The worst yet as Derby lay Cardiff’s limitations bare.

Coymay

I’ll start with the good news. Anthony Pilkington has signed a two year extension on his contract, keeping him here until the summer of 2019. Even at this miserable time for City fans, this has to be seen as a positive because I for one had become convinced that one of our best players would be leaving for nothing next summer when his current deal expired.

As for last night’s awful 2-0 loss to Derby County, let’s get the possible excuses out of the way first. It cannot be denied that Cardiff City are having a rough time of it with injuries at the moment – who knows when (or if!) Joe Bennett will make his City debut, Lee Peltier was missing with presumably the same injury that has troubled him on and off all season, Aron Gunnarsson and Pilkington had not recovered from the knocks that kept them out against Rotherham on Saturday and Frederic Gounongbe was still missing as well.

So, that was arguably four members of what Paul Trollope would consider his best eleven unavailable and the situation was made worse by the early injury that forced Rickie Lambert off before a quarter of an hour had been played. Lex Immers needed treatment inside the first two minutes and eventually had to be replaced and with Matt Connolly now about to start a suspension which will keep him out of Saturday’s trip to Burton (and possibly a couple more games after that as well) after his straight red card, the make up of the team for that game is anyone’s guess – the fortnight international break which starts after the Burton fixture cannot come soon enough for City for all sorts of reasons.

I’d also say that the suspension of Derby manager Nigel Pearson just a few hours before kick was probably bad news for City because there was a likelihood that a talented, but hugely under achieving, group of players could be coaxed into the sort of siege mentality that would see them produce the type of performance which went some way to justifying the astronomical, by the standards of a Championship side which does not receive parachute payments anyway, spending on players at that club since the end of the 14/15 season.

Nevertheless, these things can only go some way towards explaining why last night was a thoroughly miserable one on the pitch for City (later on in this piece, I’ll talk about why it was hardly any better off the pitch either).

Derby were probably the best of the four sides who have come to Cardiff City Stadium and won without the season being a couple of months old yet, but, for what it’s worth, I’d caution all associated with that club against thinking that some sort of corner has been turned on the back of last night’s win.

The truth is that, surely, Derby have not faced, and will not face, another such inept and limited team as Cardiff were last night this season. City turned in a display which had relegation written all over it and, although Craig Noone’s work ethic in defence, a third competent showing by Ben Amos and another steady display from Jazz Richards offered a few small crumbs of comfort, it showed that the early argument about the three centreback formation being responsible for our poor play was just a red herring. When you are as bad as Cardiff were last night, the formation you play makes little difference – ineptitude is ineptitude, pure and simple.

Overnight, I’ve seen comments like “the worst display I’ve watched in ………. years of supporting Cardiff City” from some on the messageboards. That’s some statement to make and I don’t really see how anyone who was there at Ninian Park during those four or five dreadful seasons we had in the bottom two tiers during the late eighties and through the nineties can say that they have not seen worse than last night.

However, what I will say is that I’m struggling to remember an occasion since we returned to this level in 2003 when we have passed the ball as poorly as we did last night. We went through that awful phase when we were just booting the ball up the pitch in the middle of the 14/15 season, but we had absolutely no pretence of being  a passing side at that time – that didn’t come until the man who is now our Head Coach arrived in February 2015.

So, based on how the team changed their way of playing after Paul Trollope joined us and the general impression he has given about how he wants to play now he is in charge, we are a side that wants to get the ball down and play under this Head Coach. Certainly, that seemed to be the intention last night as the team were not intent on wellying it up to the big man like they were for a while under Russell Slade, but the truth is they were just incapable of passing the ball well enough.

As close as we came - a completely unmarked Sean Morrison heads straight at Derby goalkeeper Scott Carson from a Peter Whittingham corner - apart from a a very early Rickie Lambert shot from distance that Carson beat away, that was it when it came plausible goalscoring opportunities for City - I can't help thinking that Morrison would have buried that chance last season.*

As close as we came – a completely unmarked Sean Morrison heads straight at Derby goalkeeper Scott Carson from a Peter Whittingham corner. Apart from a a very early Rickie Lambert shot from distance that Carson beat away, that was it when it came plausible goalscoring opportunities for City – I can’t help thinking that Morrison would have buried that chance last season.*

Yes, we all know about the lack of pace and creativity in our central midfield, but that was only one of several contributory factors as to why we were so awful last night.

Around the time that Derby scored their increasingly inevitable first goal, I asked if the fact that we could get absolutely nothing going in terms of retaining possession as we attempted to pass the ball up the field was down to our target man being so raw and naive that he was just not offering any options to our players further back, who were trying to develop the game and get us on the front foot.

The general consensus was that, while Kenneth Zohore was certainly not helping things, we were making such a mess of simple passes when the intention was not to look for our targetman, that it would be giving those responsible an excuse they didn’t deserve by pinning all of the blame on our young Danish striker.

However, while everyone was looking at and discussing our potential problems over the coming months in the goalkeeping department, the fact that we have real issues when it comes to strikers has been brushed to one side somewhat.

Yes, there are hopeful signs as far as Rickie Lambert is concerned and I must admit that I was saying that the best we can hope for now is a 0-0 when he went off, but, essentially, all we have currently to choose from up front are three targetmen and a converted winger who, despite not making a bad fist of the job, still often shows he is not, and probably never will be, a “proper” striker.

No doubt there are those at the club who will say that Lambert, Gounongbe and Zohore have strengths which offer Trollope different options and that would be true to an extent. For example, Zohore has more pace and movement than Lambert, whose main assets lie in other directions, while Gounongbe offers something in between as something of an all rounder. Yet, essentially, all three of them are target man type strikers and I make no apologies for once again mentioning that we are sorely lacking an Earnie, Chopra, McCormack, Mason type of striker who would offer us a lot more of one or more of the following qualities than we have now – pace, movement, instinctive intelligence and positioning and finishing ability.

Based on what we’ve seen so far, only Lambert out of our targetmen could be offered up as an argument against what I say in that last sentence – that’s why he was a real loss last night, but, given how the team played throughout, can we really say that the result would have been different if he had been on the pitch for the whole ninety minutes?

I’m sure Gounongbe would have been brought on for Lambert if he had been fit and I’m sure he would have been able to do a bit better job than Zohore (who, I’m afraid, appears to be going backwards at Cardiff because he’s shown none of the qualities which caused Burnley, Brentford and Middlesbrough such problems when he was introduced from the bench last season this time around) did, but the truth of the matter is that two out of those three targetmen are coming up with little or nothing at the moment to suggest that they can do anything to get us out of the rut we are in – especially when we play at home.

Last night, Paul Trollope stated in his post match press conference that Zohore was seen as “one for the future”. City fans who went through the whole Andreas Cornelius experience must have winced when they heard that – of course, Zohore is not costing the club anywhere near as much as Cornelius did, but we were told in January that, in the convoluted transfer deal which managed to get him to Cardiff while we had a transfer embargo on us, KV Kortrijk paid Odense in the region of £1 million so that they could loan him to us.

Now, whilst appreciating that things may not be as simple as this when the same man owns both clubs, shouldn’t it follow that we must have paid the Belgian club something similar once he moved here on a permanent basis after our embargo was lifted?

Speaking as someone who was pretty supportive of Zohore while he was here on loan last season, the decision to sign him, especially on a three year contract, quite surprised me at the time and, now, when you see the budget Paul Trollope was given and the way the squad is, it has to be seen as a very questionable decision – I think anyone who saw Zohore struggling so much last night has to be thinking that the £1 million we, presumably, paid for him could have been far better spent.

Mention of KV Kortrijk brings me on to the player who is currently the leading goalscorer in the top flight of Belgian domestic football. The player concerned is one Idriss Saadi whose has netted an impressive seven times (that’s three more than anyone else in the league) for Vincent Tan’s Belgian team in the opening weeks of the season and, when you contrast that with what our pair of summer imports from Belgian football have done so far, questions have to be asked, yet again, about the whole recruitment and player evaluation procedure at Cardiff City.

Saadi is the latest in a series of strikers we have signed in recent years who the club have decided are not good enough for our first team. Often, this decision has been arrived at after the player concerned has been given very few chances to prove themselves, but, in almost every instance, letting them leave the club, either permanently or on loan, could have been justified to some extent by the club on the grounds of finance. This time though this, surely, cannot be true of Saadi who, reportedly, did not cost us a great deal and cannot be on anything like the sort of wages that someone like, say, Rickie Lambert is?

To be fair, I didn’t see much from Saadi in the first team or the Development side to suggest that he could score goals for us at the rate he is currently doing for Kortrijk and I suppose the decision to let him return to mainland Europe could have been forced by a degree of home sickness. However, when I look at how one dimensional our specialist strikers are and when I think of one or two of the flashes I saw from Saadi when playing for the Under 21s, while also remembering some of the goals I saw him score on video, it’s hard not to think that he is a player who may be able to give us some of those qualities which I listed earlier in the striking department that we are seriously short of currently .

Getting back to last night, has it really got that bad that we have to play Bruno Manga as a striker? Not for the first time, I was left confused by, first, the selection and, second, the use of our substitutes. Picking Semi Ajayi (who I don’t believe has played a single game for a month or more) as one of the seven subs seemed a pointless exercise to me when you already have Manga as cover at centreback, wouldn’t it have been better to have had a young pro like, say, Jamie Bird, David Tutonda or Eli Phipps there who would at least have given the suggestion that this Head Coach is prepared to look outside the “tried and trusted” to give us some sort of forward impetus?

On a similar note, can anyone understand what is going on with Emyr Huws? Here is a player who has shown when turning out for his country that he can, potentially, offer things that our current central midfield plodders cannot, so why doesn’t he get used?

The only answer I can suggest is that his lack of a pre season with Wigan has left him well under par in the fitness stakes and he is not showing anything in training yet to justify his inclusion. However, Chris Coleman was perfectly happy to use Huws for almost half an hour against Moldova after watching him in training for a few days, so shouldn’t he be worth a try now for twenty minutes in a midfield that was failing so poorly, yet again, last night – if Trollope still doesn’t think Huws is ready, then we are getting into Zohore territory with him where you have to start wondering if the £1 million or so we paid for the player could have been better spent.

Soccerbase only shows Matt Connolly as receiving two yellow card before last night this season. That surprised me, because it seemed to me that he had been picking them up at an alarming rate. However, he could hardly complain about his red card last night as he gave away his second penalty in successive home matches - it capped a miserable start to the season for our current player of the year and he could well face a struggle to get back in the team when he returns after his suspension,*

Soccerbase only shows Matt Connolly as receiving two yellow card before last night this season. That surprised me, because it seemed to me that he had been picking them up at an alarming rate.
However, he could hardly complain about his red card last night as he gave away his second penalty in successive home matches – it capped a miserable start to the season for our current player of the year and he could well face a struggle to get back in the team when he returns after his suspension,*

If things weren’t bad enough already, I got home last night to read this piece about the loan signing of Ravel Morrison from West Ham virtually two years ago to the day. As shown by this story, there was no full time manager in place when we signed Morrison –  it was reported that we were interested in the player when Ole was here, but, judging by how little he used him, Russell Slade would, presumably, have been against the deal if he had been at the club at the time.

Also, I cannot see that the Scott Young/Danny Gabbidon caretaker manager combination that was in charge at the time were drivers behind the move, so who was? It would appear then that Morrison had to be a signing authorised by the other three members of the transfer committee (i.e. Vincent Tan, or his representative, Mehmet Dalman and Ken Choo - this article shows that Mr Choo was working for the club when Morrison was signed).

I had a quiet laugh when I read the club’s response to the allegations because it seems that even they realise that they cannot blame Malky Mackay (who had been sacked ten months earlier) this time, but, besides that, it would appear that City reacted as they should have done by investigating the allegations themselves and then through an outside source – the problem appears to be that they did not let the relevant authorities know what they knew.

For myself, I don’t see that there was some sinister motive behind City’s failure to inform the FA of the agent’s (who has what could be called a chequered past) claims. I realise I could be guilty of suggesting something just to try and add credence to a pet theory of mine here, but, if I had to guess, I would say City have, once again, suffered for not having sufficient football knowledge among their off field decision makers here and it may well be that there was no one involved with the deal at the club who knew that the FA needed to be informed of such allegations as soon as they were made.

Whatever the truth, it cannot be a good thing that the club have found themselves involved in the whole controversy which has seen Sam Allardyce (who leaves the England job with a 100% winning record!) go from the man who was going to guide England to the World Cup one day to ex England manager with a series of very awkward questions to answer the next.

With dreadful defeats on the pitch and possible rule breaches off it, Cardiff City are doing a very convincing impression of a club in crisis at the moment. Indeed, I would argue that if you presented a neutral with an analysis of how the City had been run, the way it had been managed, the way they have gone about their recruitment has been handled and their youth development record  in the last few years, they would conclude that this is a club that is heading for an inevitable relegation unless dramatic changes are made.

Would those dramatic changes include the sacking of Paul Trollope? Well, I like what I’ve seen and heard of the man and still believe that he could eventually lead us to a much more enjoyable brand of tactically flexible football, but can the vague promise of better things to come be enough to overcome the obvious present day problems?

Governments tend to get rejected at the ballot box when they run on such platforms and, for the first time, I find myself thinking that we may need to make another change of manager/coach sooner rather than later. Besides what’s happening on the pitch, what’s not helping our Head Coach is that three out of the four outfield players I would identify as “Trollope signings” are, for different reasons, playing so little part in our games – many managers have been sacked at other clubs when there was more evidence that their methods were working than there is that Trollope’s are at Cardiff and where there were less question marks against their transfer dealings than there are with Trollope’s at Cardiff.

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

 

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11 Responses to The worst yet as Derby lay Cardiff’s limitations bare.

  1. Anthony O'Brien says:

    Paul,

    One of the things I look forward to after every Cardiff game is your report and thoughts. As I read through your words of wisdom today I came across your very true assessment that Cardiff need a Chopra, McCormack, and (to my surprise) Mason type of striker, someone with “pace, movement intelligence , goalscoring instinct, and finishing ability”. My first thought was that this seems like a perfect description of Idriss Saadi. To my delight I later realised that you had anticipated my thoughts with an interesting write-up on this very man. As I have said previously, I could never understand why he was never given a real opportunity by Cardiff to show his true talents. Given this attitude by the Cardiff powers-that-be, I can quite understand why he went out on loan. (Part of me wonders, too, if he may have been somewhat offended by “the Ayatollah”). If he is surplus to requirements in the management’s estimation, other players of a similar type were available, as the shortlived loan signing of Tony Watt indicates. This raises the question as to why such a necessary signing has not transpired.

    As for last night’s game, it was proof that far from improving, Cardiff are going backwards at speed — the only element of speed they are likely to produce! Two responses seem applicable: “Don’t panic, Captain Mainwaring” in the words of L/Cpl Jones, when in fact he is already panicking; or — as Private Frazer would say — “We’re doomed” when it wasn’t actually the case. All I can say is, a drastic solution to Cardiff City’s deep-rooted problems has to be achieved immediately. Either we continue on the downward path, when we really will be doomed, or we cut the Gordian knot (whatever that might entail).

  2. Colin Phillips says:

    Thanks, Paul.

    What an abject and embarrassing performance.

    I think a lot of people will say that Trollope has had his chance and someone else should take over.

    Good luck to whoever that should be, because the team seems to have lost the will to go forward, it looks as if we’re a playing for 0-0 in every game.

    Trollope’s selection and substitutions? Not much wrong with the back four, except that I feel Manga should be an automatic choice. The full-backs are there because at the moment we have no options.

    The mid-field is a mess. I see that on one forum Whittingham has received a number of votes for player of the match. They must have been watching a different game, I feel he is a luxury we can’t afford. The occasional assist from corners and free-kicks and that’s about it, perhaps we can import the American Football idea of bringing on a specialist to take these. The majority of the game passes him by, he doesn’t mark or close down and when he spurs himself to make a tackle it often ends up being a foul, and a card. When was the last time he took a man on, come to that when was the last time anyone (possible exception of Noone) took a man on. Ralls, Noone and Immers all played out of position.

    I, like you Paul, felt that when Lambert had gone off to be replaced by Zohore that we wouldn’t score. By the way, is there any truth in the story that Lambert was feeling his hamstring during the warm-up but Trollope still decided to start with him?

    Again I ask the question where do we go from here? Nothing from Burton on Saturday and perhaps a change in management should take place, then at least the new man (not Lennie, please) will have the International break to try and achieve some spirit and shape to the side.

  3. Russell says:

    Thank Paul , a tough watch last night , glad it was a relative barmy evening weather.

    Other than being able to point very well I do feel Trollope is not the answer or future , and still think Slade would have been a better option for another year, as we go through this difficult transitional time ,sometimes steadiness is all that is required , especially as the club did not wish to bring in al proven manager , but sought to promote from within , well surely another year with Trollope as assist would have benefited everyone, including Trollope and been a better handover process ?.

    Things I have noticed from last year do suggest something is not right in the bowels of the dressing room below are a few thoughts , I had last night ;

    Immers, Connolly , Ralls are not the same players as they were under Slade .

    Connolly seem well out of sorts , is he unhappy, is being overlooked for the captaincy and issue I wonder , I thought he was our best player last year , and far better than in an out Morrison, at least he has a nice break now,extra game off and international break ??

    We seem much slower in our build up, than under Slade .

    We have less passion and commitment than lat year.

    Immers is nowhere near the penalty area this year , which I thought was a strength a brought to the team , last year we had more commitment going forward under Slade than Trollope .

    All of our midfield look terrified to cross the halfway line , all of them look like they have been told to act defensively and pass sideways a/ back as a priority.

    No one breaks form central positions.

    We had a big presence and commitment in the opposition penalty box last year form set pieces.

    They all now play with fear and panic in the final pass .

    Appalling passing skills ,not great last year in my view was not as bad as this year passing.

    The lack of any running of the channels by strikers prohibits our players in possession to find their man.

    Zohore is dreadful ,we would had been better cramming the midfield even further to stop derby running through us , and have Harris or Noone centrally running of the shoulder on quick bursts . I simply don’t get this tactic of only passing up to the half way line then rely on hitting a big striker as a target , surely you apply the passing tactic up from defense through the midfield to the forward line ??.

    Noone wide is dreadful , readable, past it ,flatters to deceive with his running around , little dinks, just to end up losing the ball , no wonder previous mangers dropped him in and out of the team.

    John struggles as a defensive full back , and his final pass is poor ,I can see why he was loaned out.

    No commitment or passion, which is something I did think we had at times last year from the likes of Immers , O’Keefe, Ralls , Pilk’s Petlier , Connolly and yep even Malone, all of whom would be a good heart of a side , not a great one , but a decent one that would be mid table or pushing at the play offs , with some new additions ( hang on we were that last year ) .

    Amos , Richards look good , Harris is bright coming on, full game who knows what he brings ?

    442 please , apparently this is now the revamped tactic.

  4. Richard Holt says:

    Thanks for the write up Paul. It’s amazing that however low expectations are before the game I still end up shocked and disappointed by what I see. I would certainly describe last night’s performance as the worst I’ve seen in this century. I’m sure there were probably worse ones in the 80’s and 90’s but they are deep in the midsts of time.
    Relegation looks more than just a possibility now and indeed you have to say that it would be a deserved and appropriate outcome for a club that has malfunctioned for the last four years. Trollope may or may not deserve to be sacked at this juncture (I tend to think he does) but I have no confidence whatsoever that the powers- that- be would be able to identify, let alone recruit the kind of person who would make a substantial difference.

  5. lyndon says:

    this is a diabolical team , and it seems every manager at Cardiff haven’t got a clue , plays the players who aren’t good enough ,and leave’s out the better quality young players , tan needs to see Trollope needs to go back to coaching only not management, or to leave ,tan should invest properly in this side or we will be relegated, then the club will be worthless to him and he will leave us sinking in the basements , sign some out of contract players ,another goal keeper , and a striker , and a better central defender, maybe a pacey midfielder, but most of all replace Trollope with someone like steve bruce or sam allardyce quickly as otherwise club is done for act now now now not when its to late.

  6. MIKE HOPE says:

    The first time I saw Zohore play for us I made the comment that it looked like he had come onto the pitch by mistake and was surprised to find a game of football going on around him! Unfortunately, he gave a similar performance last night.It is hard to believe that in training he is able to give the impression that he is good enough to play in the Championship.
    I think Colin is right in suggesting that Lambert was unfit to start possibly because of an injury during the warm up.Soon after the players left the field after the warm up Zohore reappeared making runs across the pitch [showing that he has got a bit of pace as long as there is no ball involved ] and my initial thought was that Lambert was unable to play.On reflection it would probably have been better if Zohore had started because he surely would have been substituted at half time.
    I can see that I was not alone in thinking that unless Morrison could head a goal from a set piece the most we could expect was a 0-0 draw after Lambert left.
    I am rapidly coming to the conclusion that with our present squad and manager Private Fraser’s words are true.

  7. paul says:

    well having spent 6 weeks in france I am back. After last night I was wising I was still on the sun.

    I see all these players names mentioned whether playing well out of form.

    What we are forgetting is that any one individual will not effect that, Saadi!!!!
    It a what it says on the lid – A Team – and what i witnessed last night was a team with no team spirit, devoid of the never say die attitude and not prepared to risk all for the other 10 players. ie. over cautious passing in an atttemo to be sure to get it right. In reallity it rarely does go right due to the lack of confidence and the tension in the body which causes it to go wrong.

    Who to Blame??????

    the leader – Trollope

    Whats or who is the answer. – Bellamy!!!

    When – Now, so that he has the time to assess the players and bring in what is needed in january.

    thank godi have booked 8 weeks in france for 17 so will miss more of that crap. Unless Bellamy is there.

  8. Geoff Lewis says:

    Hi Paul,
    I think all the comments made sum’s up the situation that Cardiff City find themselves in.
    Travelling down by car last night, tuned into Radio Wales, and the sports guy mentioned that Mr Pearson, had just been suspended. My first thought, we will now be screwed, as the Derby players will be up for it.
    I was right, they turned us inside out, from where I was watching Tom Ince and their number 8(guy with the beard) Anya, strolled past our defence and beat us every time when they had the ball.
    There were dark days in the eighties, when we played in the lower divisions, but we put up with it.
    When you saw some of the Cardiff players arguing with each other, then there are major problems with team spirit and the managing of the team.
    The Board have given Zohore a three year contract- Can you believe that- he has no footballing skills at all. The rest no better, except for O’keefe and Richards. Noone played okay in a defensive role, I thought he was a winger!
    Geoff

  9. Barry Cole says:

    Brilliant observations Paul and first of all I have to say that I have made my aim to try and understand the predicament we are in.
    Firstly I have backed Paul Trollope even when we were bottom of the league and when he was being slated. The Rotherham result was a start and I honestly expected the team to move forward, albeit with a couple of changes made in the defence and midfield. Unfortunately Trollope never made those moves and we all know the outcome. Should he now be sacked, well my positive backing is beginning to waver. My problem is if he goes and with the management choices of OGS and slade already proven failures we are not going to get the right person in. The reason is simple, no football knowledge and three people who cannot accept that they are the main failure to this club.
    Secondly, we have known for a very long time , through the management of OGS , Slade and now Trollope what players were needed and yet the so called transfer committee continue to be blind to this. Again players have been available but the lack of football knowledge within the transfer committee has not produced a positive way forward.
    We cannot make a full assessment of lambert yet but I do think that he was actually signed by Trollope and could be one of the best signings yet. I bet he had a real battle to get him in front of the players that were mentioned before him.
    Thirdly, the road to hell is approaching, given the track record of the managers appointed and the lack of understanding of what was required I cannot for the life of me think that things will change. If Trollope is sacked I cannot see tan allowing a manager to manage without interference and therefore any good manager will pass the opportunity to manage our team. When all the options of manager were being bounded around and the name of Bellamy came out, he would have, with a senior manager at his side, produced a team capable of producing good football, and would bring the fans back together. This was an option but was once again dismissed by this so called committee. Unless tan is now prepared to get someone in with football experience we are going nowhere and he knows it. The only way to rectify this is to accept responsibility and get the systems in to protect his investments, get a manager with a good track record like Bruce and then take a back seat like the owners of Leicester have done.

  10. Stephen Fairhurst says:

    The two words that came to mind watching the game were pedestrian and predictable. I get frustrated as defender collects ball and you think get it forward quickly, maybe make the opposition react quickly causing a mistake or two. But the ball is passed around the back with usually including the keeper as the opposition press and then back to the original player who pushes it forward with not surprisingly the opposition back behind the ball and in place to stifle the ‘attack’ A hesitancy to not take a chance of a shot when in any kind of range but push it out to the wing to attempt to cross to the three or four at the back post. They are ready to knock it back into the centre where there is nobody (all at the back post) but that doesn’t happen as the cross only goes as far as the centre of the box to be easily knocked clear. My personal opinion of Messi and Gazza’s skill is/was getting the ball and moving swiftly but surely into the box making things happen as defenders have to deal with them not back off. I felt Tom Ince goal was of this style (I was out by 6 minutes in the guess the opposition goal time having predicted it to happen on the hour mark). Other than Kadeem we just don’t do this. I wonder if Connelly’s woes are not helped by being on the left as a right footed, making defensive tackles harder. And our habit of doing similar with Noone, a couple of seconds as the ball is moved to the other foot to cross or pass. I feel Trollope in suit is less animated than last season but if at this point in the season he can encourage putting at least lots of effort in it can overcome better skills (Sunderland – Leeds 73 Cup Final) and give us something to get behind the team with and maybe save us from relegation.

  11. The other Bob Wilson says:

    Morning everyone and, as always, thanks for the replies – just a few quick thoughts on some of the matters raised.
    1. Stephen, I’ve wondered about Connolly playing on the left of a back three, but, he has continued to struggle playing as left centreback in a back four, a position which he played for most of last season when he was voted our best player – maybe he’s one of what I reckon is about four or five players suffering a crisis of confidence at the moment?
    2. Barry, the contrast between what we have at Cardiff and what you see at Leicester is a glaring one – for all of the arguments about managers, we’ll get nowhere if the same attitudes and practices which see the money men having too big an influence on the footballing side of things persists.
    3. Geoff, Derby were like every other side we play, they had more attacking pace than us – what’s makes things worse is that we are probably not making the most effective use of the little bit of that commodity that we possess.
    4. Paul, I would argue that a fox in the box type striker would give the team options that we don’t have at the moment – for example, if he had a bit of pace and mobility about him, our central midfield which finds it almost impossible to find the accuracy and cleverness in their passing to open up a defence facing our current strike force, could play balls which would not to be so accurate into the channels for him to chase. Also, while I’m with you in wishing we had Craig Bellamy in charge, I think there is little chance of it happening because he’s seen as being too much of an ally of Malky Mackay in some people’s eyes.
    5. Mike, I fear you may be right. I can remember the last time we struggled in this division when we had Gary O’Neil on loan and, once he had settled in, you could see that something was gelling and we would give someone a hammering (it was West Ham as it turned out). I’ve always thought that we would have kept on climbing the table if we could have kept O’Neil longer, but, at the moment, there is nothing whatsoever to suggest that better days are not far away – it’s amazing to think that things would get worse in home matches as we watched us struggle against QPR and Reading, but they have done.
    6. Lyndon, whether Vincent Tan retains much interest in us is something that could definitely be argued about, but, assuming he does for now, he may well have to come to a decision soon about what takes priority for him – keeping within the FFP regulations or keeping us in the Championship? It’s beginning to look like we cannot have them both and I agree that he’ll stand no chance of getting his money back from a potential buyer if we are in League One.
    7. Richard, you make a very important point – based on what we have seen up to now, does anyone have any confidence in Messrs Tan, Dalman and Choo first identifying and then persuading a manager who might turn things around to throw in his lot with Cardiff? it’s worse than that though, because first you have to wonder whether the quality of manager we’d need would be prepared to work for someone with Vincent Tan’s reputation and, second, would our owner be happy to work with a manager who was obviously his “own man”?
    8. Russell, I’ve made my opinion of Russell Slade clear on here plenty of times – not a terrible City manager by any means, but a limited one who was as bad as any I’ve seen when it comes to youth development. I was glad to see him go, but when you watch the way some of our strongest players from last season (e.g. Connolly, Ralls, Immers and Morrison) are struggling, perhaps I and his army of critics should be prepared to give him more credit as a motivator – I think the present side is putting in the effort, but there’s not the belief to go with it, maybe one of Slade’s strengths was that he was able to make some of our players feel good about themselves?
    9. Colin, it seems pretty obvious that Mange will play on Saturday, but I would argue that, although he’s not an eye catching player, we also miss Peltier a lot when he isn’t there – for me, he has the belief that I was just talking about. As for Whittingham, I’ve not changed my mind from what I said a few weeks ago – it’s an indictment of the rest of central midfielders that there doesn’t seem to be anyone there who can do the sort of things he’s good at to a decent standard. If we had someone who could deliver something close to the quality of dead ball delivery and range of passing that he does, then he would not get in the team most weeks because of the pretty obvious weaknesses to his game, but, while he is so much better than the rest in these departments, I can understand why our managers select him so regularly. Agree with you about Lennie Lawrence, but my guess is he wouldn’t hang about long if Trollope was sacked.
    10. AMO, interesting thought about Saadi and the Ayatollah – given the relatively small sum he’s costing us, I’ve always had a suspicion that the reason for his loan is not the usual financial one. When a team is struggling like ours is the grass always looks greener elsewhere and so the temptation to sack the manager becomes that much stronger -especially when, as alluding to earlier, there is so little sign that things can sort themselves out pretty quickly. Looking at things from Paul Trollope’s perspective, I daresay he’d argue that it would be unfair to get rid of him before there’s been a chance for four players, who it seems pretty obvious to me are his signings in a way that Gounongbe and Zohore aren’t, to appear in the team together. I would guess that Trollope saw Bennett, Richards, Huws and Lambert as regular starters when he signed them, but they still haven’t appeared together yet – the problem is though that, as mentioned in my piece, questions have to be asked about the Huws and Bennett signings when they are, seemingly, still a long way away from the starting eleven in a team that is struggling as much as we are.

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