I may be wrong here, but if you asked me which week of the close season traditionally sees the most players signed by Cardiff City, my answer would be the first week in July. Therefore, I find it particularly disappointing that the week just finished saw no new signings by the club – it’s still just the two I’m afraid and, although I think Joe Lewis and Jordon Mutch are both clever signings, I can’t help thinking that we should have seen more than them in by now. Particularly galling for me is the way that we don’t appear to have exploited a source from which we had such rich pickings last year – the Bosman free transfer market. Now, it’s still possible that we will see more than just the one Bosman signing this summer, but I’d say that, with each days that passes, this becomes more unlikely and I can’t help but think that we have made life harder than it need be for ourselves if this does, indeed, turn out to be the case.
Assuming that Malky Mackay is not playing some clever game here with rival managers, it would seem from this piece in the local press yesterday, that it could well be later rather than sooner before we see most of the players we intend bringing in for 2012/13. What is also a bit of a concern is that, after earlier talk of ten new players coming in over the summer, we now seem to have settled on seven. Having got rid of ten at the end of the season and with the futures of, for example, Earnie, Keinan and Gerrard (who was linked with Bristol City and Blackburn this week) uncertain, we would be in the position of having a smaller squad than last year’s this time around. With the 2011/12 squad having run out of steam in the closing stages of the campaign in the opinion of many, it seems incredible that we are contemplating going into the new season with even fewer players than before, but, in fairness, it should be noted though that there are no quotes from our manager saying that we are only after a further five new recruits.
What Malky Mackay did say in that report mind, is that it’s not ideal to have to wait until almost the end of a transfer window to get the squad you want in place and he has mentioned before that what he’d really like is to be able to go to the pre season training camp in Switzerland shortly with all of the new players he wanted at the club. Now, as he acknowledges himself, this is very unlikely to happen in reality, but it’s beginning to look like the squad could go on their pre season bonding exercise (which will also, surely, contain some work on drills for the new season) with as many as half of Malky Mackay’s best starting eleven for 12/13 still not at the club.
I suppose the example of 2010/11 says that you don’t need everyone in place early to guarantee a good season. After all, we were under a transfer embargo until early August that year and still managed to put together a squad which was widely thought to be the best in that season’s Championship – what cannot be answered though is whether that season would have ended like it did if Bellamy, Olofinjana, Koumas, Keogh, Naylor and co would have had the benefit of a full pre season at Cardiff behind them as opposed to being thrown straight into the deep end of two game a week Championship football.
Certainly, Rudi Gestede cited his lack of a full pre season at Cardiff as the reason for the niggling hamstring injury that he was never able to fully shake off last season in this piece in the local press this week. Now it’s fair to say that players will always clutch on to the excuse of an interrupted pre season to try and explain away a campaign that did not turn out as they hoped it would, but it’s often a valid excuse and it seems that it’s one a number of City players will be able to use in 2012/13. To be fair, the local press have been reporting over the past few days that we are winning the race to sign Coventry defender Richard Keogh, with our willingness to pay a large portion of the fee (rumoured to be £750,000) up front putting us ahead of competition such as Bristol City and Leeds. However, even if this turns out to be true and Keogh is able to join his new team mates when they report back for the new campaign on Wednesday, it still looks pretty certain that he will be one of only three “summer” signings – Malky Mackay is right to say that we were never going to have a full quota of new players turn up on the 11th, but I can’t help thinking that he will be disappointed by how few will be there.
Finally, it’s been a quieter week on the re-branding front, but credit to the club for the decision they came to regarding those supporters who had applied for a refund of their season ticket charge in the light of the change of kit to red, Sadly, the club have not got much right in recent months in my opinion, but this time they did – well done to them for that.