Weekly review 15/5/16.


Over the past few years, there have been times when I’ve done one of these weekly reviews, especially shortly after the last match of the old season had been played, and thought “was it really worth me doing that?” to myself because, in essence, all I’d done is just padded out some, inaccurate as it invariably turned out, transfer gossip – I don’t get that feeling at all this week.

The search for a new (or will he be new?) Head Coach goes on and I’ll return to that shortly with some words about the man who is the overwhelming bookies favourite to be named currently, but I’ve got to start with the concrete news that we’ve already made our first signing of the close season.

After Russell Slade had spoken following the Birmingham match last week with plenty of confidence about the chances of Lex Immers turning his loan move into a permanent one, it didn’t surprise me at all to hear the announcement that the twenty nine year old Dutch midfield player had joined us from Feyenoord on a two year deal.

It’s early days in his Cardiff career yet, but, so far at least, Immers has maintained the one goal every three matches scoring rate which marked his time with the Rotterdam team (actually, he scored thirty one times in hundred matches for Feyenoord according to Wikipedia).

I can remember watching a You Tube video showing Immers in goalscoring action for Feyenoord and his first club, Den Haag, and being struck by how “ordinary” they all looked. There was barely anything there that would remotely qualify as spectacular and this trend has continued so far at Cardiff, with all five of his goals for us up to now being close to tap ins – his only goal so far at Cardiff City Stadium, against Brighton, from about twelve yards out being the closest thing to a long range strike up to now.

Immers’ goals always look so simple to score that you wonder why other midfield men who also play in advanced areas behind the main striker(s) cannot match his scoring rate. However, the more I watch him, the more I think that our newest signing is a very intelligent player who has the knack of finding pockets of space, be it in the penalty area to score or in that area behind the striker(s) in general play to use simple, but effective passes. which can truly hurt opponents.

The news that as many as six other Championship clubs were also keen on signing Immers shouldn’t come as a surprise. Obviously, they’d also noticed that this sometimes ordinary looking player has a knack of influencing matches with his goals, key passes, work rate and ability to make the opposition’s sitting midfield man’s life more awkward that it has often been in the past against Cardiff.

It’s got a lot more difficult in recent years to make an educated guess as to how much an “undisclosed fee” was likely to be in reality. For example, Immers’ stock had fallen a lot at Feyenoord and I’m not sure how long he had left on his contract there. These are factors which could have driven Immers’ transfer fee down, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we have paid our largest transfer fee since the arrival of Bruno Manga about twenty months ago for him.

If I’m right there, I wouldn’t take that as evidence of us going on a spending spree, when compared to what’s happened since September 2014 at least, this summer, but bringing Lex Immers to the club is, for me, a very encouraging start to our transfer dealings before Championship football begins again.

Maybe Immers will eventually be viewed at Cardiff in the same way as he was by many supporters in his latter days at Feyenoord. That is, as something of a clumsy oaf who had become an embarrassment to the team, but his game would have to fall away very, very dramatically from the level shown in his first four months at City for that to happen – for now, Immers remains a very pleasant surprise who is teaching me that I shouldn’t place as much value on what the fans of the club a transfer target of ours plays for say about him.

The Immers signing went ahead at a time when we didn’t have a person in charge on the playing side at the club. This may mean that “non football” people like Ken Choo, Mehmet Dalman and Vincent Tan had pushed through the deal (as they appeared to do with the loan signing of Ravel Morrison in the days after Ole left), but it could also signify that the new Head Coach is already at the club and given his blessing to it.

Although he was born in Swindon, Paul Trollope won nine caps for Wales and one thing his selection as the new Head Coach would do is make a club that has looked decidedly unWelsh in recent seasons marginally less so.

Although he was born in Swindon, Paul Trollope won nine caps for Wales and one thing his selection as the new Head Coach would do is make a club that has looked decidedly unWelsh in recent seasons (at first team level anyway), marginally less so.

In fact, when you consider that he was a 6/1 on favourite to be appointed with one firm of bookies last night, it may well be that our new Head Coach will be the man who currently has the job title anyway!

Paul Trollope has always been pretty high up on any list of candidates to replace Russell Slade that has been drawn up in the last ten days or so. He fits the bill as described by the club in the statement breaking the news of Russell Slade stepping aside to the extent that he is young, by the terms of coaching and managerial jobs in football at least, at forty three and, although I tend to pay very little attention to how much our manager is jumping about in the dug out during a match, he does appear to be more “dynamic” than Russell Slade was –  he also has some previous managerial experience having, by all accounts, done a decent job at Bristol Rovers from 2005 to 2010.

Whether Trollope is “stats driven” or not, I don’t know, but, as it’s impossible for anyone to be less encouraging when it comes to youth development at Cardiff than Russell Slade was, he could certainly be spun by the club as ticking that particular box.

For me, it’s beyond argument that we started playing better quality football from the moment Paul Trollope was appointed in February of last year. Whether this was all down to him or not, I can’t say, but it would certainly appear that he is highly regarded in the game, so I wouldn’t be annoyed if it did turn out that he was, effectively, given the job of managing Cardiff City.

However, I would not be excited by the appointment either and there’s no way that I can see Paul Trollope being named as Russell Slade’s replacement leading to an increase in season ticket sales this summer – this would certainly happen with one or two of the names on those lists I mentioned earlier in charge.

It’s impossible to know just how influential Paul Trollope was when he was the number two to Russell Slade. As mentioned before, we did play better football as soon as he arrived and, unlike in 14/15, we did provide some entertainment at times last season.

There was always a tendency among many fans to credit anything good we did to Trollope and everything bad we did to Slade in the time they worked together. However, the truth as I see it is that, even if you are prepared to say Trollope should take most of the credit for the fact that we were not boring mid table nobodies last season like we were a year earlier, we were hardly great entertainers playing progressive football either – there was a caution in our approach whether we played at home or away and our lack of attacking pace was never fully addressed.

So, there has to be a suspicion at least that a Trollope appointment would mean more of the largely turgid stuff we played under Slade. This only increases the feeling that many supporters will ask “so, what’s really changed?” if the new Head Coach turns out to be the old one – it may be that this will be seen to be a completely unfair charge in time, but, for now, there are surely going to be many who will think that one yes man was being replaced by another one.

That last point goes right to the heart of the matter which is always going to dominate at Cardiff for the foreseeable future – what does Vincent Tan think?

I see that the club are saying that they’ve been approached by eighteen people enquiring about the new job. This seemed to be portrayed by them as an impressive figure, whereas my first reaction to reading it was to think it was about two or three times less than the number you would have thought there’d be at a club which stayed in the hunt for a Premier League place until the penultimate match of the season.

I still say that, rightly or wrongly, a lot of managers/coaches who would be interested in a job at Cardiff under different circumstances, will not be because Vincent Tan is in charge here. Furthermore, my feeling is that our owner is not too bothered at all with such a state of affairs, because he would have little intention of appointing these, often, more high profile individuals anyway even if they did apply.

A Paul Trollope appointment would be seen as further evidence that our owner is still heavily influenced by the latter days of the Malky Mackay era when Mr Tan felt his trust had been seriously betrayed by his manager.

I firmly believe that there are not many “football people” Mr Tan is prepared to put his trust in now and so it’s hardly surprising that when he does find someone in the game who he feels he can work with, he is inclined to show them a lot of loyalty (I still think that at most other clubs Russell Slade would have been sacked ten days ago rather than having a new post created for him).

Maybe Vincent Tan will shock me and many others by showing that he is prepared to look outside the small group of trusted lieutenants he has in football, but, if he doesn’t, then I’d say Paul Trollope is probably the best appointment he can make, but it still feels to me that his club is being kept in some sort of footballing straitjacket by this inability to look beyond the trusted few.

Alexander Tettey celebrates his winning goal for Norwich at Old Trafford in December. At the start of the season, he was being named as Norwich's most important player by the Daily Telegraph, now it appears that they are willing to let him go for nothing. Even so, it's hard to see any truth in this week's rumours linking him to City.

Alexander Tettey celebrates his winning goal for Norwich at Old Trafford in December. At the start of the season, he was being named as Norwich’s most important player by the Daily Telegraph, now it appears that they are willing to let him go for nothing. Even so, it’s hard to see any truth in this week’s rumours linking him to City.

Anyway, having mentioned transfer speculation right at the start, I should remark upon the couple of items which have surfaced in the past week. Firstly, Bruno Manga’s agent Yvan Le Mee was quoted as saying “All I can tell you is that Premier League clubs are interested.With what he showed at Cardiff for two years, it is logical that Bruno is attracting the interest of the world.”.

Those words have prompted rumours that Swansea, Palace and West Ham are looking at the Gabon international centreback. Now, based on how Bruno performed at Sheffield Wednesday and when he came on against Birmingham, I think he’d be lucky indeed to end up at one of those clubs next season, but I’ve always thought that he could well leave us this summer because he is one of a number of first team squad members whose deals with the club are up in a year’s time – some of the others in that category would be more willing to commit to Cardiff again than Bruno would I suspect.

As for players coming in, we’ve been linked with Norwich’s Alexander Tettey who, it’s being reported, is going to be released by the East Anglian club who were relegated (along with Newcastle) in the week. On the face of it, Tettey would be a good signing for us, but we could expect plenty of competition from other clubs in the Championship (and, maybe, higher) who’d be interested in him – also, I’m pretty sure that he, like Lex Immers, would do nothing to increase the amount of attacking pace in the squad.

Finally, a few words about the Championship Play Offs. The first legs of the Semi Finals have already taken place and it looks like we will be seeing an all Yorkshire Final. Sheffield Wednesday were 2-0 winners over Brighton at Hillsborough on Friday night – not all over by any means, but with Brighton having not scored against Wednesday in three meetings this season now and having lost four of their players with injuries which threaten to keep them out of tomorrow’s return leg, it’s hard to see them turning the deficit around.

The other tie looks even more cut and dried after Hull’s 3-0 win at Derby yesterday lunchtime where I couldn’t quite make up my mind whether it was Hull’s brilliance or Derby’s ineptitude that was responsible for an away win which was as comprehensive as the scoreline suggests. However, having seemingly turned things around after their defeat here at the beginning of last month, the Championship’s biggest spending outfit showed all of the lack of unity which had me thinking a few weeks back that they were the team we could overhaul in the top six.








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12 Responses to Weekly review 15/5/16.

  1. Barry cole says:

    Well Paul you have hit it right on the head. Tans distrust of football people remains and it seems that while that is in place we are not really going to go forward at any speed. That said tan has now boxed himself in and although there are a lot of very good managers out there because of his stance he cannot appoint one. Most of those managers would get us out of the championship with the money tan is said to be offering plus some additional money from sales.
    So we are where we are, and if Trollope is the chosen one and I believe that it is only option to tan, then we must look long term. I do believe he has different ideas than slade and certainly it’s a step forward, but it’s not a big step.
    I have contended that we always had the team to get into the top two last season but never the manager. I don’t believe that Trollope should be tainted with the slade philosophy because he wasn’t in charge. I believe the board have seen the problems and eventually slade put himself in a corner that even his relationship with tan couldn’t get him out of. In one post I said that had slade gone after the Shrewsbury match we would have got in the top six, the move to put Trollope in temporary charge would have allowed a number of options and scenarios which may have seen us in the top six and would have blooded Trollope one way or the other.
    If Trollope is appointed I think before we castigate tan and Trollope he needs to be given a chance, personally he deserves it.
    It’s not the person I would choose but then I haven’t the money to put where my mouth is, he certainly won’t add a lot more season tickets for next season but he deserves a chance to prove whether the football that improved when he arrived was in fact down to him.
    In business you do take chances and tan has taken another one if he appoints Trollope. If Trollope fails then it’s tan who will get it in the neck. And in business when you take those chances and they keep failing ( as we know this has happened already ) your standing in the business community as well as the football community reduces quickly.
    So should this appointment come to fruition Trollope needs us behind him. I can only wish him all the luck in the world because he is going to need it.

  2. Colin Phillips says:

    I agree with Paul and Barry that the appointment of Trollope won’t be changing many people’s minds about buying a season ticket.

    The big question to my mind is, do the players respect him, if they do and if he can introduce a bit more pace into the side then perhaps improved performances on the pitch will convince some that spending every other Saturday at the Cardiff City Stadium won’t be such a waste of time.

    Paul, I’m prepared to put Manga’s poor performances down to him having not fully recovered from that bout of “malaria”. It will be a shame but I can’t see him staying at Cardiff – at his best he is too good for the Championship.

    So the first job for the new head-coach will be to find a reliable centre-back because if the rumour that Turner is to be released and Morrison possibly missing the start of next season that leaves us with just Connolly.

    Let the rumour mill continue to trundle and we will no doubt have a whole load of names of those that are to leave and those that are coming in.

  3. Richard Holt says:

    It does seem that Trollope will move from being ‘First Team Coach’ to …… ‘First Team Coach’. As you say it’s underwhelming and unexciting but probably not in the ‘throw my season ticket away’ territory. Football is littered with low profile appointments who have turned out to be very successful and vice versa so I’m prepared to give him a chance. Funnily enough I was chatting to a few Bournemouth supporting friends yesterday who remember that when Eddie Howe was first appointed as their manager they were equally underwhelmed and resigned to the fact that he was all they could afford at that time.
    One thing I do wonder is how many people have been or will be interviewed as part of this process. Was Rowberry interviewed in order to justify the term ‘interviews’ or are several interviews being held with one person. I’d certainly like to know if anyone currently outside the club has been or is being interviewed or even considered.
    Love the sketch by the way Paul.

  4. Anthony O'Brien says:

    Michael Heseltine summed up the so-called Brexit campaign by asking whose judgement should we best trust, David Cameron’s or Boris Johnson’s. By the same token, whose judgement should we best trust in blogs relating to Cardiff City? And there’s only one choice – Paul Evans, our own Blogmeister. His opinions are always measured, always based on wide knowledge of the available facts, always expressed with good manners but telling impact. These qualities are yet again revealed in today’s blog. In the words of Barry Cole, Paul has again “hit it right on the head”.

    The description of Immers, for example, is both succinct and accurate: “a very intelligent player who has the knack of finding pockets of space”. Some players run around in wasted effort or go-nowhere circles, whereas Immers can move just two or three yards and make space for himself. Indeed, his movement is so good that I feared he would be snapped up by some other club. I certainly read statements attributed to him that he did not know if he would be at Cardiff next season. Now I read his loan has been made permanent. I am bound to ask myself if his hesitation had been anything to do with the manager. It’s impossible to tell, of course, but not improbable that the removal of Mr Slade clarified the thinking of Lex Immers.

    And this leads to me to some thoughts on Mr Slade and Paul Trollope. —- Again our Blogmeister hits the nail on the head when he states it is impossible to know how influential Paul Trollope was as number two to Mr Slade. For my own part, watching from a distance, it seemed that Mr Slade always consulted his number two before any substitution. Therein lies the problem, because it was the use of substitutes which generated considerable adverse criticism. Did Paul Trollope agree with what we all knew was wrong, or if he did not, why wasn’t he able to convince Mr Slade to act differently?

    Equally, to quote our Blogmeister once more, “there was a caution in our approach —– and our lack of attacking pace was never fully addressed”. Why was this? Was Mr Slade stubbornly deaf to suggestions from his number two; did his number two have no suggestions; or if he did, was he unable to convince the manager how to improve the team’s performance? I take Barry Cole’s comment that if Paul Trollope becomes manager, he “needs us behind him”, but I must admit I have grave reservations about such an appointment, especially in the light of remarks I read earlier from Paul Trollope that he was content being a number two and did not want to be the number one at Cardiff.

    This leads on to our Blogmeister’s accurate remark that “football people” would not be willing to work under Mr Tan. which is absolutely true. However, I’d like to add that there is more to running a club than a mere knowledge of football, and that “football people” might well suffer from a kind of “tunnel vision”. Mr Tan may well have a different — and more efficacious perspective — and also be willing to take advice from a range of sources. If Mr Tan has learned from his mistakes, which to some extent the evidence seems to suggest, then his judgement in terms of appointing a manager might well be improved. We shall see.

  5. Russell says:

    I think Trollope is probably the safer bet, than some larger ego’s out there that can be costly failures in this league. We did see a change in tactics after his appointment that did deliver a revival if sorts that got us near the play off, the progress from then on was halted in my view of the fortunate transfer embargo, magically lifted on the day Slade leaves, and season end?

    Manga is a good player , but can be done by faster smaller forwards. I would accept a decent fee for him now as he is in his final year, soon, a good fee now is better than zero a year from now, and I feel his lengthy international breaks restrict the continuity in a critical area.

    Lex , as Paul comments is good signing and a clever one , as with most things in life if your good at your job it always appears simple.

    Need a decent goal poacher and a Peter Thorne type forward to hold a ball up front ,to knit midfield to the forward line and get some decent pace out wide,
    perhaps Kadem given a run .

  6. Dai Woosnam says:

    Should Mr Paul Trollope be reading this, may I ask him to read Mr Barry Cole’s always sincere contribution.
    And wallow in the fact that he has been granted capital letters.
    Very soon Mr Trollope, you will go the way of Sir Vincent and Mr. Russell Slade, and be relegated to permanent lower case. Barry will regard you as unworthy of a capital letter.
    So enjoy your moment in the sun, while you may.

  7. The other Bob Wilson says:

    The usual thank you to you all for your replies.
    I suppose the first thing to say about Paul Trollope is that he’s not been appointed yet and while the bookies don’t tend to get much wrong, I believe that they are more fallible when it comes to who’ll be our next manager type questions than they are in most other walks of life.
    However, if we assume that the bookies have got it right this time. then I tend to agree with Barry – Trollope wouldn’t be my choice, but let’s get behind him if he gets the chance.
    Colin, fair point about Manga and I agree that some of the problems he can encounter at this level are caused because, generally speaking, he finds it all pretty easy in the Championship – before I finish on Bruno, I’m with Russell when he says he would accept a “decent” fee for him this summer, but, last year of his contract or not, the £1 million I saw quoted somewhere assuredly does not qualify as a decent fee to me!
    Also, when you say “Let the rumour mill continue to trundle”, I desperately hope that you’re not doing a Barry and in fact indicating your preference for the ex jack of the anti Cardiff t shirt as our new head coach!
    Richard, I believe you might be right about those interviews – I think we’ve all learned that it’s impossible to know how Vincent Tan is thinking when it comes to football, but my guess is that any shortlist of Head Coach candidates was a very small one with the number on it from outside the club amounting to a big fat zero.
    AMO, you are too generous with your comments about me – perhaps!!!! One thing I should clarify though is that, if it might be argued that the balance of power at Cardiff between football and non football people is too much in favour of the latter, then it’s not too long ago when the opposite was true. The distinct impression given during the latter part of Malky Mackay’s time and all of Ole’s spell with us was that they were both given the freedom to do almost exactly what they wanted when it came to signing players – so often it seems to me that City swing from one extreme to the other and this looks like another example of the club needing to find an effective middle way – currently, we seem to be narrowing the field of eligible candidates for the Head Coach down more than it needs to be.
    Regarding the embargo Russell, I think it’s widely accepted that we were going to sign Tony Watt permanently on the day it was announced, but wasn’t it said in some media report that we only went for Immers because of the embargo? Watt could be an exciting player and he was our most effective forward while he was with us, but I don’t see him as either the goal poacher or Peter Thorne type you talk about – Watt didn’t pull up any trees at Blackburn and I believe the embargo worked in our favour in this case (there was little or no evidence to suggest Russell Slade would have done well enough if he had cash to spend in January to get us into the Play Offs).
    Dai, I was going to say stranger things have happened than Paul Trollope reading this blog, but then realised that’s not true!

  8. Colin Phillips says:

    Paul, as I was writing the thought of that “Jack bastard” did flit through my mind but thankfully spent the minimum of time there. Apologies for bringing up the word/name.

  9. The other Bob Wilson says:

    Sorry Dai, I meant to make a comment on your local team. Most people I spoke to down here about yesterday’s match wanted Forest Green to win, but I didn’t. A town like Grimsby should always have a team in the Football League, but I would have been supporting any side that have suffered as much Play Off heartbreak as they have in recent years – now they’re back, I’d say there’s a chance they can do a Bristol Rovers and make it successive promotions next year.

  10. Dai Woosnam says:

    Nice joke of yours re Paul Trollope reading this blog !!
    Thanks also Paul, re the Mariners.
    I watched the game in a packed Cleethorpes Cricket Club, and it was pandemonium when their first flukey goal went in.
    It could easily have been 3-3 though…John ”The Beast” Parkin missed an absolute sitter with his first kick of the ball when coming on as halftime sub (now why should that be of any surprise to us Catdiff followers?), and then soon after, FG’s Clough missed an even bigger open goal from 5 yards out, dead centre.
    Town only got their third in injury time.
    But for sure, as you say, their fanbase warrants having a team two divisions higher than the Conference.
    They regularly take the best part of a 1000 fans to Saturday away games.
    And in the play off semis, Braintree just brought 83 fans with them to Blundell Park!!
    Oh…and a final word on their bright young manager…
    I see that The Imps have snapped him up.
    They must be smarting now to see their bitter rivals from 36 miles up the road, get back in the Big Time.

    You are right of course

  11. Dai Woosnam says:

    Forgive the 6 word detritus at the bottom of my posting.
    My iPad and me, again!!

  12. Dai Woosnam says:

    Just been watching my recording of the Liverpool-Seville final.
    Golly, my belief in Klopp has wavered as a result.
    No problem with his pressing game.
    And it should have seen off Seville, who despite their fantastic record in this competition, have not won a single away game ALL SEASON in La Liga.
    (An amazing stat is that.)
    And when you consider Seville are a selling team, who every year sell their stars and buy new players for no more than 2 million euros…that makes big spending Liverpool look like chumps.
    But here’s the thing…
    Did you notice the staggeringly stupid third goal Liverpool conceded? Talk about “architects of their own downfall”…!!
    Having forgotten that the Sturridge goal stemmed from a long kick into the Seville half that skidded off the head of an opposition defender to a Liverpool player in the opposition half in a POMO…and a couple of passes later it arrived at Sturridge’s feet, what do we see The Reds doing when they are 1-2 down and chasing the game?
    Only Mignolet ROLLING the ball out to players who cannot control a football, and giving Seville the chance to INTERCEPT Emre Can’s loose pass and score!
    I am so stunned that Klopp could favour this kamikaze approach to football.
    And soon we are gonna get another “roll it out” merchant in Pep Guardiola…nice chap though he seems to be.
    But note this…Seville’s keeper took proper goal kicks every time…even though their classy French number 9 was just about 5’10”.
    My test of Mr Trollope will be if he encourages David Marshall to roll it out to Peltier and Malone …two chaps who – under pressure – could not trap a greedy mouse.
    If he does, I am in favour of “doing a Barry” on him.
    Make him lower case in your reports.
    That last bit is in jest of course…as I know there is no chance of that, as you are a fervent believer in Barca football.
    Time to sign off.
    Your contrarian – indeed, HERETIC – friend,

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