In a week where the first team squad have been over in Switzerland attending a training camp, it should be expected that new signings would be thin on the ground I suppose, but I find it a little disquieting that the transfer speculation this week has centred far more on who might be leaving as opposed to who could be coming in. Indeed, there was more than just speculation about departures – the man who was probably the club’s highest profile player and top earner left for the American NSL early in the week.
Striker Kenny Miller signed for Vancouver Whitecaps after less than a year at Cardiff City and I think it’s fair to say that the first six months of his time with us was more enjoyable for all concerned than the last six! Miller’s lack of goals (only one more all season after scoring our first against Portsmouth on 21 January) has been well documented, but there are many City fans who look beyond that and point to the selfless and thankless work he did in the lone striker role for much of the campaign and at the cleverness of his movement off the ball as evidence of someone who still added much to the cause despite his lack of goals.
I agree with this to the extent that, although it’s unfair on Etien Velikonjra to pre-judge him too much, I can’t help thinking that, as of now, we are weaker in the striking positions than we were last season. However, I’m sure Malky Mackay brought Miller to the club to score goals and the truth as I see it is that he wasn’t proving particularly successful at this even before they dried up over the last three and a half months of the season – a goal disallowed for a marginal offside decision at Leicester and the number of times the player hit the woodwork during his barren run offered evidence that Miller enjoyed little luck over this period, but there were also plenty more times when his finishing was far more hurried and wild than you would expect from someone with his record and experience. For this reason, even though we, apparently, didn’t get a fee for Miller, the fact that Vancouver are reportedly paying his wages in full (as opposed to us having to make a contribution towards them) makes this a good deal for City as far as I’m concerned.
Although it had been mentioned on the messageboards a few days previously, Miller’s departure was still something of a surprise when it came, but it certainly wasn’t a shock to learn that a Premiership club had put in bids for the player voted as the best outside the Premiership last season. Fulham were the club involved, making two offers for Peter Whittingham which were both turned down. If, in the future, you are asked to explain the meaning of the word “derisory” by someone, all you need to answer is “the amount Fulham offered in their, higher, bid for Peter Whittingham in July 2012″ – the reported £2,000,000 is a ridiculously low figure for someone with his ability!
Besides this, a bid for Anthony Gerrard by a rival Championship side was turned down – the general opinion is that the club involved were Huddersfield, but there has been speculation that Bristol City, Blackburn and Leicester have all been chasing him in recent weeks. Finally on the possible departures front, midfield man Soloman Taiwo has been linked with a move to Southend – Taiwo, like Gerrard and Dekel Keinan, has been left behind in Cardiff while others jetted off to Switzerland and so it seems pretty obvious that, with a year left on their contracts, all three of them are available for transfer (Earnie, who is in Switzerland, might fall into this category as well).
Although it can be argued that none of these players will be close to the first team in the coming season and that none of those released by the club in May (apart from Tom Heaton) had played a major part in the first team last season, the fact remains that we are seriously short of numbers when it comes to realistic first team candidates at the moment. Of course, there’s still plenty of time yet for things to change and there will be those who point to what they see as the imminent arrivals of Craig Bellamy and Kim Bo-Kyung and say don’t panic, but I’m getting a bit more concerned that we are going to be finding ourselves in a familiar position come 1 September when the transfer window closes.
For a start, Alan Whiteley confirmed in this article that we will require a work permit for Kim Bo-Kyung and, although I accept that this hasn’t always been strictly adhered to in the past by the Home Office, my understanding is that players are normally required to have played in at least 75% of their country’s competitive matches in the past two years for a work permit application to be granted – from what I can gather, our planned South Korean midfield player has not done that. However, even if he gets his work permit and Kim Bo-Kyung joins us along with Bellamy, we are still going to need more players in.
One of the things that the club surely should have learned after a nearly decade in the Championship is that you don’t get anywhere in this division with too small a squad. Peter Ridsdale was fond of saying that we had gone for quality over quantity when trying to justify us starting another season with not enough players, but we have seen time and again that you need both quality and quantity to get promoted from the Championship. Unfortunately, with reports of our number of signings targeted for this summer going down from ten to seven, us missing out on targets such as Richard Keogh (see article linked to above) and the possibility of us losing three or four more players yet, it appears to me that we could be embarking on yet another season where we run the danger of a lack of adequate squad numbers finding us out.
It’s only fair though to record that, although it hardly feels like a new signing when the player concerned has been here for a year already, the official site did confirm yesterday that we have signed Filip Kiss on a permanent deal. The caption to the picture of Kiss (third one down) in this piece states that this is so with the fee believed to be something like £500,000, so we have even more strength in depth in central midfield, but, as of now, it’s hard to find many other areas where we are stronger than we were last season.
Finally, we are also giving a trial to former Dulwich Hamlet striker Omarr Lawson who, I assume, has been with the Academy squad out in Spain for their week away during pre season training. Judging by this piece, Lawson appears to be highly sought after and it does seem to point to an increased awareness under this manager that youth development, both in terms of scouting players at other clubs and recognising and rewarding young talent we already have, is an increasingly important part of what makes a successful club in these challenging financial times.
* picture courtesy of http://www.cardiffcityfc.co.uk/page/NewsDetail/0,,10335~2855610,00.html