Tuesday, July 31, 2007

City's 2nd string show their steel at Port Talbot


FRIENDLY:

PORT TALBOT TOWN 0

CARDIFF CITY 3



Although billed as a reserve team friendly, Cardiff City sent a strong team of fringe players to Port Talbot plus skipper Darren Purse and emerged comfortable 3-0 victors.

Goals came from 16 yr old hot prospect Aaron Ramsey finishing well from a Paul Parry cross, a Jason Byrne free-kick outside the area and a Matt Green diving header from another Parry cross in front of 750, mostly City fans, and Cardiff City supporting Welsh Premiership ref Phil Southall.

When you want to kiss your missus somewhere smelly,

take her to Port Talbot



Ramsey and Parry were the stars of the show but Matt Green and Kevin Cooper also showed up well. Purse, dropped into the side for the night having missed previous friendlies culminating in an appalling personal display in the weekend 6-4 loss at Stockport, still looked off the pace and well short of match fitness but will step things up with the new season starting in 11 days time. He was also the only City player at Port Talbot likely to start in the home clash with Stoke.

Next and final 1st team friendly for Cardiff is the weekend's home clash with Dutch side, FC Twente, a game that will also see Robbie Fowler make his bow for City.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Kerrea Gilbert - What a difference 9 months makes?!

Pic - Gilbert showing how to use his tackle properly

This time last year, Arsenal's Kerrea Gilbert joined Cardiff City on a season's loan, having impressed against City an a Highbury FA Cup clash the previous season.

As City were running away at the top of the table, the diminutive Gilbert was identified as one of the key reasons. What he lacked in height was certainly compensated by his defending, passing and rampaging forward charges which made him a stand-out and essential player.

Then October 2006, the wheels started coming off Gilbert's and City's season. With Michael Chopra suspended and inadequate cover (Luigi Glombard I ask you - so bad he was removed at half-time to save him and us from further embarrassment), Cardiff lost 1-0, the agony made worse by Kerrea Gilbert landing himself a stupid red card in injury time as he lost his head ... I don't think he's found it again yet.

Whilst suspended, Gilbert got injured and it was announced he was absent until Christmas and then sighting of him were fewer than a good looking girl in Kiwi's. Rumours started emerging about homesickness and personal problems, manager Dave Jones belated confirming they existed long after City fans had heard stories through the grapevine that is the internet. He was hardly seen again in a City shirt and when he was, it was nowhere near the intensity and passion that City fans saw before. His passion was rumoured to be displayed elsewhere.

A player who promised so much drifted back to North London almost unnoticed and certainly with his tail between his legs. Now comes news of another drop down the football ladder as Arsene Wenger has brought in more defenders who are now ahead of him in the pecking order, Gilbert has gone on a 6 month loan, this time to League One Sarfend.

Can only hope it works out for him as there's a quality player of high potential who, right now, seems to be slipping away not getting to where, perhaps, he should be.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Cardiff City headlines you'd never thought you'd read

http://tinyurl.com/2clqkl

Check this - unfortunately the story isn't as interesting as its headline.

Still, it reamins something when Celtic are being told they could learn form us!

Saturday, July 28, 2007

THE FAST CHANGING APPEARENCE OF LECKWITH

Popped along to Parc Nin today to buy tickets for next week's friendly to FC Twente and was pleasantly surprised to see changes underway and developments taking place in the car park all around the athletics stadium.
A few pictures follow showing times are a changing fast at Ninian Park with digging having commenced all around the athletics stadium near the car park entrance and the far side of the astroturf pitch. There are also a huge bank of portakabin offices now installed on Leckwith Road next to the car park entrance.

Almost two thirds of the car park appears to have digging, plant and portakabins in place or is fenced off so the only area of the car park that can now be used in the tarmaced section between Sloper Road entrance to car park and the athletics stadium.

Car parking on matchdays is going to be real fun this season. Maybe the club needs to make a deal with local transport as happens at Brighton and Southampton amongst others allowing free bus travel to the ground to keep traffic away?

Life at CCFC will never be the same when this goes

Leckwith Hill nearly hidden by a new hill caused by digging


Much of the car park is fenced off and covered with machinery and earth


Executive Boxes for the new stadium?

No, it's the site offices now instealled ready for the stadium project


Athletics Stadium - as seen through the barricades

Digging to east of the stadium by the astroturf pitches too

A queue of City fans who bought shirts wanting

names and numbers printed on them




Robbie Fowler - new face of the club shop

In no other area of life, would that face model anything!
Athletics Stadium - soon to be no more

Digging Underway in the car park
Only the front of the car park appears to be available

FRIENDLY: STOCKPORT COUNTY 6 (SIX!) CARDIFF CITTY 4

A shocking result and shocking scoreline but with positives too seems to be the early view on a day City were turly hit for six at Edgeley Park.

The game unexpectedly became a memorial match for ex-Stockport managerial legend Danny Bergera who passed away in midweek after a short illness. Cardiff manager and ex-Stockport boss himself, Dave Jones, laid a wreath at the ground and a minute's silence was observed the the 3,500 or so crowd.

There was no sign of the disaster to follow as City cruIsed 2-0 ahead inside 16 mionutes thnaks to good moves and great finishes by Gavin Rae and Trevor Sinclair but, unbelievably, City then went onto concede 4 goals in 11 minutes, the first two being own goals by Rae and Darren Purse! The deficit was reduced to 4-3 by the interval through McClean, arguably City's best player, which would have cheered the travelling 200 or so Bluebirds and Robbie Fowler watchign on in the stands..

Second half had goal action too but, as per the first, although City had all the football, play, territory and possession it was the hosts who scored the goals to move 6-3 ahead, again thanks to inept defensive play. Stockport were said to have only scored one good goal in their six.

There were the inevitable mass 2nd half substitutions but Cardiff could only hit back once late on through Peter Whittingham who also smashed the bar moments after his goal.

It sounds like City's general play, forward movement and goals were all encouraging. As for the defensive, the area of the team that many would argue is our strongest certainly had a day to forget but it should sharpen their minds before the real action starts 2 weeks for now.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Top Night and Good Win at Chepstow Races

An excellent night's racing at Chepstow with the annual Carribean Night. Following downpour after downpour after downpour, the meeting was in danger of being abandoned but, thankfully, it was a dry day so an early morning inspection passed it fit albeit with heavy going. Instead, onlookers were pointing upwards shouting out "What's that?" and it had to be gently explained it was a planet known as the sun - not seen in Britain since April - and blue sky.

We work two coaches from work and soon waded into large volumes of Friday night bevvies, cocktails included at one stage.

First race saw two of the guys land a £130 win on a 25/1 outsider and won truly won big too. £90 with a 28/1 winner in race 4 and a £15 bonus off a bookie with whom I bet £5 with a £5 note but he then gave me £15 change.

All back to Cardiff (some to the offices) for more carnage. Most headed to O'Neill's, some to The Bay and I was in O'Neills eventually after catching up with the nurses celebrating Jen's 40th birthday in Reflex.

It's great to wake up next morning having got truly sloshed and have more money in your pocket than you went out with. Lovely aye!!

Pictures from the night can be found here > http://tinyurl.com/2eryh9

Thursday, July 26, 2007

TURNBULL JOINS CARDIFF CITY ON LOAN

Cardiff City completed the signing of their third goalkeeper of the year but are any as good as Neil Alexander, the one they let go?


Turnbull - he's big and that's what matters

The Bluebirds have completed their 7th free transfer in this summer, and second goalkeeper, with the arrival of 22 yr old Ross Turnbull on a season's loan from Premiership Middlesborough. At 6'4", he certainly fits Dave Jones' obvious preference to have big goalkeepers but what of his ability.

Turnbull has played 29 games on loan at Barnsley 3 seasons ago and 23 on another loan at Crewe 2 seasons ago when they were relegated from the Cha,pionship, his final game ironically seeing him beaten by a Jason Koumas beauty at Gresty Road. After that, he played in Middlesborough's last two Premiership games of 2005/06.

An apparent injury last season saw Turnbull's 1st team action limited to one game - an embarrassing 1-0 home defeat to Notts County in the Carling Cup.

His record is not the most inspiring on paper, a clear lack of clean sheets and a few times when he was on the receiving end of a barrage of goals conceded. His 29 games at Crewe saw him beaten 47 times, there is a lack of glowing reference from the Crewe followers, but they were a shockingly uncompetitive side that season.

Hopefully, playing in frotn of a potentially strong defence will show the former England youth keeper in a better light, many City fans will remember the arrival of Gavin Ward, unheard of, at a similar age and height as Turnbull and he went on to become one of the best keepers seen in a City shirt over the past 40 years.

It does however seem to represent a big gamble by Dave Jones and I can only hope he succeeds and he stands to deserve some flak if it goes wrong. For many City fans, the decision not to retain Neil Alexander - undoubtedly one of the Top 4 or 5 Championship keepers last season despite his limitations seem to be based on some grudge by the manager.

His replacements cause genuine concerns that we have weakened in a significant position. David Forde has proved adequate but not special and may be more suited to life in League One or Two than a club supposedly chasing the Premiership golden ticket. Andy Oakes, not good enough to get a game last season and unconvincing so far this season, may be in the same category. It therefore places a burden on Turnbull whom it would appear will be first choice.

Good Luck Ross.

HELP ON WAY FOR GLOUCESTER & TEWKESBURY FLOOD VICTIMS

Dr Foster
Went to Gloucester
In a monsoon of rain
He stepped in a flood
Full of s*** and mud
Now he’s clinically insane


Dr Dell
Fell down the well
And broke his collarbone
But Dr Dell
Should look after the sick
And leave the well alone

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

FREINDLY: WEYMOUTH TOWN 3 CARDIFF CITY 0

A reserve team friendly produced a poor performance and result saw Weymouth give City's players a bit of a pasting, the Dorset side comfortable thoughout, making it a forgettable night for 40 or so travelling Bluebirds in the 1,200+ crowd.

City's side included Jason Byrne and Kevin Cooper as well as "blooded" first team youngsters in Matt Green, Dray Blake and Aaron Ramsey. By all accounts, only the promise of Blake and Ramsey made any impression and stood out from the blandness otherwise produced by Cardiff.

Weymouth scored a rebound from a first half penalty and cruised home with two other goals in a second period more notable for constant substitutions than any quality of football. Hopefully, the players gained some fitness and sharpness, because there were few positives to take away otherwise.

Next friendly - a first team fixture at Stockport on Saturday (July 28)




DEVO go DELL

After the huge success of their recent UK and European tours, both with their loyal Spud fans and the critical media, D E V O now showcase their first new song in 17 years. They have had material realised in other guises but not as DEVO.

And, in true form, it's a devolved release coming in the form of Dell's ads for their new slimline laptop range accompanied by "Work It" with the unmistakeable sounds that the Casale's and Motherbaugh's produce.


Click link to Dell video with new DEVO song: http://tinyurl.com/ys9clv




DUTY NOW FOR THE FUTURE

Monday, July 23, 2007

Ooh, suits you sir!

Extra Large is it?
Still, wonderful sight as Robbie Fowler signs for City

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Friendly Fire as City Win at Yeovil

CARDIFF CITY comfortably and competently won their latest pre-season friendly at League One Yeovil with a 2-0 victory, both goals the result of first-half penatlies.

City used 20 players in the workout to give everyone fit and available a run-out. Despite the weather problems badly affecting travel on the motorways and by rail, City took almost 500 fans in a crowd of 2,000 - the biggest buzz for them was news that emerged en route of Robbie Fowler's imminent signature.

The game itself was largely uneventful but City always looked the better, more able side and rewarded when two penalties close to half-time. The first when Chris Gunter, on his 18th birthday, was felled on a surging run. WARREN FEENEY'S spot-kick was poor and he was fortunate to have the ball come back to him to put home at the second attempt.

The second was when Feeney himself was taken down by Yeovil keeper, Mildenhall, and this time, IAN McLEAN smashed home emphatically.

City's only nervous moment was when the ageing dinosuar Marcus Stewart was given a free shoot on goal by a disastrous Oakes kick out but, unbelievably, he screwed it wide. It was a moment that convinced City fans another keeper remains an absolute priority.

Next first team friendly is at Stockport in a week. All being well, Dave Jones will have another player or two on board by then..

DAVE JONES' 1st REACTION TO FOWLER'S SIGNING + Purse and Scimeca found guilty of diving!

Dave Jones was just on Radio Wales talking from Huish Park ahead of the Yeovil friendly.

Very calm and assured about Fowler but insisted he would have signed him even had we kept Chops. He refuted the Jeffers story though saying he is not coming.

However he said that he is still looking for 3 new signings in time for the start of the season, a striker, a 3rd goalkeeper and an outfield player.

Darren Purse is absent today at Yeovil as it took Scimeca and himself 9 hours to get home from Cardiff yesterday, they had to jump out of Scimeca's car in a flood and it was then taken away by the River Severn!

Having taken 9 hours to get south of Oxford for Matt's wedding party last night, missing the food and only having time to get a beer or two, I know how they're feeling!

Holy Moly, "God" Agrees To Join Cardiff City




To me, "God" will always be Tony Evans, a mercurial striker in the mid-70's when we wore the famous yellow and white stripe and scored goals for fun, a player who, did, indeed walk on water even if it was mostly the puddles always present by the club shop and on Sloper Road!

But, after weeks of hype and speculation, it appears that Robbie Fowler, known as "God" to Liverpool fans worldwide has now told Cardiff City that he will be signing for them, the news flashing worldwide within moments, just in time for a season when those hallowed yellow and white stripes are set to reappear on our shirts again. It's fate, I tell you.

Newspapers and Dave Jones have already declared it Cardiff City's biggest ever signing but when we've taken on footballing giants such as Carlton Leonard, Jorn Schwinkendorf, Leo Fortune-West, Iwan Redan and Glombard, it's a bit misleading isn't it?

Breaking News about Fowler for City

http://tinyurl.com/yuuz65

Kevin Ratcliffe's reaction to the news:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/teams/c/cardiff_city/6909944.stm



What isn't it doubt is that Peter Ridsdale has masterminded a coup but he'll ensure that he milks it for all its worth for many a long day to come. It's a capture that will capture the public imagination in South Wales and beyond and, without question, raise the profile of the club - and commercial spin-offs to another level.

In truth, time is likely to show Fowler's arrival as a new catalyst and another disaster, there's unlikely to be any in-between. Once the immediate impact wanes, he will have to prove himself that, at 32, on the wane and playing outside top flight football for the first time ever, that he has the hunger and desire that will help City push on too. That is anything but guaranteed but it's certainly going to be interesting to watch.

Friday, July 20, 2007

WET WET WET, floods hit Barry and The South

Complete carnage can be the only way to describe today's rain and subsequent flooding affecting Barry and the South of the UK on a day I had to travel that way.

The UK's crappiest ever summer, almost continual rain and grey skies since the end of April, reached a new low. There were advance storm warnings and quotes of a month's worth of rain in a day but we got more than that - 5 inches in 12 hours when July's average is about 4 inches - which caused havoc. The rain was biblical, I thought I saw Noah a couple of times, and its impacts were jaw-dropping.

Barry saw water popping up manholes everywhere from mid-morning and flooding on an unprecedented scale with schools evacuated as flood waters poured in, including Jessica's, people rescued by boats from offices whilst Babs saw one car float down the road on water and two others attended by fire services trying to release occupants inside flooded cards. Even the "top road" was flooding, my dad's house on Port Road having a river running down the drive and putting the garden under several inches of water. Barry became a mini Venice for a short time and with the fairground in a sad state but apparently opening over summer, it was the first water seen by the log flume all year.

This, on all days, when we were heading to Matt Gabb's wedding just south of Oxford. It was a journey expected to take a little over 2 hours from Barry, it took Babs that long to get out of Barry! Meeting me at just after 2 at my Newport office, we had visions of being checked into hotel at 4pm - if only!

The remainder of the journey took over 7 hours with M4 looking more like lake than road in parts and, with water coming up through the road, tarmac was being lifted and left it looking like a football pitch with divots, traffic bumper to bumper, a landslide causing havoc around Newbury and, the final insult, the A34 was closed sending all traffic down our exit road making the final 3 miles of the trip take over 3 hours to achieve.

It left us arriving at the hotel after 9pm, the wedding at 10pm, missing the buffet and only time for a couple of drinks before its midnight closing. Fortunately, we did have a couple of drinks with bride and groom back at the hotel and the journey back was less eventful but reading of thousands who were forced to sleep in cars on motorways, others who lost their cars or had their homes near-destroyed, we can feel we came off luckier than most.

Congratulations to Mr & Mrs Matt Gabb. At least their wedding went off better than another at the the hotel where the bride arrived 3 and a hlaf hours late due to the traffic chaos and I've no idea how they got on for food as the planned garden setting and bbq was destroyed by the weather!

Links to stories about the great rain:
Barry and South Wales Floods: http://tinyurl.com/2wb78u
BBC video news story showing floods in Barry: http://tinyurl.com/3xx3e6
UK (south in particular): http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/6910438.stm
Pictures of floods in the South: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/6909198.stm

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Foul Play by Fowler while Vine's Not Fine

SHOULD CITY STILL KEEP SNIFFING AFTER FOWLER?

Western Mail link to story with quotes
It appears that DJ's two main striker targets to replace Michael Chopra have hit stumbling blocks that may prove fatal and, at the very least, seems to ensure neither will be coming to Cardiff in the next few days as hoped, if at all.

Fowler's problem appears to be that he's enjoying life in the comfort zone and after a lifetime spent playing at the top level isn't enthused by the prospect of playing for Cardiff and anyone below Premiership level. Maybe it's only Premiership football or exotic overseas "soccer" that will do for him?

We've been here before. Having reportedly agreed verbal terms with City, Fowler and his agent are now actively touting themselves in the media in the hope of getting a bigger, better offer. They have 78 on the table, including Cardiff, with City believed to be best placed amongst that lot but, ultimately, the contract and life with The Bluebirds is not exciting enough.

Having vowed not to get in this sort of situation again, City now seem to be doing exactly that and are prepared to persevere even though the odds now seem to be against them.

However the agent is now on record saying Robbie may not make any decision until the end of August and is enjoying his current "semi-retirement" - that really should set the alarm bells ringing in the heads of Messrs Ridsdale and Jones.For the agent to say Fowler has until the end of August to make a decision is a nonsense. He will have missed all of pre-season, will have lost physical fitness's and be well down on match fitness. He's be no good to anyone for a long while afterwards.And if Fowler is enjoying his freedom and not bothered about being with any club by the start of the season, it just serves to prove he's lost his desire and appetite for the game. He's set up for life, he's only ever played at top level and he is 32 so it's understandable in many ways but City would be foolish if they're prepared to play along with this game.As someone who's genuinely not excited about Robbie Fowler coming to Cardiff - I think only casual armchair fans seem to interested by the novelty of it - it's time to put this one to bed ... especially as that's where Fowler himself would prefer to be right now.


As for Vine

This one's not so easy but appears to have no immediate solution. Cardiff bid £1.2M for the player in January, losing out to Birmingham, and are reportedly making the same offer now. Objectively, in the eyes of most football fans, that is the right price and it's hard to imagine The Blues getting any substantial better offer for a player they have already deemed surplus to requirements having several strikers on the books and having bought bigger and better over the summer in readiness for Premiership football.

However, they gazumped City and paid a ridiculous £2.5M in January which rose to £3M after a promotion clause was activated so they state they will not sell for less than £2M.

Another issue is that Vine's wages apparently rocketed as another promotion clause activated and it would be far more than Cardiff would pay him.

So we're stuck between a rock and a hard place. The club want more money but it's unlikely anyone will do that and a player on great wages but knowing he's unlikely to get a look-in with his club when the action starts. However you look at it, it's highly dubious City will land him any time soon, if at all, and Jones may now have to resign himself to looking elsewhere.

Alexander/Weston
Finally just to mention ex-City keeper Neil Alexander signed a 3 year deal with Ipswich whilst misfit Rhys Weston penned a 1 yr contract at Walsall. Good luck to both of them.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

PRE-SEASON FRIENDLY: CHIPPENHAM TOWN 1 CARDIFF CITY 0

BLUEBIRDS BEAT THE BLUEBIRDS





CARDIFF CITY'S BLUEBIRDS lost thie 2nd pre-season friendly in their 5th game in Wiltshire last night against The Bluebirds of Chippenham but but no need for panic.


CHIPPENHAM'S GROUND ... IT'S THERE

Cardiff sent out a youth side with no 1st teamers/key squad players involved in Portugal with the exception of striker Matt Green.

The game itself was reportedly distinctly average lacking any intensity, City losing to a disputed free-kick goal (apparently, not "Chipp"ed!) and failing to save themselves in the 2nd half after Green himself missed a poorly taken penalty.

Next first team friendly is this Saturday away at League One Yeovil.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Friendly Result: VITORIA de SETUBAL 0 CARDIFF CITY 1

Setback for Setubal!
Cardiff City completed their Portuguese pre-season mini tour with two wins out of two after a 1-0 over leading, but recently struggling, local side Vitoria de Setubal in Lisbon.

By all accounts, it was a competent and thoroughly good workout for City who looked the better side, the fitter side too and placed some great football in parts. The goal was a first for new by Steve McClean.

The boys now fly home with plenty more training and friendly games before their first Ninian Park action in 3 weeks against Dutch side, FC Twente, before business really starts as the Championship kick-off home to Stoke 4 weeks today.

Not much other news to report, just transfer speculation and that's just getting to boring to list the latest rumours and links. The only certainty remains that Robbie Fowler enters more talks with The Bluebirds after the weekend as Cardiff now appear favourites to land his signature on a 1 year deal.

Friday, July 13, 2007

CHOPRA CONFIRMED AS BLACK CAT

"Ello, Ello, Cardiff Reject, Cardiff Reject"

Today is the day that Michael Chopra became Cardiff City's biggest ever sale as Roy Keane's Sunderland got his signature to contract on a 4 year deal that more than doubles Chops' pay to over £20k a week plus bonses.

Chopra's set up for life on that deal but City came out of it handsomely too with the £5M fee and all bar £500k of that paid up front. Great business but it'll only be great overall for the club if it's invested in the team by Dave Jones and he brings quality replacements and additions.

City still lack a major replacement for Neil Alexander, desparately require more striking options and probably one or two more for overall squad strength.

Peter Ridsdale is on record this summer confirming all funds are in place for the new stadium and the club are no longer in the red so why does everybody, myself included, believe we'll never see a significant portion of Chopra's fee put back into the team?

Nevertheless, new faces are inevitable are the names are pouring out. Robbie Fowler is about to enter more talks and other names in despatches include Emile Heskey, DJ Campbell, Scott Sinclair, Neil Kilkeeny and more besides.

Tomorrow, it's back to football as City take on Vitoria de Setubal at the crazy time of 10am, Early one tonight then boys!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Cardiff are the Lisbon Lisbons!!
(we win a friendly in Portugal)
On a day overshadowed by the sale of Michael Chopra to Sunderland, Cardiff City won the 1st match of their mini overseas tour/pre-season training camp with a comfortable 2-1 win over a Portuguese FA Select X1 and at Stadium Nacional near Lisbon, Chops himself watching on before flying away to the Land of the Mackems.
The hosts, perhaps unkindly but hell why not, were a bunch of misfits and rejects from leading Portuguese clubs - the game watched by by scouts so it was almost an X-Factor audition for them to save their careers - and faced the full Cardiff squad plus several triallists with the set up similar to weekend friendlies where many first teamers has a long workout and younger players/triallsts had a half each.

For the record, The Bluebirds scored all three goals with Cypriot trial list Chamblaides scoring a first half cracker, Matt Green doubling the lead in the second period glancing an effort home but Kevin McNaughton setting up an interesting finish with a headed own goal.

Chamblaides, who has been with City on trial for almost a fortnight, was the pick of those being given a chance but may see his opportunity frozen out by the arrival of Trevor Sinclair. Other triallsts included a Portuguese defender, and tow goalkeepers (Greek and Portuguese).

Next friendly will be this weekend against leading Portuguese side, Vitoria de Setubal, but Cardiff fans are more interested in how we replace Michael Chopra and how much of that £5M windfall (with £4.5M being paid up front) goes to Dave Jones to add real quality to our resources because, up front, boy do we need some.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

CHOPS AWAY ! ! !
Michael Chopra leaves Cardiff for Sunderland


Chopra says "Thanks A Million" to City fans

Ridsdale says, "Thanks for 5 Million!" to Chops

And now the end is near .... Michael Chopra has left City's Portuguese training camp, his £5M release clause fee has been triggered by Roy Keane and Sunderland and the boy and his agent are believed to be finishing off the paperwork with Dave Jones already having said his goodbyes, privately and to the media.

I got mixed views. I really didn’t want him to go, it’s a blow but, in truth, it’s a cracking deal and City had no choice.

But our star man, if truth be known, had a mixed season just like the club and nothing showed it more than his scoring record. 22 goals in 44 Championship games is a truly fabulous record and he certainly made many more as well. His work-rate and commitment was exemplary, his disciplinary record dubious but his first touch and some skills, at times, magic and wonderful.

That scoring record disguises how his goals only came in 2 spurts. Chopra started slowly but sprung into life with 10 goals in 10 games in a 2 month spell during early September to early November but that dired up until he got going again with a blistering 9 goals in 6 game spell from in late January and February. Outside of those hot spells, Chopra scored just 3 goals in his 28 other league games with a barren mid-season spell of 1 goal in 14 games and in what turned out to be his final Bluebird Championship appearences, 1 goal in his last 9 games for City.

City did well to change his contract from a £2M release trigger to £5M before the end of last season and the fee is wonderful business for the club who paid just £500k for him a year ago. Whether it's wonderful for the football team will depend solely on what is made available to Dave Jones and how he uses it.

Once Sunderland bid the release fee, then like it or not, nothing could be done to stop it. And let's face it, "Transparent" Pete wanted to sell him or another star. We've now done it in each of the last 4 years with Earnie, Ginge and Gabbs, Jerome and now Chops. It’s a fact of life in the Championship that if you are one of the better sides, you’ll lose your best players to the Prem. For Chopra at Cardiff, also read Nugent at Preston, Koumas and Kamara at West Brom and so on.


Chopra scores at Sunderland for City ... I bet no good comes from it!

Here's My Top 3 Chopra Moments for CCFC

1. His hat-trick v Leicester in January. A trio of truly stunning strikes, the best quality hat-trick I've ever seen a Cardiff City player score and, hand on heart, I'm struggling to think of a better hat-trick scored by anyone. That hat-trick was a privilege to watch and be there when it happened. I'll never forget that.

2. His display at Crystal Palace away, classic early strike and then working his nads off late on to win the ball by the touchline, weave past the Palace defence and his edge of area strike hitting the post for Scimeca to bundle home an astounding late winner. I really believed we were on our way to the Premiership that day as we were clear at the top. It was fun while it lasted!

3. His squaring up to QPR's keeper in his final Championship match. Royce was gesturing to City fans and Chops was incensed. After a torrid, gutless couple of months, it was good to see some passion and aggression even if it didn't help anyone. It was stupid, Chops was red carded and the playing ban finished his playing days here. How I wish he'd now decked the keeper instead of giving him a handbag glance! That would have been worth the ban.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

KNOCK ME DOWN WITH A FEATHER, CLEVER TREVOR

SINCLAIR JOINS THE MIGHTY MIGHTY BLUEBIRDS
The Phantom
of the Opera
is here!


After Sunday's rumours and yesterday's "he is/he isn't" coming rumours, confirmation came this afternoon that *ex-Premiership star (a compulsory comment when Cardiff sign anyone who ever played there), ex-England international (less said about that, the better) and World Cup player (that's the best claim) Trevor Sinclair signed a 1 year deal and immediately flew to Portugal to join the squad at their Lisbon training camp.

OK, he's another freebie, he doesn't set the pulses racing, he's old (at 34), he's had recent injuries and he was part of a rubbish Man City side last season but, as with all signings so far, Dave Jones has potentially been very canny in adding experience and quality which is improving squad strength and quality. Hoping we see the benefits of that.
WELCOME TREV, WISHING YOU A SUCCESFUL TIME

CARDIFF'S NUMBER 1? NOBODY!!!

What a cock-up with goalkeepers at Parc Nin.

Many Cardiff City fans remain disgusted that Cardiff released Neil Alexander, comfortably in the top 5 Championship keepers last season and a player in his prime.

Those who doubted The Bluebirds would get close to finding a better player between the sticks, myself included, won't take too much pleasure in saying "I told you so" at those who backed the club and Dave Jones's decision and weren't so appreciative of Neil's work but it's starting to feel that way.

In came Michael Oakes, used only once by Wolves in almost 2 years and not at all last season (injuries were a part factor) but even though Dave Jones refused to allocate either David Forde or him with the no. 1 jersey, it looks as if we are stuck only with those two as the playing budget is used up unless we sell or move players out. The club has started to drop heavy hints that this is how we will start the season ... with no. 1 and we have to hope one of these players really perform.

And so, City are in Portugal trialling a Greek keeper (whose claim to fame appears to be winning a million on the Euro lottery) and a young Portuguese keeper (whose claim to fame appears to be spending a pre-season training camp with Cardiff City!) but hints are we'll take neither.

How did Dave Jones and the club get itself into this mess and why? It's really not satisfactory.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Cardiff City more gossip than a women's mag!


33 days to the new season and Cardiff want some players out (hopefully getting money for them) and some players in (hopefully paying nothing for them) and the names keep coming.

A look at the latest runners and riders.

WHO'S COMING THEN?
Robbie Fowler (I still think we've more chance of Pauline or Arthur Fowler than Robbie) is rumoured to remain interested - whatever that means - with talks held between his agent and Peter Ridsdale over the weekend. A key sticking point appears to remain how we find enough money for one the richest men in the UK who can't possibly need the money anyway. City are offering a wages plus sponsorship deal with the begging bowl out in the community, the latest suggestion is that Redrow Homes - previous sponsors and builders of houses on Ninian Park when the world's favourite stadium gets demolished - may be helping. However when Robbie has more homes than Redrow, will it help?

Trevor Sinclair (nicknamed C5 as he shares the pace of a Sinclair C5 at his age) was exclaimed as signing (source: The Echo so it must be true then) but, in true panto style, Peter Ridsdale declared "oh no, his isn't".presumably from overseas as he is on holiday in Florida.

A Cyrpiot international right-sided midfielder triallist impressed in a friendly at Carmarthen so is with the squad at their Portugal training camp. If he fails, expect his next appearance to be at your favourite Caroline Street kebab shop anytime soon.

Cardiff are still looking for another keeper, midfielder and striker so expect the talk to continue.

WHO'S GOING THEN?
Nobody it seems as nobody wants them. Well none expect our Academy kids and Michael Chopra, the jewel in our crown. Hot on the heels of Peter Ridsdale satting City had declined a substantial weekend offer for the player comes rumours that it arrived from Roy Keane at Sunderland, Chops' most despised native rivals. Expect Chops rumours to run until he leaves or the transfer deadline expires in several weeks.

EX-PLAYERS
This time last year, City couuldn't put together the £1.5M package to buy Jason Koumas. Today, that man gets sold to Wigan form £5.3M instead.

City stalwart keeper Neil Alexander looks set to sign for Championship rivals Ipswich while we struggle to adequately replace him whilst the forgotten man, Rhys Weston (Neil Alexander's brother in law) looks set for a lifeline challenge at League One Walsall.


Hurry up back football, I can't take much more of this!!!

Sunday, July 08, 2007

HELLO HELLO, CARDIFF ARE BACK



Saturday July 7th
Pre-season friendly at Penydarren Park

Merthyr Tydfil (0) 0
CARDIFF CITY (0) 2 Chopra 2





A full set of pictures can be found at: http://tinyurl.com/yr76bm

Have Cardiff City ever played a friendly as early as July 7th? They have now.

The way last season, which unexpectedly promised so much before City meekly gave up on it left many fans wanting a long break but back we were.

A summer of low activity - plenty of talk but little action - produced predictable outcomes. With stadiums to build, the signings have, so far, been four free transfers and, in truth, very underwhelming. There's no reason to believe any further new faces will be any different. However those who arrived, on paper, certainly appear to add some balance and strength to our comparatlvely small ill-equipped squad and we can only hope times proves that.

To open the season, the squad was split in two with half (and possibly a weaker unit overall) sent to Carmarthen where they lost 2-0 and the remainder went to Merthyr. With Penydarren Park being a quick trip up the A470, a ground with a chip shop in it, an inviting bar and a relaxed policy where half the crowd of 2,000+ were watching the game with pints and cans, it was no context which game to choose.

It's a game that sets up Merthyr financially for the season and they exploit it to the max. From the Mayor of Merthyr personally standing outside the turnstiles with his chain of office collecting for charidee, a highly-priced £8 to get in, the bar buzzing and outdoor bar areas set up selling cold beers, lager and 'Bow of course to take into the game. They were even holding a wedding reception in their function room.
I don't think the booze should have gone in the ground but everybody did and nobody stopped you. The crowd was very healthy - I'm no expert on Penydarren Park but it looked well over 2,000 with 80% or more of the Bluebird faith.

It felt surreal and became more so when a regular City home and away steward told me he travelled to the game on the team bus and Dave Jones told the turnstile operators that he was part of the official party so was let in for nothing. Then I spoke to Mike Morris at Carmarthen and Dave Jones was in front of him! Terry Burton was in charge at Merthyr. The same steward then said he thought our new, hopefully 2nd or 3rd choice keeper Oakes, was Cardiff City's best signing for years but he topped that by asking after my brother who he hadn't seen for years. "You have", I said, "you've just been talking to him for the last 5 minutes".

However it got even more surreal than that when both teams marched out as if they were playing a Champions League fixture! With Rocky music playing, they both lined up with the officials in front of the grandstand until the music finished and then all shook hands in procession. Just when I thought it couldn't get crazier, Kevin McNaughton run towards us with jet black hair! I wonder if his hair dye is sponsored? If not, I want to do it!!

And then the football, both halves were a mix of first-teamers and youth, presumably a couple of triallsts. The tannoy announcer was unable to speak English, Welsh or any comprehensible language making it a challenge to know half our side. The first team squad members played both halves and were David Forde in goals (cheered towards us with an ironic chant of "Cardiff, Cardiff's Only 1", defence of McNaughton, Johnson, Purse and a decent-looking kid left-back, midfield with Paul Parry and McPhail and Warren Feeney and Michael Chopra up front.

The pitch was poor, sloped, bumpy, uneven, poorly cut and long-grassed in places, it wouldn't have helped but City started powerfully with Merthyr facing a succession of corners, scrambling away crosses and desperately throwing themselves into challenges. Cardiff should have had an early penalty when Chops appeared to be bundled over but the ball then ran to McNaughton who was certainly taken down but with a slow ref and stocky woman lino, both were behind play. Early blitz over and there was very little to report.

The pattern of play became depressingly familiar, City has most of the possession and the game tended to be condensed in the Merthyr half but City were slow and lacking great ability and invention around the box. Chops wriggled free for a couple of efforts but they flew straight at Merthyr's keeper and it was the Martyrs who came closest after that with Forde splendidly tipping over one effort whilst another was screwed wide. Cardiff looked distinctly average but livened up in the final 5 with Chops, McPhail and Parry all getting shots away but to little avail.

H/T: Merthyr 0 City 0

Cardiff returned with, mostly, the same first team squad players - Byrne for Feeney being the only change - but all the youth and trial players were swapped. The most notable additions were, for the wrong reasons, an unfit looking left back playing no 14 who struggled throughout (who was it?) but, for the right reasons, Aaron Ramsey who woke up midfield with pace, passing and running at players. What a good player he looks.

With Ramsey and McPhail pulling the strings and Byrne offering more than another very average show from Feeney, City looked livelier and upped the tempo. Better movement meant chances and shots but none hit the target and flew well wide until a smart move saw McPhail feed Byrne who flicked on for CHOPS to drive an angled shot low under the keeper. 1-0. A few minutes later, a crisper move and even better CHOPRA finish with a placed shot across the keeper to tuck perfectly inside his far post. Chopra probably should have bagged a hat-trick when set up in front of goal by Paul Parry but delayed his shot controlling the ball and the chance was gone. Shortly after, he was removed early and had his right left strapped up but I am sure it was precaution as he and several players signed autographs and posed for photos.

Back on the pitch, a strange moment as Darren Purse sent the ball back to Forde off the top of his thigh. Once again, ref and lino were well behind play, the ref declared it a back-passed but when faced with the wrath of Purse and Forde combined, he quickly decided he had made a mistake. He placed the ball near the penalty spot - after the "back pass" was well outside the box and nowhere near centre of goal and asked a Merthyr player to pass it to Forde. I wonder if he was tempted to smash it home. A little later, Purse was arguably lucky to get away with handball in the box but, yep, the ref was behind play again and the woman lino wouldn't know.

More subs with both sides and the game lost its flow and wound down and got chilly. Whilst Cardiff basked in unbroken sunshine at last, the Merthyr eco-climate produced 2nd half dark clod overhead and a temperature drop affecting those of us who foolishly set out in shorts and/or t-shirts. A would-be streaker ran on in his boxer shorts but bottled unveiling himself but returned minutes later and then dropped his shorts around his knees as if he had cacked his pants. He shook hands with Darren Purse before grabbing a Merthyr player and trying to tug his shorts down. With no stewards or police, he then returned to the crowd.

The football was far from exhilarating - I'm always there even though I question why I bother showing up for meaningless games played exactly that way - but it was good just to see other City fans and catch up.

The squad now fly away to a week's pre-season camp in Portugal and two friendlies against a Portuguese Select X1 (Tuesday) and Vitoria de Setubal in Lisbon (Saturday) before several games back in the UK before it finally matters again on August 11th. Blimey, that's still 5 weeks away!

COST:
Ticket: £8
Programme: £1.50
Travel: £5
Food/Drink: £8
Total: £22.50