Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Today's South Wales Echo reports a similar policy for this season with Reading hunting an instant return to the Premiership (link below)
Reading boss Coppell ready to rest stars for Cardiff cup tieWalesOnline
Question is - will Cardiff City do likewise? Personally, I wouldn't be surprised.
No Chops or Routledge, I can see players like Heaton, McPhail, Purse, Comminges getting a start too. Maybe the likes of Riccy Scimeca and Tony Capaldi after long-term injuries too.I hate devaluing the F.A. Cup especially after our exploits or disrespecting it but the Championship is our only prority now, surely?
Money and the glamour of a possible big 4th round draw aside, I'm pretty sure neither Reading or City will be too disappointed to be knocked out this weekend but if both field equally "weakened" sides, then it's still a worthy contest.
Loovens has played only 9 times for Celtic since being sold by City 4 months ago for £2.5M and become understudy to the regular pairing to Gary Caldwell and Steve McManus, only getting games when they're rested, injured or suspended. His last outing came just 10 days ago against Falkirk emphasising he's still very much part of the first team scene. Gordon Strachan also praised him as a "marvellous player" after that game and stressed how having Loovens banging at the door is bringing out the best in his first choice centre halves. However, you have to wonder if there has been an indication from Loovens himself that he would be interested in a return to Ninian Park so quickly for Cardiff to consider making a move.
Other obstacles are that Celtic only have 4 fit first team centre halves having lost John Kennedy when loaned to Norwich while fellow reserve centre half Darren O'Dea is attracting the attention of City's rivals, Burnley.
It is believed Cardiff are considering a 6 month loan deal for the player followed by buying him back in the summer should Cardiff get promoted to the Premiership, a similar arrangement was mooted to have been offered to Sunderland for Michael Chopra.
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
I listen for new music and artists too and for the sake of something contemporary, check out TV ON THE RADIO. For my money, their album Dear Science was the best debut offering of 2008.
Quirky, original, great grooves and rock, a nod to yesteryear themselves while contemporary and having some fun.
This was their first single of the album which I'd heartily recommend.
Ledley, currently captain of the side having rediscovered his very best form, is reported in the North East as being one of three Championship players coveted by Magpies boss Joe Kinnear, the others being Reading striker Kevin Doyle and Wolves striker Michael Kightley.
Spurs, Everton and Stoke have long been in the running and City are bracing themselves for bids in respect of a player that Dave Jones and City fans alike would love to see stay and help for a serious tilt at the play-offs or promotion in the second half of the season but if a £6M+ bid arrives, can Cardiff seriously decline it again for a player out of contract in 18 months.
The only official words so far are from Peter Ridsdale saying that no bid has been made since August while Ledley himself told today's South Wales Echo, "I have heard nothing from the club or my agent and I don’t believe that Plymouth was my last game for the club. I have an 18-month contract to run and I have always said that my ultimate dream would be to play for Cardiff in the Premiership, that dream has not changed".
Let's hope he stay but, without question, expect more developments.
South Wales Echo Ledley story:
Rumours abound that Cardiff City are weighing up a loan or permanent move for Glenn Loovens who they sold to Celtic just 4 months ago for £3M.
Loovens has talked about his progress and great career move going to Scotland but, in reality, he's become a squad member only getting games when others are injured or suspended. With Celtic crusing their way to another SPL title and already out of Europe, it is possible there is a deal to be done.
Dave Jones may be looking at another centre half as bids may arrive for Roger Johnson, Gabor Gypes has been solid but not overly convinced while club captain Darren Purse may be moved on in January after a possible fall out with the boss and finding himself out of the 16 in recent games.
DJ was October's Manager of the Month after City went unbeaten and collected 11 points out of 15 but, as often seems to be the way, the hex struck as November saw City lose 3 of only 4 Championship games so far this season and collect just 5 points out of 18. So why would we want that award again?
December saw City turn it around again by going unbeaten with 4 wins and 2 draws (14 points out of 18), a record only bettered by Steve Copppell's Reading who had 5 wins and 2 draws.
Hopefully, that should be enough to see Coppell win it when the announcement is made Thursday lunchtime. I'm sure City fans will be delighted if he does.
For the record, the shortlist compromises;
DAVE JONES- CARDIFF CITY
Steve Coppell - Reading
Neil Warnock - Crystal Palace
Mick McCarthy - Wolves
City add, "We would like to thank Michael for the last two months and wish him all the best on his return to Sunderland".
That appears to be the end of the matter for now. It will be a blow not having Chops about although Ross McCormack is now available again after his hamstring problems. However Dave Jones was determined to keep Chopra in the squad anyway so it remains to be seen whether the club move for another forward or even try once more to get Chops.
Good Luck Chops.
Monday, December 29, 2008
However, QPR are ready to match or better City's offer and are believed to be offering Routledge more money than he earns at his Premiership club.
Some tough talking needs to be done but most City fans would agree his signature and stay is essential to Cardiff City's play off or promotion aims if we are serious about it.
More details courtesy of Wales Online here:
Bluebirds table Routledge bid against QPR
Sunderland statement: http://www.safc.com/news/?page_id=16517
It dashes City fans being excited in the morning press as Michael Chopra told the South Wales Echo of his desire to remain with Cardiff City, that he had expressed his wishes to Peter Ridsdale and Dave Jones who were keen to do a deal and would speak with his North East employers.
However, Sunderland crashed to a poor defeat at Everton yesterday with Spragia particularly critical of his front pairing in that game and they hover just above the relegation zone so it's easy to understand that he may wish to have as many options as possible.
Chops has loved his time back at Cardiff and his comments won't go down well with Sunderland fans but, in truth, he has been hit and miss. 5 goals in 11 games is a great return but 3 were penalties and he hasn't impressed as he used to overall. However his presence has coincided with City's recent rise and there's no question that Chops has been pivotal to that. I still hope it can be sorted but, right now, that hope is forlorn.
Cardiff’s Pilgrims progress has Bluebirds fans dreaming of bigger ...
Cardiff 1-0 PlymouthSportbox
Sturrock upbeat about performanceBBC Sport
Cardiff ready to fight on two fronts, says City hero RaeWalesOnline
Bothroyd finds killer touch to prove himself bargain buyWalesOnline
Paul Sturrock laments Plymouth Argyle’s Ninian Park misfortuneWalesOnline
Jones keen to keep numbers up as window ready to swing openWalesOnline
JONES COMMENDS BOOTHROYDSportinglife.com
Late Jay Bothroyd winner keeps Bluebirds on trackWalesOnline
Cardiff 1 Plymouth 0Sportinglife.com
Brave Pilgrims beaten by late Bothroyd goalPlymouth Evening Herald
Cardiff City 1 Argyle 0 By Argyle ChrisFansOnLine.net
Cardiff 1 Plymouth 0Sportinglife.com
Sunday, December 28, 2008
Cardiff City ended 2008 exactly as they started - with a hard fought, tired looking, stuck to the task ugly victory over Plymouth Argyle at Ninian Park - but then and now are worlds apart. Then, it was a victory to give us just a chance of catching up with play-off contenders, we never did and slipped into mid-table obscurity. Now, thanks to Jay Bothroyd's excellent 81st minute strike, City find themselves in 4th spot, improving all the time and even daring to dream of chasing down an automatic promotion spot.
In between, add in a successful court action that could have seen the club collapse, a new stadium over the road that has risen dramatically, a state of the art training complex opened, the club incredibly reaching the F.A. Cup Final helping crowds flocking back to watch a side that, despite the usual rollercoaster ride, have given us a year to go down in history and never be forgotten. And if City continue this progress, 2009 may yet prove to be just as memorable too. For all its politics, personalities and traits (which apparently included ticket office staff refusing to sell Reading F.A. Cup tickets yesterday even though the Plymouth game was sold out by morning leaving them with no real work to do - only at Cardiff!), there has never been a better time to 'Follow The City'.
It was a glorious blue clear skied, low sun but oh so cold Sunday in keeping with the weather all through this Xmas but even with myself taking the rare step of wearing three layers, I was still feeling it by final whistle. For reasons best known to themselves, I never felt more grateful for a pee after a match, just so I could hold onto something warm. The game was a sell out for Cardiff City fans in a matchday crowd of 19,145. Plymouth who usually have a good crowd brought just 750 or so up the M5 this time, the rest apparently saving up as 9,000 Pilgrims head to the Emirates next weekend to play Arsenal in the Cup. City had all floodlights on long before kick-off and any sign of darkness. Who says we're short of money eh?
Knocks had to be dressed up and four players apparently had to pass fitness tests but, as expected, Dave Jones named the same side that heartbreakingly were denied a battling and deserved victory over-time with a goal by Reading's keeper 48 hours previously on Boxing Day while Darcy Blake replaced Miguel Comminges on the bench.
CITY: Enckleman; McNaughton-Johnson-Gypes-Kennedy; Routledge-Rae-Ledley-Parry; Bothroyd-Chopra. Subs were Heaton-Blake-Johnson Eddie, McPhail-Whittingham.
Of their City contingent, the worse than useless Simon Walton who hysterically became Plymouth's record signing for £750,000 has remained worse than useless and is now transfer listed after the craziest red card for kicking out in a pre-Xmas game (a sight familiar to Cardiff fans). Chris Barker was either rested or injured but Steve MacLean - who they bought off us for £500,000 a year ago in the sort of business deal that would have made Alan Sugar purr - was on the pitch but you did well to notice as he was that anonymous. No change there then. For tenuous marks, you could have claimed Luke Summerfield, son of former City forward Kevin.
PLYMOUTH: Larrieu; Doumbe-Timar-Seip-Cathcart-Sawyer; Puncheon-Summerfield-Folly-MacLean: Mackie.
The key chance of the half came on 8 minutes as Routledge and Ledley linked on one side, the ball was swept to Parry on the other, he was superb getting around the back of his man and his low ball across the box was met by Chopra middle of goal 8 yards out. The keeper went the wrong way and I still haven't a clue how Chops put it wide of the post.
Parry was denied a penalty not long afterwards, he was held in the box on the burst. I didn't think it was but was in a minority of those around me but what would a City game be without a penalty or appeals these days? An edge of seat moment came midway through the half as Bothroyd threatened to 'do a Maradona' drifting past three challenges in the box with a drop of the shoulders each time but failed to get a shot off when the opening was there.
Having survived City's early blitz and with fans wondering why Routledge changed sides with Parry when he beat his man every time before it, Plymouth showed small signs of ambition. Enckleman saved from a weak MacLean header, then Summerfield's cross-cum-shot was narrowly over before he raced away scored and celebrated, not noticing the lino had flagged offside the moment a pass had sent him away.
It was a wake up call for City who had dropped their intensity, the Bob Bank terrace entertaining themselves by knocking a huge inflatable ball about. Chops again let them down as he was sent clear but fired wide wasting Bothroyd's classy flick then sent clear a second time got the ball caught around his feet and that chance went. He had the last say of the half with an edge of box free-kick but Larieu saved comfortably.
Half-time: CARDIFF 0 ARGYLE 0
For all the territory and possession, City just weren't giving Larieu any work in the Plymouth goal while the visitors created mild panic in their rare forays up the other end. One header wide that should have been on target with another thankfully planted straight into Enckleman's arms. Enks looked solid and dependable but again was letting himself and City down with his kicking. How did we manage to have two keepers in Heaton and Enckleman who struggle to kick? In Enckleman's case, he can belt the ball end to end but with goal kicks, he is slicing is akin to a first time park golfer. Four times I counted him put it straight into touch and his poor kick indirectly led to Reading's last gasp corner and equaliser on Boxing Day. He has to sort it out.
Bothroyd gave the Grange End catching practise with his overhead kick before Jones replaced Parry, who had faded out of the game and was being controlled by the excellent Doumbe at right back, with Peter Whittingham for his first home show since Crystal Palace in the middle of last month. He managed to liven up proceedings and inject a bit more pace into the game just when City needed it.
The crowd reacted too. The football had become lifeless but the Bob Bank. Grange End and Grandstand sang as on sensing City needed help. It is heartening that the crowd have become more patient and tolerant, in times past, there would have been expressions of dissatisfaction.
Credit to them however for managing to find another gear and never giving up. Without question, this would have finished 0-0 or eve defeat a year ago but this is a unit who grind it out and often find a way to win. 4 defeats all season so far is outstanding and testimony to their tenacity.
8 minutes remained when Enckleman managed to keep a goal kick on the pitch (hurrah!), Peter Whittingham brought it down and advanced then sent a perfect diagonal pass across the box finding the impressive Gavin Rae who, like Ledley, kept bursting forward in support of attacks and still kept on top of a crowded midfield in contrast to how it was with McPhail and Rae. Rae looked up and passed across the edge of the area where JAY BOTHROYD showed exemplary technique to size himself up and drill a low shot inside the corner of goal, such was his skill, technique and deception that he also sent Larrieu diving in the opposite direction.
Bothroyd had a tough afternoon receiving no help or protection from the fast-tracked 25 yr old ref Stuart Attwell known for awarding the 'phantom goal' this season and who showed that he really shouldn't be learning his trade at this level with a series of inconsistent decisions then booking Roger Johnson after allowing endless worse challenges go unpunished all afternoon. The ref even missed an elbow on Bothroyd, maybe justice was served.
It was a fantastic sight to see the crowd bouncing and singing City home and they played out the remaining minutes with 4 added ones as well without any difficulty until as, time was up, Plymouth won a corner. The collective groan of 18,000+ City fans seeing the Plymouth keeper charge forward thinking back to what happened against Reading must have sounded like rumbling thunder around Cardiff but City cleared it and found Chopra facing one defender on half way and then a clear run to an empty goal. The groan now turned to the roar of Chaaaaaarrrrgggee but as Chops skipped the last man, MacNamee, who crudely took him out for an instant red card. The game was lost anyway and he's now got a 3 match ban so can't play at Arsenal this weekend. Happy New Year you muppet!
That was there game's final action and as news filtered through that only City and Sheffield United emerged winners of the leading sides, it was a huge three points. For the first time in my life, I even felt positive about the Wurzles and Jacks as both did us a favour (drawing at Brum and beating Palace respectively).
City are up to 4th, now 7 points behind the automatic promotion spots (it was 12 points a couple of weeks ago). They're 3 points ahead of 7th but with a goal difference worth an extra point and 9 points ahead of 9th as, maybe just maybe, the number of runners for a play-off spot has reduced from half the league to a handful.
Eyes will now look at the Boardroom as City's destiny in now surely in the hands of Peter Ridsdale and his Merry Men. Keep this side together and we look set fair for the play-offs, maybe even better, and can have a real shot at the Premiership. Can we keep Ledley, Johnson (Roger not Eddie!) and co? Can we add Chopra and Routledge? If we lose anyone, will we replace with equal or better? City have been in good positions in three of the last four seasons but failed to show any ambition when it mattered in January. This time, we seem ready for a good go at it but will they?
2008 has been one fantastic year, 2009 has the potential right now to be even better. Happy New Year Bluebirds wherever you are.
The Sunday paper claims City are ready to seal a deal with Aston Villa, the player has turned down QPR and wishes to join The Bluebirds and the deal looks likely to occur. No doubt, we'll hear something different soon.
The picture just as muddy over Michael Chopra. It is the final game of his loan spell today but News of the World state that Sunderland, despite confiriming Ricky Spraggia as Roy Keane's managerial replacement in the past 48 hours, still wish to offload him anyway. There were fears that the Black Cats would recall him but it paves the way for a new loan or a permanent deal ... it also means there could be an auction for him though.
Saturday, December 27, 2008
Fortunately, he emerged unscathed and even played for the Red Dragons yesterday.
More details here:
That reliable source of sense and sensibility(!!!???!!!) The Daily Mail has produced a list of what it considers to be the 50 most atmospheric grounds in world football.
And, in there, at number 22 is Ninian Park, home to Cardiff City F.C. (for 5 more months!). However you need to laugh and wonder at some of the choices and its credibility when 35 of its 50 selections are British grounds, Millennium Stadium is number 17, Bristol Rovers egg chasing ground is 32 and Wrexham are 37 among many curiosities.
The full article appears here but the list follows:
1. Anfield - Home of Liverpool F.C.
2. Camp Nou - Home of Barcelona F.C.
3. Parkhead - Home of Celtic F.C.
4. St. James’ Park - Home of Newcastle United
5. Old Trafford - Home of Manchester United
6. Goodison Park - Home of Everton F.C.
7. San Siro - Home of Inter Milan & AC Milan
8. Santiago Bernabeu - Home of Real Madrid
9. Wembley [with the Twin Towers] - Home of English Football
10. Fratton Park - Home of Portsmouth F.C.
11. White Hart Lane - Home of Tottenham Hotspurs
12. Maine Road - Old Home of Manchester City
13. Ali Sami Yen Stadium - Home of Galatasaray
14. Westfalionstadion - Home of Borussia Dortmund
15. Ibrox Park - Home of Rangers F.C.
16. Hillsborough - Home of Sheffield Wednesday
17. Millenium Stadium - Home of Welsh Football & Previously FA Cup Finals
18. Stade Velodrome - French Football Stadium
19. Hampden Park - Home of Scottish National side
20. La Bombonera - Home of Boca Juniors
21. Roker Park - Former Home of Sunderland
22. Ninian Park - Home of Cardiff City F.C.
23. Estadio Mestalla - Home of Valencia F.C.
24. Tynecastle - Home of Heart of Midlothian
25. Elland Road - Home of Leeds United F.C.
26. Upton Park - Home of West Ham United
27. Boothferry Park - Old Home of Hull City
28. Sukru Saracoglu Stadium - Home of Fenerbache
29. Stark’s Park - Home of Raith Rovers
30. The Hawthorns - The Home of West Bromwich Albion
31. The Dell - Home of Southampton F.C.
32. Memorial Ground - Home of Bristol Rovers
33. Ashton Gate - Home of Bristol City
34. Maracana - Brazilian Football Stadium
35. Stadio Olimpico - Home of Roma and Lazio
36. Ayresome Park - Old Home of Middlesborough
37. Racecourse Ground - Home of Wrexham
38. Stade Felix Bollaert - Home of French side Lens
39. Turf Moor - Home of Burnley F.C.
40. Stadio San Paulo - Home of Napoli F.C.
41. Maksimir Stadium - Croatian Football Stadium
42. Loftus Road- Home of Queens Park Rangers
43. Britannia Stadium - Home of Stoke City
44. Villa Park - Home of Aston Villa
45. Stamford Bridge - Home of Chelsea F.C.
46. Stadio Luigi Ferraris - Home of Sampdoria & Genoa
47. Stadium of Light - New Home of Sunderland F.C.
48. The Den - Home of Millwall F.C.
49. Bramall Lane - Home of Sheffield United
50. El Monumental - Home of River Plate
Coppell salutes Federici's goalscoring heroicsABC Online, Australia
Keeper comes to Reading's rescue with late equaliserIndependent, UK
Aussie keeper Federici saves ReadingSydney Morning Herald, Australia
Adam Federici comes to Reading's rescueTelegraph.co.uk
COPPELL - FEDERICI GOAL NOT A SHOCKSportinglife.com
Federici rescues RoyalsSkySports
Reading deny Bluebirds with last-minute equaliserWalesOnline
Reading 1 Cardiff 1The Sun, UK
Federici nets dramatic late winnerReading Chronicle
Reading 1 Cardiff 1TeleText
Reading 1 Cardiff City 1Get Bracknell
Friday, December 26, 2008
Kevin McNaughton had thankfully recovered from a knock in last weekend's victory over Sheffield Wednesday but there was a double shock of sorts on the bench as Peter Whittingham returned to the fold unannounced less than halfway through his expected three month injury lay off and club captain Darren Purse was bombed from the squad as they sought to extend their 6 match unbeaten run with the toughest test possible. Eddie Johnson was also on the bench at the expense of Riccy Scimeca.
CITY: Enckleman; McNaughton-Johnson-Gypes-Kennedy; Routledge-Rae-Ledley-Parry; Bothroyd-Chopra. Subs were Heaton-Comminges-Johnson Eddie, McPhail-Whittingham.
Reading are the division's form side. Predicted by many to be in the frame for auto-promotion, they are a side City aim to catch but went into this clash flying with 5 successive wins including a 3-1 hammering of Birmingham on the St Andrews sides own patch to propel them into 2nd spot. The home form was fantastic - 10 wins, 1 draw and 1 defeat with 31 goals scored and only 7 conceded before today.
They were able to name a full strength side. READING: Federici; Rosenior-Ingimarsson-Duberry- Armstrong, Henry-Harper-Cisse-Stephen Hunt; Noel Hunt-Doyle.
On a crisp, sunny and blue skied Boxing Day, the home side had a season's best 22,770 crowd but it was those 3,200 Bluebirds making, by far, the most noise and creating the game's atmosphere. They were rewarded by City being at their battling best in a first half where they defended the goal in front of them which turned into an uncompromising battle. Five players were booked including Roger Johnson and Michael Chopra for City as no quarter was given.
The Royals set out to establish authority from the start and had City penned in and around their own penalty area for the first 10 minutes in a ferocious opening but once they had calmly weathered it, the Bluebirds settled down to play composed and controlled football and, by the interval, had arguably shaded it. Chances were few, City were resolute and superbly marshalled by Johnson, Gypes and Enckleman at the back while McNaughton was putting in a king-sized shift.
At the other end, the longer the game went on, the more City got forward and they had the game's biggest chance not long before the interval as Routledge set Chopra free, his first touch let him down and he collided with Federici on what became a 50/50 earning his yellow card.
The second half carried on in the same battling mood but City were now playing the better football and had managed to stem Reading's steady stream of crosses and were now looking the better side. That was underlined as Steve Coppell threw on a double sub on the hour to try to change the game but it had little impact.
City's qualities were underlined as Roger Johnson took a terrible knock with the game entering the final 20 minutes. With Purse no on the bench, it looked as though McNaughton would have to be pressed as a centre-half and Comminges was set to come on but Roger was having none of it and returned to the fold, what a leader and hero that man is.
Cardiff almost scored with 15 to go as Joe Ledley's 30 yarder caught Federici off his line but cleared the bar by inches then, it went ballastic, as they took an 89th minute lead. City were applying pressure around the Reading box, Routledge, the game's smallest player, somehow won a header in a crowded box and there was MICHAEL CHOPRA to swivel and turn home. A fantastic moment duly celebrated.
Four minutes of added time were signalled and City played them well. A small injury saw that extended but as a Reading effort went wide, expectations were that Enckleman would take a goal kick and that would be it. However he sliced the ball and Reading won one final corner kick. Federici, the keeper came up for it.
With 1 player taking the corner and the other 21 in and around City's area, the ball came over, a City chest blocked one effort on the line but FEDERICI incredibly managed to get up off the ground and force home the rebound.
It was a sickener for Cardiff, certainly undeserved and the most unbelievably cruel way for the game to end. Reading and their players were ecstatic and I suppose it shows how far we have come these past few weeks for their crowd to celebrate grabbing a last gasp draw against us.
City remained 5th, 1 point ahead of the chasing pack and 9 points behind an auto-promotion spot in extending their unbeaten run to 7 games. It is ironic that after playing Reading at home little more than a month ago, they face them again n 8 days - this time in a Ninian Park F.A. Cup tie. Before that however, with less than 48 hours rest, comes a Sunday afternoon clash with Plymouth.
Stoke City will offer Cardiff City £7m for winger Joe Ledley in January. (Daily Telegraph).
Cardiff City defender Roger Johnson is attracting the interest of Everton, Stoke City, Tottenham, and Bolton. (The Times)
Rumour has it that they even intended having a snow machine this Xmas but it didn't arrive.
Bet the neighbours need black out curtains !
Thursday, December 25, 2008
I don't think there's ever been a White Christmas in my life in these parts ... and I somehow suspect there never will be.
Still, that won't stop every Xmas Special on tv have snow blitzes!!!
MERRY XMAS EVERYONE
Meanwhile, the new stadium's exterior is complete and we look forward to taking our places there next season.
And, now, without warning, City are showing ambition for the first time since remember and enter the Christmas programme improving and playing better football with it while in 5th place threatening to make a major play-off and possible auto-promotion assault.
It could all go right, it could all go wrong and so much will depend on the outcome of the January transfer window but, for now, let's reflect on a year that will go down in Bluebirds history and remember that we were there.
MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL BLUEBIRDS WORLDWIDE.
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
When he horridly walked away from last Saturday's 2-0 home success over Sheffield Wednesday, it was easy to speculate that Kevin McNaughton may be absent for a while and possibly all of Christmas due to a studs to ankle clash from the ever niggly Marcus Tudgay.
However Cardiff City have revealed the damage was not serious and 'Naughts' has responded immediately to treatment and will take his place in the important Boxing Day clash at Reading.
In fact, the part where he talks about his improved disciplinary record formed part of the chat with myself.
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Cardiff marksman McCormack targets new year returnWalesOnline
Monday, December 22, 2008
Not the most riveting film you'll ever see but take a peek if you wish.
Normally, I don't get worked up or bothered by referees with a couple of exceptions only and one of those will be this coming Sunday when controversial whistle blower Stuart Attwell is the man in the middle.
Fast-tracked into the Football League at the age of 25 was, perhaps, always asking for trouble but an unremarkable first season saw him promoted again this term into the Championship amnd even occasional lesser Premiership games where he's made a name for himself but for all the wrong reasons.
Attwell awarded the now infamous "Goal that never was" as a shot that was several yards wide was adjudged to have gone into the goal by a lino, Attwell merely confirmed it.
Just afterwards, Derby were denied two blatant penalties in an East Midlands derby which also saw / booked and 1 sent off.
Those incidents and others have earned him regular criticism and notoriety from managers, players and media alike although his past couple of games have been quiet. Let's hope we're only talking about the football and not the man in the middle at Ninian Park this weekend.
Given this, there's every chance Routledge will stay with City beyond his current mid-January loan and it is very heartening to hear the player himself has apparently expressed his desire to stay. City fans would love it, he's become a cult hero already who excites every time he is on the ball.
Talk is that Cardiff are looking to buy him for £300k in the summer and continuing his current loan until the end of the season. As he's out of contract and not close to the Villa side, signs maybe promising.
However, his form, exceptional skills and goals in his brief time at Ninian Park has surely brought him to the attention of others and QPR, more flush with money than City, are rumoured to be expressing strong interest in taking the player back to London where he's best known after starting out at Crystal Place before a switch to Spurs.
His time in the Premiership with Spurs and Villa hasn't worked out but let's hope that is to the advantage of Cardiff City. Time will soon tell.
Sunday, December 21, 2008
So a series that regularly starts two months into the football season has decided it's now right to end 5 months early as well ... all this at a time when the two leading Welsh clubs are at their highest combined status for a couple of decades.
This was a programme that annoyed and frustrated Welsh football fans more than it entertained. As well is it regularly taking weeks off for no understandable reason, its broadcast time changed every single week, it could be on any time from breakfast to early evening. Add in its often amateurish production values, shoddy camera work, sloppy often over-dubbed commentary, terrible editing and poor presentation albeit there had been some recent improvement. Overall, it was a cringeworthy effort at the best of times.
Yet, for a regional programme, it had healthy viewing figures which had increased five-fold over the last couple of years. Earlier this year, viewers were informed that the show was endangered but guaranteed until the end of this season. Now it seems, they couldn't even be arsed doing that.
On the one hand, Welsh football fans were 'lucky'. This was the very last ITV region to have such a programme however and once ITV started cutting regional output, it was always on a life machine.
Like many, I've always had a love hate relationship with it and regularly found it infuriating but will miss its oddness, blandness and shoddiness as it was the only place I could see Cardiff City matches in some detail (I can't stand the thought of Cardiff City World).
It was amusing that final presenter Johnatan Owen ended it by announcing how the programme had imporved his acting skills by having to smile as his beloved Cardiff City lost while still smiling as Swansea City won. Bt the Jacks, forever belating about Bluebird bias in the media, enjoyed that!
Hope may remain. The contract goes to BBC next season so, hopefully, BBC Wales may do a show of sorts. Mind you, if we make the Premiership, that's all academic!
Michael Chopra’s many happy returnsTimes Online
Bothroyd on a career high as he rides crest of wave at CardiffWalesOnline
Bluebirds hitting the heights with a spot-on approachWalesOnline
JONES BLAST HAS DESIRED EFFECTSportinglife.com
Reading test will show whether City can last promotion raceWalesOnline
Bluebirds boss Jones relishing promotion chaseWalesOnline
Tale of two halves but City in rude health for Reading testWalesOnline
City aiming for top-two finish, insists EnckelmanWalesOnline
Cardiff City too good for poor OwlsWalesOnline
Cardiff overcome injury-hit OwlsSkySports
Cardiff 2-0 Sheff WedBBC News
Saturday, December 20, 2008
Christmas may be once a year but lightning does indeed strike twice as City followed the 2-0 home win over Preston a fortnight ago which included a poor goalless 1st half and thrilling 2nd period with goals by Roger Johnson and a Michael Chopra penalty with 3 more points over Sheffield Wednesday in identical fashion, with identical scorers in identical order and, yep, that included another penalty.
Perhaps the only difference was that, even in a frustrating and eventual tedious first half, City were dominant and a goal was always coming. The second half, it was doubly so as The Owls offered only dogged resistance. I cannot remember the last visitors with left Ninian Park with the dubious honour of no erstwhile shot at goal - that's on or off target - and not even a corner kick either.
They would have been completely anonymous were it not for their superb 750 support in South Wales on pre-Christmas Weekend giving strong vocal backing including the Chrimbo Kairdiff Kid Rocker rocker, Ely's own Shakin'Stevens, "Snow is fallin' all "Snow is fallin', all around, children playing having fun, it's the season of love and understanding, Merry Christmas, Brian Laws" until they realised their side were bringing them no Christmas cheer or presents and watching them was akin to the alternative 'thrill' of taking in the Queen's Christmas Speech but their King, the topless lardy bucket that is Tango Man was taken away by stewards for his one man vocal assault and challenges to the Grange End. Bah humbug!
Instead, Joyeux Noel went to City. 'Santa Is Bluebird' declared many blue hats in a game watched by 10 fully dressed City Santas in the Bob Bank and Grange End amongst the 17,600 throng on a dull, overcast afternoon that saw City go unbeaten in 6 and scoring 2 each time.
Once Michael Chopra was declared fit, City were always going to name an unchanged side which meant both club captain and skipper Darren Purse and Steve McPhail remained on the sub's bench and in a side playing competent, confident, free flowing, pacy football, they may have to be prepared to sit there for a while longer yet. At least they can wear their Granny Xmas present jumpers to keep them warm next time.
CITY: Enckleman; McNaughton-Johnson-Gypes-Kennedy; Routledge-Rae-Ledley-Parry; Bothroyd-Chopra. Subs were Heaton-Comminges-McPhail-Purse-Scimeca.
Sheffield Wednesday are gripped by takeover talk which overlooks them being an unspectacular mid-table side with contrasting excellent home form and a poor away record. In 10th spot and only 4 points behind City at kick-off, they may have dreamed of breaking into the play-off pack but it soon became clear this was a damage limitation exercise to nullify City with a forlorn hope that luck may fall their way.
When the sides last met in March, at Hillsborough, Dave Jones was only able to name 4 substitutes due to injuries and suspensions. The tables were turned today as The Owls under Brian Laws found themselves in an identical predicament with 11 players out, a teenager given his debut and a 15 man matchday squad.
SWFC: Grant, Spurr-Beevers-Wood-Buxton; McAllister-O'Connor-Boden-Slusarski; Modest-Tudgay.
. The first half is worth skipping. City dominance from first whistle to last with only a couple of balls across the face of goal to give Peter Enckleman any work while Cardiff, far from fluent, pressed all half. Opportunities were little more than half chances and City were not able to take advantage of a corner count that neared double figures although the ref seemed quite lenient towards Wednesday's skipper, the (un?)fortunately named Dick Wood(!) holding and grabbing Roger Johnson as though he was the last must-have toy in the shop.
Two chances fell to Jay Bothroyd in the opening 15 but he hooked just over on the turn after bring set up by a Johnson header while his own header should have been better after superb linkage between Michael Chopra whose back-heel sent Parry racing away to cross. Parry, Chopra and Bothroyd all had half-chances after strong, patient build up play, a Bothroyd edge of box free-kick was blocked after Gavin Rae was clipped as he broke into the box but City's game lacked the sparkle, energy and zest recently apparent. The longer the half progressed, the more stifling it became sp while The Owls would have been delighted with the 0-0 half-time scoreline, Dave Jones would have been pleased too as he could sort them out to some back stronger.
Half-time: CITY 0 SHEFF WEDS 0
Cardiff came back renewed as soon pushed with Parry and Routledge being fed while Rae and Ledley joined in with attacks and the breakthrough came quickly. 49 minutes and it seemed somewhat fitting that Gripper Wood had his come uppance. Firstly, taking down Chopra on the touchline as he skipped away and then as the free-kick was cleared, City sent in a second phase ball, Routledge's diagonal ball headed down by Bothroyd and ROGER JOHNSON's edge of area shot took a wicked deflection off Wood leaving Grant wrong-footed as the ball squeezed in the opposite corner of goal from where Johnson's effort was aimed.
It was there breakthrough City needed and there was no looking back. That slow, ponderous side lacking pace and creativity early season who would have been all too glad to play sterile football and aim to hold out for victory while hoping to secure another goal are now a side who, once they earn their right to play football, grab it by the lapels and shake it for all it's worth as City unleashed their attacking venom on the hapless opponents.
With Bothroyd, Chops, Parry, Routledge in the mood and assisted by Joe Ledley getting beyond the final attacker time after time, that is an attacking unit that the Armed Forces would struggle to repel. How it only ended 2-0, few will know but Wednesday keeper Grant certainly had a hand in it, saving stinging efforts from Routledge and Bothroyd, both after classy moves, while others were blocked.
It was game over on 65 starting with a comedy moment as the ball went out of play and the linesman didn't seem to have a clue what to do, not for the first time either. It was almost X-Factor decision suspense waiting for his award as it took him a few seconds to decide it was Cardiff's, a popular result with the appreciative crowd. From it, Joe Ledley found Wayne Routledge who played a delightful return flick, Joe ghosted past two men, burst into the box and was caught for an obvious penalty, incredibly City's 12th of the campaign and apparently, now only 3 short of the record for any club in one season. We were due one, City hadn't won a penalty for a fortnight!
9 of the previous 11 were converted and Chops increased that to 10 out of 12, perfectly sending Grant one way and placing the other for the 4th goal of his loan but 3 of them are from the spot as he looks much sharper but still isn't quite the Michael Chopra of old although recent injuries and illness just haven't helped.
Cardiff now started that season-long quest for the elusive third goal but again fell short yet will be scratching their heads as to why not. Paul Parry must have thought it was Easter not Xmas as he was crucifying hid right back marker, two crosses evaded everyone and Routledge did likewise from the other side. Then Parry teased his marker and waited for Joe to go racing on, found him and his squared ball was brilliantly executed on the turn by Bothroyd, Grant's great reflexes pushed it onto a post and Chopra turned home the rebound. Offside ruled the hapless lino but tv later showed it wasn't. Laws complained about his decision-making later, ain't it strange how they conveniently always forget the decisions that went in their favour?
Joe Ledley yet again burst past City's forwards on another lung-busting charge, Parry pushed the ball through and Grant was the equal of another blistering shot. When he was finally beaten, Wayne Routledge knocking the ball ahead and leaving three Wednesdayites in his wake, I swear I saw F1 ignition as he did, his blistering effort shook the side netting.
It was scintillating stuff even if it wasn't the perfect performance. Kevin McNaughton has to depart with 10 minutes to go and may have problems after the ever niggly Tudgay left studs showing as SuperKev passed upfield. Gabor Gypes will have to quickly get over a poor personal display which featured more slices and air shots than a parks golfer. However the positives far outweighed the lesser aspects, Jay Bothroyd is looking as good a forward line leader as you can get, Joe was magnificent. He managed more forward runs in one afternoon that McPhail managed in half a season, what must the Irishman be thinking as he looks at the transformation without him? The clean sheet was an easy one but City were well drilled and only had a few difficult moments near the end when our centre-halves and late sub Comminges thought they were footballers and neglected keeping it simple. City's attacking football of late is exciting and a joy to watch, long may it continue.
City stayed in 5th as 3 of the 4 above them also won while Birmingham were fairly demolished at home by the increasing force that is Reading who just happen to be City's next test at Madejski on Boxing Day. However the field is starting to thin and where it was to 15th or 16th place who could talk up play-off chances, realistically it is currently 9th upwards but time for that to change again in the busy Christmas programme where anything can, and often does, happen. Reading and Cardiff now share the honours as the least defeated sides in the Championship but in their current mood, City have nobody to fear but themselves and are very capable of entering the automatic promotion fray too. Merry Christmas.
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If you want to hold the F.A. Cup, there's a great opportunity on Monday at Ninian Park.
The F.A. Cup Trophy Tour is available to all children aged 7 to 11 and their families. As well as holding the Cup, visitors will;
- Meet Cardiff City legends Andy Legg, Scott Young, Jason Perry and Neil Ardley.
- Be involved in an interactive half hour event featring the F.A. Cup's Greatest Moments (hopefully including 1927 and 2008 with Cardiff City)
- You can score the winner in a virtual F.A. Cup Final and hold the cup
- In a 'power kick' game, your hardest shot will be measured against he pros.
There are about 250 places for various time slots throughout Monday.
Register and book your place via this link: