Warnock proves his worth on the day Craig Bellamy returns to the club.

In the aftermath of the Ipswich match someone on a City messageboard I use started a thread in which he made reference to something which Mansfield manager Steve Evans said in a recent interview.

Now, if I ever got around to compiling a list of my least favourite managers, Evans would be very near the top of it for all sorts of reasons, but I have to say I admired his honesty when he said he thought that a manager’s influence on the team was perhaps five per cent, the rest was down to the players’ abilities.

I put it fifteen per cent when I made my contribution to the thread and I daresay some boffin (I love that word!) somewhere has devised a method whereby the influence of a manager can be measured in percentage terms. However, my point was more that I thought Evans was selling his profession short somewhat with his estimation rather than trying to put a figure on how much he was selling it short by.

Whenever I think of Evans now, it tends to also bring to mind our former manager Russell Slade because the two men have had quite a rivalry down the years with the former Leeds and Rotherham boss tending to come out on top more often than not.

If one game typifies how a Slade v Evans encounter tends to go, it was the 2014 League One Play Off Final where Rotherham beat Leyton Orient on penalties after they had been 2-0 down. To my mind, there were two men most responsible for the Yorkshire team coming out on top that day, one was former City striker Alex Revell and the other was Evans – I maintain that Evans’ influence on proceedings that day should be rated at higher than five per cent.

The reason I mention this is that I believe my take on this matter gained a bit more credibility last night after Cardiff City overcame both a woeful first half showing and the curse of playing towards the Canton Stand in the second half (I admit that the latter only ever existed in my head!) to end up well deserved winners in a game with Wolverhampton Wanderers which, if hardly falling into the relegation six pointer category (such things don’t exist at this stage of any season), could be argued to be both teams’ most important game of the season so far.

While defeat would hardly have qualified as a catastrophe for City (and it certainly isn’t one for Wolves), it would have given a “must win” feel to Saturday’s game when we entertain Barnsley, but now we can go into that fixture with confidence that another one of those curses which only exist in my mind (we never get six points when we have two home matches in a week) can also be put to the sword.

Going back to managers, it’s my opinion that we would not have won last night without Neil Warnock in charge, but, before I develop that theme, it also needs to be said I suppose that it could be argued that our first half problems were, to some degree at least, of our manager’s own making.

Certainly, my reaction when first hearing the starting eleven was one of shock – Bennett and Lambert on the bench, Immers and Richardson in and Pilkington up front. Now, it must be another one of those intangibles I suppose as to how much a manager who brings players in from the cold to give them a chance to prove him wrong should be blamed when said players only go on to demonstrate exactly why they had been barely featuring. Suffice it to say though that the pressure was definitely on Neil Warnock as his team trooped in a goal down having played as poorly as they did at any time under Paul Trollope’s management.

After an early dalliance as a kid, I’ve not been a booer of my team for forty years or more, but what I couldn’t get my head around last night was not why some did boo the players off, more what on earth was making a few in the ground clap City off after they had been so inept!

Unfortunately, it was the autumn 2016 version of Lex Immers who turned up last night, not the spring 2016 one, while I’m afraid that Kieran Richardson did nothing to dispel the growing feeling that, after four signings, Neil Warnock’s success to failure rate in the transfer market can be put no higher than fifty per cent so far.

This is not to say that these two players were solely to blame for Wolves having such an easy time of it in the first half. For example, they couldn’t be held responsible at all for the atrocious goal City gave away with barely two minutes played – it wasn’t Immers or Richardson who failed to put Wolves left back Matt Doherty under any pressure at all after a free kick had been rolled to him forty yards from goal and it wasn’t those two whose rabbit caught in the headlights reaction to the resultant pot shot from thirty yards meant that the ball ended up in the back of our net.

On a similar theme, Immers and Richardson weren’t wholly responsible for the fact that Wolves’ 19 year old keeper Harry Burgoyne, who was making his second Championship appearance for the club after conceding four on his debut on Saturday, had so little to do in the opening forty five minutes.

Entirely predictably, Burgoyne’s only anxious moment came from a dead ball situation when he missed an Aron Gunnarsson long throw, while the one time City threatened a goal was when Sean Morrison headed a Peter Whittingham free kick narrowly over as, yet again, we looked like a team unable to create anything in open play.

I think anyone who has been reading this blog for some time will know by now that I don’t really enjoy a direct, long ball approach, but, having seen where trying to play in a way that is more easy on the eye got us earlier in the season, I accept, albeit reluctantly, that it’s probably the best way for Neil Warnock to go with this group of players.

However, when the long ball game is played as poorly as City played it in the first half, then, surely, it must be so easy to play against?

One thing that became clear as the half progressed though was that, after strolling through the opening quarter, Wolves were showing that they were no great shakes themselves – their lucky goal apart, they had done nothing to indicate why they had managed to score six times in their last two matches.

The visitors found themselves coming under more pressure as half time approached, but, given the ease with which they were containing us, the suspicion was that they were happy to let us come on to them. There was another possibility, Wolves were trying to get out, but we were stopping them and so we were gradually beginning to take command. However, half time came and, given that we’d not come up with a single second half goal in a home match this season after not scoring in the first forty five minutes, I spent the interval thinking the game was as good as lost already.

Thankfully, not everyone was as pessimistic as me and Neil Warnock spent the fifteen minutes proving why there was virtually unanimous approval from City fans when his appointment was announced in October.

Now, I think most of us have probably seen those videos on You Tube which show full on Warnock half time dressing room rants, so I’m sure that I wasn’t the only one who thought that the paint would be coming off the dressing room walls as our manager laid into our misfiring players – apparently, the truth is that it was nothing like that.

In a post match interview Anthony Pilkington said that the squad had still not seen that side of Warnock’s character yet, remarking that, in fact, he was pretty calm at half time – I see no reason why Pilkington would say this if it wasn’t the truth.

Instead, Warnock was obviously of the opinion that the second of the two possible reasons I gave as to why Wolves spent so much time defending just before half time applied as he told the team that our opponents were there for the taking.

Nevertheless, it was hardly a surprise that the manager felt the need to make a couple of changes after forty five minutes. Although only the recalled Bruno Manga had reason to be satisfied with his performance so far, it was predictable, and right, that Immers and Richardson should be the players to be withdrawn, but the identity of one of the men to come on was far from predictable.

Craig Noone’s introduction was to be expected and, given Pilkington’s struggles against Batth and Stearman in the middle of the Wolves defence, a striker had to be brought on, but it wasn’t to be Rickie Lambert, instead Warnock opted for Kenneth Zohore.

I’ve mentioned before on here there were times last season when Zohore really impressed me – it didn’t happen too often, but he made defending harder for two teams now playing in the Premier League (Burnley and Middlesbrough) when he came on last season.

The young Danish striker had blown his two big chances to make an impact this season when he was anonymous after being given a start against Bristol Rovers in the League Cup and looked out of his depth when brought on after less than fifteen minutes in the home defeat by Derby, but four goals in two appearances for the Development team in the last month might well have meant it was a more confident player now who waited for the second half to get under way.

Incredibly, with one exception which I’ll mention later, all of the significant action in the final forty five minutes took place at the dreaded Canton End, as Wolves came under sustained pressure which, this time, often threatened to have something on the end of it.

No pictures of last night’s match I’m afraid , but it’s good to see Craig Bellamy back at the club in an official capacity – his work with the Academy since retiring should mean that he will have a thorough knowledge of most of the player’s he’ll be overseeing.*

Initially, it was Noone who took the eye most, as he probably started playing as well as at any time since we last met Wolves. It was Noone who first raised the pace from the ponderous opening half by taking a quick crossfield free kick aimed at Junior Hoilett which only needed to have been a bit more accurate to have completely caught out the Wolves back line and then he switched to the left to beat a couple of opponents and hit a right foot shot that forced Burgoyne into his first meaningful action of the night.

The youngster passed this test with flying colours as he superbly tipped Noone’s effort around the post, but, increasingly, a resurrection of a chant that I’ve not heard in ages (one that had been thoroughly inappropriate this season until last night!) seemed in order – it really was beginning to feel like we were going to score in a minute.

One of the main reasons why City were looking more threatening attacking the end of the pitch where they had enjoyed so little success this season before last night was that Batth and Stearman had been forced to throw away their cigars and take their slippers off because Zohore was not giving them a moment’s peace.

In the past, the striker has looked diffident on his first team appearances – it was if he didn’t really believe he should be out there. It was completely different this time though, as mentioned before, goals for the Under 23s may have helped, but, watching the difference the two subs were making, you had to think that Warnock had got them so motivated and their enthusiasm had the effect of lifting others, as City began to show that there was a little bit more to them than biff bash stuff and a reliance on set pieces.

An acrobatic overhead effort that flew just over, was as close as Zohore got to a goal and it was certainly not a case of everything he tried coming off, but this was the best I’ve seen from him in a Cardiff shirt. He thoroughly deserved the bit of luck he may have got when the corner Matt Connolly scored the equaliser from was given despite it looking to me as if no defender had got a touch on his mishit shot that flew yards wide.

At 1-1 with a quarter of the match left, Warnock was being proved right – Wolves were there for the taking. However, for a while, it looked like the goal had revitalised our opponents rather than inspired us. We seemed to lose the intensity that Wolves had been unable to cope with and when they were able to force a corner, the ball broke to George Saville who looked a certain scorer until Amos was able to partially atone for his earlier error with a brilliant stop at point blank range – although there haven’t been any mistakes as glaring as last night’s from our keeper, there had been a strange lack of outstanding saves from him as well, this was, by some way, the best one I’ve seen from him for us so far.

If Wolves had been able to go back in front at that stage, I think it’s likely they would have won, but that was the last we saw of them as an attacking force as the game reverted to it’s former course of City domination – albeit, it wasn’t as total as earlier and when the winning goal did arrive in the eighty sixth minute, there was not that feeling that it had been coming like there was when Connolly scored.

Again, Zohore was right at the centre of it influencing proceedings. This time, bursting through a tackle to find himself in space some twenty five yards from goal – in the past, Zohore has been guilty of getting over excited in such positions and he’d try a shot that went nowhere near goal, but, he chose exactly the right option now, playing the ball into Pilkington’s path.

In the lead up to the game, Neil Warnock said he wanted his forwards to show more belief in front of goal and I’m pretty certain that Pilkington was one of the men he had in mind at the time – Freddie Gounongbe  still gets terrible stick for that miss up at Birmingham, but Pilks’ at Forest was almost as bad. There was no hesitation or nerves from him here though as he took a touch before dispatching a left foot shot from just inside the penalty area beyond Burgoyne.

Now was the time to prepare for the inevitable siege on our goal as we desperately tried to hang on to our lead in the eight minutes or so that remained, but, truth be told, we survived quite comfortably as much of the time was spent with us keeping the ball by the Wolves corner flag on the Grandstand side.

I’m not saying it will happen, but what in the end was a well merited win has the potential to be a season changing game because it was so out of character with so much that we had seen so far this season – the squad still needs some new faces, but, despite what happened to Immers and Richardson, all of a sudden it looks like Neil Warnock has a few more realistic options for his squad than he may have thought.

Just a few words on youth football to finish. At the same time as the first team was playing, the Academy side crashed out of the FA Youth Cup with a 5-0 defeat in the Third Round at holders Chelsea. To be frank, we were always going to lose this match, but, hopefully, not by such a margin – based on what I’ve read, dogged defence kept us in the tie into the second half, only for Chelsea to then score four times in seven minutes.

It wasn’t all bad news though, because earlier in the day the club announced that Craig Bellamy had been appointed as City’s Player Development Manager. City CEO Ken Choo explains what this will entail in this piece and my first reaction to this news is that it’s a great appointment – after all the frustrations of the last three or four years, it looks like the club are not only listening, they are learning as well.

*picture courtesy of http://www.cardiffcityfc.co.uk/

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9 Responses to Warnock proves his worth on the day Craig Bellamy returns to the club.

  1. Anthony O'Brien says:

    After one of the worst first-half displays I’ve had to sit through, Cardiff showed real passion and commitment in the second half last night. I was still feeling sympathy, though, for Pilkington who had to challenge so frequently (and unsuccessfully) for high balls booted out of defence, but at least his intelligent running finally paid dividends when he was in exactly the right place to score from Zohore’s clever pass.

    However, Zohore to me remains something of an enigma. He has and revealed the physical attributes to frighten defenders, but as per usual he could rarely get off the ground to challenge for high balls with a defender on his back. If only he could do what Heider Helguson used to do — namely, move a few steps away from the destined flight of the ball, before moving back swiftly and with precision to win the high ball. The return steps enabled him to take a running jump and rise above most defenders, and it also helped him escape the shackles of the defender hard against his back. If only Zahore could learn to do this (and even if it might have been intuitive on Helguson’’s part, his technique was also manifestly honed by practice) then Zohore would emerge as a much improved centre forward.

    Now,I’d also like to mention Manga but in in the same breath as Harold Macmillan. Given Macmillan’s rather bizarre family circumstances, it is curious that he should for ever be associated with the phrase “selling off the family silver”. Although he never actually used those words, they remain as the most powerful statement against Mrs Thatcher’s privatisation policies. In effect, Macmillan was warning against short-term gain taking precedence over long-term benefits.

    To my mind, Manga is Cardiff City’s “family silver”, as exemplified by his quality display last night.. Yet, it seems that he is destined to be sold in the very near future. If this be the case, it could come back to haunt Cardiff City.

    I accept that Manga is the most saleable asset on Cardiff’s books and therefore the most likely to attract a substantial transfer fee, and that he is probably among the team’s highest wage earners, But, would his transfer be a case of short-term gain at the expense of long-term benefits? Some moons ago I even suggested that the team should be built around Manga, and I am still of that opinion. In fact, I’d love to see Manga and Bamba in tandem at Cardiff, and then, in years to come, perhaps we could look back and use Harold Macmillan’s words: “we’ve never had it so good”.

  2. Colin Phillips says:

    Excellent and accurate report, Paul.

    I think that early goal really got to the Cardiff side by the way they played for the first twenty minutes, quite a few of the team looked as if they would have preferred to have been elsewhere.

    Agree that the team selected looked very strange and Warnock has to take some of the blame for the early performance of his side. in fairness he recognised his error and in the circumstances was probably quite pleased to go in at half-time just the one down. Against a stronger side than Wolves the score-line might well have been embarrassing.

    The substitutions seemed to work very well and we were certainly a different proposition in the second-half. We certainly had the ‘rub of the green’ with Connolly’s goal, iffy corner decision, possible mayhem on the goal line and the ball more or less hit the full-back’s head before dropping over the line. Nothing wrong with Pilks’ though, a goal from open play and calmness in the opposition box, such a refreshing change.

    For once the three points has made a big difference in the league table. We are now unbeaten in three, can we get all the points against a Barnsley side who are in the top half of the table but are in stuttering form? If we do we could almost claim to be “out of danger”, over the Christmas period at least.

    Thanks again, Paul, for your reports and the opportunity for a few of us to express our views on the happenings in more than a couple of sentences.

  3. Barry Cole says:

    Happy days…….
    A number of people have indicated that the first half was as poor as they have seen, believe sone have poor memories. I just want to take everyone back which may just explain why that first 35 minutes were poor.
    After the OGS rein it was clear that the confidence was beginning to wain in the team. The appointment of slade continued that problem but also began to make it worse. I have no doubt he was out of his depth and should have gone at the end of his first season.
    The football was getting worse and you could see the confidence draining from the players. Last season was one of the easiest championship seasons with players who if played to their strengths would have been in the top two.
    Looking at last years games Brighton excluded ,which was one of those games that just happened to be one that ensured every shot hit the back of the net, the games were unwatchableand as far as value for money were disasterous.
    Did I blame the players, did I blame their work ethic, no , there was only one person who clearly was to blame and that was slade. I note the 5% and 15% on how much managers influence games but I believe it to be 50% manager and 50% players. And what we got with slade was the losss of confidence, the loss of belief and the lack of being able to beat teams we should have but more than any thing slades man management skills were clearly non existent. It was clear even when he used substitutes he had no idea how to change games. The ball was a hot potato to the players and the continual cross field passsing and then backward passsing before losing the ball just completely drained the players of confidence. He actually never knew his best team.
    When the decision was made to relieve of his duties and appoint Paul Trollope then I realised that he wouldn’t stand a chance because of the nightmare scenario left by slade.
    Paul just never had the experience to rebuilt a team devoid of confidence and no matter what he tried he was doomed and I still think he will learn from that but to our detriment.
    Now tan has to take ownership of this problem and in any business mistakes are made. In the case of tan a number of high profile mistakes have been made and that has cost him a lot of money. That said his culture is different, his philosophy is different and his knowledge of football was poor. I emphasise was ass I believe he has learnt and he now sees the idiots who suggested slade for what they are. At the same time he had two key things to achieve, one was to appoint a manager with the experience to turn this around and to look at future progression of the club.
    Make no mistake the appointment of Warnock was a master stroke and that has now been compounded by the appointment of Bellamy. He is really looking long term and that’s all credit to him for those business decisions.
    For all the doubters and the ones still thinking of relegation I will say two things,
    1 Warnock came in knowing full well that it wasn’t going to be a walk in the park. He had to undo nearly 3 years of diabolical management and do it quickly. He knew that the present team would not have made it without fresh blood. His creditability within the football world meant he could get good players quickly. Two of those may not get to their previous level and will fall by the wayside but what he created was the start of change in both in attitude fitness and most of all belief.
    2 he has started to instil the value of man management by making the players realise that they are good enough and with TLC coupled with tough love he will bring the best out of them.
    That became clear against Ipswich when we were down to ten men and yet could and should have won the match. Question when was the last time we as fans could say that when we have gone down to ten men that we have actually attacked the opposition. I can’t remember
    Last night we let in an early goal and you could see the despondency throughout the team. It affectively put paid to any chance of playing well as the old feeling of going behind hit them hard and it was a poor show. It was a poor show until about ten minutes from half time when it suddenly hit the players that they could come back from that goal.
    Warnock said he would change things to try out different options but to his credit he didn’t rant and rave and he made two changes that completely transformed the game. Just ask yourself would that have happened under slade , of course it wouldn’t
    The team is fitter and the beginning of the revival has started. Like Warnock says it’s nowhere near complete and there are positions which will need to be covered by new and experienced players.if anyone can get those Warnock can.
    Without picking out the players that have flourished under Warnock I have to agree with Anthony that manga could be a greater loss than we might imagine.
    Finally and sorry for the long scribe I do believe that we are moving quickly in the right direction and a plan is in place. What I would like now the fans to forgive and forget what has gone on and get back and support the team. The players are giving their all and we really should give our all.
    I still believe a top six is there for the taking and until it’s impossible I will stick with that because I do believe we have the best manager in the championship and we will soon have the best team

  4. BJA says:

    Paul – A splendid and accurate report as ever – and thanks for that.
    I am someone who started watching the City in the very early Fifties and was in the ground the day that we beat Leeds to gain promotion to the old First Division and who galloped excitedly with thousands of others in euphoric manner onto the the pitch to salute our heroes, And this this morning I woke with that same sense of well being, although a victory to lift us out of the relegation zone is hardly comparable with what happened sixty years plus ago , with the Dinah Washington hit of that decade buzzing in my head ( and with apologies to the English lyricist ) ” What a difference a DANE makes “. And as you have eluded, he did make a difference. Good to hear the Canton Stand voicing Kenneth Zohore’s name in such enthusiastic tones. More of the same, please, Kenneth.
    As all of your correspondents have stated, our first forty five minute performance was wretched. And what a beginning. A clumsy foul by Connolly, a lack of alertness when the quick free kick was taken, and a subsequent fierce shot that surprised our goalkeeper, and only two minutes on the clock. In response, we seemed totally devoid of any constructive attacking ability, the main method being a big hoof up to where Pilkington seemed, unsurprisingly, always second best, and Immers nowhere to be seen.
    But then came the changes. As most of us who sit in my corner of the ground agreed, the two that were removed from the fray could have no complaints. Richardson has done nothing to justify an extended contract, and Immers is a pale shadow of the player who performed so well in the second half of last season, and may well be on the way out. The surprise came when it was Zohore to accompany Noone as the replacements and immediately we had a better balanced team, attacking from both flanks and the long lofted ball down the middle giving the Wolves central defenders a much more difficult time with the new target man in competition. Consequently, Pilkington became more effective.
    Now why NW did not start with those two at the beginning, only he will know, but it was to his complete credit that he recognised what was necessary, and the methods to change the team’s fortunes – and didn’t they just. I have no idea in percentage terms what the figure is for managerial ability, but yesterday’s changes, it might have gone off the scale!! All of a sudden, there was an energy and determination, and skill, yes skill, that caused all sorts of problems for the Wolves defenders and we did look like scoring and perhaps more than the two that we achieved.
    Defensively, with Bruno reigning supreme ( surely he should be a regular, and certainly not sold ) and forwards tracking back to tackle, we were in control apart from a couple of scares. However we were, and have been all season, vulnerable to opponents who break quickly and there is a need to be somewhat more circumspect when we attack at set pieces. Two players at least to guard against attacks of this nature.
    So that is four points gained of my hopeful eight. And now Barnsley, inconsistent Barnsley. If our second half performance is able to be replicated for the whole game on Saturday, then surely we must be in with a shout. That being the case, and in optimistic mood, I have today purchased five tickets for the match for the family. And if Mr Zohore can repeat his exploits, I could wake up on Sunday with the words of South Pacific’s ” There is nothing like a DANE” racing around my brain.
    Thank God we’re a musical nation!

  5. Clive Harry says:

    Afternoon Paul and everybody else.
    Having just watched Saint Colin’s superb performance in his press conference, I have to say that the last two days, in Cardiff City terms, have been uplifting.
    Craig Bellamy’s appointment yesterday was a huge pick me up and, after the first half drudgery, the second forty five minutes last night saw the team transformed by the half time pep talk and substitutions. I’m not saying Rusty Spade wouldn’t have made the same changes but they would have been made in the eighty second minute with the game lost!
    However, I have to say that I have been disappointed by the switch of Peltier to left back. To my mind he is a solid and reliable, relatively uninspiring right back who may struggle to perform consistently by playing on his weaker side, particularly going forward. Nevertheless, it’s four points from two games with him playing there so with the confidence I have in the manager, I’ll put those concerns on the back burner for now.
    With a transfer window looming, I think it’s becoming apparent that Chamakh’s short term contract won’t be renewed and I think Richardson will be joining him if cuts need to be made. Immers’ days here also look numbered but I hope that that Huws’s potential will see him go on loan rather than being sold in January. On the plus side, Zohore appears to have provided a striking alternative if he can continue last night’s improvement. Idriss Saadi also appears to be doing well on loan, albeit at Fred’s previous level, and there were two goals for trialist Peter Skapetist (previously QPR before a £400.000 move to Stoke) the other other day for the Development team.
    A few more points before January 1st and it could be a very interesting month, perhaps full of surprises on the transfer front!

  6. russell roberts says:

    Thanks Paul , like many I nearly left last night at half time , it was a tale of two cities though ,so thank god . If we had lost that one , we probably would have dropped points against Barsnley then follows Brighton , Brentford away , with Villa home and blink , yep we are bottom , that is how fragile we are , minus those two goals and we would be in extreme difficulty..

    Appalling team selection was proven at half time, when we were on the front foot in the second half it showed our lack of ability still in front of goal any other team would have won 4-1 . I do wonder if NW wanted to see Immers and Richardson play minutes , before deciding on releasing them in January , that may happen now along with another Ralls loan .

    The players that stood out for me was Manga his coolness in defending was wonderful , pity we can get him alongside Sol Bamba.
    Gunnerson who should be our captain , by a country mile , was superb and was even crossing long balls to feet .
    Hoillet put in another great effort ,perhaps his lack of penetration in the box and hitting the back of the net is the missing threat.
    Whitt’s found loads of space against a very poor midfield, so hard to judge, but he did play well ,and his late volley cross in late in the second half was technically brilliant.
    Kenneth , did what a Revell type forward does, run around , press , and pass the odd good ball his heading ability is woeful , the fact he is ahead of Marouane Chamakh speaks volumes for the later’s career, and a poor signing .

    Richardson is a spent force so good bye .

    Immers well whats happened, he is not fit , he could not recover when losing the ball whcih he did consistently ,did he just try to impress for a contract and thought, hey I’m safe for two years , perhaps we will keep him unless a big offer comes in, and hope he turns the corner , as per Gunnerson.

    Amos : some say he was at fault for the the rocket after just 2 minutes , perhaps he was routed , so was the rest of the team though, more than made up for it later in the second half, he is a decent keeper at this level .

    Bring on the “the Tykes” a win will send me home well happy and drunk on happiness and helped with some decent craft ales .

  7. MIKE HOPE says:

    A great report as usual and intelligent comments from our regulars.
    I note that Barry blames Slade for our first half performance! I’m not quite sure how Slade’s squad was good enough to be in the top two if Warnock urgently needed new blood to get us out of the bottom three!
    I love Barry’s optimism for the rest of the season and his call for supporters to return.
    Two of the most significant performances last night,but for totally opposite reasons, came from Manga and Immers.
    Manga is , I think, the best footballer in our squad.
    He is however in the last year of his contract and is apparently being paid at above the new more sensible ceiling for the club.
    Would Manga sign a new contract on a substantially reduced wage?
    Probablv not but worth a try with perhaps a generous release clause.
    Immers,I have read,has the ability to be a professional darts player.
    My theory is that his mother gave birth to twins.Last year we had the footballer but this year his mother has sent us the darts player!

  8. Dai Woosnam says:

    Loved the Immers joke, Mike…!!
    And loved the report, Paul. Thanks as ever for the sheer (unpaid) … EFFORT.

  9. The other Bob Wilson says:

    Thanks for the replies all. A few of you are saying that we should try to keep Bruno Manga, but I think it’s a non starter. For me, Mike has summed up the situation with Manga well – at this stage of his current contract, we need to persuade him to sign another one if we are ever going to sell him for his “real” value. If he leaves in January we are only going to get a fraction of what he is worth because, if the feeling on both the player and the club’s side is that they want him to move, then potential buying clubs hold all of the aces because they know they only need to wait to the summer and they can get him for nothing. On the other hand, there will be some clubs who will think that they will be overwhelmed if there’s an auction whereby the player goes to the club which offer him and his agent the best deal and there’ll be others who won’t want to wait until then because they have promotion/relegation issues that will be decided by late spring – this could lead to a bidding war for Mange next month, but the figures involved will be pretty small unless there are a lot more clubs who are desperate to sign him then than I imagine there’ll be.
    Mike mentions the possibility that Manga could be offered a deal here on lower wages, but with a small sell of fee clause – that might work, but I think it would have to be signed and sealed by the end of this month because he’ll be free to speak to potential new employers in January and you’d have to think that the advice he’d be given is to wait and see what January brings. Also, I remember the comments made by his agent in the summer which made it pretty clear that his client was looking to secure a move before the transfer window closed – I just don’t believe there is a desire from Manga to stay at Cardiff and I’d be fairly sure that at least some of Neil Warnock’s planned January signings are dependent on getting his wages off the books.
    I agree with Russell on a couple of things – we should have won by more than 2-1 giving how much we were on top in the second half and also the Wolves midfield was pretty ordinary. However, Neil Warnock has always said that one of his January targets was a striker, but he has refused to divulge where the other two or three potential newcomers would play – I’ve always been pretty convinced that one of them will be a goalkeeper, I wouldn’t disagree with Russell when he says Amos is “decent” at this level, but I think Warnock wants better than that.
    Like you Clive, I hope Peltier at left back is not a long term thing because I don’t think we are getting the best out of him there, but I’ve always suspected that, before anything else, Warnock wants defenders who can defend properly and I’m not quite convinced that Joe Bennett is his type of defender.
    Clever musical allusions there BJA and I agree with you that we do look vulnerable to counter attacks when we have a corner, attacking free kick or Gunnarsson long throw – fair play to Whitts though, he doesn’t half chase back when he is one of our last men for such breaks and he has shown that he doesn’t always have to kick our opponents up in the air when he is forced to defend.
    Barry, I think it’s almost always what is happening on the pitch which drives the mood of the crowd. The atmosphere was pretty awful in the first half, but then what were City doing on the pitch to try and change that – next to nothing. Maybe we were more dominant for spells of the Forest match, but the last time I saw us boss a home match as much as we did in the second half on Tuesday was when Leeds somehow won down here last season – the crowd will always respond if we are putting our opponents under concerted pressure, it’s just that we’ve done it so rarely in recent seasons.
    Colin, agree completely with you about the first half. We would definitely have lost that game earlier this season and, apart from at Rotherham (where we had more than our share of luck), we have not turned a half time deficit into a win this season – in fact, we found it hard to even manage a draw when we’ve been trailing at half time. This is why I said that Tuesday has the potential to be a season changing game – we were so poor in the first half and yet, by the time ninety minutes had been played even our opponents were having to admit we were well worth the win. I’d seen nothing before Tuesday to suggest we could turn things around on that sort of scale, now the players know that they can step things up to a level we’d not seen before.
    AMO, by and large, I’d say the days of forward best known for his headed play has gone. I think back to the amazing Alan Gilzean and see someone whose control of the ball with his head was better than many, many players I’ve seen were when the ball was played to their feet. How many strikers are there now who you think of as being, primarily good headers of the ball? Andy Carroll yes, Rudy Gestede maybe and then I’m struggling. Yes, I would have included Helguson (who was a tremendously good header of the ball when you consider that he was not that tall) and I think that you are probably right in that there had to be a degree of natural ability that was always there with him – I’m not sure you could get as good as he was with practice alone.
    Regarding Zohore, I believes he is like a lot of tall strikers nowadays in that, instinctively, his default setting so to speak is to think like someone who is going to get the ball played into his feet. I can understand this to a degree and would, argue that, in his case, it would be wrong to start see him as a Rickie Lambert type player who, at this stage of his career, has such an emphasis on the physical battle with his marker. Zohore has good pace and mobility for someone his size and I’d say it was these factors that caused the Wolves centrebacks most problems – yes, he should be better in the air considering his size and we are playing in a way that sees probably a majority of the balls played up to our striker needing to be met by his head, but, if we ever did start playing with two strikers on a regular basis, I could see Zohore being pretty effective as the “little man” playing off Lambert’s “big man”.

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