When both managers mention it in their post match press conference and every report I have read on the game so far refers to it, then I suppose the main issue to emerge from yesterday’s game is the treatment some Cardiff City dished out to their team during and after the match. Based on what I have seen so far, no one is saying that the boos were justified – with views ranging from bafflement as to why they were heard to the downright critical with this Sunday Telegraph report being a typical example.
Although I wouldn’t swear to this on a bible, I am pretty sure that I have never booed a Cardiff City team or player, it’s just not in my nature to do so. However, I find it impossible to argue with anyone who says “I paid my money so I am free to dish the stick out” and when that money also includes the price of a season ticket which they understood was going to be used to bring in the sort of new player(s) that we desperately needed yesterday, then I am not going to call anyone who did boo a moron.
In saying that though, I think the booers got it wrong yesterday when they turned on the players as those more deserving of criticism on the day escaped virtually scot free. Now that might sound hypocritical coming from someone who was very scathing about the players last summer and after the Peterborough game but what really annoys me about this team is the lack of character they show at times – although many of them didn’t play well, I didn’t see much evidence of us bottling it against Blackpool.
No, when you consider that a virus had swept through the camp during the week (and as Dave Jones made reference to this in his pre match press conference on Friday, I don’t believe that the virus only existed in his mind as a way to excuse another poor performance) and that we had a central midfield which consisted of one player carrying a double fracture and another who is playing on with injuries which make him a shadow of the player he can be, then I think the booers aim was off yesterday.
In the days leading up to the game, there were appeals from some for supporters to lay off our Chairman during the game and I have to say that those appeals seemed to work. Many people were annoyed and frustrated before a ball was kicked yesterday, but what was it that put them in that mood? Okay, the last two results combined with the collapse at Peterborough got them angry, but with all that had happened after the News of the World story appeared on 3 January, they seemed like light years away – when you consider that the first concerted criticism of the money men didn’t come until the dying minutes and, even then, it didn’t last long, I can’t help thinking that the real villains of the piece got off pretty lightly yesterday.
As for the game itself, as soon as I heard the team and, in particular the name of Josh Magennis, I wasn’t expecting much from the match. There is plenty of evidence to suggest that we are nowhere near as good a team when Jay Bothroyd is missing or off his game and I thought replacing him with a raw, young lad who did little in his brief loan spell at Grimsby would weaken us considerably.
Given this, there had to be questions asked as to why Dave Jones went with Magennis in the first place, but it has to be admitted that this current City team seem to need a big target man to play off and, with Etuhu absent again, Magennis was our only option. In the event, Magennis was doing a good job in proving me wrong when he got his injury, he was unsettling the Blackpool defence, was unlucky not to score and had provided a chance that you can’t help thinking Ross McCormack would have scored last season – I don’t think it was a coincidence either that Blackpool’s resurgence in the game can be almost directly traced to the moment Magennis left the pitch after making a very encouraging contribution.
What happened next provided another talking point as forgotten man Warren Feeney came on to replace Magennis. Now I am not a Feeney fan because I have seen hardly anything from him to suggest that he can do a job for us at this level, but I thought he worked very hard having been given what was a pretty thankless task – particularly when, in another surprising move, Dave Jones withdrew McCormack to the wing as City went with a 4-5-1 formation in the second half.
Finally, those calling for the introduction of Michael Chopra got their wish when he came on with about a quarter of an hour left, but the decision to remove McCormack prompted more boos from the disgruntled crowd and, certainly on the face of it, it seemed a strange choice. While the decision was explained to a large degree with the news that McCormack was one of those still suffering with the virus, I think it still showed that Dave Jones thinks that Ross McCormack and Michael Chopra just do not work in combination and, to be fair to our manager, I can come up with very little evidence to suggest they do (I suppose, in true chicken and egg style, they first need to be given that chance to prove they can!).
Chopra’s introduction made little difference though to the pattern of the second half which saw the familiar sight of our central midfield coming off second best to a visiting outfit in which Charlie Adam looked exactly the sort of operator we need in the middle of the park – but with the thing that nobody dares name now in place, strengthening in that area of the pitch is not going to be happening soon is it.
Just a couple of other things before I finish, with a few minutes to go I mentioned that it says everything you need to know about a game when your keeper ends up as your man of the match, David Marshall has to be the best of our summer signings surely – as for the outfield players, I thought Kevin McNaughton stood head and shoulders above the rest.
Lastly, why was our goal in the second half disallowed? Listening to Dave Jones after the game, it turns out that his view of the incident was exactly the same as mine in that Rachubka had clearly already lost the ball before any contact was made with him. Okay, it would have been a case of daylight robbery if we had won, but, not for the first time referee Ward ruled incorrectly in favour of the visitors – his fussy performance was one of many factors that helped to make yesterday’s match such a frustrating one.