Malky Mackay returned from his Italian holiday on Thursday and you get the feeling that things are going to move on apace from now as far as the much needed recruitment of new players goes. Before going into that though, it’s worth noting that our new manager’s assistant at Watford Sean Dyche has been named as their new boss, thus killing off any hopes Malky had of bringing him to Cardiff. Therefore, although there was talk of his back room staff being a mixture of old and new under Mackay, there hasn’t been any arrivals or departures in that area yet except for fitness coach Alex Armstrong, who left the club at the same time as Dave Jones – with players due to return for pre season training on 1 July, it’s beginning to look like they might be greeted by the old guard.
I should really have mentioned pre season matches before now. Frankly, with time at a premium as Malky Mackay has only been in place for a week or so, you get the feeling that our warm up matches are being cobbled together somewhat this year – as of now, we have a couple of matches in Spain (they’ve not been officially confirmed by City yet mind) against a Gibralter XI on 12 July and Charlton in Seville three days later. From there, City return to the UK to play matches against two more League One sides with AFC Bournemouth being visited on 23 July and Yeovil three days later – the one home match coming when Parma visit Cardiff City Stadium on 30 July.
Hopefully, there will be plenty of new players to look at by then, but at least we do have one of them now because Dundee United’s twice capped Scottish winger Craig Conway has signed on a Bosman free transfer . Conway, who is 26, has signed on a three year contract and is probably best known for scoring twice in Dundee United’s 3-0 win over Ross County in the 2010 Scottish Cup Final. As for what sort of player he is, he’s a right footed winger who can play on either side of the pitch but seems to favour the left. From what I can gather, he is thought of as being not as tricky a player as Chris Burke, the man he is likely to replace in our team, but he is considered to be a better crosser of the ball – welcome to Cardiff anyway Craig and may your stay with us be a successful one for both yourself and the team.
No disrespect to Conway, but the class goal in that Scottish Cup Final was scored by 22 year old David Goodwillie who City put in a bid for on Friday. That offer was turned down because it didn’t match Dundee United’s £2 million valuation of the player, but it would appear that the clubs are not too far apart and much of the negotiation, which is continuing over the weekend, centres on up front payments, how payments are staged and sell on clauses etc. Goodwillie scored nineteen times last season and is the current SPFA Young Player of the Year having won the same prize in 09/10 as well as the SPL Young Player of the Year – he made his full Scottish debut in November against the Faroe Islands. All the signs are that Goodwillie is a real talent and, therefore, other sides besides us were bound to be interested in him – Rangers have been sniffing around, but are reluctant to match Dundee United’s asking price, while this morning’s info is that two of our Championship rivals are considering bids.
There are off the field issues with Goodwillie though – he has two convictions for assault and is appearing in Court next week in relation to a third charge. More serious than that though is the rape charge hanging over his head following accusations made after a party he attended back in December. City would be paying an awful lot of money by their standards for this player and I can only assume that they been told that a conviction is unlikely, but if the case does get to Court, no one can predict the verdict of a jury with any certainty and it has to be acknowledged that this transfer could blow up in City’s face both on and off the field if it went through.
Much of the rest of the names you read about are pure speculation at the moment, but it seems pretty certain that we are pursuing our interest in Middlesbrough’s soon to be out of contract Andrew Taylor and these quotes by Boro boss Tony Mowbray suggests he thinks we are serious contenders for the player’s signature. Bristol City have also confirmed their interest in the player, but, they would appear to be outsiders to me in the battle to sign Taylor who is a Boro fan and did well in a loan spell under Malky Mackay at Watford last season. Other names mentioned include Robert Earnshaw who is stalling on signing a new contract at Forest and would surely be very keen on a return to Cardiff if we declared an interest, Preston keeper Andy Lonergan (who we, allegedly, put in a bid for on the last day of the January transfer window) as well as a few Watford players like John Eustace and Don Cowie. More left field suggestions are Nigel Reo-Coker (who would surely have to take a huge pay cut if he came here) and French Under 21 striker Sloan Privat who is, allegedly, interesting us and Hull – I’m hopeful that there will be a bit more fact and a bit less guesswork in next week’s installment!