Weekly review 6/7/14

CoymayI’ve always thought that the new football season is not too far away once Wimbledon is over and done with. I’ve watched more of the tennis than normal this year and enjoyed the actual games, but have had more than enough of all the bollox spouted by the commentators about “body language” and the endless banal shots of each player’s “entourage” celebrating every point he or she wins. It seems almost compulsory that points won have to be followed by mad fist pumping and shouts of “come on” and I hope so much that virtually the only player who does not follow these guidelines and just gets on with playing the game ends up winning the title – I’d want Roger Federer to win anyway because he is such a great player to watch, but a victory for him would be a shot in the arm for those who just get on with playing the game.

Anyway, the last day of Wimbledon and the news that many clubs (including City) have started their pre-season training means that the big kick off is getting pretty close. The early part of the training routine varies little from club to club with an emphasis on physical work and a series of tests to monitor general levels of fitness – on that score, I hope there is no truth in the story I was told last night that three City players failed their tests because they had not met the standards set for them as far as keeping fit during their time off was concerned. If it is true, then it goes straight to the heart of why I’m not as convinced as some seem to be that we can go straight back up (stuff like this does nobody any favours in my opinion) – in a league where team spirit and discipline counts for so much, having players who return to training out of shape is a bad sign and I just hope that, if some of ours did this, they are among the ones that will be leaving the club in the coming weeks.

Ole is following the route that Lennie Lawrence, Dave Jones and Malky Mackay went down by visiting mainland Europe as part of the build up for the new campaign, but, whereas last year Mackay preferred not to play any games on the first team squads pre-season trip, Ole is following a more conventional route in that there will be three matches for the team during the week they spend in Austria from July 17 to 24th. Indeed, it appears our manager wants as many pre season matches as possible and I must say, given a choice between last year’s approach and the one we have adopted this year, I prefer the option Ole is taking.

City’s pre-season programme reads as follows;-

July 7, Carmarthen A (confusingly, this match is being played at Haverfordwest)

July 12, Bath A (this replaces the game originally planned for Hereford)

July 19, TSV 1860 Munich and KS Teuta Durrës A- the game against the German team beaten by West Ham in the 1965 European Cup Winners Cup Final kicking off at 4pm, followed by the match with the Albanians two and a half hours later.

July 22, FK Amkar Perm A – they play in the Russian Premier League and will probably be the toughest opponents we face in Austria.

July 27, Yeovil A

July 29, Chasetown H – pretty sure this is a Development team game

August 2, VFL Wolfsburg H

USA centreback Matt Besler is, apparently, one of the players City are looking at to replace Sreven Caulker whose departure is now looking  inevitable following the acceptance of a recent bid by QPR.

USA centreback Matt Besler is, apparently, one of the players City are looking at to replace Steven Caulker, whose departure is now looking inevitable following the acceptance of a recent bid by QPR.

On the transfer front, a bid from QPR which matches the player’s relegation release clause fee has been accepted for Steven Caulker – there is also reported interest from Southampton in our captain . Gary Medel has indicated that he would be open to a move to Italy amid reports that Inter Milan are preparing a bid, while, disturbingly in my view, there has been talk of City being willing to accept a fee of £5 million for Jordon Mutch in the light of Sunderland’s renewed interest in the midfielder (it’s reported that they have had a £3.5 million bid rejected). One move that doesn’t seem to be going ahead now is Fraizer Campbell’s to Leicester – the newly promoted Foxes have a wage policy that they are determined to stick to and it seems our striker’s demands are not acceptable to them. Finally, Bolton and Reading are, apparently, interested in one of City’s forgotten men, Joe Mason, with the latter thought to be favourites to get him  if we decide to sell.

As for players coming in. Southampton have seemingly turned down a £3 million bid from us for their Portugese centreback Jose Fonte. The 30 year old was a regular starter last season for an impressive Southampton side which is in the process of being dismantled with Lallana, Shaw and Lambert all sold already and reported interest in some of their other key performers, so their reluctance to let the reliable Fonte go is understandable and I tend to believe there would be Premier League interest in the player if the Saints did decide they would sell. Another name I’ve seen linked with us is Matt Besler who did a fine job for the USA team which won a lot of friends with their showing in the World Cup, with their 2-1 last 16 defeat by Belgium being one of the matches of the tournament so far.

Sadly, but predictably, the World Cup is getting less entertaining as the tournament goes on and the stakes get higher, but it retains it’s capacity to be eminently watchable. For example, a pretty turgid set of Quarter Finals were rescued to some degree last night by the Costa Rica v Netherlands encounter in which a mediocre and goalless eighty minutes was followed by ten minutes of siege on the Costa Rican goal as the Dutch did everything but score and then an amazing extra time  period which ended with both teams going hell for leather for the goal which would end the need for a penalty shoot out. In the event, it was Newcastle’s Tim Krul, who was brought on just for the penalties, who was the hero with a couple of saves, to take his side into the last four.

The Netherlands will face Argentina on Wednesday after hosts Brazil have taken on Germany twenty four hours earlier, so earlier stories about South American dominance at the expense of Europe have proved not to be the case. That said, my prediction is for an all South American final, but I say that while believing that one of the main reasons why the 2014 World Cup has been an enjoyable one is that there is no outstanding team in it. I think this competition has been a little like the Championship in that you almost get the feeling that any one team in it is capable of beating any other. It’s the old argument as to whether having one outstanding team in it makes a competition strong and does a tournament where all the sides are pretty evenly matched make it a weak one?

I’m not sure if there is a right or wrong answer to those questions, but would always prefer to watch something where the winner is hard to predict. As for a winner this time, I’m sticking with Brazil – like every side left, they have their weaknesses and losing Neymar makes their task harder, but I still feel that none of the other three sides left are good enough to overcome the huge advantage the hosts have in terms of support and their incredible record in competitive matches played in their own country.

This entry was posted in Out on the pitch. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Weekly review 6/7/14

  1. Dai Woosnam says:

    Hello Paul,
    You are quite right to object to the selling of Jordon Mutch. Were I manager Ole, I might make him captain and build a team around him Gerrard-style.
    As for last night’s WC game: you say Krul was the hero.
    Not my sort of hero, that is for sure.
    The studio pundits lauded his sledging of his penalty-taking opponents. Shame on them! Mind you I don’t think I will ever seek moral guidance from a panel made up of drug-test avoiding cheats like Ferdinand, and Lennon-head kicking denier Shearer!
    Just like the egregious Joe Hart was once yellow-carded for screaming dementedly as the kicker ran up “You’re gonna miss it, you’re gonna miss it!”, so Krul should have had a yellow card after the first bit of his nonsense yesterday, and the second yellow – and resulting red – for the next kick (which as it was missed, should have been retaken).
    And seeing that Bryan Ruiz’s second effort would have been into an unguarded net – and all subsequent Costa Rican efforts, then Costa Rica would inevitably at some stage have been declared the winner. (Surely, unless you have Diana Ross of The Supremes in your line-up, everyone can score a penalty into an unguarded net?!)
    As for you thinking Brazil will win: I rather fancy Germany will take the title. Not that I want them to necessarily, thought that said, they are the country I least “want to fail” from the remaining four. I won’t bore you with the reasons why I am anti the other three.
    And the fact that I half want Germany to win is really something! It will be a first for me. To think that I will be uttering one and a half cheers for the country who killed my two beloved uncles!
    Mind you I can do without Angela Merkel flying at her tax payers’ expense to Brazil for the final.
    If I could have one wish granted it would be that all politicians be banned from major sporting events. And they do not have to behave like the idiot Alex Salmond slyly unfolding a saltire behind the back of the new champ Andy Murray at Wimbledon! Just being there is bad enough.
    I have been watching and recording all the FIFA official films shown on BBC2 at weekends in recent weeks. And the one on the 1966 World Cup Final was most illuminating. I always knew that Harold Wilson had been there, but closer inspection of the VIP area (by freezing the frame) showed me Jim Callaghan (despite being MP for Cardiff South East, he was a man always absent from Ninian Park unless his beloved Pompey were visiting) and George Brown (for once AT the Cup instead of IN his cups!)
    I bet the three of the parasites never paid for their tickets.
    Don’t even get me STARTED on the subject of complimentary tickets! Although the great John Charles once gave me a couple outside the George Hotel in Huddersfield for a game at Leeds Road later that day, I have otherwise paid for every soccer game I have attended in a long life.
    It makes me SPIT NAILS to hear millionaire ex-players/managers say on radio to another crony: “can you arrange to leave a couple of tickets at reception for me?” Unbelievable! It is a sort of unwritten rule that ex and current pros do not pay to watch the game!
    And until that is changed, I will not be mug enough to help sponsor these scoundrels.
    Kindest, as ever,
    Dai.
    PS Hope your health is not too bad. Me? I have just got a blue badge, as I cannot now walk more than 60 yards unaided.
    And now I can finally cross the Seven Bridge in my car for nowt.
    Mad logic, eh?
    Presumably the able-bodied are supposed to swim over, with their cars on their backs!?
    DW

  2. Dai Woosnam says:

    Good morning, Paul,
    Apolos for my typo in my first para. It should of course be JordOn Mutch …though that said, I fancy the typo was really his parents’ one, and not mine.
    BTW, lest your readers think Krul did nothing wrong and the referee had no grounds on which to show him two yellow cards, let me remind them that the Brazilian captain is missing tomorrow’s semi final PRECISELY because he was guilty of the same offence, viz. “UNGENTLEMANLY CONDUCT”.
    Kindest,
    Dai.

  3. The other Bob Wilson says:

    Morning Dai – I’ve made that change to your message you mentioned.
    I was only thinking in terms of the saves Tim Krul made when I mentioned him being a hero, but, you are right, it was the wrong choice of word given his blatant gamesmanship. Now that Krul’s got away with it (although I tend to prefer refs to show a common sense approach compared to the card happy “look at me, look at me” stuff we often seen in the Premier League, I do believe they’ve been too lenient in this World Cup), we can expect more of the same from goalkeepers in the same position – let’s hope the officials are more prepared to act the next time a keeper tries something similar.
    I’m not sure which of the remaining four teams I want to win the tournament (Argentina maybe), but I just think Brazil have such an advantage in playing at home and I don’t believe the other three are good enough to deny them.
    So many of today’s politicians make out they are football fans because, ever since Gazza’s tears in 1990, the game has become something to be seen at rather than something to be avoided at all costs – how many of them were prepared to “out themselves” when Thatcher was trying to introduce her membership scheme in the 80’s? To be fair to Harold Wilson, I think he was a genuine football fan and not a manufactured one, but, it’s news to me that Jim Callaghan used to watch Portsmouth and, as you say, the only reason I can think George Brown would have been at Wembley was because he would be able to get a drink when the pubs were shut!
    Sorry to hear about your restricted mobility – I hope and trust, it will not impinge on your globetrotting.

  4. Dai Woosnam says:

    Good morning, Paul.
    Delighted with last night’s amazing score from Belo Horizonte.
    Not least because I forecast that the pressure would always get to Brazil.
    I see Fabio has been interviewed in Walesonline, and I could not resist a comment under the piece (under the guise of my Davina persona).
    But that is not why I write to you at 4.45 a.m.
    I am writing re the purchase of Ross McSpotkick for £11m.
    What a clever move by Mehmet!
    He places a bid for £9m so that Fulham, not knowing that Cardiff had a 15% sell-on clause, raise their bid to an amazing …eleven!
    That – after DJ’s STUPIDLY SELLING HIM FOR DRINK DRIVING – is good business. A cool £1,650.00 into the coffers!
    Kindest,
    Dai.

  5. The other Bob Wilson says:

    Morning Dai, sorry for the late reply, but I only saw your message this morning. All I’ll say about Tuesday’s game is that just when you get to an age when you start to believe that there is nothing left in the world to surprise you, you get a result like Brazil 1 Germany 7 – I’ve not given this too much thought beforehand, but I wonder if there’s ever been a sporting result which has had a bigger effect on the loser’s national psyche than that?
    I don’t think there was ever a bid from us for Ross McCormack, but perhaps the stories from a few weeks ago about one might have come from “sources close to Cardiff City”. I’m a McCormack fan and would have sold Chopra and kept him if it was my decision to make, but £11 million strikes me as a ridiculous fee – I suppose if he gets 20 goals in the new season and Fulham go up, they’ll say it was money well spent.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *