Yet another game without a goal for the home crowd, but still a definite step in the right direction.

Coymay

Sometimes a 0-0 scoreline is no indicator of the quality of a match – it’s possible to get games where high quality attacking play from both sides is denied time and again by excellent goalkeeping and defensive covering and organisation.

Cardiff City 0 Brighton 0 on a cold, bleak Saturday afternoon with a definite midwinter feel to it was no such occasion – when you consider the amount of goalmouth action at either end of the pitch, it was the sort of game where you might have expected the final whistle to be greeted by boos, abuse and howls of derision from the home crowd.

Why is it then that I have a sneaking suspicion that City manager Neil Warnock might well have been more satisfied after yesterday’s match than he was after the previous one played at the ground where high riding Huddersfield were beaten 3-2?

My take on that question is that, given the nature of the squad he has at his disposal throughout December, our manager could believe that the Huddersfield result was something of a one off.

Even with Rickie Lambert, who missed yesterday’s game with an injury which didn’t seem too serious judging by the manager’s post game comments, this is not a group of players that gives an impression that they have it within them to win matches by scoring three times on a regular basis.

No, in terms of attacking potential, the City squad for the first half of the 16/17 season is one that should have you thinking that the most likely winning score would be 1-0, but then that takes you on to the nub of the problem that this season has been so far – how can a team win 1-0 when they cannot stop the opposition from scoring?

Mauve and Yellow Army corp (as if!) will not be charging the club any consultancy fees, but it’s perfectly obvious that the piece I did last week following the 3-1 loss at Villa where I pointed out that this City team were fast closing in on a post Second World War record for the most games played without keeping a clean sheet had a profound effect on everyone one at Cardiff City Stadium. Minds were concentrated by what I had to say and it was hardly a surprise to hear Warnock talk about how much work had been put in on the training ground on defensive matters in the days leading up to the game.

Getting my head out of the clouds and returning to reality again, this time last week I had given up on yesterday’s game and so was thinking that the only chance we had of stopping the current squad equalling that post war record of twenty matches without a clean sheet came at Ipswich next weekend. However, not for the first time, and certainly not for the last, I was proved to be wrong.

Instead, against a team on an unbeaten run of twelve matches that would have gone top of the league with a win yesterday, City were able to gain that elusive clean sheet in a relatively comfortable manner which had me scratching my head as to why it had been virtually four months since the last time it happened.

Moved back to a more normal wing role as part of Neil Warnock's plan to contain Brighton, I thought Junior Hoilett fell slightly of the standards he's set in recent games yesterday. However, he still did enough to be rated as one of our best performers on the day - if there is a suspicion that Keiron Richardson and Marouane Chamakh will not see their short term contracts renewed when they expire next month, the other two of Neil Warnock's early signings (Sol Bamba did well again yesterday) have made themselves, arguably, our most important players.*

Moved back to a more normal wing role as part of Neil Warnock’s plan to contain Brighton, I thought Junior Hoilett fell slightly short of the standards he’s set in recent games yesterday. However, he still did enough to be rated as one of our best performers on the day – if there is a suspicion that Keiron Richardson and Marouane Chamakh will not see their short term contracts renewed when they expire next month, the other two of Neil Warnock’s early signings (Sol Bamba did well again yesterday) have made themselves, arguably, into our most important players.*

Part of the reason as to why we were able to stop our highly rated and in form opponents scoring was that they were nowhere near as good as I expected them to be. Some of their play was distinctly sloppy as they gave possession away in dangerous areas and better sides than us would have punished them to the full for their carelessness.

Such errors hinted at a degree of complacency on the visitor’s part, but Chris Hughton, who I rate as one of the best managers around at this level, would surely not have let that happen and so it’s more likely that it was a case of our opponents simply having an off day, as Hughton put it after the game, as opposed to them under estimating City.

That doesn’t fully explain why it was that Ben Amos was relatively untroubled in finally achieving his first shut out in a Cardiff shirt at the twelfth time of asking as Hughton also praised City for the way they had stifled his side.

Hardly surprisingly, the Brighton manager thought his team were the better one overall, but I thought a draw was the right result overall in an encounter in which it could probably be said that we successfully managed to drag our opponents down to our level.

Now I realise that sounds critical and, somewhat, insulting towards the team I support, but I would suggest that, instead, it is just being realistic.

When you looked at the league table before kick off, you saw that there was almost the whole of the Championship between the two sides and so, logically, as a low scoring team that was missing it’s number one striker, the only way we could deny Brighton the win was to play an attritional game designed more at stopping our opponents playing than doing anything too creative with what limited possession we could manage.

So, in the end, the plan worked, but, was I really the only home fan who watched the game develop with a distinct feeling of deja vu? The fact of the matter was that the match panned out in just the sort of manner that so many others at home this season had done and therefore, right up until the final whistle (even after Brighton had been reduced to ten men), I was still awaiting the, what I considered to be inevitable, goal from our visitors that would see them nick all three points.

Five times home games have been 0-0 at half time this season before yesterday and we ended up losing all of them. Just as against QPR, Reading, Leeds, Derby and Wigan, we had made a lively start which saw Junior Hoilett go quite close with a chip and Aron Gunnarsson force a diving save from David Stockdale after a powerful and skilful run, but, just as against those other teams, the closing stages of the first period were played out with an impression that City had shot their bolt as our opponents enjoyed more territory and possession.

Increasingly this season, the half time interval has been a time when you could reflect that the best City had to offer as an effective attacking force had come and gone and we could now expect forty five minutes of us “attacking” the Canton End that would see us huffing and puffing a bit, but getting absolutely nowhere. In those five matches that had been 0-0 at the break, three of our opponents had been able to get a goal, that you felt had been coming, around the hour mark and then add another one late on and, in the other two (Reading and Wigan) the decisive goal had come in the dying minutes, but come it did, because this Cardiff team always gives you a chance somewhere along the way.

This time though things were different. Of course, a Sol Bamba header just wide excepted, we did next to nothing going forward when attacking the Canton Stand as per normal. However, apart from a Glenn Murray “goal” disallowed for an earlier push on Bamba which may have been allowed on another day and a fairly routine save on his near post by Ben Amos from a Sam Baldock effort, there was little to trouble us and, with hindsight, such was the organisation and resilience shown by the team at the back and in defensive midfield areas, my pessimism, in terms of us avoiding defeat at least, was groundless as we did not need to trust to luck in the second half.

Perhaps there was an element of good fortune for us though in that, on the only occasion we made the sort of defensive mistake that has been costing us so many goals this season, it came right at the start of the game, rather than late on. I say this because, when Joe Bennett got himself in trouble by losing the ball very close to goal after a piece of self indulgence that would have had steam coming out of Neil Warnock’s ears, there was a feeling that Brighton were not yet enough into the game to capitalise – how else can you explain the cross from Baldock which wasn’t quite good enough and the shoddy control Murray showed when presented with what was still the sort of opportunity he has been putting away at this level for getting on for a decade?

If that chance had been converted, then the evidence since August strongly suggested that the best chance City had of getting back in the game (or in front with the game still at 0-0) lay with us scoring from a dead ball situation because very little has happened in home games in particular so far to suggest that we would trouble Brighton from open play.

Perhaps the best illustration of this comes when you try to assess the performance of Frederic Gounongbe who was given the job of replacing Lambert. Now, I don’t believe Gounongbe is as bad as his army of critics on social media and in the local press make him out to be – I thought he did a pretty good job up against two good Championship centrebacks (and, despite his mare for Blackburn here in August and the booking he picked up yesterday after a bit of the sort of slipshod Brighton play I remarked on earlier, Shane Duffy is good at this level), but, not at any time, did I think he was going to score for us.

Part of me says that’s because there is a doubt in my mind that Gounongbe would be able to score if a chance was created for him in open play, but it’s more to do with another of those big problems we have this season – our central midfield players given some licence to get forward and be creative are, in one case, not best suited for such a role and, in the other, no longer able to make the sort of contribution they once could.

This is especially true under Neil Warnock who has with one exception when Keiron Richardson started at Newcastle, gone with Joe Ralls and Peter Whittingham in the positions I talked about.

Last season was a breakthrough one for Ralls in which he made the transition from promising, but still a back up, to established first teamer. However, with that new status comes a level of expectation and less tolerance of mistakes and Ralls is attracting criticism this season that he hasn’t had before in his career with us.

Is this criticism justified? Well, I think it is to a large degree, but in the player’s defence, I would repeat my opinion that he is not being played in a position that he is best suited to and, consequently, most teams we play have someone far better suited to doing the job Ralls is being asked to do than he is.

This brings us on to Peter Whittingham who has to be the player who provokes the most argument among City supporters these days. To some, Whitts is still the same Championship thoroughbred that he was five years ago, but a succession of City managers have not known how to best utilise him, while to others, he symbolises the decline in playing standards at the club in recent years as someone who is now living, solely, off his reputation.

I sound like the perennial fence sitter here, but I can honestly see both sides of the argument when it comes to Whitts. On the one hand, the notion of dropping him seems daft when you look at things like goal assist, completed pass and key pass stats and compare them to his team mates, but, on the other, you look at what he offers us these days and ask would he get into many, if any, of the teams in the top half of the Championship this season?

I suppose my opinion on Whitts is that we have to keep on picking him, but that’s more because of the shortcomings of others in our squad who are below par when it comes to those areas where Whitts is still strong than anything he does himself now.

That said, my opinion will change if we get many more displays as odd as yesterday’s was from our longest serving player – Whitts was so poor yesterday in the parts of the game where he is normally strong.

Unusually off key with his passing in open play, Whitts was presented with a couple of shooting opportunities from near the edge of the penalty area of the kind he would have really relished in his pomp. In the first half, his effort flew a long way off target and then when  the increasingly influential Kadeem Harris set him up in the second half, he got himself into such a poor position to strike the ball and showed such poor technique that the resultant shot, which sailed miles high and wide, put you in mind of something which, say, Willie Boland, would have produced in such a situation.

Neil Warnock revealed after the game that he had told Kadeem Harris that he would be starting in it last Tuesday and, more than that, would definitely be playing at Ipswich. Harris is still at that stage of his career that I touched upon when talking about Joe Ralls' change from

Neil Warnock revealed after the game that he had told Kadeem Harris that he would be starting in it last Tuesday and, more than that, he would definitely be playing at Ipswich whatever happened. Harris is still at that stage of his career that I touched upon when talking about Joe Ralls’ change from “promising youngster” to “first team regular” where his mistakes are more easily excused and so there is a tendency to be more charitable towards him in things like City Man of the Match discussions. However, on a day where nobody played really well, I thought the way he troubled both Brighton full backs at times in the second half did just enough to give him that award this time.*

As is always the case in recent seasons, great responsibility falls on Whitts’ shoulders when it comes to attacking free kicks and corners, but yesterday, his delivery from set pieces matched his poor contribution with the ball in open play – in fact, it was probably even worse.

We only got the one corner, but there were numerous free kicks in areas of the pitch where you would have thought someone with his reputation could have helped make all of the difference in such a tight game, but, not once, was Whitts able to get things right as a variety of under or over hit efforts represented no threat to the Brighton goal.

Well into added time, as he prepared to take the free kick awarded after the foul which resulted in Gaeten Bong being shown the second of his yellow cards, I remarked that this was in an area of the pitch where Whitts has shot, and scored, from in the past, but you would never have guessed it as another crossed effort drifted harmlessly beyond goal and out for a goal kick.

Weak in areas where he is normally so strong,  I thought Whittingham, paradoxically, did best yesterday in the one where he is poorest. For me, Brighton looked most dangerous when they broke at pace from Gunnarsson long thrown in’s and, given a role where he stood about thirty five yards from goal to pick up any half clearances from our opponents, Whitts was very much in the eye of the storm so to speak when we were faced with, say, three on three counter attacks, but, albeit at the expense of a booking which leaves him one yellow card short of a suspension on one occasion, he played a full part in making sure nothing came of these breaks.

However, the overall impression given by the Ralls/Whittingham partnership in recent weeks is that this is one of the areas where we could do with strengthening in next month as the latter completes a decade at the club – with a contract that expires this summer, could it be that such a great servant of the club will be one of those who leave in January?

City’s draw lifts us one place to twenty second following Wigan’s home loss to Derby after a week in which a series of unlikely away wins from teams around us at the bottom of the league had seen more of an acceptance that we could be in relegation trouble throughout the second half of the campaign as well as the first.

As mentioned last week, we now have four matches that offer us a better opportunity to climb the table than most of our ones recently have done. To use a cliche, no game in the Championship is easy, but, even though yesterday’s match was a pretty awful one, I’m more confident after it that we can be in a healthier position when we travel to face Brighton again in four weeks time.

 

 

 

 

 

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12 Responses to Yet another game without a goal for the home crowd, but still a definite step in the right direction.

  1. Russell says:

    Thanks Paul spot on report from a chill ridden stadium, thank god for warm black coffee and my magic hip flask, who needs illegal highs.

    I wholeheartedly agree with your MOM ,Harris at last outshined Hoilett. I do think they both pose problems for defences with their pace and tricky, just wish more of that tricky could be done inside the penalty box to attract tackles that result in penalties.

    Ralls as you say is a shadow of last year’s player I wonder if he’s thinking he may become a squad player under Warnock and his form is as a result of that. Although he is out of position, he should at least adapt and deliver better performances, I seem to remeber him playing full back a few times, so adaptability is in his game.

    Whitt’s I think will stay but become a squad player, we need to genuinely fix our midfield it’s been broken for years, not just in personal but in its tactical approach of feeding the front line.

    Fred oh Fred, I feel sorry for him as the service to him was so poor and was well marshalled by one if our very few goalscoreres this season , if I’m honest though I simply think he’s not up to it anyway , or I’m waiting to be convinced. ???

    Thought the defence as a unut was was very good with once again Sol Bamba standing head and shoulders above them all.

    Gunnerson put another good shift in ,however what stands out for me is his ,Whittinghams and Ralls lack of pace both going forward , but even worse when trying to recover when the ball is lost , and for me here lies the big issue, City’s ability to keep ball and move it quickly through the midfield and their ability to lose possession so easily from simple non threatening positions.

    Final thoughts on two other players in a very useful draw, Bennett looks a good footballer, and Amos is growing with confidence and does the simple jobs well,his distribution from the foot is way better than Marshalls in my view, hope we keep him.

    Wins at Ipswich and home to Wolves and Barnsley will see us nicely set up for new arrivals in January to close those vulnerable gaps we have in our midfield and forward line.

  2. Anthony O'Brien says:

    Excellent points made by our Blogmesiter and Russell (and by other contributors, no doubt, whose comments on yesterday’s game have not yet appeared on this site). I was encouraged by Cardiff’s performance, but — as usual — I felt certain things could have been better, even from the current squad.
    Whittingham’s dead ball delivery was poor, but on most occasions it has not been that good anyway. Part of the problem, as I see it, is the trajectory the ball takes. It seems too often nowadays that the ball is looped in rather than hit hard at a lower trajectory. One of Brighton’s corner kicks, I seem to remember, exemplified this point, having been crossed at pace and not rising too high.
    As has been pointed out already, Whittingham was also disappointing when trying to shoot at goal — and in this he was not alone. Part of Cardiff’s warm-up procedure is to have the ball rolled to a forward who then blasts it towards goal. However, the ball is always slid towards the favoured foot of each forward, to the left foot for left-footers and vice versa. If this aspect of the warm-up is to have any benefit, I’d like to see the ball being given to the weaker foot. This might embarrass certain players into practising use of the weaker foot more comprehensively, and would also make them more in tune for taking pot-shots during the game.
    One of the most obvious weaknesses of Joe Ralls, for example, has been manifested in previous games when he would lose a shooting opportunity through moving the ball from the right to his left foot before trying to shoot. Nowadays, of course, the opportunities barely arise. (I should also like to mention that, on past performances, the best player on Cardiff’s book for scoring from long range is probably Emyr Huws!)

    Apart from rare instances, especially Joe Bennett’s mistaken attempt to dribble the ball out of defence, Cardiff remained something of a fortress yesterday, but the consequence of being a fortress is to encourage a siege — and as each game has gone on in recent times, the team’s mentality has been to fall back towards their own goal area and kick the ball anywhere as a means of defence. Not surprisingly, this effectively means giving the ball to the opposition and, too often, has led to giving away a late-goal.
    There are more comments I could make, but I don’t want to be like a cracked record. As Paul and Russell have already written, there was a sense of optimism after what Russell correctly calls “a useful draw”. I agree.

  3. Colin Phillips says:

    Don’t really know what to feel about or make of yesterday’s result. Can’t disagree with Paul’s report and conclusions, it was nice to come out of the game with a clean sheet but we could have played for a very long time without threatening to score.

    The Championship seems to be of a poor standard this year but still we languish near the bottom. Brighton, who would have gone top with a win yesterday, created very little and it wasn’t until Knockaert(spelling?) came on that our defence seemed to be in any sort of discomfort. Bamba looks to have been a very good signing, don’t think it’s going to happen but I would like to see the centre-back pairing of Bamba and Manga given an outing before the latter disappears from our books.

    I would like to be as optimistic as Russell and I do hope he is right but we desperately need a run of wins to get some breathing space here down among the dead man.

    Finally to the referee, Mr. East, a Premier League ref., he certainly gave us more than some have but he seemed very reluctant to clamp down on Glen Murray, who used all his “experience” throughout the game to get away with murder (almost). Mr. Bong the left-back for Brighton should have “gone” before he actually did.

  4. Dai Woosnam says:

    Thanks as ever, Paul. A fine piece.
    All three comments (currently …i.e. it is three at the time of my writing this, but maybe six by the time I finish !!) are similarly thoughtful. So not sure that I have much to say.
    Other than to endorse Colin’s comment on the much-of-a-muchness Championship this year. The absolutely hopeless Forest who we beat at their place just over a month back, go and beat the runaway leaders in the week. And yesterday Barnsley who have not been able to buy a win of late, put 5 past someone (Brentford, was it?)…

    I watch the EPL on TV and realise that is not much better. Staggering incompetence.
    Just look at that howler from Fraser Forster. Sure, he could not do it again if he tried, but – and here is the “but” – not a single word of condemnation for the cretin (was it Cedric or Fonte?) who played a stupid unnecessary square pass along the penalty area to his keeper.
    No no no!
    Swivel, and boot it down the field (which is only what the keeper is gonna do anyway!), or stick it in Row Z. But do not put your own goal under unnecessary pressure.
    Rules 1, 2 and 3 of The Gospel According to Sir Charles*.

    And the other thing one got from yesterday’s EPL was the pundits’ criticism of Wenger that it has taken him two full years to realise that Sanchez is a centre forward…!! Quite right to criticise him, too. And further proof – not that one needs it – of my long held contention that managers should experiment by deliberately playing people out of position in training matches.
    And here is the thing…
    As the thought occurs that Fred is not gonna make it** and that Ricky is looking more and more an impact bench player due to being injury prone when doing the full ninety…therefore so now the chance arises to play Hoilett regularly in the Sanchez centre forward role of trying to draw the big centre backs out to the flanks, and allow gaps for our two fastest attackers to come through the middle and shoot (say Harris and Noone/Pilkington).
    One final point…and here I am on shaky ground as I am a good 18 months older than him, but has anyone noticed how suddenly this past few months, Old Age has staked a claim on the countenance of our dear respected – indeed beloved – Neil Warnock? Let us hope I have it wrong and it is just some minor illness, and his youthful spakling joie de vivre can return to his somewhat gaunt looking face before long.
    Nothing that a few home wins cannot put right, methinks…!!
    * Hughes, of course.
    ** Mind you, most of us said that about Rudy soft G Gestede.

    DW.

  5. Dai Woosnam says:

    Apols for the typo.
    Sparkling.
    And btw, when he is A1…his eyes really DO.

  6. Barry Cole says:

    Well Paul and co. Ltd you seem to have covered every blade of yesterday’s grass. Totally agree regarding ralls and whitts, I would go further in respect of whitts in that he really shouldn’t be in the team. Ralls should be wider and o Keefe in. That said Warnock is in a far better position to assess it and he may be trying small changes at a time to see which is best. Which brings me to the changes. I had no doubt he would fully concentrate on the defence this week and what an admiral job both he and the defence did. Yes the one mistake was early enough in the game but after that I don’t think anyone can complain of the strength of those four against a Brighton team with lots more attacking prowess than any other team we have played including Newcastle. But not yesterday , no that goes to the fantastic four. Personally I didn’t expect Morrison to play and I wonder if that had been the case if peltier was not suspended.
    By playing him I believe NWman management skills came to the fore and I also believe that he did bet the two would concede just to get them focussed.
    That area will only improve now and I don’t think the changes are finished.
    Everybody knows full well that our midfield does not lend itself to quick attacking and this one area that needs sorting. To make us better we need two midfielders one creative like Lansbury and one box to box midfielder. I am not saying that they walk into the team, well in Lansbury case I am, but I still see a role for whittingham in the squad.
    Ralls has got to show a dramatic improvement in the games to Christmas.
    So now we come to the forwards, hoilett is a great find and would love to see him playing the role as he did against huddersfield and Aston Villa. I am not sure about Harris although he had a good game yesterday I didn’t see it as being exceptional.
    Finally, the forwards and this is where we slightly disagree. Our Fred should not even be anywhere near the pitch and that goes for the other Belgium forward we have. They are simply not good enough for the championship. I do believe NW was correct in dropping pilkington but after it was known that lambert wasn’t playing then pilkington should have been reinstated. Fred created nothing didn’t get into the game and any chance of scoring would have come from pilkington.
    And now the manager, I feel comfortable in my belief that not only are we going the right way, we also have the manager who will produce a more effective unit than the likes of the previous 3 managers all of which I had no faith in and was never comfortable that they fitted into Cardiff city. With NW not only have I got that feeling but I have enjoyed the last four games very very much. All of them for differing reasons and although yesterday’s game wasn’t brilliant I saw the power of positive thought and that was good enough to let me know that Cardiff will be hard to beat from now on.
    I will continue to believe that we will hit the top six before the end of the season and if we dont then it won’t be through the lack of effort.

  7. BJA says:

    Paul, I suspect like many, I had quite a few anxieties about yesterday’s match as I took my seat in the Canton end, particularly with a Brighton team going so well in the Championship. Undefeated for a dozen games or so, and with a very shrewd Manager and a lively attack, I confess to having visions of the men in blue having a most difficult afternoon in protecting our goal, and without Rickie in attack, I wondered just how we could finish the 90 minutes on level terms.
    Well as you rightly point out, the defence on this occasion were up for the challenge, and apart from Bennett’s moment of madness, managed to cope most admirably with all that Brighton could manage attack wise which to be truthful was not that much until the last ten minutes. Why the team retreats in the way that we do towards the end of games has to be of concern to NW, and not only to him because those who sit around me make the same comment every fortnight. I am not sure how many points we have lost this season as a result of goals conceded late on, but I am sure that if our goal remained without being breached in later periods, we would not be in the relegation group now. Any ideas anyone?
    Some excellent performances yesterday. Harris, Gunnarson & Bamba stood out for me, bur Fred hard as he tried to find a scoring opportunity, never really had the one moment which to me will demonstrate that he has the ability to be a success at this level. And in fairness to him, our midfield just does not operate in the manner to provide him, or others with opportunities. Why – just not enough pace in that department, nor enough thoughtful through balls for attackers to run on to.
    And after 60 minutes when NW realised that it was not going to happen for him on this occasion, he put Pilkington on in his place. Now that was a most strange substitution to me because on the bench were to other supposed main strikers viz Chamak and Zahore. What these guys must have thought, goodness only knows. And in the half hour that the aforesaid Pilkington was on the pitch, he contributed nothing.
    Still at 4.55pm, Mr East blew his whistle to end the game much to the relief at my part of the ground and I went home with the knowledge that we had gained one point more than I thought we would two hours earlier.
    Now we have four games that will perhaps demonstrate how much of a relegation struggle we are in. I hope for eight points – how realistic am I?

  8. Stephen Fairhurst says:

    Though through the game fans around me were saying that the game was very flat I was pointing out we must realise who we were playing and at half time I thought I wish we could have that at full time but no doubt the energy levels would fall and we would have a backs against the wall effort in the last ten minutes which would prove fruitless. The rearguard action, in fact started after sixty minutes! Our forwards who I had taken to be Fred as target man and Kadeem buzzing around for knockdowns actually took their defending duties very seriously and put effort in stopping Brighton well in their half. Brighton resorting to using the keeper to switch sides quite a lot. My main wish is that we would put crosses into the middle of the box directly rather than to the back presumably to return into the centre but it just wasn’t happening. My other observation is that our shooting is woeful. We had chances to get more than the point but as you rose to see the outcome so did the shot – blazed over the bar. Agree the referee gave us free kicks when I thought we had sinned (Not complaining really) and the yellow cards were justified (Connelly had been warned) and Gunnarson’s pullback was necessary and punished accordingly but felt Brighton were dealt with in the same way. A sign of their fan’s frustration in not getting the expected three points was to resort to pointing they were from England and we weren’t! At the end I knew a point was more than I thought we would have because of the previous form of the teams but we must, certainly at home, defend for our lives to gain clean sheets until we are away from the relegation zone then this season’s ‘target’ from us to Warnock will have been achieved.

  9. MIKE HOPE says:

    A clear indication that Warnock has little confidence in the calibre of our current squad is revealed by the choice and use of substitutes.
    There were two central strikers on the bench but no central mid-fielders yet when Fred was hooked neither of the bench strikers was used.
    It seems that our manager was not kidding when he said we should not expect much improvement before January.
    His plans to revamp the Development set-up shows that he is thinking long term and his hope to have new players available on 2 January suggests that the deals will be agreed before then.Have deals been agreed already?
    We may not pick up the points we are expecting from the so-called easier games in December but the new year is promising!

  10. The other Bob Wilson says:

    Thanks for yet another wide ranging and high quality sets of replies – here’s my thoughts on some of the issues raised.
    Russell, just a few more words about our central midfielders. It seems to me that all three of them who are Warnock’s main picks in that area are better defensive midfielders in their different ways than they are when asked to play further forward. When you are playing two such players it’s understandable if a manager sees them as, essentially, defensive players, but when there’s three of them surely one of them should be seen as attacking midfield man through inclination and positioning – I don’t see any of our three as being able to do such a job effectively enough and, to my mind, there’s only Lex Immers (who, increasingly looks set for a return to mainland Europe next month) who is a natural for such a role among those who are realistic first team contenders.
    AMO, I honestly don’t know if the reason for all of the matches where we are clinging on at the end of games to one or three points is down to us still not being fit enough, a cautious mentality among the group of players we have or instructions from above. I suppose the fact that this seems to have been the norm for a few years now during which there have been plenty of changes in terms of playing and managerial staff suggests that we are not as fit as other teams. However, another possibility should not be ignored in that maybe City are only doing what most sides do in such situations and we only think it’s so bad because, unlike with other sides, we care so much about the team we’re watching? Not convinced by that myself mind, because I’ve thought for a long time that, as a team, Cardiff City has a more defensive mind set than most in this country.
    This leads me on to Colin’s post because I’m not really sure that there was much inclination on Neil Warnock’s part to chase a win on Saturday. Although we were creating so few problems for the Brighton defence, we only made the two substitutions and one of them was in time added on at the end (Richardson for Hoilett has to be seen as a defensive change as well) – I think we began the game with the attitude that we’d gladly take a point and this became more and more the case as the minutes went by.
    Dai, based on what he did against Huddersfield and, to a lesser extent, Villa, Hoilett up front with another quick player giving him support might work. Two things I can think of against it though are, first, although the long ball over the top can work when you have a lot of pace up front, I think most success would probably come with passes slid through to striker(s) who have made a run that has taken them clear of their marker and I;m not sure if (Whittingham on a good day apart) we have the players within our squad to do that often enough. The second reason why I doubt whether we’ll see us playing that way in the next few weeks is that it strikes me as a very un Neil Warnock like way to play (not sure I’ve ever seen one of his teams use such an approach).
    Barry, I agree with you that we’ve played in different ways under Warnock – the philosophy (long balls forward played quickly and reliance on set pieces) stays the same, but there are nuances within it that make me think that we will seldom see us play with such a defensive mindset as we did on Saturday in many more home matches. On that score, it was informative, and correct, for Neil Warnock to say a few times before the Wigan match that he thought it would be the hardest match so far under his management. I suspect that he said this because it was us who were going to have to force the issue in that game, whereas we could afford to be more patient against the sides we’d played before then. Looking at our next four, so called, easier matches, I’d say that the two home games probably also fall into that category, but, with Lambert, hopefully, fit and available for them and the confidence of three goals against Huddersfield behind us, I’d like to think that we could pick up four points against Wolves and Barnsley (we never win them both when we have two home games in a week!).
    BJA, your thoughts before Saturday’s match were exactly the same as mine. Regarding late goals conceded, I make it we’ve conceded ten goals from the eightieth minute onwards in our nineteen league games – I’d be surprised if there’s a worse record than that in the Championship, but as many of them only turned a one goal defeat into a two goal one, I make think they’ve only cost us five points so far. As far as the next four games go, I’d be fairly happy with six points because I think that would get us out of the bottom three, but I’d like to think we could get more. Not sure about your eight because that would mean we wouldn’t lose any of them and I’d say that’s unlikely – I’d say it’s more likely that we could end up with nine points, but I think seven is more realistic.
    Stephen, I’m with you about Saturday – as I said on a messageboard yesterday, if we had gone out with the intention of having a go at Brighton, I’m convinced we would still be in twenty third position now after having lost four out of five games.
    Mike, I also noticed Neil Warnock wondering whether he would be able to play any new signings against Villa – maybe he was being mischievous, but I think it’s possible that he has one or two deals already lined up, with my guess being that they would probably be loans. There’s supposed to be a Development team match at Leckwith this afternoon , so it’ll be interesting to see what our team looks like – judging by those stories about up to ten players from the squad being told they can try to find another club, I’d guess that it will be a mixture of first team squad members not used on Saturday and teenagers.

  11. Anthony O'Brien says:

    Paul the Blogmeister,

    As someone who has followed and analysed Cardiff’s games at all levels, you are almost certainly the best person to give us a balanced assessment of the current Development squad, or your thoughts when we actually know who will be leaving.

    In terms of the first team, I’m disappointed that Chamakh hasn’t made his mark and would therefore seem to be headed for the exit. I remember in his early days at Arsenal, Shearer (who should know a bit about centre forward play) rated him highly. I think you are right, too, in suggesting that Gounongbe is a better striker than many people maintain. To me, his performance on Saturday showed that he was not really prepared for the physicality of Championship football or for the amount of work required,; and of course, the frequent hoof-balls for which he had to contend hardly helped his situation. BUT, in his favour he stuck to his task and improved as the game progressed. He managed to get his head to a number of high balls, and his lay-offs by head, chest or foot were encouragingly subtle. It was obviously a steep learning curve for him, but if Cardiff were more of an attack minded team, he could probably work well and run beyond Lambert (though I believe Idriss Saadi is tailor-made for this role). However, as you say Paul, Cardiff were set up not to lose on Saturday. One of the more obvious clues to this approach was that no-one was asked to harry the right-sided central defender (Duffy by name?) who was given ample time to thump the ball into the Cardiff half but only rarely did he venture beyond the half-way line. From this point of view Cardiff’s strategy was spot-on, even if Morrison did not win as many high balls as we have come to expect. You are also right in calling for an attacking midfield presence. I fully expected Adeyemi to be the man for this, and he (like Huws) is someone I’d want to see given a new opportunity in due course to perform the task, though it might well be all pie in the sky..

  12. The other Bob Wilson says:

    I see Adeyemi scored on Saturday AMO, but it’s looking increasingly like he will leave us in the summer without ever really being given a run of games in which he could establish himself – he signed a three year contract with us when he joined from Birmingham in 2014, so, barring a sensational second half of the season at Rotherham, he looks a prime candidate to be released in six months time to me.
    I think you’re probably right about Duffy – City seemed much more determined to stop his fellow centreback, Lewis Dunk, from playing out from the back, whereas they almost seemed to encourage Duffy to do it.

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