The week started with an announcement that Simon Lim had become the latest CEO to leave Cardiff City under Vincent Tan’s reign. Lim’s departure prompted a reshuffle with Chairman Mehmet Dalman ending doubts about his future at the club by taking on many of Lim’s old duties under his new job title of Executive Chairman and Ken Choo coming in as General Manager to, in Dalman’s words, run the non football side. The announcement also confirmed the departure of a group of three joining Swiss side Servette Geneva. The identities of two of those involved was not new news because there had been talk of Commercial Director Julian Jenkins and Development team manager Kevin Cooper moving to Geneva for a few weeks, but they will also be joined by long serving physio Sean Connolly – another departure is Dick Bate who was in charge of the club’s Academy.
Following the shambolic situation last year where a series of transfers that Messrs Tan and Lim were very critical of, despite, it seems, them having been signed off by someone in authority at the club (i.e. not Malky Mackay or Iain Moody whose departures were heavily linked to the overspending in these deals), a much needed change of procedure has also been introduced. A four man Committee will now discuss possible new signings before giving the go ahead for the deal to be completed.
Some reports I’ve read say Vincent Tan will be attending these meetings and others that he will have an, as yet, unnamed representative present, but definitely involved will be Messrs Dalman, Choo and Solskjær with it being emphasised that no deal will go ahead without Ole’s approval. For the signings so far this summer it seems Ole has worked in conjunction with Tan and Dalman, but it seems pretty certain that there will be more new players joining the club this summer despite us having bought in a fifth one since the end of the season this week.
Mehmet Dalman mentioned the possibility of another signing before the end of the week when talking about the staff changes outlined above a few days ago and commented that the emphasis would be shifting to the defence and midfield areas following the arrival of three new strikers in the past few weeks. Therefore, it did not come as too much of a surprise when the Bosman signing of Crystal Palace defensive midfield man Kagisho Dikgacoi on a three year deal was confirmed on Thursday.
Dikgacoi had been linked with City in the last fortnight or so as well, but, that said, given that my thinking on possible deals where we are in competition with teams who will be in the Premier League next season has tended to be that we stood little chance of completing them, I must say that the identity of the player did shock me a bit. In this case, the Premier League club involved were Palace themselves who had talked to Dikgacoi about a new deal, but with his agent making some critical comments about the London club’s attitude towards his client on completion of his move to Cardiff, I presume the length of contract offered and and wages agreed were better than theirs.
With the Bosman signing of Javi Guerra completed while we were a Premier League club and now another new arrival where we seem to be paying someone more than a top flight club was prepared to, I’ll admit to a few concerns about the size of our wage bill for the coming season. However, it seems fairly certain that we are going to be losing some high earners in the coming weeks (for example, Dikgacoi would appear to be a replacement for Gary Medel who is, increasingly, being linked to a return to Spain with Valencia), so I suppose the time to try to make a realistic judgment on the wage bill is on 1 September when the transfer window has closed.
One pretty high earner who appears to be close to the departure door is Fraizer Campbell who was reported a few days ago to be in Leicester for discussions with the winners of the Championship about an £800,000 move. If Campbell does go, then, despite the presence of Kenwyne Jones, Nicky Maynard, Joe Mason, Jo Inge Berget and Rhys Healey as forward options to go with new signings Guerra, LeFondre and Macheda, perhaps Ole feels we need still another striker, so maybe the reports of us being one of a number of Championship clubs chasing Chelsea’s Islam Feruz on a long term loan deal are not as wide of the mark as they may appear to be at first?
Another name linked with City recently is Ferencvaros defender Muhamed Besic. Twenty one year old Besic is in the Bosnia and Herzegovina squad for the World Cup and has been singled out by coach Safet Susic as the man to mark Lionel Messi in tonight’s game with Argentina. Besic has plenty of admirers, reported to include Anderlecht, Borussia Monchengladbach and Fenerbahce, so, on the face of it, he’s another who falls into the category of “unlikely” as far as I’m concerned, but, given some of our deals so far this summer, I’m certainly not going to say impossible.
One other bit of City related news, I can imagine how “old school” Cardiff fans will feel about this, but we were voted the best in the Premier League when it came to entertaining away fans last season (I’ll avoid the obvious jokes!) – indeed, only Plymouth Argyle of the ninety two clubs making up the Premier and Football Leagues were rated above us.
Finally, just a few quick words on the opening days of the World Cup in Brazil. Yes, there have been some shocking decisions by officials in the first few games, but, overall it has been a very promising start to the competition. England’s campaign began with defeat by Italy last night, but it was a much more open affair than I was expecting and, as such, continued a trend that has seen twenty six goals scored in eight matches. Chile, with Gary Medel at centreback scored three of them in their win over Australia, but at the moment the South American side that has impressed me the most is probably Columbia who beat Greece 3-0. Brazil were pretty good in beating Croatia 3-1, but they benefited from home town decisions and the scoreline flattered them, while Uruguay came a cropper against unfancied Costa Rica.
Of the European teams, Croatia aren’t out of it by any means, neither are England on their showing last night, but the result which towers above all others so far is Netherlands 5 Spain 1. The Netherlands (who I was pretty dismissive about in my piece on their warm up win over Wales!) were excellent with Van Persie in great form and Robben absolutely brilliant in the second half, but they were helped on their way by a woeful defensive showing by the team that has won their last three major tournaments. Spain looked like a side with important players in decline. Some of them are simply coming to the end of their careers, but others, notably their centrebacks and one or two in midfield, gave the impression that they were struggling to get themselves up for yet another competition after all the success, at club and country level, they’d enjoyed in the past six years – I think they may well not get past the group stage.
* pictures courtesy of http://www.walesonline.co.uk/