Written in the stars that Cardiff City will make the Play Offs?

CoymayI can still remember exactly how I felt as I left Ninian Park on Easter Monday, 13 April 2009. For seventy five minutes our top of the table clash with Burnley had been a typically cagey affair and was goalless going into the last fifteen minutes, but then it exploded into life as goals by Jay Bothroyd and a couple by Ross McCormack took us to a 3-1 win in the old ground’s penultimate game.

I felt pride in the team and a real belief that we could go up automatically. The odds were probably still against us because we were four points behind second placed Birmingham, but we did have a game in hand, a none too testing looking run in and a goal difference which was comfortably better than the Midlands team’s – most important, we had real momentum with twenty points from our last ten games.

For Burnley’s part, they dropped to sixth, some four points behind us, with three matches left for them to play with their far worse goal difference – it seemed inconceivable that they would finish above us, let alone Preston down in eighth, who had the same number of matches left as Burnley and another vastly inferior goal difference but were double that number of points behind us.

In the event, I had been watching a promotion side that day, but it was not us – any City fan worth their salt knows that it was Burnley who went up that year via the Play Offs as we found ourselves denied by Preston for sixth position after their 6-0 demolition of us at Deepdale five days later completely changed the momentum I had talked about earlier for both teams.

The nightmare which started at Preston lasted a fortnight until we were put out of our misery with defeat at Sheffield Wednesday on the last day of the campaign, but, truthfully, I’d known for a while that we were fated not to finish in the top six and it seemed that nothing we could say or do could deny what had been ordained.

My brother and his son, who both live in Birmingham, tend to come down to watch one home match a season and that year it was the Burnley fixture. This season’s game for them was last week against QPR and that match seven years ago came up in the conversion when my nephew said it was the best of the fifteen or so City matches he must have seen since I took him to see them draw 1-1 with Oxford United in what is now League One in 2000.

Since then, I have often felt the need to apologise to him and his dad for the dross they’ve had to watch (they were at the Bolton game last season!). I started to do that last week, but my brother rather cut me short by saying he’d enjoyed the second half and that we were very unlucky not to win – his son echoed his sentiments as well.

However, whereas seven years ago, they excitedly joined in with my talk about the likelihood (I really did have a mighty fall to earth that season!) of a top two finish, the assumption as we chatted in the ground at the final whistle last week before they made their way home was that there was little or no chance of us playing Premier League football next season now – I wonder what would have been said if they had made their journey a week later and watched yesterday’s strange 2-1 win over Bolton Wanderers?

In my piece following the 0-0 draw at Turf Moor nearly three weeks ago, I said;-

“if it turns out that we miss out on the top six because we couldn’t beat an already relegated team (Bolton) which is adrift at the bottom of the table at home, then we’ll have no one to blame but ourselves.”

So, in so many words, I was saying a failure to beat the team who had been at the foot of the table virtually all season and who had four points (all from draws) to show from their twenty one away matches before yesterday, would be catastrophic for our Play Off hopes – odd, therefore, that I should feel renewed optimism after we had made painfully hard work of beating a Bolton side which had conceded nineteen goals in losing their last six games on their travels before yesterday.

It's unlikely that the scorer of this goal will be playing in League One next season. David Marshall is completely helpless as Zac Clough's beautifully taken free kick hits the net . Marshall earned his money though with another great save within minutes and a few more fine stops in the second half - although we were playing a relegated side with ten men for most of the game, he was my pick as City Man of the Match!*

It’s unlikely that the scorer of this goal will be playing in League One next season. David Marshall is completely helpless as Zac Clough’s beautifully taken free kick hits the net . Marshall earned his money though with another great save within minutes and a few more fine stops in the second half – although we were playing a relegated side with ten men for most of the game, he was my pick as City Man of the Match!*

For a couple of months now, Russell Slade has been saying that we were at the stage where performances didn’t matter, it was all about results from now on. Our manager is/was right of course, but, even so, you would expect those results to be gained with a level of performance which suggested that there was the quality, particularly in attacking terms,  within your ranks to get you the win you need if, unusually for the Championship, a match is an open affair between two sides placing more emphasis on scoring goals than keeping things tight defensively.

Watching City labour tortuously at times to break down a Bolton side reduced to ten men for the last hour of the match, it was almost impossible for me to imagine that we possessed the attacking wit, the quality to deliver the right pass at the right time and the cool and composed finishing to put put away any chances which arose in the unlikely event of a clear scoring opportunity. I’d given things up in that I could only see a 1-1 draw as we huffed and puffed in the last half an hour and, even then we would probably need more saves like David Marshall made to stop us going two down within the first ten minutes.

In the event, I was proved right about Marshall, but wrong about our lack of a cutting edge meaning we would not win. Somehow, we got the three points in the end, but in such an unconvincing manner that, being honest, I can only cling to the notion that, if it had been preordained somewhere that we were not to finish in the top six in 2009, then might it be that, this time, powers that we do not understand have decreed that we will be in the Play Offs, no matter what happens?

When young Bolton left back Niall Maher had, rightly, been shown a red card by referee Lee Collins for a reckless challenge on Craig Noone some twenty five yards from  the City goal, I said that, if it had not been already, our opponent’s mind had been made up for them now by the decision – it would be two banks of four parked in front of keeper Ben Amos for the last hour, effectively, telling City to break us down if you are good enough.

Even, in the exultation which greeted the late. late, late winning goal, it was impossible for me not to feel some sympathy for a Bolton side that had defended with character and spirit throughout, but, in truth, it was easy to see why they are where they are in the table.

Of course, it was made a lot tougher for them by Maher’s dismissal, but, for example, the number of times that a City wide man found himself with just one opponent to take on when within thirty yards of the Bolton goal offered the clue as to how brittle defensively our opponents were. Yes, I’m sure acting manager Jimmy Phillips  will take heart from the way his team gave their all in a match which must have been hard for them to get up for, but the harsh truth is that it was more down to the failings of their opponents that they were still clinging on to their point in the third minute of added time than their good play.

While it was true that Bolton’s goal after just seven minutes by Zac Clough, from a free kick given away cheaply by the sort of foul Lee Peltier is prone to when there is little danger to our goal, came as a shock to the home fans, it arrived during yet another opening by City which had me imagining Russell Slade saying something like ”I know you simply have to win today, but let’s keep things tight for the first half, get in at 0-0 and then see where we go from there” just before sending his team out.

I’m sure in reality that our manager said nothing of the sort, but it’s been a source of frustration for me all season that we start home matches so slowly and this has been doubled in our last two games at Cardiff City Stadium in particular where we were in must win situations.

If Mr Slade’s approach may have suggested caution in the early stages of the match, then the complete opposite was true by the end of it, as our defence became more and more undermanned as the minutes ticked by – indeed, when Sean Morrison went up to centre forward for the dying moments, it’s probably true to say that Peltier was operating as a back one!

I’ve been critical of Mr Slade’s substitutions in recent games and I wasn’t too sure about some of them yesterday either. It was good to see him make a change after a first half in which Bolton looked quite comfortable, but the personnel involved surprised me – I thought there were more likely candidates for “the hook” than Joe Ralls (who I don’t think was injured) and, after eight months of seeing what he does and doesn’t offer the side, I find it a mystery that our manager still places so much faith in Sammy Ameobi.

One of the consequences of Ralls going off mind was to see Peter Whittingham moved infield. This was tried last week against QPR and I would say most regarded it as a failure, but the circumstances were different yesterday because when Whitts went into the “quarter back” role he has occupied with varying degrees of success in the past, Bolton’s one man disadvantage meant that he was given time on the ball of a type he doesn’t tend to enjoy much of these days.

As a result, Whittingham, for me, became an influential player for us. True, not all of his long, raking passes worked, but enough of them did to stretch our opponents and, perhaps, induce the tiredness which could have contributed towards the foul by which we eventually won the game.

Great credit should go to Whitts as well for the way he took on the responsibility of the penalty kick – there were others on the pitch who have scored from the spot this season and his record from twelve yards in a City shirt is far from flawless. However, as other parts of his game have shown signs of decline in recent years, his nerve can never be faulted and seeing him stood over that penalty reassured me that we could keep our Play Off challenge going for another seven days at least.

Going back to our substitutions, it was a disappointment to see Kenneth Zohore leave the field, but it was later confirmed what I’d say most already suspected – it was for injury, rather than tactical, reasons. In my view, Zohore showed he was some way short of the finished article at this level, but there was enough in his display to indicate that our manager was, again, being cautious by leaving it so long to give him a start (he almost certainly wouldn’t have got one yesterday if Lex Immers had been fit either) as he relied on a front four that had, largely forgotten how to score.

There's been so many pictures down the years taken of Peter Whittingham in a similar pose to this one as he slots away a penalty. With successes from the spot in League Cup and Play Off Semi Finals and another one in a Cup Final at Wembley, he's probably had more high pressure penalties to take than this one, but it's hard to think of many others besides those three - it's a testimony to a marvelous servant of the club that there weren't too many City fans who believed he'd miss yesterday.+

There’s been so many pictures down the years taken of Peter Whittingham in a similar pose to this one as he slots away a penalty. With successes from the spot in League Cup and Play Off Semi Finals and another one in a Cup Final at Wembley, he’s probably had more high pressure penalties to take than this one, but it’s hard to think of many others besides those four - it’s a testimony to a marvelous servant of the club that there weren’t too many City fans who believed he’d miss yesterday.+

The final substitution saw a return for one of the club’s forgotten men, Kadeem Harris, who came on for Matt Connolly to play in a right wing back role. I thought he didn’t do badly at all and,by winning that vital penalty, he proved himself to be the most influential of our subs. However, his introduction did ask questions about our manager’s thinking because we ended the match with, arguably, six wingers on the pitch (seven if you consider Scott Malone’s experience in the position) and no specialist striker.

Quite what Idriss Saadi must have felt as Harris went on to the pitch, I don’t know, but if he couldn’t get some game time under yesterday’s circumstances, you have to ask what was he doing on the bench in the first place? If Russell Slade has so little faith in him, wouldn’t it make more sense to replace Saadi with Rhys Healey who is in good goalscoring form for the Under 21s?

Anyway, Zohore’s well taken first home goal (I did think Amos could have done better with it though) and Whitts’ penalty means that our manager can say he got things right after he was mere seconds away from being someone who would have been roundly castigated in the hours following the match. Therefore, we go to Hillsborough next weekend for a game where the pressure will be on the home side more than us – a win there and the whole mood of the last game of the season changes.

Is there an irony in the venue next week being the same one as where our hopes died seven years ago? I can dream for another week that something mysterious and unworldly is going on here, but, with my feet planted firmly on the ground, I can say that Wednesday, and Derby for that matter, were far more impressive than we’ve been recently in the first hour of their televised match yesterday lunchtime.

From what I saw before I left for our game, here were two sides that did not look out of place in the top six and at no time in our last four games, can you say that about us. Yes, it’s now four matches since Wednesday won, but I look at their attacking fluency yesterday, compare it to what we produced a few hours later and it’s like chalk and cheese.

Truthfully, Russell Slade and his team may be short of some key players for next week’s huge game and the need for a win could well see us operating in a manner which will play right into Wednesday’s hands – there’s little or nothing to suggest we can win, except for my faith in divine, or cosmic, intervention!

*picture courtesy of https://www.flickr.com/photos/joncandy/

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

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22 Responses to Written in the stars that Cardiff City will make the Play Offs?

  1. paul says:

    The win has done nothing to change my mind. SLADE MUST GO NOW. Then, maybe, talented players that we have can play to their best ability and with freedom. I agree he made substitutions which proved a success yesterday, but he has needed to do that for some time now. He is unable to break from his cautious attitude.
    Anything other than a win next week will end our season as far as promotion is concerned.
    How do we achieve that win.?
    A good idea is to stop players havig to play on the wrong side. Noone on right and when he came on Lawrence on left. Our equaliser came from attackind through left of centre and the penalty from a right sided player taking the full back on the outside.
    you state Zahore is not the finished article. How would ge have looked ifwe had wide men pulling the ball back from the byline and not gave to step back to avoid being offside due to Noone cutting back onto his right foot.
    it wouldnt surprise me if we win next week, pressure is not so great now, and then its on the last game. Which i will miss as i am away. Presure is back on then and that is what he cannot cope with and we fail.
    what concerns me is that if we keep Slade, have a bad start next season, he will be unable to turn it around due to his inability to, motivate, change tactics, make timely substitutions and bring in quality players. I agree he made earlier subs yesterday but it was last chance sallon for him at that point. The proverbial trigger was at the point of being pulled.

  2. Barry cole says:

    Well Paul the sword above slades head was dropping very quickly as we approached the last few minutes of yesterday’s game. Let’s face it he was lucky again and was pulled out by a team that just managed to pull their rabbit out of the hat.
    It wasn’t good enough we didn’t deserve it but what it has done is put us in with a chance. Do I personally think we can make it. No I don’t not when I saw the derby match, those teams play with better systems.
    Those that suddenly think we have a chance should reflect on where Bolton are what they have done and really get a reality check.
    We simply are not good enough and while slade is in charge we never will be. I mentioned that the Derby game had better systems not better players and that’s where we are. With slade his systems will never move us forward. Even if the unthinkable was to happen and we actually beat Sheffield wed and I don’t for one moment think that would happen because slade would have to put a team out to win the game and he has never done that before. As I said if the unthinkable happened we would not get the result against Birmingham because yet again he would have to put a team out to win.
    I try not to be negative but slade has had so many opportunities to change the team each week which would alienate any tactics offered by the mid table opposition we have played.
    Instead he continued to stick with an ineffective system which continued to flounder. No youngsters given a chance up front where we are desperately short of the killer instinct. The full backs who he brought in are actually in place not because of their form but more because slade has to justify his judgement. And there we have the major problem. If and I hope not that slade is given a contract then this is the standard of player he will look for. Take into account his choice of forwards and there you have it. No progress mid table mediocracy and worse still a manager that can not out think other managers. I purchased my season ticket for next year on the understanding that slade would be replaced. That is still the case and if he isn’t then I only see us going backwards quickly. If tan thinks he is the bees knees by saving this money how much more could he have saved bringing through some more youngsters during this season.
    He has been lucky annd that luck will run out quicker than tan realises next season as we will be playing in a stronger league than this year. I really hope sense prevails and slade is thanked and offered the door as soon as the season has finished. There is a lot of management talent out there who can manage a budget and tan needs to find the right man this time. He will have to understand that having a yes man isn’t necessary going to bring you riches and this is something he will have to get his head round. As long as the systems are in place for finance there are managers out there that can produce teams like Dave Jones with little money having to be spent. That just wouldn’t apply to slade as he cannot use his money in producing a team capable of that because he will never have the right systems in place or the right players.

  3. paul says:

    Barry, i fully agree with your comments above.
    As you state, youngsters are where the money is. if you develope the quality youngster the big clubs come hunting like the vultures they are and pay the money. There is a but to this, they only pay big money if you are in a strong position. Ramsey 5million, a joke. We were broke at the time and Arsenal knew it. Look at how much money was being talked about for Will hughes before his injury!!!!
    Slade pays out for average players who are late 20’s – 30 and we get no return on the outlay when they move on.
    A pathetic way to run a football club.
    How much would we get for Malone. Always quoted as our weak link. Yes we only paid 100k for him but with Fabio and John here I ask why????? that was 100k that could have been spent on a strikers wages.
    Brenford in the week, their second goal, left side, Malone out of position again. When i saw him at the club with that stupid bun in his hair i felt here is a man that needs to express himself with his looks rather than his football. I looked at the german world cup winning team hardly a hair out of place or a tattoo. Speaks volumes, lets prove our selves with our football not body art.
    Whilst it is easy to criticise Tan we must remember, where would we be without him. There wasn’t a rush of oil billionaires rushing to buy is. I do agree he must forget about yes men and take advice and look to move the club forward.
    It should only be Slade who goes as we still need some stability otherwise we end back where we were 18 months ago after Olly.

  4. Russell says:

    Love your family story and the connection to this season, they deserve high praise indeed for their annual pilgramge to attend a City game,sounds like some have been painful ones.
    Our strange season continues and I guess those in the club are scratching their heads wondering why we still have a shout, my feeling is, its down to poor opposition rather than us ,however some credit must go to Slade and the team for their fighting spirit. Looking back on recent games that Leeds home game keeps popping into my mind and it may come back and haunt us.

    Yesterday’s game was a blur and best forgotten along with a number of others this season ,we are a strange that gets good results against better sides,so perhaps a win at Wednesday followed by a lame draw at home with Brum, and Mason grabbing a last minute win for Wolves.

    Hey Ho

  5. Dai Woosnam says:

    Paul …thanks as ever for the work you have put in there. Up with the larks and working hard, sweating over a hot PC keyboard…while we all slept, dreaming of the impossible.

    I note you mention the shameful capitulation of Dave Jones’s team in 2009. Only two points needed from the last 12…and the man TOTALLY failed to motive his players.
    Indeed, that 6-0 thrashing at Deepdale remains for me the blackest day in Cardiff City history in my lifetime…worse even than the 5 goals we let in at Bramall Lane in 1970, and much worse than the 9-0 disgrace also at Deepdale in May 1966. At least the last mentioned can be explained away by the fact that – to use the vogue phrase – we were already “on the beach”…as it was just a few days after the amazing Farrell Miracle game against Middlesbrough…where we had guaranteed our survival …and their relegation.
    And the worst part of that 2009 debacle came in the close season when DJ criticised the local media and some fans, in an interview with the national press.
    He claimed that they were totally ungrateful for his efforts. And then with breathtaking effrontery added these unforgettable words: “I got the club within one point of the play-offs, and still they knock me”.
    For sheer chutzpah, that remains unparalleled in the annals of BRASS NECKED remarks by any manager in our club’s long history.
    Before I sign off, I note that barry cole (deliberate lower case on my part), who I always support to the hilt, can find capitals for that bounder DJ …but not for a far more noble -if slightly less talented – fellow in Russell Slade.
    Sad.
    But hey, it is a free world…and I guess that I should be thankful that he has resisted the temptation – which he clearly feels – to call him Coco, like some of his companions on that dreadful WalesOnline comments site, who are all busy knitting while eagerly waiting at the guillotine in front row seats, as they pray that the arrival of the next cart will contain Russell Slade…or “slade” as the condemned man is known.
    Well…in the immortal words of Sam Goldwyn…”include me out”.
    DW.

  6. Dai Woosnam says:

    Apols. Make the Bramall Lane debacle …1971…not 70.
    Well I am 69 this summer. Chwarae teg, boys.

  7. Anthony O'Brien says:

    The statements from our Blogmeister are, as always, totally spot-on. but — as is a rarity in other sites — so are the comments from our other contributors. To reiterate a point made above — a left-footed player on the right, and a right-footer on the left is tactical stupidity taken to extremes when a six-foot-plus centre-half is pushed (as a result of managerial desperation) to play centre-forward. As a striker Morrison needed crosses from wide on the goal-line. Noone could not provide them, neither could Lawrence since both men are reluctant (or in Lawrence’s case, unable) to cross accurately with their weaker foot. This lack of balls back towards the penalty spot was conspicuous by its absence throughout the game (throughout the season, in fact) and this also nullified Zahore’s effectiveness. From what I have seen, he is poor at jumping for high balls with a defender tight to his back, but can be effective running on to a ball in the area, whether high or along the ground. He also needs a strike-partner (obviously Mr Slade didn’t get the bouquet of forget-me-nots I’d like to send him on Saadi’s behalf).
    I can appreciate the argument for bringing on Kadeem Harris because he has one special talent – namely, speed. But to play him in a deeper role also nullified his effectiveness (a football brain he is not). When he did finally get a chance to go forward and wide on the right, hey presto! — a penalty. Also congratulations for the penalty kick to Whittingham, some of whose “raking passes” as they are described by our Blogmeister were good to see, though the majority were cut out by defenders. And even the long crossfield passes that got through came to nothing because they did not lead to a cross into the area from the goal-line.
    The great test for Mr Slade will surely be apparent next Saturday. All Sheffield Wednesday have to do is play for a draw, whereas Cardiff have to go all out for a win. Somehow, I doubt that they can do this with their current set-up and playing stile, but if it is really written in the stars ———–. !!!!!!!
    Incidentally, and finally, I saw a centre-forward performance of quite outstanding quality yesterday, that is until his legs ran out. Congratulations, Emile Heskey.

  8. Anthony O'Brien says:

    By the way, I’d also like to congratulate the point made in a previous comment by Colin Phillip pointing out the ambiguity of the negativity shown by Mr Slade’s tactics and the positivity of his statements. Good observation.
    Also apologies for a typo re “stile” instead of “style” though maybe stile which is something we jump over, to overcome, is perhaps strangely relevant.

  9. Matt N says:

    Hi Paul,
    Your comment about Russell Slade’s bizarre obsession with Ameobi prompted me to look at his stats. He is city’s 8th highest on appearances (38!) yet has contributed a paltry assists and an appalling solitary goal. His continued selection is unfathomable, particularly when you watch him squander chance after gilt edged chance.
    I had the misfortune to be listening to BBC Wales coverage yesterday, which meant I was subjected to Ian Walsh and his ponderous observations (infuriating habit – explaining to his co-commentator that he won’t interrupt as it looks as if Cardiff are about to do something…by which stage whatever it was has already happened). Walsh seems to extol Ameobi’s virtues, so maybe it is a gift only a football insider can really see. But Ameobi seems to me a very tall, but very headless chicken once he comes level to the penalty area.
    Glad to see Kadeem return – unlike Sammy, he seems to have a quicker turn of thought to go with his footwork, so I hope he can replace the (please, please don’t let us buy him) returning loanee.
    I agree that Sheff Wed look a better side than us at the moment, but it ain’t over til it’s over. It’s a long shot (and I won’t be tempted to have a flutter on it), but just maybe those stars can align.

  10. Matt N says:

    That should have read 3 assists!

  11. paul says:

    Good points Matt. Watching Ameobi I am unsure if his legs are actually liked to his brain. The legs seem to defy all logical motion of a human who is in total control of his body. As you say perhaps it is only footballers who can see what he has. then again they seem to think Malone is a good player so perhaps we should ignore what walsh says

  12. Big Al says:

    Thanks everyone very interesting. I have really enjoyed this season’s input from all of you.
    It’s clear from most fans that Slade appears to lack the technical nous to achieve promotion in the Championship.
    Please can anyone tell me whether Slade has any coaching qualifications? If he has then there is no excuse for such poor decision making throughout this year.
    Slade’s management team must be removed if we fail to get a top six this year. Most good management teams aim high and to me top six is just not good enough. We need a First management team whose aim for next season is automatic promotion.
    Sorry RS time it’s time for you to move out of the role of first team Manager and consider other suitable roles that may become available within Tan’s Vision for the future.
    Big Al

  13. Barry cole says:

    Dai

    I understand all your frustrations with Dave Jones and the bad finish that year. I was at that match as I was when we lost 9-0. What I will say is that Preston had just the 6 shots on goal and we missed a penalty. Nothing DJ could do about that it was meant to be.
    The 9-0 was the last match of the season and that is what you call capitulation.
    In regard to slade you are right I don’t think he is the answer but I would never call him names as I believe he is doing what he believes in, unfortunately he is out of his depth here. I do hope he does well elsewhere but it won’t be in the championship and if he is given a new contract we will know exactly where we will be for the coming season and that will be exactly where we thought we would be this year, one of the also rans

  14. Geoff Lewis says:

    Paul,
    Excellent report as per your observations of the game and all the areas surrounding our beloved club. I do find that there is a lot of negativity ,by some of our colleagues, which I personally do not agree with.
    After all we have been 7th in the championship, since mid February, there are games when we played well at home against Hull and Leeds and lost. Football is a strange game, you never know what is going to happen, until the 90 mins + is up. Look at yesterday, we thought it was all over, until we got that penalty shout in the 94 minute, by a good substitution with Harris coming on for Connolly a good move this time by Slade.
    I have been watching Cardiff on and off for 63 years, nothing different these days, as it was years ago. I think once we needed to beat Watford at home who were bottom of the division to win promotion guess what we lost 1 nil.
    Play offs here we come. We can do a ” Blackpool”. I am sober!
    Regards
    Geoff

  15. MIKE HOPE says:

    Throughout the season it has been a pleasure to read TOBW’s detailed and well balanced reports.It has also been interesting to read the the opinions of other fans and compare them with my own.
    What has not been interesting, in fact it has been mind numbingly boring,has been having to read the repetitive abuse from the Slade Out squad who seem to genuinely believe that because they once played for Abercwmsplott their knowledge of football is superior to someone who was a mere PE teacher before spending the best part of two decades as a professional manager in the Football League!
    Perhaps ‘Paul’ who has no other name and Barry Cole who blogs under at least one other name could demonstrate their expertise by giving us their teams and how they would line up for the Sheff Wed game.They might also like to summarise their tactics to deal with the strengths and weaknesses of our opponents.

  16. Paul with no other name says:

    Mike.
    Many thanks for your observations regarding supporters commenting on the managers and tactics but as the saying goes. We pay our money, etc. Plus they are each individuals opinions.
    Back to your team suggestion. Marshall, peltier, Morrison. Connolly. Fabric or John. Piddington. Rally. Okeefe. Noone. Immers. Zamora.
    Immers or Okeefe to stay with Forestieri who tends to be the playmaker. Then when we have the ball, whip crosses in from behind the defenders. Play the channels, which we will be able to do as we have wide men on their correct side of the pitch. Problem. We haven’t played this all season so the players are not prepared for it.
    Ps please note. One of my criticisms is lack of motivation. Which is plainly obvious from our play. It’s all very well Morrison coming out and saying each player is motivated and prepared for Saturday but it’s a huge difference between an individual being motivated and having a team motivated as one unit.

  17. Barry cole says:

    Mike
    I understand your frustrations but when you put into writing something that isn’t factually correct to back your argument up then it’s time to give up. Everyone is entitled to their opinions and in this blog I will always be me not anyone else. So please don’t accuse me of having more than one name on here because I don’t need to. This is by far the best medium because it’s factual and Paul does a good job disecting the games week in week out. I don’t always agree but then I go back to everyone having their own opinion.
    I have commented on ic Wales for the last 18 months on the shortcomings of slade and in that time he has done nothing to make me change my mind. So there you have it my opinion and if it differs from yours and you don’t like it , tough

  18. Rod groves says:

    Hi Rod Groves here I’m sure with out counting slade has brought in 15 or so players 1 a lone player has made a impact on cardiffs results and the other a young player looks a good prospect but has ended up out of the team and on thebench the rest we did not need and have cost the club money when we were told cuts are the order of the day it aperars to me being injured and a clown the club for you is Cardiff the right back is ok ish the left back is a clot and as for the Newcastle loan Premier player Sorry just taking a breath MM. No words to describe that slade jem ?.iv not named 1 of the slades players as I can not bring my self to put them in this post you will now who they are .

  19. paul says:

    big error there sent the last off phone and bleeding predictive text put zamora in the team when it should be Zahore.

    ps. i am not the same paul that writes the main report. I am just a buffoon from abercwmsplott with no other name that knows nought about football and clearly not entitled to my opinion.

  20. The other Bob Wilson says:

    A few thoughts on some of the issues raised in the series of replies, much appreciated as always, received to my latest piece.
    AMO, it seems to me that, no matter how much those of us above a certain age yearn to see more of it, the days of a winger taking his full back on down the outside and then crossing from the bye line with his stronger foot for an onrushing colleague (just about the most exciting thing in the game in my book, short of a goal being scored) are almost gone. There aren’t many around any more who specialise in this art and it was something of a throwback to see Kadeem Harris produce a superb cross from the right with his right foot after he had initially looked to miscontrol the ball.
    The fact I gave Marshall my man of the match vote says all you need to about our outfield performers, but the reason I rated Craig Noone as a contender for the award was that run of his down the left which created our equaliser – Noone might not be genuinely two footed, but I believe he is good enough with his right foot to be able to cut in and produce a shot with it when operating on what I would call his natural side. If he were to do that, then the cut in and shot would become the surprise element it manifestly isn’t when he plays on the right.
    Matt, good research about Ameobi – I don’t think the issue is what foot to use with him, it’s about confidence and game intelligence, he doesn’t seem to have a clue what to do when he works himself into, or is put in, a promising position.
    However, as is do often the case, it’s our manager who attracts the most attention. As always, I find myself in between the two extremes when it comes to an argument. On the one hand, I believe it’s simplistic to look at a performance like Saturdays and the one in the first half against QPR and put all of the blame for it on the manager – as I’ve mentioned before, I don’t share the view that we have a squad that is good enough for the top six, let alone the top two, how many times can we really say we have played to that standard this season?
    So, if I genuinely believe that we are not top six material, doesn’t it follow that a manager who had got us to seventh with a chance of going higher with two matches to go is doing a good job? Well, yes it does, but only to a degree – my belief is that, having done well to get us here, Russell Slade is now starting to show why he is, probably, incapable of taking us that small step further that is required. Paul talks about motivation, but is it really a lack of that quality which is holding us back from becoming real top six material? I’d say that, overall, we have a pretty well motivated squad, but then you look at the way we have started our last two home games in particular and wonder what sort of instructions the team are being given pre-match – it seems to me that we approach home games with the hand brake still on so to speak and it only gets released around the thirty five minute mark normally, surely we need more than that now?
    At various times, I’ve called Russell Slade a meat and two (or one!) veg manager because everything’s pretty basic with him. That doesn’t have to a bad thing all of the time, but can anybody see us going to Hillsborough and winning on the back of a tactical masterstroke by our management that leaves the home team flummoxed? The Sheffield Wednesday manager is one of a few this season (e,g, Dyche, Bruce, Smith and Rowett) who have made tactical changes against us that Russell Slade has failed to cope with. He has made some good substitutions in recent weeks, but when the pressure has really been on lately, his thinking has struck me as tactically limited in many ways. We are in a position where we have to win an away match against opponents with the guile and pace to take the sort of counter attacking opportunities that Bolton squandered on Saturday, I hope he proves me wrong, but I’ve seen little or nothing from Russell Slade which suggests he has the tactical nous to guide us to those three points.
    I’ve warmed to our manager somewhat this year, but when that top six finish started to become something more than a dream, he’s not showed enough to suggest he can cope in the new, more rarefied, atmosphere he finds himself in – it’s a much tougher call to make than it was four months ago, but I still believe he’s not the man to take us into next season.

  21. Anthony O'Brien says:

    Paul,

    I take your point that the days of the flying winger crossing killer balls into the middle are as scarce as enthusiasm for our manager’s tactics. But with specific reference to last Saturday’s game, why put a towering centre half into the centre forward position as a last ditch effort to grab a goal if you’re not going to suggest to your players that, perhaps on this occasion,crosses into the area might be worth trying? I’d also forgotten that Noone’s assist was when he had somehow moved towards a wider left position — but isn’t this a case of QED as to where he is most effective?

  22. Colin Phillips says:

    Nice report, Paul, and some excellent points made in the replies.

    When the ref gave the penalty, besides not quite believing it, I felt great sorrow for the travelling Bolton fans. We’ve had many better claims for pens turned down in the last couple of season but I’m prepared to accept that in the long run these things even themselves out.

    Bit surprised that Mr. Slade had the brass-neckedness to come out on the pitch to receive the acclaim of the fans, don’t think it would have happened if the ref hadn’t been so kind – I did hear some boos ta half-time, didn’t I?

    First thoughts on the team for Sheffield was that Kadeem should start then reality set in. Does anyone think that Slade has it in him to set up a side to win next Saturday? Not saying that Wednesday are unbeatable but they are likely to be more up for it than us judged by our last two performances.

    I see that on one of the forums Whitts was many fans man of the match, OK, when Bolton were down to ten and they dropped back into two lines of four, set deep, he was able to spray passes out wide and he, shall we say, “looked good”. Surely that was because of the acres of space and oodles of time he was allowed, never under pressure – jeez, even I could look good in those circs – don’t laugh at the back! All the passes he sprayed about were in front of the eight-man defence and I don’t remember a ‘killer-ball’ amongst them.

    I would really like to be wrong here but I can’t see us taking the three points we need on Saturday. I think a side could be picked to give them a good game but there is no way that the manager will not play Whitts and have wingers on the right side of the field, he seems taken (if not obsessed) with his wingers cutting inside.

    Here’s to Saturday and I hope that the fans who make the trip have a game to watch that doesn’t disappoint them too much.

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