Weekly review 21/5/17.


Aleksander Kolorov has been at Manchester City for seven years this summer. He’s played getting on for two hundred matches for the club and, although he has been used as a centreback at times this season, most of his appearances have been as a left back.

Like many modern day full backs, it could be argued that Kolarov is better going forward than he is at defending, but you don’t get to play so many matches for what has, arguably, been the country’s top team during his time at Man City if you are a complete liability as a defender.

It would be interesting to see who Kolarov rated as the players who have given him most problems over the past seven years – is there a chance I wonder if a Cardiff City player would feature on a list of his most difficult opponents?

Craig Noone was injured at the start of our Premier League season (13/14) and so didn’t feature in the never to be forgotten first home match back in the top flight when we beat a Man City team which had the Serbian as an unused substitute 3-2.

So, when the teams met for a second time on 18 January 2014, I suppose it’s possible that Kolarov had barely heard of Noone, let alone seen him play. Certainly, the left back’s unfamiliarity with his direct opponent that afternoon may have been a reason for the uncomfortable time of it he had against a player who was able to consistently get the better of him.

I remember I rated Noone’s display that afternoon as one of the best I’d seen from a City winger and said so on here at the time. This opinion was disagreed with by some, but I maintain that, given Noone turned it on against the team that would win the title that year, he had a right to be mentioned in the same breath as the likes of Farrell against Middlesbrough, Villars against Palace and Anderson against quite a few opponents in 75/76.

Man City’s attacking play was so potent that season that their first goal that afternoon was their hundredth in all competitions for the season, but, by losing 4-2, City could take some consolation from the fact that they didn’t leave Manchester on the end of a real drubbing like so many sides did that season.

The main reason why we were able to give the Champions elect a decent game was that Noone had what has to have been his best game in a City shirt that day. He scored a lovely goal and, although this was yet another defeat we suffered that season with him in the team (given that he was absent for our decent start to that campaign, our results were absolutely appalling in the Premier League matches in which he featured), I’d still say that, overall, Noone was one of a very small group of our players who acquitted themselves pretty well at the top level.

Certainly, given his fine form throughout the Championship winning season, there were grounds for thinking that Noone would be one of our strongest performers back in the second tier and one of the foundations that any attempt to return to the Premier League would be built on – especially as, at twenty six, going on twenty seven, he was entering the period when it’s generally reckoned that pro footballers are at their best.

Instead, the last three seasons have seen Noone in decline until it got to the stage where this week’s announcement that he has been made available for transfer came as no shock whatsoever.

Right from his first game against Wolves, Craig Noone made a significant impact during our promotion season, but, unfortunately, I think it’s true to say that nearly all of his best football at Cardiff was played when we were the “redbirds”.

I remember reading an article at the time of Neil Warnock’s appointment which picked out Noone as a player who would prosper under our new manager. Given that Warnock has spoken of his liking for wingers in the last few months and was, indeed, one himself in his playing days, I wouldn’t be too critical of the writer of that piece for being proved wrong and it’s true to say that the first goal of the Warnock era came from a penalty awarded for a foul on the scouser by Bristol City’s Joe Brian.

Unfortunately, as another winger in Kadeem Harris, who was at the club before Warnock came here, has shot past Noone in the pecking order, the man who, famously, tiled Steven Gerrard’s roof, has resolutely failed to fall under the spell of “the Warnock effect”.

Actually, that’s not strictly true. For a few weeks in February, Noone looked to be coming back to his best and it was no coincidence that his two goals for the season came within four days of each other in the high scoring wins over Derby and Rotherham, with the first of them being an absolute beauty. However, Noone was unable to maintain that form and Harris and Junior Hoilett soon resumed their places as first choice wide men in Warnock’s team.

So, why did Noone not kick on and build on those two good seasons he had when he first came here? Well, I wouldn’t put his demise down to a poor attitude on his behalf, because he remained willing to put a shift in for the team throughout the years since we were relegated. No, as a winger who relied on trickery to beat his opponent, rather than searing pace, I feel it was more down to a decline in confidence.

There will be those who will say that left footed wingers should play on the left and right footed ones on the right and, broadly speaking, I agree with that view. However, the left footed Noone was playing on the right that afternoon when he tormented Man City and, certainly, while the shots as he cut in to hit the ball with his left peg were hitting the net or forcing saves from the keeper, there was merit in the idea of playing him on the “wrong” side, but that fine goal against Derby became something of an oasis in a desert of shots that flew high, wide and not so handsome I’m afraid.

Presumably, Noone has just the one year left on his contract, hence the wish to get rid of him while we can still get a fee, but how big a fee it will be remains a matter of debate. There was a time when reports that a former club of Noone’s was interested in signing him would set you thinking that newly promoted Brighton might be looking to integrate him into their Premier League squad, but, now, the only club I’ve seen him linked with so far is Plymouth who are also celebrating a promotion at this time, but only to League One.

Noone is too good for that level in my book and it wouldn’t surprise me if, with a change of surroundings and a new playing challenge, he turned into a good, pretty cheap, signing for a mid to lower ranking Championship club who may well come back to haunt us at some time during 17/18 – I definitely believe the decision to make him available for transfer was the right one for all parties involved though.

That apart, it’s been a very quiet week on all fronts at the club, with the only other transfer speculation/rumour I’ve heard being an unlikely sounding move for Preston left back Greg Cunningham (surely we have enough cover for that position already?) which brought the response that they weren’t looking to sell any of their players from the Lancashire club. Perhaps I’ll be proved wrong, but, on a scale where one is very unlikely and ten an absolute certainty in the transfer rumour stakes, I’d give this one a two.

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7 Responses to Weekly review 21/5/17.

  1. Anthony O'Brien says:

    I am disappointed that Noone has been chosen to leave. In every game in which hje plays his willingness and work-rate have been exemplary, but — because of managers’ insistence he plays on the right (note I say “managers”} his effectiveness seems to be measured by the number of goals he scores. If he played on the left it would be measured by the number of crosses into the area he produced, and believe me, they would be many. Wherever he goes, I hope he is played on the left and has forwards who can consistently feed on his ball into the area. If that happens, he will be a bargain buy for whoever signs him, even the transfer fee be comparatively high.

    I see, too, that the mystery of Gounongbe’s disappearance has at last been explained — a long term pelvic injury, no less! I have said previously, he and Saadi are the best natural strikers on Cardiff’s books, and I sincerely hope that both men get their chance to shine in the coming season. If they do, and if there is adequate support from the midfield or wide, then Cardiff will be a much more effective team than they have been in recent years. I really hope this be the case.

    Whatever happens, I’m looking forward to the new season — and more gems in the MAYA blog — with great anticipation.

  2. Russell says:

    Thank Paul , phew , I was beginning to worry we may not have a post today, as my usual pre season withdrawal symptoms are kicking in already .

    I’ve never really rated Noone ,way too predictable , I would have sold him years ago when that alleged million pound bid came in for him, Norwich if my memory serves me right, or was it mischievous January agent chatter, strange no one has really bid and bought him , my guess is on learning his true wage it’s turned a few heads, and we have had to keep him on .

    Your mention of wingers reminded me of two greats one you mention Anderson ,but my favourite was Dave Bennett.

    Transfer chatter in co

    Transfer chatter us quiet , other than Lee Camp and the Preston lad .

    I am hoping we will see Saadi line up he looks a powerful unit ,not sure about Fred ?

    I’m probably on my own but I think we will get good value out of Halford,next year along with Richards and Bennett ,I’d load off Manga .

    Love to be a fly on the wall when two hugely opposite cultures meet , Warnock and Tan . Just imagine the bluntness of our Neil and the regalia of Tan , wonder if they sell pork scratchings downed by a pint of double hopped Proper Job . On a serious note I think this meeting could be critical for our clubs future as neither man suffers fools easily, and Tan has seen a few off . For all his faults , Tan remains a loyal supporting owner , and better than many in the modern game of football.

  3. Colin Phillips says:

    Not surprised that there differing opinions on Noone. I have to ask the question, does he himself prefer playing on the right? Under each manager we’ve had it has been very rare to see him played on the left. The problem being his that just gives him the one option of cutting back inside and I would think every defender in the Championship knows how to play him now. I like Noone for his worth ethic and pace, more than once he has cleared off our line and when the ball is delivered to him with a bit of space a buzz goes around the ground. He is too lightweight to try and play him anywhere but wide, too easy to “ease” of the ball. Will he stay or will h……..

    I watched the play-off between Millwall and Bradford yesterday and it struck me that the Bradford mid-fielder Nicky Law could do a job for us. Affordable and now that Bradford have missed out on promotion he might want a move so that he can play Championship football. At 29 not in the first flush of youth but he looked to have plenty of energy left when he was substituted second-half, thought the side were directionless after he went off. He seemed to boss mid-field throughout the game and had time to play some nice passes. Could he do the job that Whitts used to do?

  4. Anthony O'Brien says:

    There are times in life when someone says or writes something which stops you in your tracks, and you say to yourself, “Why didn’t I realise that possibility?” Colin has unerringly made me do just that, and I have to hold my hands up and confess that I had never thought that Noone PREFERRED to play on the write. In other words, I have missed the obvious. Apologies

  5. BJA says:

    Paul – an absolute masterpiece on our right, or is it left winger. If I remember correctly, when he joined us from Brighton, he was played on the left and was pretty effective. But his best performance was his effort as a right winger against Man City away where he gave their left sided defenders a torrid afternoon. But that was then, three years plus ago, and since then he has not really delivered the goods. An occasional goal, his equaliser against Fulham on an opening day being special, but if NW is seeking a regular goalscorer coming from the flanks, then sadly, Nooney is not the answer. And regrettably, neither is Hoilett. As for Harris ( Kadeem variety ) I think he is worth persevering with, but not on any huge wage. Where do we go from here, goodness only knows, but NW has to find a system with the players he ultimately ends up with. So many names linked with us, Ricky Holmes a goalscoring winger at Charlton the latest, that it is hard to become over excited until the deal is actually completed. The sooner NW meets Mr Tan to learn his budget, the better.
    I watched the Championship play-offs, as did I suspect your other contributors, and was way off the mark when estimating Huddersfield’s chances. Where did that performance come from bearing in mind their capitulation to the Bluebirds on the final day of the League season. And Fulham, what happened to their classy play over 46 matches? Most surprising.
    The more I watch the Championship, the more I realise that to leave it in the right direction needs a team with a solid defence, we may be just about OK there apart from an outstanding goalkeeper ( Millwall’s lad looked good but he will be in our division next year ), but an energetic, vibrant midfield with pace in abundance. Anyone over 29 plus would not be my preference as they will need to have that drive for the best part of 50 matches, so a more youthful midfield that can move around the pitch is the answer. Think Chelsea with Hazard, Pedro and Willian fulfilling that role. ( NW ask the aforementioned Mr Tan for £250m! ). Quite where we find these young nuggets will not be easy, but surely we are able to sell such starlets our dream.
    Our attack with Kenneth, Idriis and perhaps Fred could prove acceptable as long they receive the service they need.
    I look forward to your next epistle.

  6. The other Bob Wilson says:

    Just a few quick thoughts in reply to some of the points raised.
    1. Anthony, I suppose I’m becoming cynical in my old age, but I can’t help thinking there may be more than just footballing matters behind the absences of Messrs Saadi and Gounongbe from City’s team for much of the season just ended. It’s only a feeling I have, but I wonder if one or both of them have had trouble settling in South Wales? I’ve heard stories about Gounongbe going back to mainland Europe a few months ago after a bust up about his lack of game time, but I’m more inclined to believe that, as reported recently, he was injured for the closing months of the season – I’d like to see them both given the opportunity to establish themselves during pre season training, but I think the more likely outcome will be them both heading off to the continent on loan.
    2. Russell, I’ll hold fire on my praise of Mr Tan until it becomes clearer what sort of players we’re looking to sign this summer. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not hoping for more of what we saw before our Championship winning and Premier league seasons, but I do expect to see evidence of a more ambitious approach whereby we look for better than we have done for the last two or three years – finishes of eighth and twelfth in the last two seasons reflect well of Russell Slade and Neil Warnock if you look at how few sides in this league had smaller budgets than they both had to work with.
    3. Colin, I expect Noone to leave now, but his contract situation may mean that we’ll only get a modest fee for him. With regard to what you and BJA say about the Play Offs, I’ve not seen anything of them – in fact apart from the Bundelsiga, Channel Five’s EFL highlights and Match of the Day, I don’t watch any football these days since I stopped my subscriptions with Sky and BT. Money is very tight with me at the moment until the situation about my house move is settled as I’ve spent close to a grand on the whole thing already and there’s plenty more to fork out yet before I get around to moving! Once it’s all settled, I should be a bit more solvent as the flat I’ve had an offer accepted for is costing less than my third share from the sale of the house – there’ll be more spending on “essentials” at the flat, but, hopefully, I’ll be in a position to be looking for, cheaper, ways to start watching live televised football again in time for the new season.
    I’ve always thought Nicky Law played a bit deeper than the sort of midfield player most say we need – if I was offered a choice between him and Bradley Dack, I’d go for the younger man despite his possible off field issues.
    4. BJA, Ricky Holmes sounds a bit like Aberdeen’s Jonny Hayes to me – late developers who’ll both turn thirty before we start playing again. I don’t know enough about either player to say categorically that we shouldn’t be signing them, but their age does put me off them – I’m far from convinced we’ll get him, but Callum Paterson at 22 strikes me as a better and more versatile OPTION as long as the club’s medical staff were satisfied that he will make a complete recovery from his injury.

  7. Michael Spear says:

    BJA has a most valid point and per my thoughts :- an energetic, vibrant midfield with pace in abundance.
    Midfield, the engine of the team needs a big shake up.

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