking. If our Icelandic hero does not win City “Player of the Year”, then his form will have had to fall away dramatically in the few months remaining.
    Indeed, were Paddy Power taking bets on this award, they’d be “paying out” by now.

  2. The other Bob Wilson says:

    Morning Dai, I think you put it well there – a failure to be adaptable or innovative is a failure to be adaptable or innovative whether it comes from someone whose opinions you, generally, are in tune with as much as it is with someone whose views don’t represent your own.

  3. Barry Cole says:

    Well what a start to 2017 and I just love the games again. I have always been an admirer of Warnock and what he is doing to our team is nothing short of what I expected.
    We really were in a mess when he took over a lot worse than even I imagined.
    But in Warnock I believed, he is marmite, I don’t like marmite but boy is he a good manager.
    What a pressing game by the team and they kept it going and it was wonderful to watch and I can now say I am enjoying each and every match as we get better and better.
    I never had any doubts that we would not be relegated once Warnock was appointed.
    Yes we have had a couple of setbacks and that is where I would like to start.
    Morrison has been a liability in defence but yesterday he shoved those words down my throat. Well done but the standard he set yesterday now needs to be repeated consistently. This goes for ralls as well. Now I have to commend zahore for his Phoenix from the ashes role. He is running the line well and he is a product of how good a manager Warnock is. He is getting there but lacks that killer instinct in front of goal, something I am sure will be worked on.
    That said we do need a proven goal scorer and a creative midfielder two positions that were needed even before slade took the reins. I am sure that Warnock will have that Sussed anyway.
    Finally team wise, I realise it is too late but losing manga will be the reason why we will not be challenging for a top six place. If as it seems likely that we lose him in the January transfer period then I do believe we lose the option to play the clever, out of the box option we saw yesterday as Warnock provided a technical bit of wizardry that even Steve Bruce could never have imagined.
    I have that feeling back now that means I can’t wait for the next game and as we slowly climb the table we are playing as good as any team in that league. We only need to cut out the basic errors consistently and I still see a top six place beckoning.
    Ok it’s optimistic but never say never.
    The message of positivity now needs to get to our fair weather fans once more and if we can produce a fortress CCS then I would expect a much bigger crowd than previously at our next games.
    Paul can I thank you for the opportunities to air the fans thoughts good o rock bad over 2016 and I am looking forward to a very positive 2017. We are planning ahead and it will take time but I am happy to go with this roller coaster ride, the best since the halcyon Dave jones days
    Onwards and upwards

  4. Matt N says:

    Hi all, Happy New Year.
    A proper team performance and as mentioned a perfect example of Warnock’s ability at least in the short term to generate a spirit and weed out those not playing for their shirt (I have Noone in that category, but he did well enough when he came on).
    There was excellent work all over the pitch, but as you say Paul, our pace up front made a refreshing change and for the midfield to be able to play it that bit ahead of our front three instead of to feet made for effective release of pressure when needed and gave the Villa back four plenty to think on. Harris and Zohore look to have been unshackled or perhaps just not afraid any more of making a mistake.
    I agree with Barry that Manga, if he goes as we expect, will be a miss, but I am confident that NW can find a cheaper and equally able replacement. Although I think Connolly has that ability to bring the ball out of defence when playing centrally perhaps his pace and positioning at times are questionable (I still have nightmares about the match we had him at left back! Think it was v Bristol last season).
    Lastly, Sol Bamba. Captain in all but name. I watched him coach and encourage every player during the 90 minutes and his team mates (including Morrison) all look to him for instruction. He has galvanised us on the pitch as much as Warnock seems to have brought the club as a whole closer together. I hope 2017 sees the armband in its rightful place.
    A successful and healthy 2017 to you all.

  5. Colin Phillips says:

    You’ve excelled yourself with this week’s post, Paul. Well done!

    A very enjoyable afternoon in all with a lot better atmosphere than we have been used to recently and strangely the antics of Grealish and the eccentric refereeing seemed to add to the game. At least the referee and his assistants gave me and my Ninian Stand next-door neighbour someone to moan about in the absence of Whittingham (insert big smiley here!).

    Warnock certainly surprised us with that Bamba tactic, and, I think Mr. Bruce.

    Will it be a one-off?

    Having Bamba’s presence behind them seemed to remove the shackles from Gunnarson and Ralls, making forward runs and getting into scoring positions with the knowledge that if they lost possession the back four wouldn’t be exposed. But with Manga likely to be off, in one way or another, soon, will Connolly be up to the job.

    Talking about Connolly, the one thing I wasn’t happy about Warnock yesterday was the second substitution. Was Bennett injured? Bringing on a centre-back to play at right back and moving the right-back to left-back didn’t seem a sensible move to me. If he’d brought on a defender to replace one of the forwards I would have been happier. Actually, there were two things that I didn’t like, when No-one came on for Hoilett he played on the left to start with, hoo-raah, but second half he swapped No-one and Harris, BOO!

    How will Warnock approach the cup game with Fulham? Try out some “new” faces, is Saadi back?, perhaps a new formation? A rest for our Icelandic warrior?

    Interesting times, indeed.

  6. Colin Phillips says:

    Noone not no-one (he’s not that bad!).

  7. BJA says:

    Happy New Year Everyone, and my resolution not to partake any alcohol during the week in January failed to last beyond 6.00 pm. last night with a glass of Rioja happily consumed upon my arrival home, not only because we managed three points but also that we survived the final ten minutes of the match. ( But a mental note to myself is that I must wear gloves as my finger nails took somewhat of a beating! ).
    Paul, thanks as always for your thoughts – as ever much along my own. In my early days of City watching beginning in 1951, we used to wear white shorts with our blue shirts and I really wish we kitted up now in that fashion rather than the blue shorts the boys wear today. But that’s being picky.
    Back to yesterday. For a couple of times in the first half, when we were attacking from a corner, we failed to provide sufficient defensive cover once again which could have been disastrous to a swift counter attack. It so happened that on the first occasion this situation existed we scored – but we really did not start to be alert to such dangers until later on in the half. As I have mentioned previously, I would have hoped that NW and his team would ensure that we have a proper defensive plan in operation right from the beginning rather than a ‘gung ho’ early attacking approach.
    I have not seen any statistics on our attempts, but I seem to recall a there were a reasonable number, and in the second half, Zahore, Harris, Ralls and Gunnerson all had shots, some better than others. The reason for these was the speed that the attacks developed which was most encouraging. The first named of this quartet continues to impress me with his endeavours, and gave the Villa defenders no easy time.
    Bamba as the defensive midfielder was splendid, and I was impressed with the goalkeeper who made a couple of smart saves in the second half.
    At the end of the match, I watched an interview taking place with Brian Murphy in the centre of the pitch, and as he walked off, he was accompanied by Bruno who gave his shirt to someone by the player’s entrance. If this was a gesture to indicate that his time was up with the City, what a shame because on his day, and he has many, I think there is no better central defender in the Championship. If NW is to develop a team for the future, Bruno is one that we should be trying to keep. There must be others we are able to remove from the wage bill.
    It is always interesting to read the views from our opponents, but certainly not always to agree with such comments. There seems a universal opinion from the Midlands that Mr Grealish was the victim of some unfair tactics by our lot. Perhaps one or two tackles, but certainly not the frequency with the number which the referee awarded in his favour. Thankfully the petulance of his protestations deservedly bought him a yellow card.
    But Paul as you state, the overall performance of the ref was not good.
    I am an ex Canton High School boy whose motto was ‘Semper Sersum’. It’s true translation is ‘always aim high’ but we knew it as ‘onwards and upwards’. Here’s hoping.

  8. Lindsay Davies says:

    Wonderful piece, Paul – “magisterial”, as Dai W says. I almost feel I had been there – thank you. Great to begin sharing Barry’s unquenchable optimism again.
    Also, I absolutely endorse BMA’s comments on the kit, the white shorts. Would have mentioned it sooner, but didn’t want to be thought a flippant Fancy Dan by serious MAYAns! For the perfect kit example for us to follow, see Schalke in the Bundesliga.
    Incidentally, I was given a green-and-yellow Canaries scarf for Christmas – it’s hanging BEHIND the under-stairs cupboard door – the blue-and-white one remains on display!
    A Happy New Year to one and all.

  9. Lindsay Davies says:

    p.s. Early warning – my Seagulls-supporting pal was at The Cottage on Saturday, and tells me that Brighton were actually completely outplayed by Fulham.

  10. Adrian Lloyd Pickrell says:

    A very happy new year to you all. May good luck, health and happiness be your constant companions.
    A superb piece as always Paul and your posts really are eagerly awaited by me as I cannot actually watch the games, only listen to them or follow a live blog.
    To hear people speak and write about pace is somethimg very refreshing and to hear about an improving atmosphere at the CCS is something to be cheery about to.
    Yesterday was not a holiday in Germany, so I found myself in the strange situation of being in the office for the first half, trying to follow as much of the game as possible on my phone, cycling home like a madman through the freezing cold in the half time break and plunging into the bathtub for the second half with a glass of fine scotch whilst laying back listening to the radio, waiting for Villa’s inevitable 89th minute equalizer.
    The equalizer never came….so I had another scotch. A great start to 2017 and I completely agree with BJA and Lindsay about the white shorts. Just looks more classy and traditional. (the same reason why I dislike modern rugby shirts…the old ones with hoops and collars were much better).

  11. Dai Woosnam says:

    Matt N as always makes good points, but my eye was taken by this from him:

    ‘…Lastly, Sol Bamba. Captain in all but name. I watched him coach and encourage every player during the 90 minutes and his team mates (including Morrison) all look to him for instruction. He has galvanised us on the pitch as much as Warnock seems to have brought the club as a whole closer together. I hope 2017 sees the armband in its rightful place…’

    Not for me, sunshine. Never.
    I don’t want the captain of my club to be a fellow who only a month ago publicly assaulted his 68 year old manager in front of many thousands of people and TV cameras at Portman Road. That Neil showed him such magnanimity afterwards, is to Mr Warnock’s great credit.
    There can only be one captain. The man who did wonders wearing the armband of his country this Euro finals in France: and he was not even the star player of that Icelandic team. It tells you in just how high esteem he is held by the Icelandic team managers, that they wanted to make HIM their captain.

  12. Matt N says:

    Hi Dai,
    Fair point, although Neil has put the incident down to passion, which is something which can overflow at times. And passion is something we’ve absolutely lacked for a good few seasons (since the departure of Mark Hudson).
    I’d have little problem with Gunnar steering our ship (or longboat as he may prefer) but seeing the players all look to one man during 90minutes told me its own story…

  13. Barry Cole says:

    In regards to bamba I sure that there is something we don’t know that made him explode that day. It shouldn’t have happened but it did but I certainly don’t hold it against him. We have been a different team since his arrival and it’s clear to me that he is the captain in every sense of the word and with Gunnarsson his able assistant we have two leaders capable of making the team play to the instructions they are send out with.
    I believe it is time to make the change as I am sure Morrison would accept the decision.
    Onwards and upwards once more

  14. Barry Cole says:

    Just a complete change of subject but going back to ban, Lindsay and Adrian I do agree the present shirt would look great with white shorts. I say that as I dont think much of the design anyway.
    .Brining back the blue with the yellow and white stripe on the left and the blue shorts that went with it would satisfy me. Saw some really great games with that strip even though we were in the lower leagues most of that time

  15. Barry Cole says:

    Should be BJA not ban, my iPad failed the test once more

  16. Russell says:

    Thanks Paul and fellow contributors the amount of comments may suggest your right Paul the club has really reversed its decline, I would say our performances are more about commitment than skill , on Saturday the sight of three centre backs on the field was another indication that NW is trying to hobble to a safe place this year. With the mood music now being about FFP, Ashore saving him some bucks I don’t think we will see many new recruits or big spends in January .

    The result was a brave one and could have been a defeat if it was not for Murphy’s heroics. What a signing Trollope .?

    We played very well for 60 minutes , lot of tireless running ,Villa I thought we’re nowhere as good as Barnsley ,thank god , McCormack looked weighty and disinterested.

    Zahore does show promise but must learn the art of heading, Harris needs to explode into the penalty box , as does Hoilett.

    Gunderson would be a real threat with pace but his overall performance is wonderful, captain in waiting material in my opinion.

    Bennett I think has lost if potential .

    Manga and Sol Bamba was a delight to see.

    We had four centre backs on the field in the end showing how important win was , can you imagine any city manager if the past 6 years trying that.

    In the imortal words of AC DC , Neil Warnock “”we salute you” thanks for bringing football and passion back home to the Bluebirds.

  17. Russell says:

    Apologies for spelling and grammar I am overcome by excitement , tears on the keyboard , and lack of typing skills , and I stupidly hit the send button before reading content, hopefully you get my gist.

    C’mon the City.

  18. Anthony O'Brien says:

    I’m not excusing Bamba’s rush of blood, but it is a fact “as every schoolboy knows”, that professional footballers often blow up in training and — surprise, surprise — indulge in fisticuffs. I even believe that when Diego Costa joined Chelsea, he deliberately picked a fight with John Terry and thereby established his own credentials. Of course, Bamba’s big mistake was to act as he did in the public eye, but it may also have strengthened his own role as the man his colleagues automatically turn to when looking for leadership. It’s just a thought!

    On another track, I agree that blue shirts and white shorts is a better combination than all blue, but blue is better than the alternative.

    I also agree with Russell’s assessment of Zahore. His performance against Aston Villa showed he had learned something from his previous display(s) but even though he is powerful when bombing forward he doesn’t get off the ground when a defender is touch tight behind him. As he also has a fairly high centre of gravity, he can be pushed over more frequently than should be the case. This is not a negative criticism of him, merely an attempt to suggest that, if he develops his upperbody strength, he would be more able when static to withstand nudges from the defender behind him. Another thing he should learn (and I feel almost guilty in recommending it) is to back into his defender from time to time (but not too frequently) and fall to the ground while giving a mighty shout, thereby winning a free kick. It’s all in the game, they say.

    As a final note, the MAYA blog and its various contributors have produced yet another superbly interesting and insightful summary of what was probably the best display from Cardiff City since Neil Warnock took charge — and all that, without Peter Whittingham!

    Happy New Year to everyone, and let’s look forward to the remainder of the season with a growing sense of optimism.

  19. Dai Woosnam says:

    Neat line that, Matt …the “longboat” one I mean.
    Made me LOL.
    And you and Barry make a convincing case for Sol over Gunnar. And whilst I am not swayed by your joint reasoning, I confess to thinking that Sol would still be preferable to Sean.
    As for the incident at Ipswich, I recall listening to the Radio Wales phone-in that night, and hearing a couple of callers suggesting he should never be allowed to play for City again…!! So, whilst I thought at the time that this was a massive overreaction, it is still a leap too far for me to embrace the idea of a man who violently pushes his manager (and thus wittingly or unwittingly, attempts to humiliate him in public) can be made team captain within weeks of that incident…!!
    Can you imagine if a Man Utd player had violently pushed Fergie, or an Arsenal player pushed Wenger in front of a packed stadium…? I tell you without a peradventure of a doubt: they would never play for their clubs again…let alone be made captain.

    But like I say, it is not a major issue to me. However I will not buy Barry’s passionately held view that something must have made Sol “lose” it that day. Come on chaps, we are all adults here: let’s spell out the subtext. What we are basically being asked to believe is that there was some sort of racial taunt.
    No, there was not a chance in a milion of there being one here. How am I so sure? Let the names Suarez, Terry and Shelvey be my evidence. In other words, it is hardly a bold move these days for a player to allege a racial taunt from an opponent. And trust me, if there was a scintilla of a chance that Sol heard somesuch from Douglas, or the Ipswich bench, he’d have got the PFA to press charges.
    No, sorry chaps, but the facts are much more mundane. Sol decided to – what we used to call in the Rhondda of my boyhood – “toss a wobbler”. And if does it the once, he can do it again.
    But then we come to a more philosophical point re captaincy: should the armband go to the most vocal member of the team? I hae me doots.
    By that argument, Joe Hart should be the current England captain, and the 66 World Cup team should not have been captained by Bobby Moore …nor even Bobby Charlton, but …wait for it…
    Nobby Stiles …!!
    And Sir Alfred would never have stood for that.

    And a word from me on the jersey and shorts issue: I am with Barry on loving the yellow stripe (makes me think of Robin Friday and my favourite City player of that era, John Buchanan)…but I think I really hanker for a return to the classy chocolate and amber quarters. At the moment we look like Everton reserves…something that Dave Jones always secretly saw us as anyway.
    (In case he decides to sue me…”only joking” Mr Jones, sir.)

  20. Barry Cole says:

    Day I certainly didn’t think of playing the fascist card as I am sure you are right it would have been picked up.
    I really was looking at something personal that had affected him maybe over the previous few weeks that may have come to a head that weekend
    Maybe or maybe not , who knows.
    I certainly don’t condone what he did but at the same time I would never say he shouldn’t play again for Cardiff. Not when you look at the number of foreign players that play for penalties week in week out in the supposed best league in the world. How many of those would their fans say they are not playing for us again when they’ve been found out.
    The flashpoint has been and gone time to move on

  21. Barry Cole says:

    This blooming iPad
    For day read dai
    For fascist read rascist

  22. Mike Herbert says:

    As a distant supporter based in Cornwall, I would just like to say a huge “thank you” to you Paul for your excellent blog, and to all contributors as well, for keeping me in touch with my team. I didn’t make it to a match last year for the first time in many a long year but I have already pencilled in a trip to Wales for our home match v Ipswich in March.

    Thanks again and Happy New Year to you all.


  23. Lindsay Davies says:

    Never thought I might disagree with the charismatic Dai W., a Montaigne for our troubled times, but…Barry is right about Sol Bamba’s uncharacteristic (?) loss of control. Surely, a deeply personal slight? Maybe Fascist, maybe racist. Remember Bob Hazell at Highbury (up against the ‘thoughtful’ Graham Ricks, anybody?), Franck Rijkard and Rudi Voller (see Simon Kuiper’s brilliant “Football against the Enemy”), Zidane and that philosophical Italian centre-back, insulting mother, sister, or ANY female relative? What’s the lesson? Tranquilo…stay calm…easy to say. Hey, I’m human, I’m a geezer. Bamba OR Gunnar, I’m happy (and, I’m 68, too).

  24. MIKE HOPE says:

    Leaving aside the captaincy discussion, I love and agree with this week’s optimism but what a difference the absence of a 90+ goal to cost us points makes to the feel-good factor.
    The last two home games have been pulsating affairs.
    Judging by our reaction to hanging on to the one goal lead against Villa the Barnsley game could have inspired Rudyard Kipling to describe our euphoria IF Lambert had taken the 80% chance to give us a 90+ winner.
    Instead he missed and Barnsley got the 90+ winner from what originally looked like a 1% chance.
    This ruined my weekend and left me convinced that I still prefer a boring win to an exciting defeat!
    On the subject of Mr Grealish I wish that we had a young talent with his ability. Unfortunately for him unless he realises that ability alone is not enough he will not fulfil his potential.I think I have read that last season Villa lost every game in which Grealish played and that he holds the premier league record for having played the most games with a 100% loss record!
    The ex- footballer,now author and wit, Eamon Dunphy,summed him up nicely (admittedly after he had decided to play for England under 21 rather than Republic of Ireland) when he said ‘ If he works at his game in a few years time he could become the player he thinks he already is ! ‘
    Much as I love Warnock’s commitment to have us playing winning football the more success we have the more we are likely to be branded as Warnock’s thugs especially in the opposition press and social media.
    Our next game (apart from what is beginning to sound like a friendly against Fulham) is against Bristol and it is vital that we have a strong ref otherwise when their fat little diver (Cowlin?) starts performing and the Wurzel fans start wurzelling we could end with nine men!
    On the captaincy question I agree with Dai that Bamba should have ruled himself out for the foreseeable. I think Gunnar would be a better choice anyway.

  25. Dai Woosnam says:

    Well done Mike, for reading me right on the captaincy thing.
    Barry my dear pal…I think you have misunderstood me. I emphatically am NOT saying that Bamba should never have played for City again. And I agree with you that we should “move on”.
    But if “moving on” means giving him the captaincy, then that is a move too far. FAR too far.
    And Lindsay – who can do no wrong in my book, especially since he has just dubbed me the Montaigne of these columns* – alas goes down the route of all the apologists for Bamba’s shocking behaviour, viz., it must be some personal slight. Come on folks…THINK about it, please.
    Yes, some insults can be so personal and hurtful, that the person insulted would not want the wider world to know the actual details. I’d be an idiot if I did not “get” that.
    But I also “get” Neil Warnock.
    There is no way ON EARTH that he would not have had a full de-briefing session with Sol a couple of days later, and insisted on knowing what EXACTLY was said …if anything. What could have made Sol violently push his manager in public…?
    And I submit to you all that Neil would have instantly then told the media something along the lines of “a personal insult was delivered to Sol, and we are not going to give any further details, and so now we move on”.
    Easy-peasy. A101 psychology.
    But no such statement was forthcoming from Mr Warnock. And I will tell you why.
    The reason why, is because there WAS no such insult.
    Small kids get tantrums for no apparent reasons, and some of us in maturity, still have the “small kid” still in us…even if we have lion-hearts like Sol.
    These tantrums arise like the rare tornado touching down in the UK…they seemingly arrive from nowhere, and are gone in an instant, leaving behind a trail of destruction.

    Back to Lindsay: I particularly loved the ineffably stylish way he corrected the spelling of the errant iPad of Barry’s, with that fascist/racist sentence…!! Mind you boyos, spelling is essentially a fifth rate art, and within two generations will be a REDUNDANT art, having lost out to the txtspk revolution.
    * I have a little book of Montaigne’s that I re-read every 5 years. I so adore the man. To think it is nearly half a MILLENNIUM now, since he wrote so wonderfully for folks like you and me. When I read him, it seems like he is a contemporary: his words are that relevant.
    And I am too tired to DuckDuckGo it, so let me give you my favourite Michel de Montaigne quote, admittedly thus non-verbatim: “I have made a necklace (posy?) of other men’s thoughts, and only the bead that binds them is my own”.

    In the immortal words of the late Dan Maskell…

    …I-I-I …SAY…

    He beat Isaac Newton to it, by slightly over a century! I mean the famous stirring “standing on the shoulders of giants” thing…which when you think about it, means much the same.
    Montaigne was a truly astonishing man. Such a free ranging mind. Absolutely a man for today.
    Spoke truths that are eternal.

  26. The other Bob Wilson says:

    A few thoughts on some of the points raised over the past day;-
    1. Has to be blue and white for me, but I agree with Dai to the extent that more use should be made of the, possibly, unique colour combination we used as Riverside. I thought that Super Furry Animals chocolate and amber kit we used for one of those Welsh Premier Cup matches about fifteen years ago looked great and don’t see why we couldn’t have it as a change kit.
    2. Sol Bamba – if you’ve got the time, this link
    is worth exploring because it has a season by season breakdown of his disciplinary record. Without going into too much detail, it shows that there have been two distinct phases to Bamba’s career when it comes to red cards. At the start of his career when he played in Scotland for Dunfermline and Hibs, he was sent off four times in three seasons, but since then, there had been no red cards until Ipswich last month – before he lost it at Portman Road, he had not been sent off since early 2009. Perhaps what happened a month ago represents the beginning of a third period of his career where he reverts to being a red card magnet, but I’d say he deserves the benefit of the doubt for now – I could see a manager like Warnock having a bit of a go at one of his centrebacks if he did not have a red card on his record for getting on for a decade!
    3. This leads me on to captaincy. I’ve always been pretty relaxed as to who should be City’s captain because I see the role in football (as opposed to a game like cricket) as being somewhat over rated. As long as any team has, ideally, three or four “leaders” who are willing to take on responsibilities when it comes to things like organisation and motivation, then I don’t think it matters too much who actually wears the armband – purely based on the job he does for his country, my choice for captain would be Gunnarsson if I had to make one, but I’m okay with Morrison as captain (despite having one of his best games this season on Monday, the real debate over him as far as I’m concerned is whether he should be in the team or not).
    4. I think Barry makes an important point – we are all so quick to leap to conclusions about a player without knowing what is going on in his life off the pitch (I’m as guilty of this as anyone).
    5. Zohore – I still believe that there’s a temptation to look at his size and judge him as the type of player we feel he should be with a physique like that. What he has given the side in recent games is a combination of power, mobility and no little pace. He gave Chester and Baker all sorts of problems when we played to those strengths in the first half, while (although I reckon he was pretty knackered in the last twenty minutes or so) he was able to get us some breathing space late on in the game as he chased down what were no more than punts forward by our defence – I was thinking we should get Lambert on for him, but Rickie’s lack of mobility means that he always looks so isolated (there would not have been anyone far enough forward to have benefited from any headers he won in those closing minutes). On the other hand, Zohore was able to use his pace and strength sometimes to get to the ball first and then hold it up for someone like Harris or Noone to join him – work on his heading by all means, but it shouldn’t be at the expense of those assets that have made him so effective in the last few weeks.
    6. Mike, regarding “Warnock’s thugs” and their assaults on Villa’s poor innocent, Jack Grealish, here are two links which tell very interesting stories!
    7. BJA, agree with you about us still looking open to a counter attack – did you see that Villa left three up front for the first of Gunnar’s long throw ins and we only had three back to look after them? They never did it again after that, but I thought we were taking a big risk bearing in mind what had happened in our last home game.
    According to the BBC, we had twenty goal attempts compared to Villa’s twelve with five of them on target (only two of Villa’s were – which seems a bit odd when you consider the three good saves Murphy made!).
    I’m an ex Cantonian as well!
    8. Colin, Warnock mentioned that Jazz Richards will be involved on Sunday and I would expect at least one of O’Keefe and Huws to start – should think Lambert will as well.
    9. Exactly right Matt about us being able to knock the ball into the channels with that front three – earlier in the season, we couldn’t do that and, even worse, we had no one with the legs to get to our, immobile and completely isolated, target man quickly enough – we only scored eight times in our first twelve games in all competitions this season and failed to find the net in eight of them! Compare that to what’s happened since Warnock’s appointment – two goalless games in thirteen and a scoring rate of almost 1.5 per game.
    10. A special thank you to Mike and Adrian for your kind comments.

  27. Dai Woosnam says:

    Can I please use your fine blog to inform MAYAns who live outside God’s Country that the Fulham game is on BBC1 Wales from 11.20 on Sunday.
    That means that it is free to air for anyone with a satellite dish.

  28. Royalewithcheese says:

    Long list of combustible characters who’ve made good captains, Dai.

  29. Dai Woosnam says:

    Yes, Royale…but not a long list who have assaulted their 68 year old manager in public!!
    Sol is sooo lucky that Neil was not Fergie or Wenger…Sol’s feet would not have touched the ground before he exited the club, clutching his P45.

  30. Royalewithcheese says:

    Dai, Neil isn’t Blossom, and Sol isn’t the Peckham Pouncer!

  31. Dai Woosnam says:

    And my dear Royale, you are not Michael Mansfield QC…someone who I feel would be essential, if your new mate Bamba is going to be fully rehabilitated in the Court of Public Opinion.

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