Weekly review 3/7/16.


While most of the attention has been on Wales’ historic journey to the Semi Finals of Euro 2016, a busy week at Cardiff City has passed virtually unheralded.

I always think of late June/early July as the time when supporters of clubs who haven’t signed anyone during the summer so far can start getting a little concerned because it could mean that they have not succeeded in attracting their number one transfer targets to throw in their lot with them.

I say that for a couple of reasons, first, it’s when players report back for pre season training (City’s did on Tuesday I believe it was) and second, and more importantly, players contracts at their old clubs invariably run out on 1 July, so, if a club have been pursuing a Bosman signing, it should really become clear pretty early in July whether they have succeeded in getting him to sign for them or not.

There are exceptions to this rule. For example, those who are good enough to attract plenty of suitors are able to play them off against each other to get the best possible deal, with the result that they can gladly go weeks without being employed by anyone because they know it is not a situation which is going to last. Then there’s occasionally the sort of situation someone like Hal Robson-Kanu is in now where it looks pretty obvious that an announcement as to where he is going after his Reading contract expired is being delayed while he’s in France representing his country.

Generally though, my natural pre season optimism levels fall a little bit if we’ve not signed anyone by this time of the summer. Of course, this was never going to happen this time, because we signed Lex Immers on a permanent deal within days of the 2015/16 season ending and, unusually for a new signing, we knew exactly what to expect from him because we had already watched him performing in a Cardiff shirt for four months.

Based on what they’d seen of him from mid January onwards, Immers’ signing was welcomed by most City fans, but it’s hard to know what to expect from Frédéric Gounongbé the twenty eight year old Benin international who joined us on a Bosman transfer on Friday from Belgian club Westerlo.

On the face of it, this looks very much like another Immers/Kenneth Zohore type transfer whereby the club have been heavily influenced by the connection with KV Kortrijk (against whom Gounongbé scored last season) the Belgian club owned by Vincent Tan.

A look at Gounongbe’s Wikipedia page will tell you that he entered full time football at a late age and that his scoring rate since doing so is very close to a goal every other game, which strikes me as impressive whatever level you play at.

Westerlo were a struggling side in the Jupiler Pro League (the highest level in Belgian domestic football) last season as they just about managed to maintain their status. On the face of it, the thirteen goals Gounongbe managed to get for them must have played a major part in them staying up and you can see them all while getting an idea of the type of player he is by watching this video .

Having been burned by the Andreas Cornelius experience, I’m not going to read too much into what I see in that compilation of Gounongbe’s goals, but there’s a good half volleyed finish in the early stages of it and he seems to be a calm penalty taker, as well as having decent aerial ability.

What the video doesn’t really show is how much of a commodity which has generally been lacking in City’s attacking play for a few seasons now he possesses – pace. Encouragingly, this piece from the local media (presumably compiled after consultation with someone who has seen him play at Westerlo) contains the following;-

“The Beninese striker also has enough pace to trouble defenders in a foot-race, making him a target man with a difference.”

If that is true, then, perhaps, we’ve done well in bringing in someone who doesn’t have the most exciting of CVs to the club, but it is very much a case of wait and see at the moment.

There were also two more new arrivals at the club this week. Lennie Lawrence’s return to Cardiff to act as an assistant to Paul Trollope did not come as a surprise given the former City manager’s name had been heavily linked to the club for weeks and, presumably he will be playing a leading role in overseeing the preparatory work for 16/17 as the new Head Coach’s formal return from France keeps on being delayed for some reason!

City's new striker Frederic Gounongbe in action for his former club Westerlo - Frederic is a team mate of Rudy Gestede's at international level, having scored twice in six appearances for Benin.

City’s new striker Frederic Gounongbe in action for his former club Westerlo – Frederic is a team mate of Rudy Gestede’s at international level, having scored twice in six appearances for Benin.

The really interesting appointment for me though is the one which brings Rylands Morgan (someone else who is otherwise occupied in France at the moment) to Cardiff. This article  even poses the question will Rylands Morgan be City’s best signing of the summer.

I was made aware of our interest in getting him some weeks before his arrival was confirmed and after a bit of research found that he definitely has a good reputation within the game – certainly, his specialism is in an area where I would say the City squad has generally been found wanting since their return to the Championship.

With us, seemingly, returning to being the sort of club where new people coming into the club tends to mean that someone has to leave to help pay for them, it’s no surprise to see Eoin Doyle depart for Preston, on a permanent basis this time. The Irish striker was, almost certainly, the biggest signing of the Russell Slade era in terms of transfer fee paid and I can’t help thinking that we’ve made a significant loss on someone who could, realistically claim he was never given the sort of run in our first team which proved conclusively one way or the other that he was up to Championship level football.

Certainly, four goals in twenty eight appearances during his season long loan at Preston does not look that impressive and they are hardly figures that you would have thought would have persuaded Simon Grayson to pursue his interest in the player, but that’s what he has done, so he must believe that Doyle has it about him to make a success of himself in the Championship.

Having mentioned Andreas Cornelius earlier, another player with an impressive You Tube video has left the club on a temporary basis as Idriss Saadi has joined up with Kortrijk on what I believe is a season long loan, although I’ve not seen any official confirmation as to the length of the deal yet.

Also, I’d should record a belated best wishes to Ben Turner who will be returning to Cardiff City Stadium next year as part of a Burton Albion squad currently preparing for their first ever season in the Championship – Ben signed for Burton about a fortnight ago after his release by City.

One final thing, City have added another game to their programme while they are over in Germany later this month as they take on Rot Weiss Ahlen, who play in the fourth tier of the Germany league system on 20 July – full details of our pre season programme are shown here.


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4 Responses to Weekly review 3/7/16.

  1. Anthony O'Brien says:


    I didn’t expect to see your weekly report soon after your excellent work on the Welsh team performances, but let me hasten to add that today’s report is therefore an unexpected pleasure. You rightly warn against putting too much reliance on video clips, but the one you provide on Frederic Gounongbe does suggest certain positives.

    He certainly has a physical presence and , like all good centre forwards, he also has courage when going for the ball inside the area. In addition, at least one of the goals shown in the video was the result of his ability to outpace a defender — which is a good sign. Although his goal-scoring record seems to have been augmented by his penalty shots (which is no bad thing when we think of such players as Shearer or even Balotelli), it is another positive in that he has the composure and confidence to be a regular penalty-taker who is presumably successful, and there is further evidence that he is a cool finisher from open play.

    To me, what the video shows is that, although he can obviously use his right foot when required, he is clearly happier with his left. To get the best out of him, he needs the ball to be played in to his left foot and from the left side when he is heading towards goal. A player within the current squad most suited to provide such balls, as I see it, would be Craig Noone , but only in his more natural position, wide on the left. But, we shall see.

    Paul, your report also mentions Ryland Morgans. Again, what we read about him suggests he is an important addition to the backroom staff at Cardiff. And as Paul Trollope apparently made a strong case for Lennie Lawrence as his right-hand man, there is obviously an excellent level of respect and co-operation among the two of them. Perhaps like Wales, Cardiff City can be the surprise package in the season ahead, and we can all live the dream

  2. MIKE HOPE says:

    Great to start talking about Cardiff City again!
    Apart from signing new players what about keeping the ones we have?
    Is Fabio already out of contract and, if so,
    is he in the category you describe of weighing up other offers before considering anything we are offering?
    I suspect that austerity is still very much the order of the day and the club is looking to reduce the wage bill.
    I am sure you are right in saying we have taken a loss on Doyle and if we are to offload some other big earners [Macheda] we will probably have to pay some of their wages.

  3. Russell says:

    Agree with Mike getting back to broadband butter football with the misery it brings is most welcome, all this happiness with Euro’s footy is very unnatural and unnerving. The signings in the backroom staff are more uplifting than another mysterious foreign striker.

    As you point out Paul , Rylands Morgan, appointment could be a masterstroke, as for me fitness and performance are key to the modern game , just look at Leicester, Iceland, and Wales, they deliver those behaviours very well.

    In think Lenny’s signing gives valuable back and experience for Trollope, who will need that when dealing with the extra demands when managing Cardiff.

  4. The other Bob Wilson says:

    I agree AMO, there are good signs in that Gounonghe video. Regarding Craig Noone, I believe he is one of quite a few first teamers whose contract is up next year and therefore, I’d say they may be tempted to sell if the right offer came in – perhaps, as big a priority for the club as looking to bring in new players will be looking to secure new deals for those players who we want to keep out of the ones who could leave for nothing next summer. As for Rylands Morgan, I think we have suffered in the fitness stakes compared to most Championship teams in the past two seasons, anyone who can bring about an improvement in that situation has to be a good signing for the club – Wales have looked pretty fit when you consider all of the players are coming off long, hard seasons, so let’s hope Morgan has played a full part in bringing that about.
    Mike, I think Fabio is one of those whose contract will expire in summer 2017. Like Noone, I think we’d be tempted to sell this summer if the right offer came in – agree with you that we might end up partially playing the wages of some past players.
    Agree with you about Lennie Lawrence Russell – the fact that he and Trollope are happy to work with each other again is a good sign.

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