Although there was talk before hand of there still being some new signings made while the squad were over in Spain for a week long training camp near Seville, the experience of previous years under Dave Jones suggested otherwise (without looking it up, I can only remember Michael Chopra’s transfer to Sunderland in 2007 while he was in Portugal as an example of a transfer into/from Cardiff City while we were out of the country during pre season training). Therefore, the main topic of City related conversation once a new manager was appointed, that is speculation about new signings, took something of a back seat this week as the squad combined the task of getting fitter with something of a team bonding exercise in sweltering southern Spain before finishing the whole thing off with last night’s game with Charlton Athletic.
Actually, there have been a few new arrivals since my last piece on here. Although this hasn’t been mentioned anywhere else, a normally reliable Ipswich Town site is reporting that we have found a new goalkeeping coach to replace Martyn Margetson – I can’t give you any more info about James Hollman because, to be honest, I’d never heard of him before and there’s not much more than what appears in that article about him on the Internet. On the pitch, the Joe Mason transfer was confirmed last Sunday afternoon and he flew out to Spain to join up with his new team mates the following day. The other new player came as something of a surprise when it was revealed yesterday that former Metz striker Rudi Gestede had been with the squad all week and would feature as a trialist in the Charlton game. Although Gestede’s record for a club that only avoided relegation to the third tier of the French league system by one point looks nothing special on paper, his efforts in last night’s match (more on that later) must have gone a long way towards earning him another chance to impress against Celtic on Wednesday.
Apart from that, there’s little to report on the transfer speculation front. Speaking after last night’s match, Malky Mackay talked of there still being a need for “two or three more bodies” before the season proper kicks off (in an ideal world, I’d say it should be four of five), but, apart from the possibility of one of them being Rudi Gestede, there’s very little to report on that front. There was a flurry of speculation in midweek that Craig Bellamy was on the brink of rejoining us and this was reflected by the fact that the odds on him coming back to Cardiff went as low as 1/3 shortly afterwards. Seeing as one of the sources of this info is someone who got most things right about the Bellamy move last season, I believe that there might be something to this speculation, but I have always thought that we have to wait until mid August at the earliest if we are to get Bellamy again and I see little reason to change that opinion yet – Manchester City will surely hold out as long as they can before they even consider releasing him from his contract. One last little snippet, a poster on one of the messageboards who is, seemingly, based in Iceland and got virtually everything about the Ason Gunnarsson deal right has said that we have been watching Lillestrom atriker Björn Bergmann Sigurdarson who, like Gunnarsson, featured for Iceland in the recent European under 21 Championships, recently. It’s possible to make virtually any one look good in a You Tube video, but I like the fact he had the vision to score with a quickly taken free kick from out on the touchline in this compilation, while here he is in goalscoring action in a match played last night (four mins forty seconds into the action).
As for the match with Charlton, well it sounds like a pretty low key affair, but City got off to a winning start against a side that you would have presumed were further advanced in the pre season fitness stakes than us having been victorious in their two previous warm up matches (one of which was against Bristol City). Both sides made eleven changes at half time in what were still very warm conditions despite the evening kick off and with Paul Quinn, Steve McPhail and Jon Meades all missing out on the trip through injury and David Marshall (minor wrist injury) and Anthony Gerrard (returning from compassionate leave after the death of a relative) also omitted, it meant that all three of our first year pros (Ibby Farah, Nat Jarvis and Alex Evans) got forty five minutes of action as well as our six new signings. Judging by the very brief highlights I’ve seen on the official site, City looked more dangerous in the first half as Gestede in particular offered a goal threat, forcing the Charlton keeper into a diving save with a header and then having an angled volley ruled out for offside before getting the only of the game as he turned an opponent and then cut in from the left to score with a low shot from around twenty yards. City, who used Peter Whittingham in central midfield in the first half and Don Cowie there alongside captain Aron Gunnarsson (Mark Hudson having worn the arm band in the first half) after the break had luck on their side when Charlton hit bar and post in quick succession and Jordan Santiago had to make a fine save in the dying moments, but it was good to hear Malky Mackay talking after the game about us being a little bit sharper than our opponents – overall, an encouraging start to the new era at Cardiff City Stadium.