Will we see Benson and Hedges in the squad next week?

CoymayGiven the current financial pecking order in the Championship, yesterday’s 2-0 defeat for City at whatever Derby County’s ground is called these days wasn’t a shock.

Derby are one of this leagues “moneybags” clubs currently, while, almost daily, the evidence grows that, despite another substantial and, given the way the club has performed on and off the pitch since it won promotion two and a half years ago, completely undeserved parachute payment, the drawbridge has been well and truly pulled up on what was once a very substantial playing budget for Cardiff City.

At his pre match press conference on Friday, Russell Slade seemed to be in a very good mood as he talked about bringing in a player on loan to boost his side’s goalscoring potential. Indeed, such was the way our manager talked, I began convincing myself that this new man would be arriving in time to be included in the squad at Derby.

With Alex Revell away at Wigan and Ben Turner at Coventry (both scored in home wins for their, presumably, temporary clubs yesterday), the suspicion lingers that to get one in, two need to go out at the modern day austerity driven Cardiff City.

While it needs to be said that it could well be that the timing of the arrival of any new recruits (I use the plural there because I suppose there is the chance that more than one may come in before the loan window closes next week) is probably out of Russell Slade’s hands, surely he has to see that his post match comments bemoaning his lack of striking options are only going to get the substantial army of critics he has even more on his case?

After all, City have got themselves into a position whereby their best option if our manager had insisted on putting a specialist striker on the bench would have been Eli Phipps, who has barely started playing for the Under 21s after just finishing with the Under 18s.

Frankly, I think it’s a disgrace that this manager, who so obviously prefers to use two strikers in every match, had only two senior specialist forwards (one of whom only arrived back from international duty on Friday) available for what was a very important match against a promotion rival – well, the table says we are promotion candidates anyway!

I don’t know who was directly responsible for causing this situation, but the signal sent out is completely at odds with all of the talk we hear from on and off field club management about the aim for this season being a top six finish.

In my piece for yesterday's Academy match, I said that our goalkeeper has been our man of the match in the last three live matches I've seen us play - by common consent, David Marshall was our best player yesterday.*

In my piece for yesterday’s Academy match, I said that our goalkeeper has been our man of the match in the last three live matches I’ve seen us play – by common consent, David Marshall was our best player yesterday.*

So, if all of the blame for the lack of fit and available strikers available at the club may not necessarily he laid at Russell Slade’s door, I suppose there also has to be an acceptance that he may have decided to stick to the team and formation which beat Reading a fortnight ago if Aron Gunnarsson and Anthony Pilkington had not come back from international duty with injury and illness respectively which made them unavailable for the Derby trip.

I’m trying to be fair here to our manager, but it was what he chose to do when it came to team selection and tactics that makes it becomes so much harder to find a defence for him.

Derby have based their promotion bids of the last three seasons on playing through their three man central midfield in what is a 4-5-1, cum 4-3-3 formation – as far as I’m aware, the three central midfielders have been a constant during that time.

By contrast, you can go all the way back to Dave Jones’ time at the club, to see plenty of times where a City side playing 4-4-2 have been overrun in the middle of the park by teams exploiting the one man advantage they had in central midfield. It happened in the days when we had any two out of McPhail, Rae, Ledley or Olofinjana in there and it happens constantly to the current team, especially when Peter Whittingham is one of the central two.

Even relatively modest sides have been able to exploit this weakness, so a team with the central midfield riches Derby have were always going to look to target this area.

So, what does our manager do – play his Mike Bassett style f*cking 4-4-2 of course, like he always does!

Not only that, he chooses to shift Joe Ralls, who had made such a difference to that area against Reading, out from central midfield to his more normal left sided role which sees him trebling up as a part time full back, central midfielder and winger in the lopsided 4-4-2 which teams were finding so easy to defend against in October and early November.

I can’t speak for others, but it was no surprise whatsoever to me that Whittingham came straight back into central midfield and, with Gunnarsson out, it meant that the central midfield which had made a traditional 4-4-2 look workable against Reading had gone. Instead, with Kagisho Dikagcoi in alongside Whittingham, we went with that lopsided formation that worked for a short while in the early weeks of the season, but has long since been found out by our opponents.

After those couple of set piece goals against Reading, it was service as normal as City registered their fifth nil in their last seven matches while barely threatening the Derby goal – I believe I’m right in saying that, in the last six games where we’ve played the lopsided 4-4-2, we have “scored” one own goal!

Now, I daresay Russell Slade may think that playing two strikers away from home in the modern game is indicative of an attacking approach. Perhaps it is in theory, but in practice with Cardiff City, it is anything but that.

With no goals, and only nine efforts on target, in our last four matches, we have been feeble away from home lately. In fact, apart from a penalty in defeat at Rotherham and a well constructed Joe Mason goal at Brighton back in the days when we used to score in open play, we’ve not scored away from home since August!

In that time, we’ve taken just three points, so our manager is going to have to shelve his talk of us having turned things around on our travels – it may have been true back in August, but it’s not any more.

It’s not being wise after the event, because I’m one of hundreds, if not thousands, of City fans who have been calling for the sort of tactical flexibility which sees Ralls being used in a three man central midfield backed up by two wide men looking to attack in away matches especially. If Whittingham has to be played in central midfield, then give him the help which will provide him with a better chance of playing the sort of passes which can damage our opponents.

Instead, we persist with a front two consisting of one player whose confidence looks shot after not scoring in seven games because our lopsided midfield have barely created an opportunity for him in that time and another who, despite the local press’ efforts to turn him into one of the Championship’s most potent strikers, is something of a hit or miss performer at this level.

Russell Slade may have valid reasons from his previous clubs as to why he favours 4-4-2 (albeit with slight variations sometimes) so much, but, a year and more into his job here, he still appears to fail to see that the squad he has put together at Cardiff are not suited to playing it in the manner he, presumably, wants them to.

Russell Slade and Paul Trollope (a former Derby player) watch their team register yet another blank - even during last season, there was never a time when we struggled for goals as much as we have done since September.*

Russell Slade and Paul Trollope (a former Derby player) watch their team register yet another blank – even during last season, there was never a time when we struggled for goals as much as we have done since September.*

Not only that, his tactical approach is leading to dull football which means that, even when they win, supporters are finding it difficult to truly identify with their team. Yesterday, all we had to offer was dogged defence and a spirit which has helped see a slight improvement in performance from last season, but it’s becoming increasingly hard to see much difference between what the team are producing now and the awful stuff we were having to put up with just under a year ago.

Besides having a moan about our lack of strikers, our manager conceded that sometimes you have to say that the opposition were better than us and that we deserved to lose. That’s fair enough – as I said at the start, you only need to compare the playing budgets of each club to work out who were going to be the likely winners yesterday.

However, I mentioned Mike Bassett earlier and I find it hard not to think that there are comparisons between our manager and Ricky Tomlinson’s unlikely England boss – they both come across as men who are not convinced that they have what it takes to succeed at the level they are managing.

Russell Slade’s Cardiff play underdog football every week – is that because our manager sees himself as an underdog at this level? With his habit of talking up the opposition, that is an impression which, rightly or wrongly, definitely comes across to me.

Indeed, although I accept that, of course, this wasn’t what he meant, when our manager said “unfortunately the two goals we conceded came from us having possession of the ball”, you could be forgiven for thinking that, with our possession figures increasingly heading in the same direction as last season, Russell Slade’s perfect performance from his team would see them let the opposition have all of the ball and then see them score an own goal late on to win the game –  we had too much of the ball against Middlesbrough, but we’re getting there!

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

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21 Responses to Will we see Benson and Hedges in the squad next week?

  1. Barry cole says:

    Cannot believe this man is still our manager having seen the sackings that are taking place for much less than we have had to put up with I can only assume tan realises yet again he has made a mess of the club and for his own sanity he realises that his standing will go further down hill if he has to sack him.
    He should have gone at the end of last season and to be honest he is so far out of his depth that continuing with him can only lead one way and it isn’t up

  2. Russell says:

    I totally agree with your comments , I have tried to allow Slade a bit of comfort room and time , as I guess he operating within huge restrictions , both financially and politically and he has had some bad luck with key players and their injuries .

    His careful tactics , lack of a box to box midfielder , and use of two strikers up front without pace wide are the key to this, we miss Fabio’s attacking brand of football ,and I would like Bruno in the side .

    ( Your spot on about Rall’s/Whitt’s , Mason is lightweight, we should have kept with Doyle or give Rhys Healy a punt )

    So I guess perhaps we should look elsewhere for a strong motivating Manager, as I generally think our squad is a good enough for a top 6 finish

  3. Dai Woosnam says:

    I did not see yesterday’s game, but I remember thinking a week ago that Barry would gain much solace from the fact that the (England) Rugby Union had just sacked a former schoolmaster. Now with his TonyEvansForever hat on, he would be calling for the head of our former schoolmaster…like the fervent at the scene of the guillotine back two and a quarter centuries ago.
    Only one problem…
    England have just appointed an Aussie…(wait for it…) former SCHOOLMASTER.
    Ah, life is so wonderful in its ability to keep coming up with new ironies that make one smile, eh?
    Thanks for the fine report, Paul. That said though, as you know, I reckon that part of the problem is the corrent obsession with numbered formations.
    Football is simple. Just play the game in the other team’s half…and not with a chap like Joe Mason, whose confidence is shot, right now.
    Personally, I did not see the game. All I saw were the 30 seconds or so shown on that desperate C5 programme…which more and more resembles a police identification parade…with sad pathetic creatures standing to attention behind the presenters, so that the camera can search their faces to see if they were actually KNOWINGLY present at the scene of the crime …the crime of them “kissing goodbye to their intelligence”.
    And that snatch of the game was indicative of one thing: any manager who allows Morrison to play such a suicidal short forward pass from the edge of his penalty area…needs shooting.
    Along with Morrison that is.

  4. WHY , Oh WHY? Mr Slade!

    “Why” is clearly one of the most important words in the makeup of mankind. Juliet asked “why” when she called out “Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?” That great intellectual and noted philosopher, Mario Balotelli used it: “Why always me?” Even Jesus, in his moment of despair called out, “my God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken me?” Strangely enough, this took place “at the ninth hour” which modern versions of the Bible translate as “at three o’clock”. And at three o’clock yesterday I was already asking myself, “Why, oh why, Mr Slade?”
    1. Why guarantee that our midfield would be overrun by putting two men against Derby’s three?
    2. Why keep our most energetic and constructive midfielder out wide for most of the game and thereby limit his contribution?
    3. Why do our players give the ball away so frequently so that any chance of midfield equality (never mind “superiority) is conceded?
    4, Why are we unable to feed good ball to our strikers?
    5. And why, at a time of desperate need, do we have only two available “strikers”? (Note the irony of this word?
    6 Why do we stick with strikers who are unable to make rapid counter-attacks, threaten the opposing goal, harry defenders, score goals, et cetera, et cetera?
    7. Why – in continuation of the above point – do we use shirkers not workers up front and supinely let the other team’s defenders have the ball and use it at their leisure?
    8. Why do so many “judges” pretend we have a “marksman” and “a natural goalscorer” in the team? (I’m quoting from articles I’ve read recently).
    9. Why do we stick to tactics that ensure any potential goal scorers have their inabilities underpinned so that they will never shine in their preferred position?
    10. Why is brave defending so frequently counteracted by poor distribution?
    11. Why do we not see any display of hunger or determination?
    12. Why is there no stomach for risk-taking or gambling on all-out attack when we are manifestly losing a game?
    13. Why when our opponents have quite a clever left-footer playing on the right do we not have the wherewithal to nullify his threat?
    14. Why, when all is lost, do we bring on a player we brought in on loan when we panicked because not one of the players we were supposedly interested in signing agreed to sign for us?
    15. Why, as a counterpoint to the above, do we send out on loan players we have actually bought but not given the OPPORTUNITY to perform?
    (a) We lack energy in field, so why send away on a season loan a man with those very attributes?
    (b) We cannot score goals, so why send away a player with an excellent goal-scoring record (admittedly at a lower level) when he has never been allowed to display his talents over a run of games at Cardiff?
    (c) Why do we send out on loan a centre forward who UNFAIRLY receives a poor press while his erstwhile counterparts are deemed undroppable?

    Without wanting to seem to have some personal grudge against our so-far “out-and-out strikers” I feel somewhat vindicated to see that at least some other commentators are beginning to note the deficiencies of our regular front men.

    Which brings me to a further comment on Alex Revell. Recently I read a review by “a Cardiff City fan” who has spent “the best part of ten months bemoaning his lack of ability”. He is also damned with faint praise as “a willing runner who rarely threatens the goal.” In response to this, I would point out that the same is true of our regular strikers, apart from the bit about being willing runners. And I would go further, and say that Alex Revell rarely threaten the goal because he is too honest a player on behalf of the team. If he chose to restrict his activity to the middle of the pitch or hung about the goal area, then he might well score more goals, but he would be doing far less to help his team mates. Our esteemed “Cardiff fan” asserts that “he seems to struggle to win headers” and was “never going to [be] a backup to Jones”. Even if this statement were true, where was the backup to Jones yesterday? Oh, I remember – scoring on his debut elsewhere.

    And so to Mr Slade. Why did you so publicly smear Alex Revell by stating that he had been sent out on loan to renew his confidence. If anything is likely to undermine his confidence, it is such a public denunciation. In terms of “Man-management” it is appalling. Such matters should ALWAYS be dealt with in one-to-one privacy or within the confines of the dressing room
    So now, we wait with bated breath for the new man or men that Mr Slade has promised us by Wednesday. Given his past record, can we trust him to deliver?

    PS. I wanted to congratulate the report and commentaries already recorded on this site, but feel I’ve already used up too much time and space.

  5. Apologies – I misquoted our favourite “Cardiff City fan” on his acid comments on Alex Revell: I should have quoted him as saying that Revell “was never going to [be] anything other than a backup to Jones”. Our fate is therefore sealed.

  6. Big Al says:

    It is clear from reading these excellent reports that it is time for Slade to move on. He is a dead man walking.
    Mr Tan if you can’t see that this manager lacks the leadership qualities needed to be successful then you are not the man to lead our club.
    Act now please before it is too late
    Big Al

  7. The other Bob Wilson says:

    Thank you all for your replies. Although, hardly surprisingly, I think some of Anthony’s list of “whys” ring more true than others, I’d say that, essentially, he has captured why so many (and as Russell points out, it’s far from just those who were against Russell Slade from day one now) are at a point where they feel change is needed – if it cannot be in personnel (I still believe Vincent Tan would be very unwilling to sack the man he said was his own choice when appointing him), then, please, let it be to a more flexible and ambitious tactical approach!
    Anthony’s list doesn’t touch on my hobby horse of Russell Slade’s attitude towards youth development or our manager’s dubious record as far as his new signings are concerned, but still makes a very convincing case against him – I have sympathy for our manager because he was always going to struggle to win fans around, but I think it’s fair to say that any City manager whose team had turned out such generally dull displays over a period of a year or more would be getting widespread criticism from supporters now.
    Dai, I have some sympathy with your opinion about systems and formations, but, the point as I see it is that the way Russell Slade employs his favourite system makes for dull, featureless football. I suspect that the caution which has marked his approach since the day he took over here means that not much would change as to the type of football we played if we used 3-4-3, 3-5-2, 3-6-1, 4-4-1-1 or whatever combination you may think of, it would still be dull, dull, dull!

  8. Clive Harry says:

    I can always rely on this blog and those who frequent it to provide sensible reasoned comments rather than the poorly written, abusive discussions on message boards elsewhere – thanks to you all for that!
    As for myself, I saw my first game in the fifties and have seen some shocking City teams but have been a fan ever since. However, despite our still strangely elevated position in the table, I have never felt as disillusioned and detached from the Club as I do now and consequently I have become one of the missing thousands with no prospect of returning in the foreseeable future. Like many of the ‘missing’, I still love the Club at heart but, without wanting the team to lose, I have a strange flat feeling when we get a decent result because in my mind it simply extends the tenure of our hopelessly inadequate manager. We’ve had poor managers before but they’ve frequently been hampered by inadequate playing and financial resources unlike the current squad who would be doing a lot better with a manager who has the ability to devise tactics which are innovative and flexible rather than the same old dross every week.
    Needing a football fix the other week, I went to see Cardiff Met in the Welsh League and it was a pleasure to see a young team playing attractive attacking football with a system that changed as and when needed. Sadly, I see no prospect of similar entertainment being served up at Cardiff City Stadium under the present regime.

  9. Dai Woosnam says:

    Fair comment, Paul. Whatever the formation, it probably WOULD be “dull, dull, dull”.

    Let me say that I saw the game from the Etihad all the way through on the telly last night.
    What a performance from Liverpool.
    Playing so positively and – whenever the opponent had it – hunting the ball down in packs. Just the occasional daft back pass to mar things.
    Incredible. The PRESSING GAME of Barca without Brendan Rodgers’ negative square passing.
    With a manager who led from the technical area…whilst Man City’s boss was doing a surly Dave J …rooted to his seat.

    Why cannot Cardiff play like that? Yes, I well realise our City players do not have the skills of Liverpool, but they can still have the EFFORT surely…KJ apart?
    And then play like the ‘Pool…i.e. with real energy…and playing forward …not laterally.
    Man City by contrast were pedestrian. And although Hart pulled off three great saves, his daft goal kick (an attempt to play it reasonably short to the right touchline, misfired, and Coutinho quickly robbed his opponent, with disastrous results for Man City. That inability of Hart to put his foot behind the ball, was the key moment in the 94 minutes: it caused the first half floodgates to open).
    Before signing off…thanks to AMO for his fascinating tidbit re the 9th hour (that was news to me…I had assumed that 3pm was written in stone).
    And I must admit that the connection between 3pm and kick offs and crucifixions, had not occurred to me! Ha!
    (You know…there may be something in it? The best season I recall at Ninian was in 1960-61. And I seem to remember most League games kicked off at 3pm throughout England, but we always kicked off at 3.15.
    I had assumed it was so the Valley folk who worked Saturday mornings could get home from work, have a wash and a quick lunch, and still have time to take the long train journeys from Nantymoel and Blaenrhondda.
    But now I find from AMO that the Cardiif City board, were being mighty clever and helping us avoid the Crucifixion hex.


  10. Geoff Lewis says:

    Thanks Paul,
    Interesting response from your good self and as usual constructive comments from our colleagues. The other message boards should take note of what is said here.
    Yesterday’s result came as no surprise to me, as I thought we would lose to Derby.
    According to Slade with the injuries to certain players , he had to put Whittingham back in central midfield and Ralls out wide. It would appear that Whitts must play at all costs (unable to grasp this one), we can all see it the guy is off form and a liability to the team.
    There appear to be a lack of motivation, intent and all round basic football skills, lacking in this squad. This comes down to the hierarchy and the management team. Slade is out of his depth together with his supporting cast. The answer is a big clean up change of management , rid of the useless players in the January transfer window, if anybody would want them. Buy a midfield general, who can break through the opposition’s defence and perhaps players like Revell would be able to score
    Bring back Doyle, Healey and some of the others who are out on loan and try again.

  11. MIKE HOPE says:

    I don’t know whether Slade ever watched the TV programme Yes Minister, but with his army of detractors[some of whom must be swimming coaches judging by the regular "out of his depth" cliché] I am sure Sir Humphrey would have told him that his decision to reinstate Whittingham in the role that Ralls had outperformed him was “very courageous”.Are you now in the Slade out camp Paul? It seems to me that with dwindling performances and support any PR firm would tell Mr Tan that the club urgently needs a relaunch and in the present atmosphere this can only be achieved by the appointment of a charismatic new manager.Going to football matches on Saturday afternoons is a habit that many of our fans have lost and others are heading towards under the present regime.Mr Choo needs to look at the law of diminishing returns and consider the impact of new management combined with a substantial reduction in ticket prices.The only difficult part is appointing a charismatic manager! Any suggestions?

  12. It seems that Cardiff are about to sign a loanee from Charlton with the intriguing name TWatt – which recalls a word made famous by Robert Browning who thought it meant a nun’s hat, though – sadly -we know different.

  13. The other Bob Wilson says:

    Hello Clive – good to hear from you. I’ve mentioned before that it’s interesting to note how many long term fans who were prepared to stick with the club through the barren years towards the end of the twentieth century are saying that they’ve now had enough. When people with the sort of background you have say that you have lost that special connection you had with your club because wins mean the current manager is more likely to stay, then, surely, it sends out a signal that the decision makers at City have to at least be noting – we aren’t talking about new supporters who are deserting at the first sign of trouble here, these are people who have seen the bad times and understand that a club like Cardiff will struggle from time to time.
    Mike, you ask whether I’m now in the Slade out camp? The thing is, I still have a problem with any side that are three points off the Play Offs sacking their manager, but, as I’m pretty certain that my first reaction on hearing the news Russell Slade has left Cardiff would be one of relief, then I suppose I must be. As to who would replace him, I always say that we would probably have to rule out a certain standard of manager who would not be prepared to work for Vincent Tan, so I wouldn’t see it being a “household name”. It’s odd, our first choice last time was a young manager who was making a name for himself in Scotland (Paul Hartley), but when he. or his club, turned us down, we went for a complete opposite in a journeyman lower league boss with decades in the job. If it was my decision to make, I’d look at younger managers in the lower leagues who are putting together good sides on a small budget. For example, Hasselbaink, Edinburgh and Dean Smith at Walsall (his teams always try to play good football). I think Robert Page is doing a decent job at Port Vale as well and in League Two, I believe Neil Ardley is capable of managing at a higher level.

  14. Dai Woosnam says:


    I never was a boy for toy soldiers.
    Never seemed macho enough for me.
    Instead, I was a Subbuteo Table Football and Table Cricket devotee. I would spend hour upon hour playing the whole division fixture list the week following the actual fixtures…to the detriment of any school homework. In the absence of a friend to play me, I would play for both sides. And play out of my skin for any team playing Cardiff City: after all, the 11-14 year old me, still had to look at himself in the mirror.
    Playing oneself is a skill not unlike making love to oneself…but hey, the latter is not for a clean and proper blog like this, methinks!
    So back to Subbuteo…
    Being both teams brought its problems, alright.
    Psychologically, it was very interesting to try to save your own shot!
    Now, in theory, it should be a piece of cake: after all, as a keeper, you’ll know which way a shot is going to go, surely?
    But it does not work like that.
    Such is one’s imperfection when it comes to the demands made on one’s index finger, that you can guarantee that, irrespective of the weeks, months, YEARS of practice…the ball will still not end up going quite in the direction one intended.
    And guess what?
    This is a fact/lesson that is transferable from a dining room table to the pristine turf of a Wembley Stadium on Cup Final day!
    How come?
    Well it is like this: if ONLY players would aim their shots from a distance STRAIGHT at the goalkeeper, and not aim at the corner of the goal !!
    I will guarantee that such is the sheer imperfection of so many players, that the ball will then nestle in the corner of the net…instead of (so often) nearly hitting the corner flag.
    Now, I hope you are still with me, Paul. I have digressed a little from toy soldiers.
    Not for nothing do I call my monthly mailing to 28 countries, my DAIGRESSING.
    Digressing is the ability to go from A to B …and then suddenly jump to Z, but – and here is the “but” – immediately get back to C.
    If one doesn’t, or can’t, then it is not called “digressing”: it is called “incipient Alzheimer’s”.
    And I hope that my brain is still functioning sweetly, so I will return to my thought in my opening sentence.
    Toy soldiers.

    Now, when I was a kid, there used to be a fellow on my 14 inch B&W TV, called General Sir Brian Horrocks. A quite brilliant fellow. One of those chaps like AJP Taylor, Gwyn Thomas and Cliff Morgan…just MADE for television.
    And Sir Brian’s specialty was re-enacting famous historical battles with a myriad toy soldiers at his disposal.
    Not for him the luxury of living in the present day, where CGI rules the roost.
    Yet, despite the limited technical aids at his disposal, Horrocks taught me a LOT about military tactics. And with it, the realisation that so much of military thinking, can be transferred to the soccer pitch.
    Horrocks would often show situations where a winning army was badly outnumbered in a battle. Yet he would show just how they won against numerically superior opponents.
    They invariably won by not “mixing it” with them, but by OUTFLANKING them.
    And here comes the connection …
    Were Sir Brian a soccer man, he would not bother with this modish thinking about matching midfield numbers.
    And on that point, I was surprised to see AMO – who I regard as a “free thinker” par excellence – agree with your point about the importance of us matching Derby’s numbers in midfield!
    Eh? I could not believe it when I read out his words aloud…I genuinely thought I had my ears on all wrong.
    Look gentlemen…(and here I do not address just you two, but also the majority of your esteemed contributors, who I feel have also swallowed this modish hogwash), worry not about how many Derby have in midfield.
    Just OUTFLANK them.
    Use the ball to outflank them.
    It is called FOOTball. Not STROKE ball, nor PUFFball.

    If they are under severe attack, I promise you, the numbers in their midfield will quickly diminish!
    Oh dear Charles Hughes! You were a voice in the wilderness. But you were – indeed, still are – a HERO to me. (In the immortal words of the great Ira Gershwin: “They all laughed at Christopher Columbus when he said the world was round”.)

    But every cloud does not have a jet black lining. For last night on MotD2, I finally saw pundits talking sense.

    I have long despaired of MotD pundits. None of them remonstrate with keepers always standing a minimum of 7-8 yards off their line, instead of one yard: despite the fact that they would save far more goals if they stood where keepers used to stand in my boyhood.

    When Villa’s Brad Guzan rolled out a stupid hospital pass to his left back at the end of last season, they had the gall to blame the outfield player for the inevitable goal that resulted.
    But last night, it was good to see them condemn a stupid roll out by the West Ham keeper that resulted in a goal. Oh sure, it was not all sweetness and light: they did not condemn Walker for undoing all the good he did with his goal, by miscuing a stupid unnecessary back pass! But I should be thankful for small mercies. For they were to then excel themselves when asked how to combat a midfield where the opponents were overpowering their team.
    Their answer?
    Straight out of General Sir Brian Horrocks.
    “Take out their midfield immediately, by lifting the ball over their heads!”
    I pinched myself.
    I just hope that Charles Hughes who is now a great age and well into his ninth decade I think, was watching in his care home …or wherever it is he lives now.
    They all laughed Charles, when you said the world was round.

    Dai Woosnam
    PS Apols for the broken parenthesis in the final section of my last posting.

  15. The other Bob Wilson says:

    Interesting stuff Dai, but the flaw I see in your thinking is that, under this manager, Cardiff City show little inclination to want the ball, so using it to outflank the opposition would involve a pretty dramatic change of emphasis. We are back into the situation where we always have less of the ball than our opponents and, although I wasn’t being serious in the last paragraph of my piece, letting the opposition have as much of the ball as possible seems a more realistic proposition under Russell Slade than it does under any other City manager I can think of! It doesn’t matter who we are up against, we always play as if we are scared of our opponents and the definite impression I get is that we spend more time in training practicing ways of keeping the ball out of our net than putting it into theirs.

    If we say that Spurs’ third goal was scored at 5.05 pm and thirty seconds yesterday, I can tell you that at 5.05 and thirty two seconds I was saying “Dai’s not going to like that one” – I reckon they do it on purpose sometimes, just to annoy you!

  16. Dai Bach y Sowldiwr,
    In reply to your worthily metaphysical link between General Horrocks on battles won and lost and football tactics, I agree that trying to outflank your opponent is not a bad policy on the battlefield or on the football pitch. But, I seem to recall it didn’t quite work on the Western Front a century ago, despite the bravery of the troops, and it would not have worked for Cardiff on Saturday. Why not? Well, for a start we didn’t have the personnel to do the job. A good midfield man should be able to make outflanking runs on his own accord, for which task only Ralls is equipped the moment, but he would need other midfield partners to play their part in such a scenario. It doesn’t happen! Full backs are even more important in this respect, but had to play so deep that the opportunity never arose. Well, I hear you exploding, what about our wingers? I remember commenting some time back that I’d like to see Noone getting to the corner and sending over a telling cross. As Paul rightly responded at the time, this is not likely to happen in the modern game – and even less likely when Noone is played on the right and insists on cutting infield where he inevitably runs into “traffic” or wastes his good work with a wayward shot or pass. Strangely enough, his crosses with his right foot from the right touchline are usually very good, but sadly in recent games, very rare or non-existent. And to compound matters, neither he nor anyone else gets the kind of service which allows Cardiff to outflank the opposition. Winston Churchill, one of the great idiots of the Great War, said a generation later, words to the effect of “Give us the tools and we’ll finish the job.” At the moment, our beloved team are (virtually) tool-less and clue-less. The strategy is missing, as much as the immediate tactics. We need the right men doing the right job at the right place and in the right time. Our goal should be to have the weaponry and the knowhow to emerge victorious. It doesn’t take a general’s insight to acknowledge that we are seriously close to a football Armageddon.

  17. Dai Woosnam says:

    To my esteemed pal “AMO” O’Brien:
    When you say “A good midfield man should be able to make outflanking runs on his own accord”, it is clear that you and Paul and all the others here have swallowed all this modish thinking that it is about matching numbers of midfield players.
    No it emphatically AIN’T.
    You don’t get my drift. Do not take my outFLANK bit too literally. For it does not necessarily have to mean using personnel to move outside the opponents, but you can get the same results by moving OVER their heads.
    And since only PIGS fly at Cardiff City these days – and there is presumably a ban on players strapping on a James Bond type engine that propels them over the heads of the opponents – we simply make the BALL do the work for us.
    Like those pundits on MotD2 rightly said: “By one aerial ball to the centre forward, the keeper immediately bypassed their entire midfield”.
    “But enough!”, I say reluctantly. I am a lone voice here.
    But that does not make me wrong.
    What famous manager was it who once said words to the effect “I could not care less about what tactics the opposing team adopts. I will not bother with dossiers. I make it MY job for them to worry about US”…??
    Whoever he was, he did not say it in the dole queue.
    He was very successful. I have a feeling it was Shankly.
    And since I saw The Bluebirds beat Liverpool 6-1 in Div Two at Christmas 1957, less than two years before Shanks – then with Huddersfield Town – took over at Anfield, I can assure you that he did not take over a team of superstars.
    That man was a genius.
    Worry not about numbers and formations.
    Attack! Attack! Attack!
    And if you lose, you lose.
    But with your head up high.
    One final thing, AMO…
    I see your boy Revell scored a delightful goal for Wigan at the weekend.
    But did you see the goal celebration?
    Did he have to mimic a SWANSEA player? Is that some secret “two fingers up” to Cardiff City? (No…that is a question in jest!)
    But what is NOT in jest is the fact that Revell should not try to emulate a goal celebration that has been given the DEFINITIVE interpretation by Bafetimbi Gomis.
    He has made it the most enjoyable goal celebration since Mick Channon’s “windmill”.

  18. Dai,
    It’s getting like a verbal tennis match, but enjoyable for all that. Sure, I agree a ball over the top is a superb option, and one I have been calling for over the months when I’ve said that Cardiff need someone able to run on to the through ball with speed and aggression. But who can do it? Mason? Not a chance – and he even lacks the speed to bend his run if he’s playing on a defender’s shoulder. Jones? Equally unlikely. Revell? Not a speed merchant but no doubt willing to try. Macheda? Not from what I,ve seen. Doyle? Possibly, but our manager, in his infinite wisdom, has sent him away. Saadi? Yes, but he came to us with a serious injury, one which, I believe, often leads to subsequent hamstring trouble. (No doubt the management were aware of this and prepared him properly. Or did they?) T Watt? Let’s hope that the management have got something right, even if it’s only in the short term. Believe it or not, I am no believer in rigid or even semi-rigid formations, but I do believe in fluency, the intelligence to adapt to different problems on the field or under direction from the wise men off the field, and speed of thought and movement all round. Cardiff manifestly do not have these qualities, so to call, under the present regime and personnel, for players to OUTFLANK the opposition, whether out wide or through the middle, is like asking me to wake up one morning and start speaking Mandarin Chinese. I’d love to be able to do it, but I can’t.
    PS. I also love reading your comments because they are always provocative (in the true sense of the term ie. thought provoking). Long may it continue! In the meantime, let’s all wait an anticipation for the second coming of Idriss Saadi!

  19. The other Bob Wilson says:

    Just to say that I think AMO’s Mandarin Chinese analogy is a very appropriate one here. Dai talks about an “if you lose, you lose” attitude, but, in a professional game, managers are not going to think that way – certainly not in this country where there is a media willing to talk of a crisis when a team goes a couple of matches without winning!
    Although there are managers around who are prepared to adopt a risk to get reward approach, I think they are all pragmatists at heart and, unless they are trying to get the sack on purpose, they will adjust their approach accordingly if they feel their job is on the line.
    I believe this is very important when looking at Russell Slade because he ALWAYS manages Cardiff City as if he thinks there’s a danger he’ll lose his job – we were second in the table a couple of months ago, but did we see anything radically different from the usual caution based approach at that time? It’s not in Russell Slade’s DNA (certainly not the DNA he’s had since he came to Cardiff anyway) to get his team to play with the attitude Dai described – we did once have a manager who learned Chinese I believe, but Russell Slade? It’s never going to happen!

  20. Dai Woosnam says:

    Just got this Paul, from one of many South Walians to whom I post my free Daigressing every month. As you know, I have flagged up your CCMaYA blog in it, a few times: with the result that I have added to your readership perhaps twenty new readers.
    I thought the following will be of interest to your readers. He makes some good points (yes I know that Earnie was born in Zambia, but Mornington Meadows, Caerphilly (where he went to the RC primary school) is the housing estate I was living in – on and off – from 1975-95, so I think Earnie qualifies as local alright.
    Anyway…enough of me. This is what I have just received:

    Just received the latest publication of “I’ll be there”. Inside is a list of CCSC Young players of the year from 1998 to 2014. Up until 2007/2008 season when Ramsey won it, every winner was, I can say, born within 20 miles of Cardiff e.g.Gunter, Earnshaw(3), Collins(2), Ledley(2).and Gabbidon (not absolutely sure of him). What is more, they all went on to play for Premiership clubs with varying degrees of success. Since then, the winners have all been imports and, with the exception of Heaton, have achieved very little, though Ralls (another import) the latest winner, may prosper.
    So what happened in 2008? Lee Robinson the Academy boss, was replaced by none other than Neil Ardley, who I saw mooted as a possible Slade replacement on the admirable Mauve and Yellow site. It is a disgrace that the well funded Academy has produced virtually next to nothing of value for City’s first team since 2008. Paul Evans is right to criticise Slade for his lack of trust in Academy products, but is there anything there to trust? I remember David Jones was reluctant to use youth — thank God for Toshack.
    Marvellous correspondence on M&Y. Anthony O’Brien’s opening para on ‘Why’ was superb.

    The Toshack reference was of course to his brave promotion of kids into Welsh first team jerseys…with people like Robbie Savage and Mark Hughes giving him hell from the sidelines.
    And Gabbidon was of course from Cwmbran…and has the accent to prove it.

  21. The other Bob Wilson says:

    It’s a fair point about the lack of Welsh youngsters coming through in recent years Dai, but I can think of two since Neil Ardley was appointed that the club have handled so poorly. Apart from Aaron Ramsey, Adam Matthews is the best player I’ve seen come through the Academy (I know he doesn’t qualify for the born within 20 miles of Cardiff criteria, but he was with City for a long time before he broke into the first team). Matthews was treated very unsympathetically by Dave Jones and, while he hasn’t kicked on as much as I expected him to, this has at least as much to do with injuries as it is with any failings on his part.
    Two years ago, Declan John was playing in the Premier League and, although he had his struggles coming to terms with the defensive side of the game at that level, he was making progress. Before the match at Derby, I heard Russell Slade talking about the full backs at the club and he didn’t even mention Declan. He is one of a group of City players who formed the nucleus of a Wales Under 16 team (from memory, I think there were six or seven of our players in the starting line up) which thrashed England a few years ago who have the misfortune to have reached the age where they reached the age when they could be seriously considered for selection in the first team at a time when Russell Slade was in charge at Cardiff City – Neil Ardley cannot be held responsible for the fact that young Welsh players are getting absolutely nowhere at the club currently, maybe they would have sunk rather than swum if they had been given a chance, but I don’t think we’ll ever find put while this manager is in charge.

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