The end of the promotion challenge that hardly ever felt like one.

Coymay

In as much as it was one, Cardiff City’s challenge for promotion to the Premier League ended at Hillsborough yesterday as Sheffield Wednesday sauntered to a 3-0 win which was as conclusive as the scoreline suggests – even though they are one of a few sides at the top of the Championship that I’ll be awaiting the decision on whether or not they have broken the Financial Fair Play Rules this season with interest, Wednesday’s position in the top six is a fully justified one on performance alone.

As for Cardiff, it was a shame, but not a total surprise, that their chase for a top six finish should end so feebly. They hung on to a 0-0 scoreline (which, of course, wouldn’t have been enough to prevent the home side cementing their top six place) for over an hour, but, once they fell behind, they never ever suggested they had it in them to get level again, let along go on to get the win they needed.

The gap between the two teams was embarrassing at times, but when you compare the financial resources available to both of them this season, should that really be too much of a surprise?

Let’s not forget either that City were missing significant members of their first choice team with injuries. Lex Immers. who, in my view, was the biggest single reason for the improvement in results and performances we saw in February and March was missing again. Joe Ralls, deemed to have been out of form by many in the chattering classes of our fanbase since about January, but the best, most important and most complete central midfield player at the club this season in my opinion was also absent and Anthony Pilkington, short of goals but so important to our attacking play, only lasted twenty minutes before limping off.

I think I could make a decent case for Immers, Ralls and Pilkington being the most important players in our first choice front six, so it was always going to be tough for us to get the only result that would extend our interest in a top six finish into the last match of the season. However, the thought still lingers that a team, and support staff, which genuinely believed they had it in them to finish in the top six should have had a lot more to offer than City did yesterday.

That’s the thing, despite the seemingly positive noises coming from players and on and off field management throughout the campaign, I think I’m one of many supporters who were never convinced by such claims – I’ve seen four Cardiff sides finish in the top six of this division since 2010 and this one lacks qualities that all of them had.

I’m not just talking about playing ability there either. The closest of those four sides which reached the Play Offs or better to this one was the 2011/12 team – in terms of technical ability, I’d say it would be hard to separate the two squads, but the one which also reached the League Cup Final had a mental toughness to them which I don’t see with this group.

Granted, that may sound a bit harsh when you look at an impressive home record based more on an ability to wear opponents down, rather than blow them away with eye catching football. However, the occasional inability to hold on to leads that should have been comfortable and the relative lack of late match winning goals when compared to other sides competing at the top of the league, point to a lack of that feeling of “we’re good enough to do this” at the club.

The lack of true belief argument is easier to make when you look at our away performances and results. The truth of the matter is that City’s home record this season has been better than it was for three of those four top six teams, but, apart from the 11/12 squad (who lost only four times on their travels compared to this squad’s ten), all of them managed at least twice as many away wins as this one has.

A tale of two players, David Marshall's blunder ends up with Lee Peltier turning the ball in for Wednesday's second goal. Marshall is 31 and is Cardiff 's only proven performer at Premier League level - there is every chance he'll leave the club this summer. Peltier is twenty nine and has been one of our most consistent players this season, but as far as I'm aware, he's never played in the top flight in his life and yet he's likely to be playing every week next season if Russell Slade stays.*

A tale of two players, David Marshall’s blunder ends up with Lee Peltier turning the ball in for Wednesday’s second goal. Marshall is thirty one and is Cardiff ’s only proven performer at Premier League level – there is every chance he’ll leave the club this summer. Peltier is twenty nine and has been one of our most consistent players this season, but as far as I’m aware, he’s never played in the top flight in his life and yet he’s likely to be playing every week next season if Russell Slade stays.*

You need to go all the way down to QPR in thirteenth position before you find a side in this season’s Championship with less away points than us and even they will better us with a win in their remaining game on the road – if you look below thirteenth, then you’ll find four teams with more away points than us.

So, as is so often the case in football (particularly at Cardiff under this manager), an improvement in one aspect of the game comes at the expense of another – we start conceding fewer goals and they stop going in at the other end, we score more and the goals against column suffers, we sort out our home form and our away results go to pot etc, etc,.

We’ve wilted too many times on our travels this season. Winning at only one of the current bottom five and losing at three of them is just not good enough, but, if anything, our record against the better teams is even more damning – we’ve not won on the grounds of any of the current top thirteen, while we’ve picked up just four draws (three of them goalless), and scored a pitiful three goals, in our eleven matches against the sides occupying top half positions currently.

Figures like that are hardly indicative of a club which has consistently said that it’s aim this season was a top six finish – they are indicative of a team which goes away to face their “betters” with an attitude based on fear.

When you think about it, a stated target of a top six finish sounds ambitious, but it does contain an implicit admission that you do not think you are good enough to go up automatically.

I don’t say that in a critical fashion because I believe it’s a realistic assessment of our ability in terms of a top two finish, but I’m pretty sure that at some time in the campaign, you would have heard pronouncements from the clubs above us, and a few below us, that they could be celebrating automatic promotion come the season’s end.

This is even more true when it comes to supporters – when, if ever, have City fans been saying that a top two finish was on for us this season? The only time I can think it might have been done was after we opened the season with three wins and three draws – we were third when we entertained Hull in mid September and perhaps a few believed we were top two material then, but realism soon asserted itself and our “promotion challenge” eventually settled down into a dogged pursuit of a top six which was gradually inching themselves further and further away from us as one month moved into the next.

The fact that Cardiff kept up the chase of the top six longer than anyone else should be acknowledged and credit should be given for this. To finish no lower than eighth on a transfer budget which is a fraction of that of all of those who are above us, and many who are below us, have had to spend is a creditable achievement, but it doesn’t really tell the whole story.

For example, while I can point out how much more others have spent on new players this season compared to us, the fact is that Russell Slade has consistently used players who cost millions (e.g. Manga, Morrison and Noone) in his starting line up ever since he took over. Furthermore, the wages being paid to some who may have not cost in terms of transfer fees (e.g. Fabio, Dikgacoi and, probably, Ameobi) are all factors which go to explain why we should not be viewed in the same way as, say, Rotherham, Preston and MK Dons are – we may not be the moneybags team we were when we were winning this league any longer, but I’d say we are still more Goliath than David by Championship standards.

Maybe this partly explains my contradictory feelings about the subject which is now increasingly excercising the minds of Cardiff fans – should Vincent Tan offer our a manager a new contract?

Once I had watched us play a few times this season, I concluded that we shouldn’t be in relegation trouble, but I didn’t think we could make it into a Play Off position either – my prediction was that we’d finish between eighth and tenth.

The likelihood now is that we will end up slightly above where I thought we would, so why is it that I’m moving more solidly behind the notion that we should appoint a new manager in the summer when we have over achieved in terms of what I thought we were capable of?

The truth is that I’ve always wanted a change of manager at the end of this season, but, at the beginning of last month, after we’d been beaten Derby and drawn at Burnley, I was as close as I have been to being a Russell Slade backer – I wrote at the time that I was 55/45 against offering him a new deal.

That first week in April was the one time when I truly began to think we could make the Play Offs and I can remember taking up much of my blog pieces then outlining how and why we could finish above Derby, Sheffield Wednesday or even Hull. I backed Russell Slade when we went to Burnley and used Kagisho Dikagcoi as a holding midfielder in what was a defensive selection because I thought it was appropriate in a match we didn’t have to win and yet, with a bold substitution or two in the closing stages, we almost did take the three points.

After that match, I hoped we had a manager who was coping with doing the job at a higher level than he had ever done before well. Since then though, I’ve been reminded as to why I’ve thought Russell Slade has “felt” wrong at Cardiff for me almost from day one.

Sadly, as I searched for signs of one of the top six “bottling it” in the closing weeks of the campaign, it was Cardiff who started doing so almost as soon as they, briefly, became genuine contenders. Three, deserved, away defeats, a last minute win over a relegated team and a 0-0 draw where we only started showing the necessary urgency in the last quarter of the match are a dreadful return from our last five games in the circumstances and I’m afraid that, in my opinion, our manager was not able to ignore his instincts and fully adjust his outlook to what was required from his team at a particular time.

According to Wikipedia , Russell Slade has now been a manager for almost 760 games (all but the 133 at Scarborough have been at Football League level). Our manager frequently makes reference to this experience, but what really strikes me as odd is that he has still not won anything during his career or even taken a side to promotion.

Is there any other manager in full time professional football in this country who can boast so many matches in charge and no trophies, or promotion bonuses, won? I’m not saying that this is the be all and end all when it comes to judging Russell Slade, because it seems to me that our manager’s reputation has been made, essentially, by firefighting and, by and large, he has been successful at that – there aren’t many, if any, relegations to go with the lack of promotions after all.

However, although he has come very close to succeeding once or twice, his record once those fires have been put out does not inspire confidence and it’s when this has happened that he appears to start hitting problems.

So, I suppose the question is have the fires at Cardiff been put out? We can guess at the answer to that, but, as has been the case at the club for almost half a decade now, only the opinion of one man really matters here – if Vincent Tan believes the club should be managed in a way where making cuts takes priority over success on the pitch, then he could do a lot worse than Mr Slade, but if he thinks it’s time to look beyond that somewhat, there are plenty of reasons to believe he needs to consider a change.

I’ve used the term “underdog football” to describe how we’ve played under Russell Slade. Although I’d say the evidence of the view that he is unsure about his ability at this level, something I thought was in plentiful supply last year, is harder to find now, I reckon it’s still there if you look in the right places – for example, look at what he did yesterday (in a match we had to win don’t forget).

It was telling how often our manager talked of us “staying in the game” in the lead up to what has been called our biggest match for two seasons. This indicated a mind set which I would argue repeats itself in almost every game we play under Russell Slade. That woeful goalscoring record against the better teams in this division I mentioned earlier cannot be a coincidence, but it is not just in away matches where the priority is “staying in the game” – I can only think of one game, Derby, at Cardiff City Stadium this season where we have torn into our opponents in the opening minutes like Wednesday did to us yesterday.

The selection of Dikgacoi may have been justified at Burnley where not losing was the first consideration, but, we took the field in a match we had to win yesterday with  Whittingham, Noone, Pilkington and the very inexperienced Zohore as our only players who could evenly loosely be described as natural attackers –  increasingly, as the possible prize got closer, we’ve reverted to a team which relied on set pieces for it’s goals.

If we had read last summer that Sammy Ameobi would break a club record during his season on loan here, I daresay we all would have thought it would have meant his stay at Cardiff would have been a very successful one - sadly, most substitute appearances in a season tells you all you need to know really. Quite why after so many anonymous and insignificant showings already, our manager thought what we needed was another seventy minutes of Ameobi after Anthony Pilkington's injury, I don't know*.

If we had read last summer that Sammy Ameobi would break a club record during his season on loan here, I daresay we all would have thought it would have meant his stay at Cardiff had been a very successful one. Sadly, most substitute appearances in a season tells you all you need to know really. Quite why, after so many anonymous and insignificant showings already, our manager thought what we needed was another seventy minutes of Ameobi after Anthony Pilkington’s injury, I don’t know*.

Maybe it was the notion of throwing two more centrebacks on as we bombarded Wednesday with Whittingham free kicks and corners and Gunnarsson long throws in the dying minutes which was behind the selection of both Ben Turner and the fit again Bruno Manga on the bench,  because I can’t think of any other reason for it.

I repeat, this was a game we had to win, so why wasn’t Idriss Saadi  there in the eighteen? Actually, I think I know the answer to that one, it’s because he is another in a very long list of strikers that our manager has tried and not been convinced by since he took over.

At least Saadi and all of the rest can be grateful I suppose that they at least were given their chance in the first team – Rhys Healey scores in virtually every game he plays for the Under 21s and yet is as far away from the first team as he’s ever been.

It would be untrue to say that Kadeem Harris has not been given first team opportunities, but, when his cautious selection meant there was no specialist striker available to replace the injured Pilkington, our manager decided not to put his faith in someone who had won a match winning penalty last weekend and had played superbly for the Under 21s on Monday, but went with the tried, tested and consistently failing Sammy Ameobi instead.

Harris eventually got on when all of the momentum was against us and the game was almost gone, but Tom Lawrence, who looked so good in his early games with us, was, not for the first time in recent weeks, completely ignored – I can only assume that his transformation from regular starter to occasional substitute has come about because of what he is or isn’t showing in training, because I’ve not seen anything to justify it during games.

Lawrence, like Declan John (who at least made the twenty man squad who traveled north on Friday), have seen their hopes of selection for the Wales squad this summer dwindle at Cardiff under a manager who, despite the financial restrictions he has to work under, has resolutely declined to trust in youth. If Russell Slade really did misjudge Lawrence to the extent that his recent treatment of him suggests, then it’s another signing he’s made to be used against him in what is a pretty uninspired record in the transfer market.

I’ll end by mentioning that Declan John is one of a very substantial group of young players Russell Slade appears to have looked at for a week or so when he came here and decided there and then that they are simply not good enough for Cardiff – all of this coming of course from someone who nominated Federico Macheda as one of the two players who impressed him most at the club when he first arrived!

I don’t want to see Russell Slade stay in his job next season because I have this nagging feeling that what’s happened this season will be as good as it gets for him. That’s a guess, but my fear that the current position, whereby we’ve stopped developing first team players at the club, will transform itself into a situation where the standard of youngster committing to Cardiff City will decline dramatically if our manager is allowed to continue with his approach, is a more educated one – we need better than what Mr Slade has provided in the past eighteen months.

*http://www.walesonline.co.uk/

 

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20 Responses to The end of the promotion challenge that hardly ever felt like one.

  1. Anthony O'Brien says:

    Mr SLADE AND THE STRANGE CASE OF “MEA CULPA”.

    In the Roman Catholic Church it has been traditional for believers to own up to their shortcomings, to accept responsibility for mistakes, by saying “Mea Culpa”. Sadly, and I actually hope I’m wrong in this, I’ve never heard Mr Slade admit responsibility for his team’s performances. Others – and we are many – may blame his team selection, his negative tactics, his too little too late use of (generally ineffective ) substitutes, his so-called “inspirational” team talks, and so on, but there is also his unwillingness or inability to gamble.

    Many years ago I heard Muhammad Ali (aka Cassius Clay) say something like: if you don’t have the courage to take risks, you won’t accomplish anything at all. Yet, to use a phrase from Paul’s outstandingly fair-minded and perceptive comments above, Cardiff consistently “bottle it”. We should take it as read, of course, that a team is inevitably a reflection of its manager. And sadly, when I heard our revered manager effectively saying before yesterday’s game that we had to hang on for as long as possible, and then when I saw the team he had selected, I knew we had lost the initiative before a ball was kicked. Yet, after the game, in a somewhat embarrassing and stuttering explanation of what had gone wrong, Mr Slade came up with a typically unhelpful insight : it was, and I quote, “a bad day at the office”.

    I long to hear him utter words of wisdom which display a real understanding of the game, but instead all I ever hear are run-of-the-mill platitudes. He was also asked why Cardiff have failed to reach the play-off position, and he blamed “away games”. This, of course, raises the question : WHY? Was he to blame? Well, not in his own estimation, obviously.

    In Spain, the manager of a football team is known as “el tecnico”. It is taken for granted that he has the technical understanding to work out a pre-match strategy, and the strength of character to make tactical changes as and when required during the actual game. Failure to react in this way is, according to the Spaniards, often due a fear of gambling, a lack of “huevos” (literally, “eggs” but also a slang term for “balls”). Does Mr Slade ultimately lack “huevos? On yesterday’s showing, and for the days he has spent in charge of Cardiff, I am more than tempted to say yes.

    For a long time I tried to defend Mr Slade’s tenure as manager, if only from a sense of fair play at the adverse criticism he received from the outset. Give the man a chance, I thought. With hindsight, my mistake! If I and thousands of other exasperated fans are right, what has Mr Slade done in his defence? Oh, yes, he keeps saying that the team has improved. But if this is the case, can he take credit for it — or was it circumstances which forced him to become (ever so slightly) a little more flexible?

    Someone has said that a good leader takes a little less share of the credit, and a little more share of the blame. This is not the Russell Slade way. In a manifestly vital game yesterday, he set out to contain, not to win. If you go into a shell at the start, it is very difficult to “go for it” later in the game — and anyway, the team Mr Slade had picked did not have the personnel to launch attack after attack in a gamble worth trying (and what we all were hoping for).

    Some time ago I suggested an Augean Stables approach to the managerial and off-the- field team at Cardiff. If Hercules could divert a river to flush out the stables after thirty years, perhaps Mr Tan can or should do something similar for Cardiff.

    An angry response from me, you may say. Too bloody true it is!

  2. Clive Harry says:

    Well said Paul and AM). Unfortunately, Paul has made some of the points I wanted to make but I felt the need to have my say anyway!
    At the Press Conference last week our manager said something along the lines of “I’ve done my best but some people seem to think it’s not enough”. To me this sums up the attitude of someone who is not so much a loser but somebody who is never a winner and his career record bears this out. He seemed genuinely upset to me that simply ‘doing his best’ wasn’t enough for most fans when he thought it should be.
    I think this attitude has been reflected in some of his signings – a classic example being Lee Peltier, a player who always gives his best but is relatively uninspiring and would never be found in a succesful team looking to win something. The other virtual fixture in the side who he has signed is Scott Malone who looks as if he is being targeted as a weak spot by other teams virtually on a weekly basis. How he can be the regular first choice left back at a Club that has Fabio , Declan John, and even David Tutonda on its books is beyond me. Fortunately we are well off for centre backs and I can only presume that one of the reasons we have never tried 3-5-2 with wing backs is that peltier would be a fish out of water in that role (although Fabio and John would be perfect in the position). Midfield is generally a muddle with changes generally only being made when they are forced on Russell which may be as well considering his recent bizarre decision to rest O’Keefe when he had been outstanding. Up front our lack of goals is frequently mentioned but as usual a striker has been signed and almost immediately discarded when our out of position midfielders are struggling for goals – at a time when the consistent scoring of Rhys Healey is ignored and not even given bench experience. If none of these players appear in the squad for a dead rubber on Saturday, my despair will be absolute although in Russell’s case uninspiring short termism invariably wins the day.
    Hopefully, it will soon be a case of ‘Thanks you’ve done your best but we won’t be renewing your contract’ but I’m not confident about that. I think that should happen even if we intend operating on a small budget again. Let’s at least go fr a manager who has actually won things on a shoestring such as Karl Robinson (he even seems to have got Alex Revell scoring!!), Chris Wilder has done an amazing job at Northampton and Colin W*nker (sorry about that but his anagram always makes me laugh) who has achieved wonders at Rotherham.
    I always think this time of the year is exciting with the promise of better things next season but I just don’t feel that at the moment. Onwards and sideways!

  3. Colin Phillips says:

    Agree with all three voices above.

    Not really surprised that we got beat yesterday but reports suggest we didn’t even turn up. That is disappointing and totally unacceptable.

  4. Clive Harry says:

    Sorry Anthony, don’t know how you became AM in my opening sentence. Fat finger syndrome!

  5. Dai Woosnam says:

    Not a lot to add from me.
    The Sage of Fairwater has again come up with a marvellously thoughtful essay that knocks spots off the bloggers struggling to tread water in the perilous seas of Walesonline.
    And our esteemed band of contributors have given me insights into Ancient Greek folklore; a wonderfully earthy anagram I was unaware of; and an insight into the more esoteric usage of the Spanish language (and to think that clever clogs me, thought myself rather witty with my signing-off of a posting a few months back, with ”C.O.Jones”…when dunce that I am, I never knew that the word for eggs meant the same thing!)

    I tell ya…all that edukayshun in half an hour….!! Who needs the Open University?

    But back to more mundane matters…

    Before giving you my answer, I should declare that City finishing seventh…is a full TEN places higher than I expected them to finish.
    But here’s the thing…*
    …contrary to received opinion, the Championship is only a very hard league to get out of because the teams are almost uniformly inept. And not just THIS season.
    Hard to get promoted, and hard to get relegated from…because they are all much of a muchness
    Bolton beat Hull yesterday…and from the highlights it looked like Hull players were trying very hard…not least because they wanted Steve Bruce to pick them for the play-offs, and thus be available for a possible glory day at Wembley.
    Similarly, we demolished Brighton, not that long back.

    Anyway…let me not duck the issue of dear Russell Slade.
    I rather like the bloke.
    I like his character better than the last three incumbents.
    But …would I be sorry to see him go?
    Probably not.
    But it depends who replaces him.
    If he is succeeded by an exponent of tiki taka, then absolutely not!
    But if he is replaced by a manager who sensibly …
    1. Fines players who pass backwards in their own half.
    2. Fines defenders who back pedal…and let opposition attackers suddenly get within shooting distance.
    3. Fines goalkeepers for getting stupidly sent off twice within a year for insane assaults on attackers who have wound them up.
    4. Fines goalkeepers for madcap escapades outside their penalty area, when they should be putting the ball into Row Z.
    5. Fines goalkeepers for goal kicks that do not clear the halfway line.
    (And then finally strips the captaincy off the said goalkeeper.)

    If the manager implements all five points…then, not only will it do wonders for the club’s coffers (joke!)…that change of manager would also get my blessing.

    For the plain fact is that Russell is some kind of “remedial” pupil at the School of Football Management.
    POMO to him is as mysterious an acronym as CND is to our somwhat eccentric chappie who leads North Korea.
    We still have too much square passing and lack of cojones…or let me strike that, and should I now perhaps correctly say…lack of …HUEVOS…!!

    As for the debacle yesterday, against a team I tipped for the play-offs in these pages early on in the season, all I can say is that all three goals were down to our captain.

    [What Dai? Surely not the third?]
    Oh butty…you BET the third too…

    True it was a goal of rare beauty these days…you would even take out the Barca and Bayern Munich defences with that time-honoured tried-and-tested ploy…but the keeper was too far off his line, hence the delightful chip from Hooper.

    Right. Time to go.
    * have you noticed that “here’s the thing” is becoming more prevalent by the day, and is about to sweep Britain as THE vogue phrase of the next two years…?
    DW.

  6. Anthony O'Brien says:

    Clive,
    Thank you for the apology re the typo, but in all honesty typos are nothing to get hot under the collar about. Some years ago I was booked to give a history lecture, and the adverts which were distributed described me as “a noted shitorian”. I have cherished that typo in my memory — though as I write this I have suddenly realised for the first time that perhaps it wasn’t a typo at all. Be that as it may, I’d like to add here that your comments are always excellent, and in today’s contribution your description of Russell Slade as not so much a loser as somebody who is never a winner is succinct perfection.

  7. Clive Harry says:

    Thanks Anthony. A point I meant to make, but forgot, concerning next Saturday’s team is the selection of Sammy Ameobi. He has been consistently uninspiring (perhaps Russell sees him as a kindred spirit) and will be returning to Newcastle. Consequently his inclusion in the squad for a meaningless game ahead of a youngster or somebody who will be with us next season would be ridiculous but you never know with our Russ picking the team.

  8. Barry cole says:

    Well Paul again the reading of your blog is a real mind blower. As we come to the end of another season my only hope is that tan finally sees that we will not move forward while slade is in charge.
    There are so many negatives written by me on the subject of slade that I am sick of repeating them anyway.
    That said I do hope when the axe falls quickly and that tan realises that he cannot put another yes man who achieves nothing into place yet again.
    Slade I am sure will get another job in the lower leagues for a club that really isn’t bothered about a quick fix and the likelihood of mid table mediocracy.
    Having now spent nearly two seasons in that mediocracy I don’t think fans want a repeat.
    so I can’t believe tan will extend slades contract , not after last years fiasco, not after his spending on what everyone sees as inferior players and certainly the lack of being unable to out think other managers on the field of play a few finally the inability to win more than two games together.
    Goodbye mr slade you were never the man to manage Cardiff and I just hope the next chosen will be a positive move by tan and not another yes man without a pedigree.

  9. Russell says:

    I agree with your views on Ralls and Immers, and would add Connolly as this years stand outs players followed closely by Okeefe and Pilkington.
    I have a worry th st the anti Whitt’s brigade maybe looking to seek out Ralls as a target.

    We have been poor n the last 6 games and found wanting , not helped by the embargo and the loss of Watts.

    However our lack of penertration at pace has been a worry for some time,

    On a positive note ,the weakness and lack of quality in the championship this year allowed us ( an ordinary side) to stretch our interest way beyond the point I could imagine.

    Finally having been supportive of Slade
    for most of the year and in recogntion of the crap he inherited and dealt with aInd the embargo, I do now think a change would be good for us ,and provide a refresh. My choice would be Bellamy with Dave Jones as his D.O.F.

    And a thank you to Slade for his effort this season , this situation was not his doing he made the most of it.

  10. rhondda blue says:

    After seeing the game one would think that we were already in the playoffs the way we ambled about. We were shambolic all over the pitch, no leadership on or off the pitch, rusty set the team up to keep it tight and not concede, all well and good when we had to win the game to have a chance v brum at home. The guy keeps playing Ameobi and he’s in frankness dog poo, players out of position, very poor signings, poor tactics, wrong line ups and two years of dreadful football to boot, do the right thing Mr Slade and resign your post. Mr Tan please hire the next manager that knows good players when he sees one and play some entertaining football, two years under rusty is more than enough, I could not stick another year of dross.

  11. The other Bob Wilson says:

    Just a few thoughts on some of the points made in your, very welcome, replies.
    AMO, I was exactly the same as you in that, initially, I rallied behind the new manager in response to those who were against him from the moment he was appointed. However, about six weeks after he was appointed we ended up hanging on for a 2-1 win on a Friday night against a Reading team that were a couple of goals down at half time and down to ten men – a match we should have been winning three or four nil became a fluky victory which left me feeling miserable as I made my way home from the game – my attitude towards Russell Slade changed that night. As for “Huevos”, the whole build up for our “most important match in two years” suggested a lack of them, but, as I mentioned, we begin our home matches, even against a team like Bolton, with the intention of “staying in the game” for the first half an hour or so given that barely anything happens in either goalmouth during this time, so we shouldn’t really have been surprised by our manager’s attitude I suppose.
    Clive, love the “onwards and sideways line”, even though I think it may be a tad optimistic without a change of manager – as I mentioned in my piece, I have a feeling this might be as good as it gets under Russell Slade.
    Colin, I was expecting a defeat on Saturday and, to be honest, I wasn’t altogether surprised that it was a pretty gutless one which our manager tried to write off with his “bad day at the office” cliche – in many ways, all of the good work being done by the club off the field lately has been offset by the substandard and edgy stuff we’ve seen from the team in their last five matches.
    Dai, we’ll never agree on football, but this place would be all the poorer without your contributions – I expect the best goalkeeper I’ve seen at the club to leave this summer and any lingering hopes I may have that he might stay will be completely groundless if he ever gets to read your message!!!!
    Barry I mentioned that if Vincent Tan believes that we should still be firefighting, in financial terms, next season, then Russell Slade is better suited to it than most. However, with Hammam and his loan notes, thankfully, gone and a debt to equity conversion to come, hopefully there will be a bit more ambition shown than that if we can get the embargo waived – if that is to be the case, then I hope we move forward under someone who has vision, rather than the short termism which has been shown in the last eighteen months.
    Russell, some fair words from you there. I’m pretty sure you use the Mike Morris messageboard don’t you? If you do, you are aware of the Russell Slade loyalist who often says that most City fans are behind him once you get away from the army of critics on the boards. I agree with him to the extent that the criticism of our manager is a lot more bitter online than it is when you speak to someone face to face, but, even then, I’ve not come across anyone who doesn’t give their opinions on City online who are 100% in favour of Russell Slade. I’d say the attitude of many who are not so critical of our manager is similar to yours – he’s not done a bad job, but we need a change now.
    Rhondda Blue, I think you will not be alone if you decide to give City a miss next season if Russell Slade is still manager – I genuinely believe that the football we’ve played, in home games at least, since November has been an improvement on what we saw in Slade’s first year at the club, but, for most of the time in the last three matches at Cardiff City Stadium where there was an opportunity to entice people back to the club on a medium to long term basis, much of the football we’ve played has been a throwback to the bad old days of last season and much of what we saw in the first few months of this one – last season proved that even among those who had bought season tickets, there are many who will stop coming if we revert to the sort of stuff which used to bore me rigid last year.

  12. Blue Bayou says:

    Oh Dear – what a very disappointing way to end our playoff hopes. As many have said, the fact that Sheff Wed had two strikers playing who have scored just under 30 goals between them this season, whereas we had a makeshift top scorer striker with 8 goals, who left the game injured on 20 minutes, highlights one of the differences between the teams. The key point is where does Vincent Tan want the team to go from here, and how is he going to support it. Many fair-minded supporters seem to agree that Russell Slade has done a decent job with all the issues he’s had to deal with, e.g. slashing the wage budget and size of squad, only having a budget of 3/4 million pounds to deal with, and then being hit with a transfer embargo that stopped us getting in Tony Watt, a striker who looked as though he could have made a difference. Will Vincent Tan be satisfied with the slow but steady progress that sticking with Russell Slade could well bring, which could well mean competing for a playoff place again next season, but not contenders for automatic promotion, or does he be more adventurous, and spend more money on a new manager (RS is one of the lowest paid managers in this division by all accounts), and back him with more money, rather like Derby and Boro spent in the last close season? Based on his financial experiences with our previous two managers, I wouldn’t blame Vincent Tan for taking the cautious, steady as she goes approach. One problem with that though, is that with the massive amount of money that will be on offer in the Premiership from next season, the clubs that get relegated from next season, will have even greater resources available to them, so it’s going to be even harder for the rest of us. One more thing I wanted to say, is about Sammy Ameobi. I tend to try and give players who try for the team, the benefit of the doubt for as long as possible, which is why I supported Alex Revell, who despite his limitations, always gave his all for the team when I saw him. However, I finally lost patience with Ameobi and Fredericho Macheda at the Shrewsbury FA Cup defeat this season, when they made the Shrewsbury defence look like Italian masters. I was disappointed to see Ameobi replace Pilkington on Saturday, because he has been given many chances to shine during this season, but his occasional flashes of brilliance, have always been followed by larger periods of ineptitude. I hope he returns to Newcastle and he doesn’t feature in our final game against Birmingham, but I have a nagging feeling that he might. When we secured his season-long loan at the start of the season, it was reported that we plucked him from Wolves at the 11th hour, as he was on his way there to sign for a similar season long loan. The story I remember reading at the time was that we managed to divert him to us by guaranteeing him a place in the first team squad when fit, which was something that Kenny Jackett hadn’t been prepared to do at Wolves. So expect Sammy to feature once again against Birmingham, unfortunately. Similarly, if we don’t intend to keep our other loanee strikers, Tom Lawrence and Kenneth Zohore next season, I’d like to see us try Rhys Healey or Idriss Saadi next week, especially as Immers is only rated 50/50 to be fit. And if Joe Ralls is still unfit, why not give Declan John a start on left midfield?

  13. Russell says:

    Yes Paul , I do use CCMB as an outlet to spoil and wind up exersise ,when I need to escape reality. Lol.

    I save my best, for your excellent blog , although I can deliver garbled comments anywhere on occasions.

    Think Tan has been clever over the last two years , rebuilding relationship with the fans, clean out poorly purchased contracts and ego’s. All under the umbrella of the parachute payments, perhaps the transfer embargo suited him .?
    With all if the above considered would you want a dynamically driven manager or one who is a safe pair of hands that does what his owner asks .

    Will view the club’s next move with great interest.

  14. Dai Woosnam says:

    Paul,
    If you want a 10,000-1 choice for the next Brian Clough, here is his name.
    Danny Cowley.
    If Mr Slade departs, he would be the choice that could get some punter a massive payday.
    And good news for you is that he has more YOUR footballing philosophy, than mine.
    But what is incontrovertible, is that this fellow gets results…and has done astonishing things in recent seasons with no money.

  15. Clive Harry says:

    Dai, I think if the fans hear there’s another PE teacher on the way, there’ll be a riot!

  16. Geoff Lewis says:

    Paul,
    Excellent overview from you and our colleagues on Slade and the Players.
    My response is a bit late as I only returned home today after my visit to Sheffield. I really enjoyed the train trip from Stafford (stayed with my family from the Friday) to Sheffield, passing through the Pennines and some nice countryside. Also enjoyed the tram trip through Sheffield to the ground and back.
    I missed one thing I went for ” the game we had to win”. Forgive me but Cardiff never turned up- you would have thought they were in a training session and nothing to play for. They were turned over by Wednesday and could have been down by two goals at half time. They were sheer “crap”. The worst I have ever seen Cardiff City play in many, many years. Only two /three players made an effort Whittingham, O’Keefe and Connolly .. The rest except for Pilkington need to be off loaded especially Malone, Noone, Dickajovic. The loanees will return to their clubs and my heart goes out to Ameobi what a player, he will be greatly missed( Who ever saw him play for Newcastle and recommended him to us) he said I will score 20 goals for you. Sorry he only scored one in all of his appearances. This guy must play at all times!
    Actually his performance was summed up right at the end of the game by Whittingham, when Ameobi had the ball, lost control in their area and it went to one of their players and cleared away.
    Whittingham looked at our supporters with his hands in the air and gestured is this all we got.
    Another farce was Marshall giving the the second goal away. could not believe what I was watching.
    Roll on next season with out Slade (forgot no strikers on bench, but two centre backs). To me that said it all about Slade. He really went for a win
    Best Wishes
    Geoff

  17. The other Bob Wilson says:

    I’ve noticed an anger with our latest performance in some replies, including yours Geoff, which I don’t usually see. I believe this may be a sign of things moving against Russell Slade since the Sheffield Wednesday defeat. Even someone like Russell who has been generally supportive of our manager is saying it’s time for a change, while Blue Bayou’s good and fair minded analysis of the choices facing Vincent Tan outline the possible drawbacks of sticking with the “steady as she goes” approach by offering our manager a new contract. One option not covered by Blue Bayou though is the one whereby Mr Tan makes significantly more money available for transfer spending this summer and keeps Mr Slade in his job – maybe, like me, Blue Bayou thinks, and hopes, that would be a non starter, given our manager’s record with the transfer buys he’s made up to now?
    Dai, I’m embarrassed to say that I’d never heard of Danny Cowley, but I’m due to start getting BT Sport in a day or two, so, hopefully, I’ll be able to watch Braintree in the Play Offs.

  18. Dai Woosnam says:

    Paul,
    Thanks as ever.
    I think Danny Cowley might well lose the two legged affair against my local team…after all, Grimsby are a fully professional outfit, at least two divisions below what their support base would warrant. And Grimsby still hold the record attendance for any match at Old Trafford…alas, that Trivial Pursuit answer to beat them all (one that everyone gets wrong!), will not be valid any more when next season starts, and the new stand extension fully opens.
    Braintree Town, by contrast, are a bunch of part timers, punching way above their weight.
    But try and see Danny interviewed. He has that “je ne sais quoi”…in SPADES.
    Such an appointment would be too “left field” for those of our Cardiff fans who feel that the new boss should be someone with a top CV that shows recent success at at least Championship level, and not success “back in the day”…these same fans would have not even have accepted Claudio Ranieri a year ago, claiming – no doubt – that he was the laughing stock of Greece!!
    Another left field choice that I think would get more general acceptance, would be that of Taffs Well boy Mark Sampson. I like the way he carries himself. But he is a bit too much of a “roll the ball out/pass back to the keeper” merchant for me. And as you know Paul, the only merchants I dislike more, are the Squeegee Merchants who try polishing your windscreen, when at traffic lights in Central London !!
    Two things before closing.
    Loved the line from Roy Orbison above, on Shrewsbury’s defence being made to look like Italian masters! Made me LOL.
    And Clive’s joke was absolutely …PRICELESS.
    DW.

  19. Dai Woosnam says:

    Well, Danny Cowley has shocked folk in Grimsby…but not really shocked me.
    But the Mariners are not out of it yet…at 0-1 after the first leg.
    Nor should they be…as they are fully paid professionals up against a bunch of part timers.
    But it is Cowley’s ability to turn such chaps into a veritable BAND OF BROTHERS, that has struck me.
    Listen here to his maturity as he talks about a ball that should have been passed back to his team by the opposition, following it being kicked out of play so an injured player could be dealt with, but ended up as a chip that beat his keeper.
    I just love it.
    Such a wise head on a 38 year old.
    And the magnanimity he shows around 2.30 into the clip, is to be marvelled at, and is the sort of quality I want in the next Cardiff manager…assuming that is, that Mr Slade is to be allowed to go back to teaching PE, and maybe – who knows? – Danny can arrange a job swop !!

    Incidentally, his voice is uncannily like that of Perry Groves.

    http://youtu.be/4NhNMwiYHjo

    DW

  20. The other Bob Wilson says:

    Sorry for not getting back to you earlier Dai. You may be interested in looking at this
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TCrUEqThTh0
    I find the “grey area” comments by the Guiseley manager incredible – likewise the implication that the keeper could have saved it if he was so minded, the ball was about twelve foot over his head!
    I see Guiseley avoided relegation by a point this season by the way – knowing City, we’ll probably end up appointing the Guiseley manager as Head Coach!

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