As has been the case for the last two summers, I’ll be doing a weekly review of events at the club over the close season and, although there’s still stories to come regarding Cardiff City’s 2011/12 from me yet, there is some news on the playing front worth recording already, which shows that City are now working on the recruiting drive and negotiations with current players needed to carry on from a, broadly, successful first season for Malky Mackay.
Of course, the scale of that drive in terms of quantity and quality of new players is up for debate at the moment with the blue v red issue, and the major investment that, apparently, hinged on us playing in the latter next season, still ongoing. Chairman Datuk Chan Tien Ghee (TG) was in the UK for a few days earlier this week and attended a Board meeting on Tuesday which prompted this statement on the club’s official site later that day. The tone of the reporting of the meeting strongly suggested that the decision, first announced nine days ago, to abandon the change from blue shirts had not been changed and, therefore, the £100 million which, it was claimed, would be invested in full, would not be pumped into the club over the short term – if it does arrive, then it will take longer than first hoped.
The last two days have seen a couple of interviews by the Echo with City’s Finance Director Doug Lee here and here, with the first of them providing some much needed confirmation of the thinking behind the proposals leaked out last week – if only stuff like this could have been put into the public domain in the weeks before the leak, I don’t believe that opinions would be as polarised as they are now with the club’s support almost divided 50/50 on the “re-branding” proposals.
However, these interviews, as well as the club’s statement, don’t give any indications as to how much is available to Malky Mackay in his playing budget will be for next season – but there have been two or three clues which indicate that it won’t exactly be peanuts.
For a start, City, reportedly, had a bid, believed to be £1 million, accepted by Fleetwood Town for their striker Jamie Vardy but the player opted to join Leicester City for a fee which could rise to £1.7 million. City also secured the services of David Marshall for a further four years after the Scottish international’s best season at Cardiff so far (Marshall joins Joe Mason and Rudy Gestede in signing a new, long term, contract with the club). However, with Tom Heaton virtually certain to leave the club after he turned down the offer of a new deal, they would be in the market for another goalkeeper and the Echo story on Marshall’s new contract claims that former England Under 21 international Joe Lewis will be joining us on a three year contract on Monday.
Twenty four year old Lewis was thougth of one of the best young English keepers around at the time he signed for Peterborough from Norwich for £400,000 as a nineteen year old and even made it into the full England squad four years ago. He was involved in three promotions with Posh, but a serious injury picked up in the promotion Play Off’s around this time last year was the prelude to a difficult 2011/12 campaign in which he was a back up for a lot of the time to former Exeter keeper Paul Jones.
Ironically, Lewis’ last match for Peterborough was on St Valentine’s Day at Cardiff City Stadium when he made the sort of error which has led to his previous high reputation falling away a little lately as Peter Whititngham’s corner few directly into the net to set us on the way to an ultimately convincing 3-1 win. Lewis had little chance with the other two goals and he made some superb stops after the break to keep us from adding to our 3-0 interval lead. At six foot five and weighing twelve stone ten, Lewis certainly has the physique to be a top class keeper and he is still very young when it comes to a position where players tend to peak at a later age than their outfield colleagues – I always believed that, as a pair, there weren’t many better goalkeeping combinations in the Championship than Marshall and Heaton, I’d say that swapping Lewis for Heaton may well be an improvement on that.