Monday, January 03, 2000

Match Report: Cardiff City 0 Preston North End 4

Monday January 3, 2000

Cardiff (0) 0

Preston (0) 4
Edwards (46)Alexander (55)Nogan (62)Alexander (83) pen

Cardiff City (3-5-2 as if you didn't know!)HallworthLowEckhardtMiddletonPerrettBrazierFowlerCarpenterSchwinkendorfNugentHumphreyssubsBonner (for Schwinkendorf 45)Bowen (for Nugent 75)Faerber (for Brazier 80)Kelly & Phillips (not used)

Referee: P. J. Joslin (Newark)
Attendance: 10,142
Weather: Mild, overcast, drizzle
Atmosphere:1st half - Fantasy Island
2nd half - Sully Island
Preston fans: 500

Let's get the important things out first. No matter how low any City fanfeels, and none can feel as low as me, today's result hasn't changed a thing.

Preston are an excellent side who will be probably be promoted and certainlyhave the look of a team who are undefeated for 18 matches and 4 months plusnot lost away all season in this division. Before the game, I would havegladly taken a point.

Cardiff are not too good to stay up but we won't go down either, there are a handful of sides who, praise be, are worse than us. As if to prove it, every team below us lost or drew today so our league position is unchanged.

We are a team of decent individual players who, for whatever reason, cannotblend as a team. City have only beaten one team higher placed than them inthe league before kick off in well over a year!

On the other hand, in the second division, we have not lost to any team currently below us either.That should tell you everything but it doesn't quite.Today, Cardiff City F.C. got a hammering.

Frank Burrows, under flak most ofthe season, has generally answered his critics by saying that his players never lie down and roll over for the club. Well sorry Frank, we can now. January 3rd 2000 may well go down as the day that even Frankie's most die-hard fans finally decided to open their eyes too and realise what many of us have spotted, and been pointing out, since the run-in to promotion last season .Be honest with yourselves and look at his record, he has not provided awinning side for the directors and supporters since January 1999 - a year ago!

He has been given more support and money than just about any other manager in the division. Frankie fans will try and point out things have gotbetter recently but are not being honest.The only wins Frank has got for City in the last 3 months have been Bury and Orient in the F.A. Cup, Chesterfield, Colchester and Reading in the league. They are all performing worse than City and it would have been a surprise if we had lost to them.

Honourable performances at Bolton and heroics at Cambridge merely paper over the cracks. Wake up - the players are good enough, the tactics, formation, motivation and, yes, the manager I love and always will, are not up to it anymore.

Yet again, the tactics were 3-5-2 and have never been altered in the 2 yearsof Burrows' charge. Burrows only gestures on the touchline, increasingly his arms are folded, are to implore players to get wide or push the ball wide. If we all see it and know what's coming every match, it's a sure bet our opponents do too.

The line up is baffling. We spend £110,000 on a German central defender(Schwinkendorf) and play him in midfield when we have a crisis in centra ldefence. Burrows answer? Let's persevere with Craig Middleton, a midfielder, instead. This is a player who looked so out of his depth at Cambridge against decent strikers last week that he was sent off for two needless fouls 30 yards from goal and contributed to Perrett's sending off too.

We also had another natural central midfielder on the bench in Lee Phillips - granted, he's not the best but surely more able than Middleton.Surprise, surprise, Middleton wasn't up to the job. I despair.

Schwinkendorf, Carpenter and Fowler never looked the right balance inmidfield against such strong opponents and yet, Mark Bonner, who would havebeen beneficial, was relegated to the bench. And so, Cardiff City gotslaughtered in midfield. It is so badly and obviously wrong, why have theclub got so many coaching staff in Burrows, Ayre and Wood and theycollectively come to these decisions? Or is it Frankie alone with the othertwo nodding dutifully?Perhaps most annoying thing of all is that Frankie never makes any attempt toanswer why he does these things even though supporters say it after nearlyevery game. He's a stubborn man.Cardiff City should be starting the Millennium year in mid-table and anoutside chance of the play-offs, instead we are looking at a relegationbattle that may well go to the final weekend of the season. At least, that'sthe only realistic assessment when our beloved leader is too intransigent toadmit he's getting it badly wrong or change anything.His changes are more by luck than design, witness how Josh Low - a man hebought to convert to a striker - is suddenly his new "Mark Delaney" at wingback. Or what about how he was actively trying to get rid of RichardCarpenter and Jeff Eckhardt at the start of the season, the two players whoare probably first on his team sheet now. Remember how he thought Fowler wasa centre half - sending offs, own goals, and penalties later he wasn't! Orhow his pretty boy midfield containing 2 of Hill, Fowler, Brazier was onlybroken up by injuries.As for the match itself, there really isn't a great deal to report unless youenjoy watching the side you adore getting drubbed at home. City came out,acquitted themselves well, but bottom line is, we did not put a single shoton goal in 90 minutes yet again.Just in case you don't take notice of these things, Cardiff City have scored4 goals in more than 15 hours of league, F.A. Cup and Auto Windscreen action.That's a ratio of 1 goal nearly every 4 hours and what makes it even worseis that 2 goals were scored by defenders and another was an own goal!! It'sa joke.There was no real hint of the embarrassing outcome in the opening period.There were efforts at goal, three by Jeff Eckhardt who was worrying thePreston rearguard at corners and free kicks but a shot and two headers allwent a bit too high or wide. He was the most likely City scorer as Nugentand Humphreys were not linking and spending more time floating wide than theywere trying to create a nuisance and presence in the penalty area - you know,the job we'd quite like to see them doing. Jason Fowler had an excellenteffort with a curved free kick from 25 yards but he didn't quite get hisangle or height right and it floated wide but seemed to be covered.Schwinkendorf was possibly the pick of City's players by doing nothingspecial, just simple passing and distribution, it helped City get forward.Preston looked confident, assured and capable of breaking through even thoughit was an even half. Indeed, man for man, I wouldn't particularly sayPreston were better but, as a team, there was a marked difference. Theirformations, tactics, passing and movement were ahead of City's. They didhowever have 5 regulars missing, just as well it wasn't their full team then.They never troubled Hallworth in the opening period, no need to, Hallworthwas doing that job well enough on his own. Yet again, his lack assertivenessat the heart of City's defence was alarming, his communication with hisdefence was near non-existent. It was best emphasised when Cardiff playersran the ball out of play for two or three corners when there was no realdanger due to Hallworth not leaving his line to collect. This has gone onall season, let's hope Ian Feuer is a worthy challenger as the time forchange is surely now.Half-time City 0 Preston 0Yet again, Ninian Park proved it just is not capable of handling even decentsized crowds. It's one thing appealing for big crowds but another when theclub can't cope with it, big turnstile and ticket office queues before thestart were matched by half time ridiculous toilet queues. The cateringoutlets had nothing to sell other than burgers and hot dogs with unacceptablequeuing. By the time I got back to my seat, City were 1 down and I missedthe goal.The origins were in a half-time substitution as Schwinkendorf was replaced byBonner. You have to give Frankie the benefit of the doubt, especially whenwe know he never replaces players before the final 15 minutes, and assumeSchwinkendorf was injured or still suffering with flu. But how he was missedas the ball went into the hole where he would have been, Chippy Carpentertried to block a shot but Rob Edwards rifled high into the net from 20 yards.City tried to settle but the game was over as a contest just 9 minutes laterwhen defender Alexander drilled home a low shot from 25 yards which skimmedacross goal and off the far post. A beautiful finish but a knife through theheart for all City fans.And 6 minutes later, it was 3-0 as a lofted ball to the far post saw Citytarget, and local boy, Kurt Nogan given a free header from 10 yards. He didwell to reach it but maybe Hallworth could have saved as it was centre ofgoal and under the bar. He flapped an arm, missed and the ball went in togive Nogan only his 2nd goal of the season.Cardiff City work hard to encourage fans and had a superb attendanceexceeding 10,000. But with just under half hour remaining, the exodus hadstarted in the Grandstand and Bob Bank and you knew many walked out destinednot to return until City sort it out - it could be a while yet. Incredibly,the fans yet again refused to criticise, there was one chant of "what a loadof rubbish" and others who dared to criticise Frank were given glares.It was game, set and match and just a case of whether City could restore anypride. They rallied but on 83 minutes, a Preston winger burst into the area,Eckhardt fouled him with a clumsy tripping challenge, penalty. Alexandershot into the right hand corner for his 2nd goal of the afternoon, justeluding Hallworth.City trudged off with less than half the crowd in the stadium who were thereat the start and another glorious start to the New Year to rank alongside a5-0 home drubbing by Maidstone and a 5-0 hammering at Preston (they must loveus!) in recent years.No doubt there was a huge inquest in the changing room and we'll hear lots ofcomment about mistakes, players not showing enough commitment, City will workharder to put things right. In fact, just about everything except questionsbeing asked about our Manager.If I could ask him one, it would be, "We love you Frank but why don't youbecome a general manager, sort out contracts, transfers, help the youth andleave the day to day running, tactics and motivation of the team in someoneelse's hands Frank?"Because, to be honest, I have seen more than enough.

Sunday, January 02, 2000


Dai allegedly turned down the move to Yeovil as they refused to pay his wages plus a bonus of 500 of your award winning Champion Chicken and Mushroom piesper week!

The Echo did comment about him turning down the move and wanting to stay inNationwide - in other words, he'd prefer to do nothing at Cardiff and pick upeasy wages than put himself in the shop window - but you're probably betteroff without him.The paper also said Burrows was looking to loan out players but nevermentioned anything about them going to Yeovil - whoever posted a quote ofFrankie's saying that one of our forwards is definitely going there isstretching the truth unless he has inside info, the paper never said that.If anything, hints are player(s) are about to be loaned to Jimmy Mullen atMerthyr. Great, put the kids back in Jarman's company!Seems that Shay Kelly is going there once Feuer's work permit is sorted -apparently his permit expired 24 hours after signing for City - so Shay istruly out of the equation. Burrows also said he was looking to loan strikersincl Roberts, Earnshaw and Thomas (presumably, not all at once). You shouldtake Earnie or Robbo if you can get them.One of my workpals lives 3 houses from Dai and tells me he jumps in hissponsored car to go to the Chinese. Maybe we all do that but how many of uswould do it if the Chinese was just 100 yards from your front door? Lazyb***ard!

Saturday, January 01, 2000


Spent New Years Eve seeing in the Millennium at Millennium Stadium ina hopitality box thanks to Scott Thomas.

A few us were in a hospitality box right behind the Royal Box - the only royalty sitting in front of us was Cerys of Catatonia.

We had a fridge jampacked with tinnies - at least it was before we got started on it!!

The Millenium itself was perhaps the non-event of the Century and none of itcould ever live up to the media hype. It seemed many had unrealistic expectations of all events.

In isolation I thought The Manics gig was a top event. The Welsh bands -Feeder, Super Furries and Manics - all put on great shows. I love SuperFurries but Feeder probably had the best response of the support acts.

Watching from our privileged position, that was a happening gig on the floor,it was bouncing!

A night I'll never forget.