Where’s the stardust?

CoymayFirst of all apologies for the lack of a pre match quiz yesterday, I’ve been having car trouble (headlights and indicators flashing on and off for no reason – even when parked – and unable to open doors and boot at times) over the past few days and spent a lot of yesterday rushing about all over the place trying to sort it out – I was only really able to finally settle down and start listening to last night’s 2-1 defeat at Middlesbrough with about twenty minutes left.

Therefore, there’s not a great deal I can say about the game and with me having to get the car to a garage today for 9 o clock – I wouldn’t be able to do my usual piece on the game even if I had been at the Riverside watching it.

So, just a few quick comments – apparently, we competed better than we did at Norwich on the weekend and made things difficult for Middlesbrough for an hour, but, just at at Carrow Road, it seems that the margin of defeat flattered us given the general balance of play.

Both Wales Online and Radio Wales have made reference to how little was created in open play and, even though our possession figure reached the dizzy heights of 47%,  I’ve read or heard nothing to contradict the view that we played the usual one dimensional long ball stuff that sees us looking towards set piece situations for our main, virtually only, chance of  registering a goal.

My feeling at the final whistle last night was that yet another match has passed by without providing any of those moments, passages of play or performances, both individually and as a team, that you’ll remember in years to come. Call it what you want – the term je ne sais quoi springs to mind (Malky Mackay used to call it the X factor), but our performances this season have seen little or nothing of the stardust that is supposed to land on every team a few times a season to give you the hope that although it’s crap most of the time, you get to see the occasional sign of what your team could be like.

Now, I understand I may be leaving myself open to charges of hypocrisy there – having been critical of the contribution of “flair” players like Daehli, Ravel Morrison and Kimbo this season and, generally, backed the manager’s decision to leave then out, it’s a bit rich me carrying on now about a lack of the type of qualities that can win a game in a second! Fair enough, but I still maintain that none of our recognised flair players at the start of the season (and this includes people like Whittingham and Noone) have done enough so far this season in my opinion to guarantee themselves a place every week.

My point is that the flair players we had and those still at the club have not and are not doing enough to merit the addition of that five letter word to their CV this season – Whittingham and Noone are living off past glories in the flair department I’m afraid. Indeed, the best hope of a Cardiff player sprinkling a very cold night with some of that stardust rested with a kid who has only just broken into the team – give it time though, Kadeem Harris will be performing in the same nondescript fashion as the rest of them once he’s had a bit more “coaching”!

You’d like to think that if it’s felt that the players charged with creating something through their skill and technique weren’t deemed good enough, then steps would be taken to bring others who might be able to perform that function in, but, with two thirds of the transfer window over, there’s not even been a smell of creativity linked with us yet – no offence to Scott Malone or Alex Revell, but they don’t seem natural replacements for the likes of Daehli and Ravel Morrison to me.

Kadeem Harris has, arguably, been the stand out performer for us in the last two games .*

Kadeem Harris has, arguably, been the stand out performer for us in the last two games .*

I know this isn’t really true, but I’m exaggerating somewhat to try and make the point that watching Cardiff City is much like wandering over your local park on a Sunday morning to watch a match - in both cases, the “beautiful game” has decided to take a holiday!

After the game last night Russell Slade did not deny rumours that Huddersfield right back Lee Peltier is about to join us (possibly in exchange for Nicky Maynard?) – this comes with speculation that Sheffield United have put in a bid for John Brayford. Now, for me, Brayford’s form has dipped from early season levels recently, but, even so, if we were to let him  go and replace him with someone who looked quite a prospect about four years ago, but whose career has been on a slow and gradual dip since then, it says that the team is declining in terms of basic quality. Indeed, it’s becoming hard to argue against the notion that nothing is nailed down at Cardiff so to speak – everything is for sale at the right price and there is no “master plan” in force for putting together a new, well thought out and coherent Cardiff City team.

A poor night was completed with the news that City’s Under 18s had been beaten 3-1 in the Fourth Round of the FA Youth Cup by Burnley at Turf Moor – the youngsters, who had been looking so good in the final weeks of last year, have struggled since their Christmas break, losing all three of the matches they’ve played.

In my piece on the 5-1 defeat by Millwall on Saturday, I raised the apparent contradiction between the studied, build from the back possession based game played by the sides below first team level at Cardiff and the get it forward quick and play for throw ins, free kicks and corners mentality of the seniors. However, unless both were making their way back after injuries, the baffling decision to start last night’s match without leading scorer Eli Phipps and their most creative midfield player (Jamie Veale) suggests that, even if they stuck to a footballing approach against Burnley, the Slade influence is beginning to filter down to youth level!

* picture courtesy of  http://www.walesonline.co.uk/

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4 Responses to Where’s the stardust?

  1. David williams says:

    It might have been a better performance last night but still no flare dont know where the goals are coming from. Fear for Cardiff if Slade stays. It is lovely being in blue but would prefer if I didn’t feel Blue.

  2. Anthony O'Brien says:

    Another perceptive commentary. We certainly need “flair” players – but even someone with as much flair as, say, Silva of Man City would be much less effective if he did not have players capable of seeing opportunities where his passes could reach them. I see little evidence of men with such footballing brains at Cardiff. Let me give one small example regarding our throw-ins. Just about the first thing I learned as a young boy was, whenever possible, throw the ball to a team-mate’s foot so that he could easily control it or play it back to the man taking the throw-in. As a second option aim for that team-mate’s head for him to return the ball. Do you see this happening at Cardiff? Almost invariably, the ball is thrown into the air in the hope that it will somehow fall at the feet of a Cardiff player. In reality, however, a member of the opposing team tends to win the ball and – too often – do something useful with it. Surely it is not beyond the wit or wisdom of the coaching staff or – horror of horrors – for the players themselves to work out a strategy for something as simple as a throw-in? And don’t get me started on the futility of the constant up-and-unders which are as ineffective as the throw-ins! There are plenty of other areas where a more thoughtful approach might bear fruit, including – dare I say it – the inevitable sameness of our corner kicks which also tend to get cleared easily! Etc, Etc.

  3. The other Bob Wilson says:

    Thank you both for your replies. I just think that the way we’re playing currently makes us so easy to play against. I realise that we were playing two promotion chasing sides and, if I’m being honest, I expected us to lose both matches by more than the one goal, but I keep on coming back to the same thing – is this all that all of that money spent in the last year and a half gets you? All of those millions to end up with a group of players with fitness issues, who are unable to win or retain possession and, evidently are so poor that the only way our manager thinks we might achieve something is by utilising tactics that had their day when our manager was about half the age he is now – there’s so much wrong with the club on and off the pitch that I’m beginning to think the return to blue was a ploy to try to deflect attention away from what a shambles it has become.

  4. Dai Woosnam says:

    Thanks Paul for your usual detailed analysis.
    You get no money for all this work: it is a real Labour of Love on your part.
    You are the sort of person who should be getting the MBE, not the sort of person who currently gets it… for doing an already well-remunerated job.
    Yes you are right that Brayford is not doing what he WAS doing: but “give the bloke a chance”, I say! Two Cardiff managers treated him like dirt, and the current one wants to play him out of position!

    The proposed selling of Brayford is criminal. I reckon in fact, HE is the obvious choice for club captain. He is the only defender sure of his place, and incidentally, it is RIGHT back, Russell, not LEFT back.
    Until a Wales Online reader mentioned it, I had not twigged the Yeovil link with Peltier. Yes, it is the same old syndrome that OGS exhibited: hire guys who once called you “sir”. (In one OGS case, it even went so far as to hire a guy who allegedly once wrote him a fan letter saying he was his hero: I refer to Le Fondre.)
    The crying shame in all this is that when RS was hired, Neil Lennon was also on the market.
    That decision alas, may come back to haunt us for years to come. I hope not, because RS is patently not a scoundrel, and one wants him to succeed.
    But judging by his strained countenance of late, it seems the pressure is already getting to him (as evinced by this MAD decision re Brayford, who is/was true “captain material” in the tradition of great full backs and captains like Philipp Lahm, Mick Mills, Stuart Pearce, Jimmy Armfield, Peter Rodrigues, Berti Vogts, etc. Just look at his TWITTER pics in Wales Online. There is a real EGO here …in the best sense of the word. You don’t have to be Sigmund Freud’s personal assistant to realise that this is a personality that would THRIVE on the extra responsibility!).
    But what seems obvious to me, is not obvious to Russell.
    One fears there will be tears before bedtime with RS.
    Oh…and a final point re Anthony’s perceptive comments re a lack of coaching at Cardiff City: was this ever better highlighted by the proposed sale of Gestede for £6m …a year after City let him go for £200K?
    At Cardiff nobody showed him how to head a ball PROPERLY …I guess they we re too busy teaching him English.
    Blackburn immediately taught him how to TIME and DIRECT his headers.
    It makes one want to cry.
    Kindest,
    Dai.

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