Trollope under pressure as City continue to head towards bottom three.

Coymay

After Cardiff City had given their worst display so far of this miserable season in losing 3-0 at Preston last night, the home team’s manager, Simon Grayson, said that such a performance had been coming from his team – my first thought on reading that was “Paul Trollope could say exactly the same thing”.

However, as I touched on in my piece on the loss at Norwich on Saturday, the view coming out of the club, backed up by many in the media I would say, was that we have been playing well and not getting the results we deserved.

This baffled me at the time and, after last night’s feeble showing, it baffles me even more - if you count the Bristol Rovers Cup game, two decent halves of football in seven (now eight) matches, plus thirty minutes of extra time, doesn’t represent playing well – far from it.

We’ve played three home matches and it’s been clear that we struggle to impose ourselves when the onus is on us to force the issue – we’ve been woeful so far at Cardiff City Stadium in my opinion. Away from home, things have been mildly more encouraging with those two decent halves I mentioned coming in the first period at Birmingham and the second forty five minutes at Fulham. I suppose as well that there was no disgrace in losing like we did at Norwich, but there are no excuses for a defeat as conclusive as last night’s was on the ground of a team that had not won at home in seven months.

Paul Trollope made no excuses in his after match press conference, saying when asked if the game had been the lowpoint of the season so far;-

“Yes, absolutely. Especially the first period where we lacked a lot of things with and without the ball.

We didn’t get anywhere near the level we want or expect. Sometimes you can accept it if you don’t function with the ball or get your attacking play going in certain spells or even games, but you have to have the basics in place and we didn’t have that.

We didn’t have that in terms of defensive responsibility or defensive desire and for those two things to not be there in the first period was very disappointing and there are apologies to the travelling supporters who came a long way and saw a performance that was unacceptable.

We can talk about systems and ways of playing, but there are basics requirements to do well in games and they were lacking.

That was the message to the players. We can talk all day about system, what works and doesn’t. but there are basic requirements in football that are needed in terms of desire, hunger and to show a drive with and without the ball, a bit of heart.

It was unacceptable and we have a lot of work to do to put a lot of things right before Saturday.”

We didn’t deserve to be going home with anything. The one win in the first group of games is not what we’ve worked hard for and we have to turn things around quickly.

We will have to regroup, show a lot of strength of character and personality. We need to show the strength of the group to bounce back.”

It takes a worried man - Paul Trollope reflects on City's dismal showing last night. I'm not going to join in with the increasing calls for him to go, but it would be nice to see something soon to suggest that there is a reason for fans to be hopeful - there's been nothing whatsoever so far and results and performances like last night's only make it harder to see this season developing into anything else but a relegation struggle.*

It takes a worried man – Paul Trollope reflects on City’s dismal showing last night. I’m not going to join in with the increasing calls for him to go, but it would be nice to see something soon to suggest that there is a reason for fans to be hopeful – there’s been nothing whatsoever so far and results and performances like last night’s only make it harder to see this season developing into anything else but a relegation struggle.*

While it’s good to see him being so honest, the truth is, surely, that he had little option but to be.

I want to talk about one thing in particular that the Head Coach brought up.  Having introduced a completely new system for this season, it’s inevitable that questions are going to be asked about it now we find ourselves only outside the relegation places on goal difference – is our worst start to a season in twelve years solely down to the new 3-5-2/5-3-2 approach?

If you want a decisive answer to that question from me I cannot really provide it because my answer would be it is and it isn’t – I’ll try to explain what I mean in the next few paragraphs.

It’s often said that every successful team has a strong spine running through it and, with that in mind, it’s very interesting to examine the make up of the team which started last night’s match.

Back in those summer days when there were none of those pesky competitive games being played that have a tendency to ruin a manager’s best laid plans, there was much talk in the press about how important three players were going to be if the new three centreback system was to be a success.

Matt Connolly’s ability to pass constructively from the back was going to be vital, because this would help Peter Whittingham show his range of passing from the “quarterback” position he would fill just in front of the back three. Whitts could hit long passes into areas where the strikers could soon be joined by Lex Immers in his more advanced central midfield role and the Dutchman could become as influential a figure in the team as he was back in the spring when he was a central part of why we had a spell around March when we probably played our most effective football of last season.

Now, it should be said here that allowance should be made for the possibility that Paul Trollope did not see things in the same way as those writing for Wales Online did – it may be that the three players I talked about were not considered to be that important by our Head Coach. However, what the pressmen said all made sense to me and Trollope thought enough of the three of them to include them all in the starting line up for our first five league fixtures.

So, I think it’s reasonable to assume that the local hacks were right in their thinking as to the importance of Messrs Connolly, Whittingham and Immers to the new Cardiff approach. Therefore, what does it say about how effective our new way if playing has been up to now that, after just six league matches, they were all to be found on the substitute’s bench last night?

I must say as well that, based on their recent performances Connolly and Immers could have no complaints regarding their axing. In Connolly’s case, I would have thought that the new system would be made for him because it played to his strengths, but I feel he’s struggled more defensively than he usually does lately. The only reason I can think of for that is that his weakest performances for City before now have tended to come when he has been used as a left back, so maybe he is finding being the left sided defender in a back three harder to adjust to than expected?

Meanwhile, of course, left sided specialist Ben Turner has featured in every game for his new club, Burton Albion. I wonder if any thought was given by the club to offering Turner a new deal last spring, possibly on a pay as you play basis? My instinct is that, at this club where the financial imperative is given so much more importance than the footballing one, it wasn’t.

As for Immers, I don’t know if he reads City messageboards or sites like this or not. He probably doesn’t, but, if he does, I daresay he may be getting somewhat annoyed at the increasingly common suggestion that he is “coasting” now he has the security of a new contract behind him as opposed to when he was trying to earn one during his loan spell. Perhaps this perception is wrong, but I don’t think he can blame supporters for thinking it because he’s gone from being our best outfield player over the final third of last season (in my opinion at least) to someone who, lately, has became the main candidate for being subbed early in the team – always assuming he was in the starting eleven of course.

It’s a bit different with Whitts, he wasn’t great against Reading, but it still came as something of a surprise to see him left out of the side for Norwich, but all his omission in the last two matches has really done is bring into focus that we don’t have enough quality in the areas he’s good at when he isn’t there.

Following the talk of “the Cardiff Way” in recent days, it’s ironic that we have seen another example of the classic “Cardiff Dilemma” whereby our last four managers (probably five actually) have all had to make the decision as to whether the facets of the game in which Whittingham is, manifestly, the best we have at the club are enough to overcome his obvious weaknesses, that become more pronounced with each passing season, and make him undroppable.

In many ways it’s an indictment of the other central midfield players we have at the club that, in one of the highest rated leagues in Europe, we have one player who is so much better at passing with vision and accuracy and dead ball delivery than the rest of them. Joe Ralls has his moments when it comes to pinging long range passes and can hit the occasional great long shot and it would be unfair to put Emyr Huws in with the rest at the moment, but, for now, the biggest argument for keeping Whitts in the team is how plain. laboured and predictable we look in the middle of the park when he isn’t there.

The trouble is, that Whitts is really bad at the things he’s bad at and this is at the heart of the problem I have about that question of whether 3-5-2/-5-3-2 is to blame for our poor start.

One of Whitts’ biggest weaknesses is his lack of pace (I’m convinced he would have had a decade or more in the Premier League and, probably, a full international cap or two by now if he been able to cover the ground quicker), but, just as the others cannot cover for him when he isn’t there in terms of the more technical aspects of the game, they also cannot provide the pace we lose when he is in the team.

It’s an indictment of the last three Cardiff managers that we have been a team that has, fundamentally, lacked pace ever since we returned to the Championship. Although Paul Trollope has tried to distance himself from Wales comparisons when it comes to the system they use, it’s hard to ignore the part that pace and accurate, brisk passing plays in the way Wales have made a success of the three at the back system.

I never enjoy being critical of a young(ish) player, but Ben Wilson was not as decisive in dealing with a more routine one than this on the thirty six minute mark and so presented the home side with their first goal. Having watched him play Development team football for a couple of seasons and seen how he fared when on loan at AFC Wimbledon last season, I don't think he is ready for first team football yet - have him as an understudy to a proven keeper at this level by all means, but the problem City have is that, due to their own ineptitude, they are not going to have such a player until January at the earliest.*

I never enjoy being critical of a young(ish) player, but Ben Wilson was not as decisive in dealing with a more routine high ball than this on the thirty six minute mark and so presented the home side with their first goal.
Having watched him play Development team football for a couple of seasons and seen how he fared when on loan at AFC Wimbledon last season, I don’t think he is ready for first team football yet – have him as an understudy to a proven keeper at this level by all means, but the problem City have is that, due to their own ineptitude, they are not going to have such a player until January at the earliest.*

If a side generally lacking pace (it’s a source of frustration to me that we played two wing backs last night, who are, probably, quicker than the two who play in that position most often for Wales are and are less likely to be seen as full backs than Gunter and Taylor are, yet they were still unable to provide the attacking outlets you would have thought they could in our new system), uses the same formation Wales do, then they need to place a premium on good movement and incisive passing if they are to provide an attacking threat, but, unfortunately, City also come up short in this department.

With Whitts in there you might get some of the incisive passing needed and Immers can provide clever movement, while Stuart O’Keefe has the stamina to get from one end of the pitch to the other on a consistent basis over ninety minutes, but, with that proviso that there might be a lot to come from Huws yet, City just don’t cover all of the bases to a quality needed in the middle of the park to make the system work.

So, even without addressing the huge loss of David Marshall and the significant loss of Simon Moore, the spine of the team Paul Trollope has to work with looks a lot less strong than he would have expected it to be as the Championship season kicked off.

To the extent that the new system, basically, sees us playing with two wide players as opposed to the three or four we’d have under Russell Slade, there is more of an emphasis on what’s happening through the middle than on the flanks. Therefore, the fact that we are not strong through the spine of the team means that the new system can be blamed to an extent for our poor start.

There is a lack of the sort of qualities that can make 3-5-2/5-3-2 (I still need to put the two different descriptions there because we are a side that talks like it wants to play with three defenders, but, more often than not, ends up having five of them!) work effectively, so it seems to me that we have reached a stage where we should be looking at alternative formations.

The trouble with that though is that Paul Trollope is right when he talks about forgetting about formations, there first needs basics to be attained before any team can become truly competitive and, I believe, that so far this season, we are being shown that, for whatever reason, there are going to be problems with this group of players whatever formation we use.

Yes, Trollope can be criticised for the introduction of three centrebacks and there have to be questions about some of the players that have been brought to the club while he was a member of the transfer committee, but I also believe that he had a right to expect better than he is getting from a squad full of experience at this level.

The fact that important individuals within the team are not playing to their normal levels may have something to do with the new system, but, perhaps, it’s finally time for a general admission of something I’ve thought to be the case ever since we got relegated – our squad isn’t as good as many would have you believe.

The trouble our players are having adapting to a new way of playing is proof of this, but what has taken me by surprise is how bad we’ve looked in the process – with confidence down, I don’t think it’s going to be as simple as change of formation = change of fortunes.

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

 

 

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15 Responses to Trollope under pressure as City continue to head towards bottom three.

  1. Robert thomas says:

    As usual a very accurate analysis of the state of play at CCFC. You make a very good point onwards the end of your piece regarding the squad not being as good as some believe it to be. I would say that it is a very average Championship squad, similar to many others like Reading and QPR, both of whom we have lost at home to already.

    I am not yet in the Trollope must go camp, but he has to get these players achieving more. If he can’t then yes look elsewhere.

    Tan remains a mystery behind the scene – poured millions into a club with little residual value which would fall even further should we go down.

    I will be there on Saturday, but with no expectation of a positive result.

  2. Anthony O'Brien says:

    Another outstanding report and assessment which homes in on the key issues with Cardiff City.

    Many years ago — a lifetime ago –”the Hit Parade” came into existence. By the late ‘fifties sales of vinyl 78 rpm records were reflected in “the charts”. This gave rise to a debate in some quarters as to what made a “hit” or a “flop”. Some said it was the singer not the song; others claimed it was the song and not the singer. The same criteria can now apply to the Cardiff City performances : “flop” describes the great majority of matches, despite the encouraging signs in the first game against Birmingham and to some extent against Fulham. Are the poor performances due to a system in various configurations , or are the players to blame, both for not playing well or failing to adapt to whatever system is being utilised on the field of play? It sounds almost like sour grapes on my behalf, but I’ve long thought and more than implied on this site, that the Cardiff players are not as good as is often suggested. From that point of view Mr Trollope is quite justified in blaming last night’s performance on his players.

    But “his players” says it all. A manager must get the best out of his players by whatever means possible, and not shirk his own share of criticism. Ultimately the players are selected by him and expected to play in a manner which he decrees. Blame, like jam on a sandwich,needs to be spread to all parts and shared out equally. Therefore it is the responsibility of both management and players to get their act together very quickly, and accept the blame squarely if it continues to fail I know I am stating the obvious, but Mr Trollope should be very aware that it’s easy to get rid of a manager than an entire team, no matter how much of a flop that team may be. They are his players but our team.

  3. Dai Woosnam says:

    Oh, boy…
    To think that we all eventually came around to our friend Barry Cole’s way of thinking !!
    But now, Mr Russell Slade seems far preferable to Paul Trollope.
    Frankly, the day they appointed Lennie Lawrence – what does he do, btw? – was the day that I realised there would be tears before bedtime.
    DW

  4. Adrian Lloyd Pickrell says:

    Oh dear. I am thoroughly disappointed with last night’s result, but there again…aren’t we all. This will do wonders for the confidence of the opposition in our future games, regardless of how lowly their own current league position may be.
    I cannot watch the games from “overseas” but it sounds like a lot of players seem to be uncomfortable with their tasks and positions within the team. However I do feel sympathy for a manager who really does seem to be restricted financially and also has to compensate for the loss of two goalkeepers right at the onset of the “real” season. Fingers are being pointed at our goalkeeper and as mentioned above there are a few calls for a return to the days of Mr. Slade while others are already shouting for PT’s head.
    My pre-season optimism is gone. I accept that we really are re-building now, and re-building with a squad which really seems to be of just average quality. So I won’t be expecting a journey to the stars this season, but as already mentioned above I hope that PT can get something more out of his players otherwise another search for a new manager could begin and we will all have another period of speculation to live through…unless they save money by just asking Lennie Lawrence to step up a gear or two and take over completely. (Dai…?)
    I will be back in Wales in the spring and will be going to a City game … I hope I get to see something a little better than what you gents have to watch at the moment.
    Best regards as always
    Adrian

  5. Rod Groves says:

    Can’t be bothered to say much more players have arrived and gess what they are no good as usual not fit for purpose we are in a relegation battle already you can only change the manager as we are stuck with this lot so to recap existing players except for 2or 3 not good enough players brought in apart from 1 maybe not good enough results not good enough relacation arriving

  6. russell roberts says:

    I think the manager needs to pick a different keeper now . Amos would be my choice as he has had more development and first team experiences than Wilson. I was shocked he was not in goal for the Reading game .

    Settle on set defense and stay with it so they grow together as a unit with the keeper .

    Whitt’s and Immer’s in and stay in . Whitts’ as the quarterback passer /general , Immer’s up front forging into the opponents half

    Lambert / Pilk’s or Harris up front

    The above players is my spine , the rest fit in and out around those players.

    Oh and get back to 442 ,where we are comfortable.

    The other option is to sack the manager now , bring in someone whom will shake the dressing room up big time , as he walked through the door , what happened to that Beller’s chap , got nothing to lose in my opinion .

  7. Dai Woosnam says:

    I heard a guy on the radio today. And he was reflecting in the astonishing first 40 minutes’ performance of Manchester City in the Old Trafford derby.
    And he said “it is absolutely frightening just how quickly in a couple of months, Pep Guardiola has got a tune out of those guys”.
    And I could not help but reflect that had this chap been talking about Cardiff City, he might have come up with an opinion in total reverse. Paul T has been running the show for a similar period to Pep, but one somehow can feel confidence at CCS disappearing as rapidly as it is building, at The Etihad.
    But earlier in this correspondence chain, Adrian Lloyd Pickrell, that proud son of a Cardiff City player who gave his all in the Bluebirds’ Cause, tells us with his customary thoughtful use of words, to keep cool and dig deep into one quality that true Bluebirds fans have in spades, viz., HOPE …and thus pray that Paul and Lennie come good, and soon get over this blip.
    And so I too have to counsel all trigger-happy fans, not to panic. And reflect that if one’s name was not Churchill, one might easily have been seduced into waving the white towel after Dunkirk.
    So I say to myself re the stormy seas ahead: “Courage, mon brave!”…
    But hey, those other words keep re-entering into my inner ear… “it is absolutely frightening just how quickly in a couple of months, Pep Guardiola has got a tune out of those guys”.
    DW.

  8. MIKE HOPE says:

    I recall that when Russell Slade was taking heavy criticism in the Press or the message boards -mainly the latter – senior players were quick to come to his defence, suggesting that he retained the support of his players.In the next couple of days before the Leeds game and with Trollope’s scathing public criticism of the players ringing in their ears it will be interesting to see whether any of the senior players,especially the captain,give the manager their public support.
    If such support is not forthcoming we are bound to suspect that all is not well in the City dressing room.Would it mean that the players have little confidence in the system they are being asked to play or in the manager himself?
    If it is the latter then there is little hope that results will improve.If it is the former then some sensible man management will be needed.
    Trollope is in a different world from Guardiola! Pep has players with the skills to adapt to any system and if anyone won’t or can’t he has the personal and financial clout to say ”arrivederci Mr Hart ” and buy a replacement!
    Trollope has said that after Tuesday’s performance a lot of work has to be done before the next game. I hope he won’t think it a sign of weakness if this work begins with a team meeting to consider whether the three centre back system should be shelved and replaced by something better suited to the current squad.
    This kind of consultation to remedy something that isn’t working and give the staff a vested interest in making changes work would be considered good management in most jobs. Is football so different?

  9. Dai Woosnam says:

    I have lots of faults, but I am not yet quite a TOTAL idiot*.
    I do not need telling that Pep and Trolls* move in different worlds.
    Alas however, I did not make my point sufficiently well.
    My point is that, just as as a coach can improve players for the GOOD in record quick time, so can a coach have precisely the diametrically opposite effect.

    * Although I have my doubts…
    Oh forget my slapdash typos “reflecting IN the astonishing first 40 minutes”, when I meant ON… (that is down to the letters “i” and “o” being next to each other on the QWERTY keyboard).
    I am more worried about “white towel”, when I meant “white FLAG” !!
    Put that one down to the recent comments of Chris Eubank Jnr. They were clearly working overtime in my subconscious at the time of writing.
    ** Yes, I know…my attempt to use the shortened form of surnames, much favoured by our football stars, came apart spectacularly there…!!
    DW.

  10. Dai Woosnam says:

    If ever I win the Lottery, I will pay for an “edit” feature to be added to this blog.
    I remember thinking just five minutes ago, “I must add a second asterisk to my text to make sense of the footnotes” (there was originally gonna be one, not two)…and the phone rang at just the wrong moment.
    And when I got back to the iPad just a minute later, I plain forgot, and clicked “send”.
    And to make matters worse, it was just a marketing call from Hyderabad.
    DW.

  11. The other Bob Wilson says:

    Thanks all for the replies. Robert, I’ll be there on Saturday, but, like you, I won’t be expecting a win – worse still, I’ve been going to first team games since we got relegated with little sense than I’m going to enjoy them (must make the distinction about first team matches there, because I do enjoy the age group games I watch),
    AMO, good sense talked there.
    Dai, I’ve not heard or read a single word Lennie Lawrence has said since he came to the club for the second time – seems odd for someone who I used to think was decent value when he spoke to the media.
    Adrian, trying to be slightly upbeat, for some time I’ve thought of the Championship as one of those leagues where many of the teams are so evenly matched that they all have spells of, say, a month to six weeks where optimists can start thinking of promotion and the pessimists can talk about inevitable relegation. I’m sure there’ll come a time when supporters will look at what’s happening now and wonder why we got so down about things. The trouble is though that once a middling to poor team has their inspired spell for the season, they revert to type and then the realisation dawns that it was the short, enjoyable spell that was illusory – to my mind, we need to get into a more healthy position by the next international break or we are going to be down there all season (did you see we dropped into the bottom three after last night’s games?).
    Rod, I think Huws and Lambert should be given more time before they are written off, while Bennett and Amos haven’t even played yet, but I know what you mean and, even if the new players do start to show more, will it be enough to make up for the loss of Marshall and Moore (I rate the latter as better than any of the three keepers we have at the moment)?
    Russell, I agree with you about Amos in front of Wilson and concur with you even more about your suggestion that Harris be used alongside Lambert up front. I don’t think Kedeem would ever be prolific if played as an out and out striker, but he’s shown in Development team games that he can finish. Having someone with genuine pace up front would mean that we might be able to do what’s impossible now (i.e. counter attack with speed) and would give our midfield which, Whitts apart, are hardly catching the eye with their range of passing currently, an “out” ball which wouldn’t need to be precision perfect. Using Harris in this way may also help with the new system because Pilkington or Immers could operate as an attacking midfield player who would not be too concerned with the sort of responsibilities they may have in something like a 4-4-2.
    Regarding Mike’s post and Dai’s second one, I’m with Mike in that the time has to come soon where some sort of meeting between Paul Trollope, his staff and the first team squad has to take place to discuss why things haven’t worked out so far and how do we progress from here. Ideally, it would be an open and frank gethering in which the players felt they could contribute without anything they said being held against them and, if at the end of it, the decision was agreed that the new formation be shelved (possibly temporarily), then I for one would not use that as a stick to beat Trollope with- far from it, I would see it as a positive which would suggest that he can succeed as City boss.
    As I said in my piece, I find it disappointing and concerning that the squad appear to be unable to adapt to the change of system, but, unfortunately, the fact is that with each passing game, there are no signs that things will click into place any time soon. I think the suggestion that we use someone with more pace up front while giving the current formation another try is worth a go, but I suppose it could be argued that all that would be happening is that we would be moving one of our very few players with genuine pace from one position to another and that, no matter what was tried in terms of formation, selection and tactics, it wouldn’t alter the fact that there is just not enough pace in our squad.

  12. MIKE HOPE says:

    Dai,just a quick word to let you know that I started to write my piece at about 7.00pm.Then other events intervened and I did not return to it until around midnight while watching the Euro highlights.It was only after pressing SEND that the post 7.00 pm entries came up – do all laptops do this-? When I saw that you had referred to Gardiola I thought Dai will think I am having a go at him.
    The point I was trying to make is that PG is one of the few managers currently immune to player power whereas PT is not.

  13. Dai Woosnam says:

    Thanks Mike, for your very gentlemanly post there at 4.42 pm.
    And I happily accept your explanation of the timeline.
    But hey, worry not…had you been assailing some cherished opinion of mine, I would not take offence.
    There is plenty of time for a peaceful time when we are all in the cemetery.
    I’d have had no problem had you been “having a go” (as you put it) at my often wayward ideas: the Lord knows that I have a go at them myself, half the time. !!

    But in truth, worry not, for I am actually impervious to any insult more subtle than physical assault.

    However Mike, I still recognise a kind and decent person when I meet one in print, and you my dear sir follow in the true traditions of Paul’s CCMaYA, in bringing good manners into this blog chatroom, and checking in your ego at the door.

    And I salute you for that.

    Will sign off now. Hoping our friend Mr Barry Cole is not ill, as I am noting his continued absence. The thought occurs that maybe having achieved his great aim of “Freedom From slade” (sic!), he feels his life’s work is done now.

    Whatever, I miss his doom-laden prognoses and want him back. Most of all, I respected the fact that he was brave enough to often be in a minority of one.

    For I am conscious of the fact that only dead fish swim with the stream. That does not mean that one should be a maverick for the sake of it. But it does mean that we should all have an inbuilt bulls##t detector, and rail against modish stupid thinking when we encounter it.

    Goalkeeping coaches are my bete noire. The rubbish these guys put into the minds of their charges…!! Standing positions for free kicks with a wall, is my pet hate.

    Managers who insist on square passes drive me nuts. I have to laugh at the brouhaha over Swansea’s winner against Chelsea. Oh yes, for sure Cahill dwelt on the ball too long, and for sure also that he was fouled by Fer.

    But nobody asked why Terry passed the ball square to him in the first place! A quite unnecessary pass.

    But, hey…I will save my breath to cool my porridge.

    But before I go, I must say that as a keen devotee of the teachings of Charles Hughes, I am honest enough to say that Mr Guardiola makes me think I am a prize dunce, in that he has made me question my lifetime’s thinking about this great game.

    I have become a massive fan of his …even if I can see that were I in a coaching school run by him, I would be in the remedial stream.

    What he has done with Raheem Stirling and John Stones seems little short of…
    … ALCHEMY.

    And I also like the way he carries himself.
    (Ah…let me breathe those words back in. For I remember uttering them in these very pages some 6 or so years ago. But Malky was not quite the man inside, that he was outside. “Damaged goods” to my mind, just like Jose Mourinho and that darling of the media, Slaven Bilic.
    But somehow, I have a sense that this guy Guardiola dances to a different tune than the three bounders just mentioned.)
    DW.

  14. MIKE HOPE says:

    Dai,thanks for that.
    Funnily enough I was thinking exactly the same about Barry. Is he doing a Farage – my life’s work is done now you lot can sort out the mess!
    My guess is that he will be back soon blaming ‘tan’ for everything -that’s Barry not Farage!
    By the way I don’t think you need to abandon Charles Hughes entirely . The shortest distance between two points may well be a straight line but it is not necessarily the quickest – especially with the offside law!

  15. Dai Woosnam says:

    Dear Mike,
    After showering you with praise a day ago, you go and blot your copybook bigtime.
    Listen…Clive Harry was infinitely wise when he suggested we keep Paul’s blog a politics-free zone.
    Let us please ensure it remains that way.
    You knew full well that my view on the Referendum was totally antithetical to your position.
    And you could have guessed that the man you just disparaged in your last post, is a man I genuinely want to see knighted.
    But you still went ahead.
    So as Clive says…let us rule out party politics. For the sake of us all.
    Now as for Charles Hughes: he is fair game. But as for players being caught offside the Hughes way: it won’t wash. Thick forwards who won’t look along the line…well, they will get caught offside WHATEVER the tactics employed.
    And finally a funny point.
    The first proper sleep I had after I had read your 4.42 pm Sept 15 post, I found myself having a mini nightmare.
    I woke up in a sweat. Alas, I cannot recall the content of – or protaganists in – the dream, but it ended with the late Lord Denning with his rural Hampshire burr, putting on a black cap and intoning the nightmare words “David Brian Woosnam, the sentence of this court is that you be taken to a place of lawful execution….etc., and I awoke in a panic, at the “And may God have mercy on your soul” bit, and found myself shouting “But it was all circumstantial evidence, my Lord….just an apparently damning coincidence!!”
    God knows what the dream was all about.
    But I know this much…
    It makes me thankful my name is not Timothy John Evans.
    Here we can have a most civilised blog where we can explain how things are sometimes not exactly what they seem.
    There, all the poor boy from Merthyr Vale had, was John Reginald Halliday Christie.
    DW.

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