Weekly review 15/7/17.

According to Neil Warnock, Cardiff City completed their incoming transfer business for the summer this week with what was their most expensive signing of the close season period – almost certainly, it involved the biggest fee we’ve paid for a player since the reported £5 million we paid for Bruno Manga in August 2014.

I’ll come to the player involved shortly. but, before that, I should add the caveat our manager gave that we may still be looking for new arrivals before 1 September if we receive a bid for a current player that is too big to turn down.

Currently, it would appear that this may be relevant to two first team squad members in particular. Apparently, we’ve received another bid from an unnamed club for Sean Morrison who was the subject of an offer, believed to be £3 million, from Sheffield Wednesday about a month ago.

With a probable need for some balancing of the books following the signings we have made, I suppose it doesn’t have to follow that the latest bid for our captain was a bigger one than the previous one, but the likelihood has to be that it was. Either way, with his contract up next summer, Morrison is at that stage where interested parties probably think they’ve got their best chance of getting their target. Although he didn’t say it in as many words, our manager appeared to hint that the club were taking steps to sort out a new deal for Morrison in the near future, but, I’d say that further developments in this case cannot be ruled out if the player’s contract situation remains as it is now as the closure of the transfer window gets closer.

Hardly surprisingly, the other player I was referring to is Kenneth Zohore.  After having their first offer rebuffed, Hull City came back with a second one (£8 million, possibly rising to £10 million is the amount I’ve seen reported), which was, apparently, also given short shrift by City.

The word coming out from the club appears to be that potential suitors need to look at a minimum of £15 before they would think of doing a deal to sell our top scorer, with the implication that it would take a Championship record transfer fee for the Dane to move elsewhere in this window. I believe that by putting that sort of information in the public domain, the club are hoping to knock any more interest in Zohore on the head once and for, but I suppose, that it’s likely to mean that, in the unlikely event of anyone being prepared to pay such a fee for him, supporters would need to prepare themselves for his departure.

Anyway, let’s return to this week’s signing. There had been plenty of comment to the effect that we needed a number ten type player on the messageboards in recent weeks and it seems that Neil Warnock agreed because, in a move which surprised and delighted many fans, we brought in Bristol City’s Lee Tomlin on Tuesday for a fee which it’s reported could reach £2.9 million.

Twetny eight year old Tomlin, who plays mostly through the middle as opposed to other similar type targets we had in Jonny Hayes and Barrie McKay who favour the wings, was a real thorn in our side at times during his time with Peterborough and came to be recognised as one of the Championship’s best attacking midfielders cum strikers during his spell at Middlesbrough in 2014/15. It was generally thought his displays at Boro had earned hia deserved move to the Premier League with Bournemouth for the 15/16 campaign.

I don’t think Lee Tomlin has been signed as a replacement for Peter Whittingham, but in terms of set piece delivery and someone to provide that “wow factor”, he is the most likely in our squad to succeed Whitts. *

However, for whatever reason, it did not work out for him on the south coast and he was loaned to Bristol City for the closing months of the season where his contribution was considered to be a very important one in maintaining the wurzels’ Championship status.

Predictably this led to a permanent move to Ashton Gate last summer, but amid rumours of a falling out with manager Lee Johnson, Tomlin made less of an impact as Bristol endured a relegation battle they looked like they would lose at times last spring and the improvement that eventually saved them only came after our new man had been relegated to the substitute’s bench.

Therefore, it wasn’t a total surprise that our west country rivals were prepared to do business for the player, but it did come as one when, after initially enquiring about a loan deal, it turned out to be us who got him.

With his fall from grace at Ashton Gate and the odd rumour of him possibly being something of a problem player for Eddie Howe at Bournemouth, there are those Bristol fans who are glad to see Tomlin go, but there are at least as many who regret his sale and are of the opinion that Neil Warnock is just the sort of player to get him playing to the level he is capable of on a consistent basis – if that can happen, then I believe we’ve got a bargain.

Certainly, it was being reported before the speculation linking him with us blew up that Tomlin, a player who has tended to attract those “you fat bastard” chants from opposing supporters which are generally a recognition that you are a good player in a way because bad players don’t tend to get targeted in that way, turned up for pre season training at Bristol looking trimmer than he had last season, so that’s a good sign at least.

I commented on here about Tomlin’s diving in our 2-1 win over the wurzels at Cardiff City Stadium last season and I’m not going to change my opinion just because he’s playing for us now – I don’t like diving, but it’s part of the modern game I suppose and we got so many penalties during the Chopra/Bothroyd era which I still celebrated when the ball hit the net despite the suspicion that one of those two had gone to ground very easily!

Warnock has said that there was a time when Tomlin was his number one target for this summer, I can understand why he would think that – there is the risk that it could all turn sour pretty quickly given what’s happened to Tomlin since he left Middlesbrough, but with our manager making comparisons with the notoriously difficult Adel Taarabt who he got the very best out of in QPR’s title winning 2010/11, it shows how much he rates our new playmaker – I’ve  a good feeling about this.

Even without the reported thigh injury which caused him to miss Bristol’s first warm up match of the campaign, Tomlin was never likely to figure in City’s opener at Taff’s Well last night. With those who played international football in June not included and a few others missing with minor knocks, City fielded what were almost two different teams for either half with the majority of the second half selection being youngsters.

There were four of the new signings on show in the opening forty five minutes. Neil Etheridge made one diving save during a quiet introduction which saw him replaced at the break by, first Brian Murphy and then Oliver Byrne. Nathaniel Mendez-Laing looked powerful and pretty effective in a roving role up front, Loic Damour was quietly impressive as he provided continuity and Danny Ward flashed a header just wide in an otherwise unspectacular first showing.

At right back in the first half was teenager Cameron Coxe and, as he played for something like twenty five minutes after the break as well, he had more game time than anyone else. I thought Coxe used that time well to show that he could make a league debut in the coming season – if not for us, then out on loan somewhere to a lower division club. Of the others, Matt Kennedy looked lively and Joe Ralls was his usual self alongside Damour in an effective central midfield pairing.

The game was decided by a single Anthony Pilkington goal (a fine volley from about fifteen yards out) after just six minutes and I’m sure that most of the crowd of almost three thousand who helped to make the event such a success in terms of fund raising for a couple of charities and for the home team anticipated that it was the first of many.

However, it was not to be. Credit goes to Taff’s Well for defending resolutely and, in particular, to their keeper for some good saves, but I could understand why Warnock confessed himself “disappointed” with the game from his team’s perspective – it felt like a training game on the pitch and one of those pre season matches we used to play every year at Merthyr off it with many of the crowd not fully engaged with the football being played out in front of them.

I’d count myself among those who weren’t really into the game, but I had the excuse of getting the confirmation as I set off for it of the news I was sure I was going to receive – my so loyal and friendly old Staff, Ruby, has got lymphoma.

I felt a lump just under her collar about three weeks ago, but, at the age of twelve, I didn’t read too much into it because it didn’t seem to be bothering her. This week however, three more appeared around her throat and the vet said she was 90 per cent sure it was lymphoma when she saw her.

Typically, dogs take four to six weeks to die from from the cancer without treatment and my guess is that she had that first lump for a while before I felt it, so I don’t think Ruby has long left at all.

Treatment options are Chemotherapy which is out of my financial range and, anyway Ruby’s probably too old for it now and steroids which surprised me by how cheap they are, but the downside is that, although more than half of the dogs treated with them alone go into remission, it’s only for something like two to four months, so, whatever happens, it’s very, very unlikely that my Ruby will experience another bonfire night (fireworks upset her so much).

At the moment my thinking is that, although there are times when you can see she is ailing, she is still definitely enjoying her walks with me and she certainly hasn’t lost her appetite, so I’m leaning towards giving her a great weekend and then taking her to the vets to be put to sleep on Monday, but I’ll see what the next forty eight hours hold.

Finally, despite the comments about no more signings this summer, it seems that City are giving trials to two Livingston forwards next week. I say “it seems” because the only source of this story is from Sky Sports.

On the face of it, Knox looks a talent and I would have thought that, at twenty two, we would only be interested in Mullen as someone who would become a member of the first team squad immediately – I’m not sure there is much to this story, but things should become clearer during the next seven days.

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

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10 Responses to Weekly review 15/7/17.

  1. Colin Phillips says:

    Very sad news about your dog, Paul.

    I’m sure she has had a life well loved by all concerned.

    Not too much can be learned from these early pre-season friendlies besides that players are alive and have at least two legs.

    Don’t know what to think about the signing of Lee Tomlin, he is definitely a diver and I can’t see that changing. Perhaps I will learn to love him.

  2. Clive Harry says:

    I have to admit to being more excited about the Tomlin signing than any other for some time – don’t let me down Lee!
    Last night was a great night for Taffs Well as a village (all the pubs were packed!) and as a football club with the ground looking superb and the team doing themselves credit.
    As for ourselves, I enjoyed a sunny summer evening out in a carnival type atmosphere which made up for the lack of excitement on the pitch. I thought at half time that we would probably end up winning by four or five but our second half team huffed and puffed without ever looking particularly convincing and lacking the finishing to round off their possession advantage. In fact I think Meite should be nicknamed the Black Bambi! (Hope that’s not too politically incorrect).
    Finally Paul, so sorry to hear about Ruby, she always looked so pleased to see you when you went back to the car after the U23 games.

  3. Anthony O'Brien says:

    In some respects last night’s “game of two halves” was disappointing from Cardiff’s point of view. I should add that Mendez-Laing and Ward impressed me. and I was pleased to see the willingness of the young right-back to get forward. However, as the game progressed I felt there was a decline both in creativity and in a desire to shoot at goal. It was a pre-season friendly, after all, and I’m glad that Taffs Well were not humiliated. In fact, the occasion was better than the game.
    I’m really sad to hear about your dog, Paul. I currently have an airedale and a small mixed-breed terrier myself, and both — like me — are showing noticeable signs of ageing (although the airedale still behaves like a pup). I remember some years ago standing by the Vet as he put down another of my dogs, and in the middle of my inevitable sadness I was nevertheless given some consolation to see how peaceful it all was — just like a shadow passing by. Without being too morbid, it made me think that a personally chosen euthanasia has something to commend it. Neither animals nor humans should be left to suffer, and that is what we all have to bear in mind, however difficult the decision might be!

  4. Clive Rymon says:

    Hi Paul,didn’t make the game last night,my first game will probably be Burton away,so until then I will have to rely on word of mouth or highlights.Reading about the game it does sound as if it was a gentle warm up for the rigurs ahead,but it was interesting to read that Warnock didn’t enjoy the game,and I think the reason for that is apart from being a Manager he’s also a fan who likes to see end to end football and lots of chances being created and finished.

    Some of the young prospects that you have talked about regularly seemed to have put in a good shift and it will be interesting to see if they develop into first team regulars I hope so.

    So we are up and running and i look forward to reading your reports as the season progresses,hopefully a successful one.

    Finally sad to read your pooch is unwell,I look after my daughters Dog when she is in work,and the wife and I feel very attached and I sure the dog a Cocker Spaniel named Ollie thinks he lives in two homes.The problems with animals they can’t tell you there hurting so as someone once said you must love them in death as you loved them in life.

  5. MIKE HOPE says:

    A pet dog is a member of the family and all dog owners will recognise the heartache facing Paul.Over the years I have gone through this five times and I always try to console myself [not very successfully] by remembering that it is a part of dog ownership given the difference between human and canine lifespans.Mercifully painless euthanasia is available so at the end it is the grieving owner and not the dog who does the suffering.
    Quality of life is more important than longevity and I know that you will make the right decision for Ruby.If she is still enjoying her food and walks the end might not be quite as close as you fear.
    Getting back to football I am delighted with the signing of Tomlin.At his best he is the type of player that the team has been most lacking.He has all Whittinghams qualities in open play with the additional ability to produce an injection of pace and burst of acceleration that takes him past defenders.I say this as someone who has always referred to him as “the fat diver”- but he was playing for the opposition then!
    I seem to recall that TOBW described him as someone who flatters to deceive.
    This has probably been his problem in the past and seems to be the opinion of disgruntled Wurzels who have been saying things like-”he will shine for a while then fade away” Didn’t we hear the same thing from Leeds fans about Bamba?
    The key to getting the best out of Tomlin is clearly our manager and on his past record we have every reason to be optimistic.
    Perhaps we will have another try with Ravel Morrison next!

  6. The other Bob Wilson says:

    As always, thank you all for your replies. To address some of the points raised. Colin, although I detect a slight decline in anti Warnock sentiment as he becomes one of the longest serving football managers we have out there, we’ve basically got a manager other supporters love to hate and now a number ten who tends to attract plenty of stick – seems to me that’s a definite recipe for success at some clubs!
    Clive H and Anthony, I’m not trying to be clever here, because I suspect many would have felt the same way at the time, but my thoughts were “this is going to get worse” as the announcer read out our team for the second half. I’m not knocking any of the current or former Academy lads involved, but someone like James Waite, who scored plenty of goals for the Development team last season when playing in advanced positions was having to play alongside Stuart O’Keefe in central midfield, so we were always going to struggle to match the, occasional, fluidity we saw in the first half.
    Agree entirely Clive R about Friday being a most unWarnock type match, but, even from a detached and unemotional viewpoint, I don’t think any manager would have gained much from the second half in particular when it seemed to me that the game began to feel like an incidental event being played out in the background for many present.
    Mike, I can’t remember making that flatters to deceive comment about Tomlin, but it does tend to sum up my feelings about him around the time he was failing to break into Bournemouth’s Premier League team, so I daresay those very words are on this blog somewhere in something I’ve written over, say, the last two years when Tomlin’s career has hit the buffers somewhat – to be honest, I wouldn’t be as optimistic about his signing if we had a different manager.
    Think Ravel Morrison is at Birmingham isn’t he – I see they signed that midfield player N’Doye who had been linked with us at some time during the summer as well.
    Additional thanks to everyone for your comments on Ruby. I think any of you who have wrestled with the idea of deciding when to end a loved pet’s life will be familiar with that feeling of constantly changing your mind as you look for any slight sign that they aren’t as ill as you know they are. I think I mentioned that I’d decided to give her a lovely weekend and then see how things were on Monday. Well, she had a great time on her first early morning walk with me and one of my cats and she was chasing squirrels around Victoria Park a few hours later as we went for our second walk. Then, as she ran towards me to deliver some of those licks that had become a part of our going for a walk ritual over the past year or so, I made a decision which, apart from the odd lingering, but soon pushed aside, moment of doubt, I knew was the right one – I thought to myself, this is as happy as she is ever going to be in the rest of her life, so let’s put her to rest today. As it turned out, the way she struggled with the treat I bought her on the way home only further convinced me I was right – she seemed to have lost control of her chewing function as it appeared her mouth was opening and closing in some sort of spasm.
    I mentioned this to the vet after Ruby has been put to sleep yesterday lunchtime along with another odd reaction from her which had only occurred in her last couple of days and although he didn’t believe this was a direct consequence of the lymphoma, he said the cancer can spread to the brain in advanced cases and that may well have happened with her.
    So, I think, even with steroid treatment, Ruby wouldn’t have lived long (if she had, life would have become increasingly uncomfortable for her) and, although it’s hard now when the primary emotion is still one of sadness, I know she was quite a happy dog when she died. I think I’m lucky because, generally, it doesn’t tend to take too long for me to start remembering bereaved loved ones (be they human or animal) with a smile – truth is, I was doing that at times yesterday.
    Finally, Anthony, there was that same peaceful feeling you describe for Ruby’s last moments and, as it turns out, the conversation I had with the receptionist in the vets on my way out was about euthanasia and the desire not to let people and animals suffer any more than they have to.

  7. Russell says:

    Thanks Paul for this review , think it all pales into insignificance with the dreadful news of your loved Ruby , I have teared up reading this as I’m reminded of my own loveable dog (Bimbo) slipping away in a simalir way to cancer , dogs are for life and so loving, giving ,who become so ingrained into ones life .

    Best left for this week Paul ,be strong, give Ruby a big hug.

  8. Colin Phillips says:

    R.I.P. Ruby, a difficult decision to make, Paul, you’ve done what you’ve done for the right reasons.

    A previous dog that we had, Toby, made things easier for me. He was very weak and I had carried him out to the lawn to enable to relieve himself, I went to the bathroom to have a shave and was deciding that we had to take him to the vet to put him out of his misery. As I was shaving my wife called out to me that she thought that Toby had gone. He had and so the decision was taken out of my hands, thank you Tobes.

    Do you intend having another dog, Paul? Probably too early to answer that question.

    We now have a Shi’ Tzu called Mollie, a rescue dog, of sorts, (too old to train a puppy, I’m afraid). She is the laziest dog I’ve ever had, I have to drag her to go for a walk.

  9. Barry Cole says:

    Nothing worse than knowing your dog hasn’t long to go. The problem with all of us dog lovers is that we get so attached. After our collie holly died I vowed never to go through that again. But after three months in walked honey another collie from the rspca , followed by Romeo from a animal care centre. Both those are 5 now and I wouldn’t swop them for anything. So I wish you well with ruby and if she isn’t ready to go and is feeling ok keep her and enjoy your last moments.
    Football is second in times like this I wish you both those few happy hours together
    Regards

    Barry

  10. The other Bob Wilson says:

    You could probably count the number of days when there hasn’t been a dog at our house on the fingers of not many hands at all since we had our first one back in 1972 Colin, so, yes, I’ve already been down to Cardiff dog’s home on the hunt for a new one, but I think this will probably be my last one. Back in the days when you could just go down to the pound and pick up a new dog as if you were visiting a shop, there’d be one in situ within a couple of days, but, rightly I suppose, things have tightened up a lot in the last fifteen years or so. As Ruby was a dog next door I took on when my neighbours had their second child, I’d not been to the pound since 2003 and when I went there with a dog that I discovered in my front porch looking very disheveled and sad on a rainy afternoon last January, I had quite a surprise. I looked after him for a day or two and then took him to the dog’s home where they found he had not been chipped, but they were able to find his owners who were unwilling or unable to pay the fine for not having had him chipped.
    He had been fine with my cats while he was with us and so I thought I’d offer to take him on, but soon found I was in competition with two other families that had applied for him and there were all sorts of checks being done to decide who was best suited to home him. I was disappointed, and a little annoyed given how I’d taken him in when he was a stray, to miss out, but accepted the reason given was understandable (they considered that I lived too close to his original home), but with the current system, someone like me who is only too willing and able to give a dog a very loving home is in danger of missing out again and again if someone down there takes against you for any reason.
    I saw a very nice young Staff bitch (I was accused once, probably rightly, of choosing a new dog because it looked a lot like my last one, but this one looks nothing like Ruby) who I have applied for and tomorrow my morning is going to be taken up trying to catch one of my cats to put it in my pet carrier so that they can meet up with the dog at lunchtime – if that goes well, then, hopefully, I’ll know one way or another by the end of the week if I’ve got her, but I’m pretty sure I’ll be up against two other families again.

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