Sunday, August 31, 2008

SHEFFIELD UNITED vs CITY in pictures

Click below link to see a full set of photos
080830 Sheff Utd 0 Cardiff City 0


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SHEFF UTD 0 CARDIFF CITY 0 - how the media saw it

Numerous links to various reports.
WalesOnline
WalesOnline
WalesOnline,
WalesOnline
WalesOnline
Independent
WalesOnline
Times Online
WalesOnline
SkySports
FansOnLine.net
Vitalfootball
Yorkshire Post
Sportbox

Saturday, August 30, 2008

DJ's AUDIO REACTION TO SHEFF UTD 0 CARDIFF CITY 0

Dave Jones gives his post-match thoughts to Radio Wales on the battling, if unspectacular, nil-nil at Brammall Lane.

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CHAMPIONSHIP GAME 4: SHEFFIELD UNITED 0 CARDIFF CITY 0



It was a good day for Cardiff City. Jacks away in the Carling Cup = more progress. Robbie Fowler who walked out on us for a new love affair with Blackburn realised his mistake and missed us begging for "sex with the ex" but was promptly told no and to stay with his new slag. And, on the pitch, a patched up side organised themselves to produce an excellent battling 0-0 draw at in-form Sheffield United who did not must a single shot for Tom Heaton to save. Cliches out of the way, Blades weren't sharp and made to look less Blunt than James by the Bluebirds who showed their "steel" to grab a point at Brammall Lane.

(A photoset of the game can be seen at
http://nigelblues.blogspot.com/2008/08/sheffield-united-vs-city-in-pictures.html)

City remain unbeaten but are mid-table 11th as it's an opening day win followed by 3 successive draws. Nevertheless, club and fans should be delighted and praiseworthy with their first clean sheet of the season and a disciplined and organised display from a makeshift injury hit side. This was a cracking outcome thoroughly deserved.

The home side tested and pressured City throughout and were virtually camped in our half for the second period showing the confidence of a side coming into the encounter with 4 straight wins and 11 goals but in front of 29,226 fans including upto 1,000 from South Wales, they failed to give Tom Heaton a single save. It was a battle, all about brawn, forget any quality. City's fight, dogged determination and superb defending with Roger Johnson leading the way was outstanding. Cardiff had first half chances and gave Kenny a couple of routing saves by comparison but never really threatened to pinch it after the interval. The archetypal stalemate and, to be honest, a turgid 0-0 bore draw but one far more appreciated by City fans than the restless Sheffield counterparts.

This was the second of three successive trips to South Yorkshire to open City's Championship travels (sandwiched between Doncaster and Barnsley) so the A449/M50/M42/M1 route was all too familiar. The trip was incident free too after the starting hiccup of one of our car crew going AWOL, the result of too late a night at the Wynford Hotel ('nuff said!) which delayed our set off and we had to eventually go without him. We were still on the outskirts of Sheffield in good time and found a quaint vintage pub serving classic real ales. It was as far removed as you could be from a City match being laidback in a beer garden in rare (for this summer) hot'n'humid weather. One of our crew wanted to stay there but on we went.

A small hiccup finding the ground and the near sell out (due to the home side's price promotion of £10 for adults anywhere and £5 for concession) meant parking was near impossible as we arrived late ... that was until we shifted a water tank in a closer's builders yard near the ground into bushes to make space. Perfect, inside the City end just as the game was to start.

Cardiff had well publicised problems with injured players meaning the likes of Capaldi, Rae, Scimeca, Blake and Kennedy were absent but we were boosted by the timely return of SuperKev. It all left City with a makeshift defence with Comminges at left back and makeshift midfield too with Joe Ledley pushed into central midfield with a line-up that was Heaton, McNaughton-Purse-Johnson-Comminges, Whittingham-McPhail-Ledley-Parry, Bothroyd-McCormack. Subs were Enckleman-Blake (as an emergency only)-Gypes-Johnson-Thompson.

Sheffield, managed by Kevin Blackwell had more than a few familiar names with Kenny, Sun Jihai-Kilgallon-Ehiogu-Naysmith, Halford-Speed-Tonge-Quinn, Sharp-Henderson and an attack minded bench.

Blades fans, inspired by the tannoy blared out their club anthem version of John Denver's Annie's Son (how intimidating - rock'n'roll!), and then, apart from roars as their side attacked, sat back allowing City fans to create more atmosphere and volume. Their side were up for it while City looked a little vulnerable settling down, none more so than Purse having a nervous start, being outjumped by Henderson and making an error or two but getting away with it. By his side, Roger Johnson - subject on a tentative Hull City enquiry which Ridsdale converted into a £4M declined offer - was showing his worth with interventions, blocks and header after header won. Halford, with City players standing off him, had the first opening but his shot befitted that of a defender.

Both defences were on top from the start and the midfield battle was evenly contested producing little meaningful action and a fussy referee and knocks on both sides bringing about frequent stoppages in play - a trend that continued all game. Many City fans decided to strip and wave their tops in the warmth even if we were in the only part of the stadium that was shaded from the sun. City passed well but with McCormack as a lone striker and Bothroyd 'in the hole' behind him, they were getting any success in the final third.

It was midway through the first half before the first real scare came and City had a massive escape. A move down City's left, Johnson uncharacteristically gave the tricky Billy Sharp time and space to turn and hook a ball across the box which presented Henderson with a free header on 6 yards with Purse behind him. Incredibly, the one time City target (aren't they all?) put it wide when it was easier to hit the target.

City, as if woken, then started to cause a few problems of their own. Joe going close on his right foot, McPhail further away but also, uniquely?, with a right foot shot(!), McCormack sprayed an effort across and then the lively Scotsman linked with Parry to create an opening for Bothroyd but his effort was at Kenny who blocked with his feet.

Cardiff were down to 10 men for a few minutes as Sunji Hai appeared to carry out an assault on Bothroyd but go down himself, arguable feigning injury. Any thoughts that may have been an accident were banished as Sun Jihai rolled SuperKev over advertising hoardings with equal force to how his native Chinese tanks used to take out students in Beijing. Kev brushed himself down and got on with it, City fans weren't so quick to let it go.

Half-time: Sheff Utd 0 City 0

The interval saw some of our boys getting a tad carried away under the stands and launching into some anti-Swansea songs, probably many being the same delightful lads who spent a lot of their time in the stand singing 'There's Only One Yorkshire Ripper' and the 'Harold Shipman' chant. I'm all for mocking and taunting chants but I wish our lot grew up and knocked it on the head with those vile songs.

Those of us in the stand stood and applauded with the whole ground as a Blades Beijing Gold Medallist in his GB trackie was paraded on the pitch (sorry but I don't know who it was) ... but then we booed and sat down as he stripped down to a Sheffield United shirt!

The second half had even less incident than the first, hard to believe such a thing was possible but that's how it turned out. It was a one way bombardment towards our goal which was at the opposite end of the ground leaving City fans straining their eyes to watch what was going on. What we saw, however, were the boys battling for everything, closing down, defending with no mean skill and matching United's brute strength with their own while playing the ball out well at times.

City were unable to create any breaks and it became a novelty to see us advance over halfway but the home fans were the ones jeering as their side were strangled and made errors aplenty as City closed them down and worked tirelessly. Bothroyd was now anonymous, the only time I noticed him was when he implored us to make even more noise but it wasn't an afternoon for forwards.

You kept thinking Heaton was going to be tested but he never was, his only real work was punching away well once under heavy pressure in a melee. Other than that, it was wayward shots from Gary Speed ever impressive despite being 39 years old. What a shame he didn't finish his career with a Welsh club, like us.

Sheffield introduced more attacking artillery for the final onslaught in Kairdiff lad David Cotterill, James Beattie (whose return from absence was greeted as if Sheffield had won the World Cup) and Danny Webber while Halford was hurling the mother of all throw ins hitting the far side of the box and flying in flat and as fast as an express train - I've never seen throws like those before - yet City took it all although they survived one more escape as the Ginger Quinn hammered an effort in the side netting clear on goal but at an angle, some home fans thought it was in much to our pleasure.

There were a couple of ugly moments as, San Siro like, City fans were placed on the lower tier for a change and found home fans above us. A lot of gesturing went on and some of those upstairs thought it a good idea to coin us below, a few fans got extremely riled by it and, as usual, some were more interested in the other side's fans than the game although there was rarely much in the match other than tension to hold attention.

City had a couple of late set pieces and the thought was there we may nick it but they all came to nought as did the tense 5 minutes of added time for the continual stoppages.

Overall an excellent result against a club who will surely be there or thereabouts with their firepower and strongarm direct tactics, they will bully other sides to be up there. All plaudits have to go to our defence for their immense efforts and display, all were magnificent and fans can all argue Comminges, Johnson and Purse for man of the match contenders although it was Johnson for me. Joe and McPhail did a sterling job in midfield and Ross McCormack has boundless energy but the whole team did a superb job today. Well done lads.

The way back was quick and it was a satisfying pint as we stopped at an old haunt in Ross On Wye with temperatures still well in 70's past 8pm.



CHEEKY SCOUSE GIT ASKS CITY TO TAKE HIM BACK

CITY DON'T WANT YOU
WE DON'T CARE

It should be unbelievable, but somehow it was highly believable but surreal, that Robbie Fowler came crying asking for Cardiff City to take him back. The cheek of the ****!

Fowler, after being highly rewarded, given round the world treatment and round the clock rehabilitation showed his gratitude towards this club and a manager who stood by him throughout in Dave Jones by walking out on City this summer after agreeing a new contract in favour of training, and the forlorn hope of a contract, in the Premiership with Blackburn Rovers.

City fans were mostly glad to see the back of him as most, myself definitely included, just didn't believe he was up to the job at all. His best was several years ago and it's a continual decline since. However we felt aggrieved by the way he treated the club.

Blackburn, even though his manager is his mate (Paul Ince), have now realised that as well and offered Fowler a weekly contract only.

After leaving his missus for a mistress, Fowler has now belatedly realised his mistake and asked City to take him back with his nauseous agent sending an e-mail, not even he had the bottle to ask over the phone or face to face which says everything. City's reply, via Peter Ridsdale, was apparently a curt 'no thanks' - I would also have used 7 letters but probably have said F*** O**!

Fowler already knows no other top two division club wants him and he may now opt for the low profile, but rewarding, life in Dubai or similar.

Enjoy your fortune Robbie but good riddance and thanks for no memories you muppet!

South Wales Echo story
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SWANSEA CITY vs CARDIFF CITY in CARLING CUP THIRD ROUND!

It must have been around this time last year I was in Sheffield (then en route by train to an away game at Barnsley) when news of a Carling Cup away draw at Liverpool's Anfield came through.

So it was ironic that I was just on the outskirts of Sheffield on the way to Brammall Lane when I had a text from someone watching Sky that we'd drawn the Jacks. A couple of minutes later, radio confirmed the Third Round tie was indeed Swansea City and it was away at Liberty Stadium in late September (date to be confirmed).

Apart from a FAW Premier Cup game in 2002, City and The Jacks have not played each other for 9 years and now it was happening three times in a season. Swansea undoubtedly hate Cardiff far more than we do of them and the rivalry is intense. It can only be a bubble trip for City fans ... and it's hard to see if/when this would ever change.

I got Jacks mates so immediately texted them with, "Sorry to hear you'll be going out of the cup at home, better luck next season" and got the reply, "look forward to seeing you, bring your speedos and armbands" - a reference to their swim away chant about an incident that may have happened a quarter of a century ago.

This will go on ...

Friday, August 29, 2008

TONIGHT'S CARDIFF CITY PHONE IN SHOW ... with Gary Speed

You can listen or download the show, which includes Sheffield United's Gary Speed ahead of City's visit to Bramall Lane tomorrow, via the below link:

SMOKESCREEN or SMOKE SIGNALS? CITY CLAIM TO TURN DOWN HUGE BIDS

With the current transfer window set to slam firmly shut on Monday, instead of hoping (against forlorn hope) that Ridsdale would deliver us a quality new signing or two, the club have instead decided to sanction news that they called an emergency board meeting to decline a £5M written offer from Joe Ledley (believed to have come from either Everton or Stoke) plus a £4M bid for Roger Johnson with WBA or Hull trailing him.

It's a sign of the times that in a very informal poll on CardiffCity.com, there's roughly a 50/50 split of 150 fans over whether this is really true or not. The only external supporting stories so far are that Stoke are considering whether to persue Ledley while Hull admit they made a tentative enquiry only for Johnson which hardly sounds like a confirmed bid. (City cool on Johnson bid Hull Daily Mail)

While it may be true, I'm a cynic but seem to have increasing numbers of City fans for company. I've now passed the stage where I just cannot take what Peter Ridsdale says at face value because of his record. It's a sad state of affairs when my very first thought at a club, whose words rarely correspond with its actions these days, is that it may just be the latest example.

At a time, when questions should be asked about City's lack of promised spending (including all the recent excess Glen Loovens sale funds), the story instead is deflected onto how we're determined to hold onto our stars and how good are our club for doing that. How convenient!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

CHOPRA IN REHAB


Cue that Amy Winehouse tune

They wanted him on loan at Cardiff but he said 'no, no, no'


They said he might come back here but he said 'I won't go'


But since Chopra got married, his life's become a mess


So they tried to make his go to rehab and he said 'yes yes yes'.




They were the days!


Today's Daily Mirror has reported that ex-City star Michael Chopra, a player City tentatively tried to get back on loan, has checked into the Sporting Chance rehab clinic for a week to help him with gambling and relationship issues with the blessing of his club, Sunderland. His problems reached a new low with police reported to have been called to an incident with Chops causing a scene at a home, believed to be where his estranged wife now resides, in the early hours of last Monday.

Chops appears to have been frittering huge sums of his £20k a week wages - the perils of vastly overpaid footballers losing a sense of reality - and is struggling at the state of his marriage which blog reported over summer saw Chops and the wife having a vicious argument the day after their marriage and go their separate ways on honeymoon.




It's hard to have too much sympathy on the one hand when he has opportunites and wealth most of us will never understand but it is a personal human issue so I hope he sorts himself out.

SCIMECA OUT FOR 8 WEEKS

BIANCA DONS BLACK AFTER HEARING RICCY'S IN MORE TROUBLE

It's a relief to hear that Riccy Scimeca didn't break his leg in the MK Dons game on Tuesday but x-rays have revealed significant damage.

Scimeca, one of the nicest people you could meet and just finding his way back after terrible injuries and illness made him miss almost the whole of last season, was diagnosed with ruptured ankle ligaments and other torn ligaments.

With Gavin Rae also absent with a chipped knee bone, it leaves City with a midfield crisis. Dave Jones aims to land a Premiership loan player but that won't happen for a week or two - if it happens at all at a club where what the manager and chairman and so are often different things.

Best wishes to Riccy at another difficult time in his career.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

CARLING CUP ROUND 2: CARDIFF CITY 2 MK DONS 1 report

CARDIFF CITY progressed to the Third Round of the Carling Cup beating MK Dons 2-1 at a drizzly Ninian Park but, true to form, did it the hard way in front of 6,834 fans. Three players were injured in the first half, including Riccy Scimeca stretchered away after a lengthy stoppage with a worrying looking injury but City got to a comfortable 2-0 scoreline thanks to a Ross McCormack penalty and cracking Peter Whittingham free-kick before conceding yet another soft late goal but they held out with few dramas.

Dave Jones still appears to be fumbling around trying to find his best team. Not only that, he is either being denied or not spending promised monies for players (take your pick - I definitely go for the former option). However his cause isn't helped with City suffering early season injury woes and selection problems and that was made much worse tonight. Mark Kennedy joined Super Kev and Gavin Rae on the injury list pre-game, Gabor Gypes was cup-tied after playing for Northampton in Round One but there was a welcome return and belated start of the season for Tony Capaldi while Eddie (EJ) Johnson made his City debut becoming our 5th striker in our 5th match of the season.
Jones fielded as strong a team as possible with only two changes from the weekend, one of them enforced as he started with Heaton, Blake-Purse-Johnson-Capaldi, Whittingham-Scimeca-McPhail-Ledley, Johnson-McCormack.
Franchise FC (lesser known as Milton Keynes Dons) came to Ninian Park with their own problems. Promoted to League One under Paul Ince who walked to Blackburn, they are now managed by the Chelsea duo of Roberto di Matteo and Eddie Newton (arguably, City's best ever loan signing) and have made a good start. After losing on opening day at Leicester, have won three straight since beating Northampton 1-0 (in Gypes;' final outing for the Cobblers), a cracking 3-1 victory at Huddersfield last weekend and producing a shock in Carling Cup Round One to beat Norwich, City's opponents last weekend, so travelled here in confidence.
Their squad is a 'pick'n'mix' international set with an Austrian, Canadian, Frenchmen, American and one form New Guinea However, one of those players haven't yet arrived in the country, two key defenders were injured and a third, Cummings, on loan from Chelsea was not allowed to play in the Cup while Captain and star man Keith Andrews has been 'rested' ahead of a likely move to join Ince at Blackburn - shame, I'd love him at City where our midfield genuinely require an addition.
They were backed by 200 fans including one fat guy taunted to "get your tits out for the lads" - he obliged - and sang and bounced a bit, took some stick and had a flag saying "We'll Make History" but they already have. Franchise FC are hated by fans of all other 91 clubs!
The sole action of the first half came in its closing moments but there was drama as both full backs were lost to injury with Tony Capaldi limped off inside 10 minutes followed by Darcy Blake before 20. Comminges and Parry replaced them as City shuffled the pack.
Cardiff were comfortable and playing the ball around but not really getting anywhere. Eddie Johnson looked lost and was hoping for balls sent into space or over the that never arrived but McCormack taught him to Ayatollah after not understanding the terrace cries so he was baptised! Just before the interval, EJ had his best moment as the hugely impressive McCormack and Ledley combined, sent a low ball across goal and his stabbed effort was parried into the air by ex-Jack (and getting the abuse for it) Willie Guerret and bounced off the top of this bar and behind.
The resulting corner led to the opener but not before another painful blow as a scramble saw the ball fall in front of Scimeca who looked set to score until a lunge sent him crashing down and penalty. I was in the Grandstand and Scimeca was felled in the Grange End goalmouth but message came from fans there that the challenge was dreadful and Riccy was punching the ground in agony. The game stopped for 5 minutes or more while he was treated and stretchered away still in terrible pain. I feel so sorry for him getting this and working hard and fighting back from lengthy absence, let's hope it's not serious but it looked ominous I'm afraid.
Aaron Morris came on for his debut, FAW Premier Cup apart, at right back and Comminges who was doing infinitely better on the right having had to switch sides earlier was not sent back to the left again. Joe Ledley was in central midfield, Parry sent to left wing. As David Bowie would say, Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes!
Meantime, McCORMACK has remained calm and cooly slotted away the penalty with Guerret sent the wrong way. In a competition allowing 7 subs on the bench, I wondered if the other 4 got dressed as City had already fielded their three. Maybe they made the half time tea and oranges!
Half-time: CITY 1 MK DONS 0
There were some fears that a significantly disrupted City would be severely tested in the 2nd half but, if anything, they took more of a stranglehold on the game and were never in trouble.
McCormack was causing trouble every time the ball came his way and was easily man of the match but he had enough chances to have got a hat-trick or more but WHITTINGHAM showed his class with set pieces. An early 2nd half attempt whistled just past Guerret's post but when he had another one - this time 30 yards out to the right of goal - he hammered it home beating Guerret comprehensively inside his near post. A supreme moment of class.
Cardiff were now very composed going about their business and MK Dons threw on two subs in what seemed a token gesture to give other players some game time but City were threatening to add to their tally with Parry, McCormack and Comminges frequently impressing. On the other hand, while it's difficult to judge Eddie Johnson on a debut having only been with City for 2 days, he does need to put himself a bit more. Let's just say that Fulham won't be in any hurry to recall him in January on what we saw tonight but I'm certain he'll get better. However, it's certainly no formality he'll play at Sheffield United this weekend.
With 15 minutes remaining, MK Dons grabbed a shock goal in shocking circumstances. A free-kick was floated in from 35 yards and O'HANLON somehow found space between Purse and Johnson, Purse appearing to misjudge the flight of the ball and sent a simple downwards header to the centre of goal except Heaton was moving to his far post and slipped on his arse trying to move back for the ball. More defensive embarrassment.
If there were worries about another late self-inflicted collapse, City never showed it and played out the final minutes very well with McCormack hitting a post and twice shooting just wide when getting past the last man. We also had a great comedy moment as Guerret smashed a clearance onto the Bob Bank roof, it rolled nearly half the length of the pitch and came down straight on top of a kid in a hoodie walking towards the exit on the terrace below. His unintentional header into the seating earned wild applause.
All in all, a good night's work but it could be at a very heavy cost. We'll have to wait and see how bad the damage is but potentially, City have serious problems at the back and in midfield. So much for a bigger better squad and no need for extra players!

EARNIE'S BACK FOR WALES!

After being dropped by Tosh and expressing his frustration this morning, Robbie Earnshaw has been immediately reinstated to the squad as Wales have other injury worries.

I wonder how Tosh and him will get on as there definitely seems to be a problem between them.

Cradiff City v MK Dons photos

CLICK BELOW LINK FOR A FEW PICTURES
FROM TONIGHT'S CITY vs MK DONS EXTRAVAGANZA


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EARNIE'S 'DEVASTED' MISSING OUT FOR WALES ... again


Earnie - Those Were The Days!



Robert Earnshaw
told The Sun newspaper of his "devastation" of being dropped for Wales' imminent opening two World Cup qualifiers against Azerbaijan and Russia - immediately after being recalled into the squad for last week's Georgia friendly international.

Although nobody is saying it in public, there appears to be an obvious rift between Wales boss John Toshack and the player. Wild rumour has hinted Earnie's attitude at international gatherings don't help his cause but he hasn't really performed for his country, as he can, for a long time either and it's been a similar story in club football.
However his recent move to Nottingham Forest has already seen him grab 3 goals and it would be good to see the little man thriving again and then back in the set up.

Earnie told the newspaper,
"My international situation has been a strange one for the last six months or so, "You have to ask the question when you look at the Wales squad: 'Should Robert Earnshaw be in it?" (Bloody hell - you know he's 'big timing' it when he talks about himself in the third person!!)'

"I'm devastated, as I've always given everything for them and have a good record playing for Wales. I love playing for my country. I'm enjoying it so much at Forest, though. I'm playing well and scoring goals. That's all I can do and what I'll carry on doing to make it impossible to leave me out."


Monday, August 25, 2008

READY EDDIE GO

In the aftermath of Cardiff City's home collapse against Norwich City and looking ahead to his likely debut in tomorrow night's Ninian Park Carling Cup Round Two clash against MK Dons, Eddie Johnson spoke about his reasons for giving football a try in South Wales.








"I learned a lot about Cardiff City because I followed their FA Cup exploits all the way."

"That was one of the reasons, when Cardiff City wanted me to join them on loan, I was so keen. From what I`ve seen, this is an ambitious club with a great manager in Dave Jones and a great bunch of players."

"This club enjoyed success last season and there is more to come. I want to be a part of that. Premiership football is the best in the world - and I still believe I can score goals at that level but I was in a difficult situation at Fulham because I wasn`t playing matches regularly."

"Cardiff City have given me the chance to show what I can do and I can`t wait to get started. Cardiff are a club I followed a lot last season when they reached the FA Cup final and they have offered me a fantastic opportunity."



Here's hoping EJ takes that opportunity.




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Saturday, August 23, 2008

CHAMPIONSHIP GAME 3 match report: CARDIFF CITY 2 NORWICH CITY 2


That's good - Cardiff City remain unbeaten after a 2-2 home draw with Norwich City. At times, especially early on, they produced their best football so far and some promise.

That's bad - We under-performed again and hardly impressed against a side who, like Southampton and Doncaster previously, are expected to feature in the bottom half of the table. So what does that say about City? Thanks to more horrors than Freddie Kruger, City yet again failed to keep a clean sheet and why can they only produce one good spell every game so far for a few minutes and then turn bland and ordinary?.

That's horrible - City blew it big time after comfortably leading 2-0 with 12 minutes to go. Maybe it was payback time after City grabbed 3 of their 4 points from the earlier opening two games thanks to last gasp goals but it all served to produce angst and ask serious questions of our defence, midfield and forward departments plus some bizarre thinking in Dave Jones' substitutions.


X-Factor is back on telly. A bunch of assorted tossers, hopefuls, talented prospects and those with something to prove hoping a Svengali arrogant Manager can turn them into stars. I sometimes wonder if Cardiff City are running a football version of it.

With a couple of million netted from the 2008 F.A. Cup run, £10M banked in player sales over the past year, record season ticket sales with 6,000 newbies and the biggest wasters ... sorry wage earners ... taken off the books in Fowler, Hasselbaink and Sinclair, excuse me for being foolish enough to believe City would show serious intent to push on this time with some tried and tested quality additions. After all, Dave Jones told us they would need shooting if they didn't while Peter Ridsdale told us he would find the money to do that post Wembley and the £5M earned from the sales of Gunter, Loovens, MacLean is over and above Ridsdale's self-confessed budget requirement to selling one 'star' per season - that's Chopra and Ramsey. When will I ever learn eh?

I wish them all well and genuinely hope they help us finally push on from 5 seasons of Championship mid-table obscurity but 2 loans and just £600k spent to bring in 7 players with much to prove hardly inspires and in unlikely to get a breakthrough. However, Hull City found their way to the Premiership without significant spend or stars and we can only hope Dave Jones makes the proverbial silk purse out of a sow's arse but, while it's still early days, I'm already fearing we shaping up to see more of the same. I've just realised Jones keeps his arms folded the dugout to stop Ridsdale and the Board having them tied behind his back!

His problems were magnified today with Tony Capaldi and Gavin Rae still missing - the latter possibly out for 2 months - and a new major absentee in Kevin McNaughton. Darcy Blake, a midfielder, was tried at right back which seems to be the only chance he gets for City. Joe Ledley was passed fit, having been withdrawn from midweek international action, but his displays so far suggest he is far from that at present. Jay Bothroyd was given his first start, Whittingham made way as Paul Parry was pushed from attack into his wide midfield slot.

City went with a side featuring just 4 of the F.A. Cup Final team with Heaton, Blake-Purse-Johnson-Kennedy, Parry-Scimeca-McPhail-Ledley, Bothroyd-McCormack. Joining Enckleman-Thommo-Whittingham and Comminges on the bench was new midweek signing, Gabor Gypes, the Hungarian centre-half signing for £200k from Northampton waiting for Darren Purse to be found wanting, that won't be long. Introduced in the stand, and waving regally like the Queen at a Gala concert when announced, was new American loan striker Eddie Johnson from Fulham. Signed for the season but Fulham can recall him in January. That means, he goes if he does well but stays if he's crap or average. Fantastic.

Norwich arrived in South Wales dented and bruised from a torrid start and flak. A single point was Norwich's tally from an opening day defeat at Coventry and home draw with Blackpool while they lost to MK Dons, City's 2nd round opponents this Tuesday, in the Carling Cup. In their 4th season at this level since Premiership relegation, life has had few highs. They've finished bottom 9 in the last 2 seasons, just 3 points above the drop last term, helped by a 2-1 win at Ninian.

With Glen Roeder, looking like an undertaker, at the helm and assisted with City insider tips by Hasselbaink who spent the week training in East Anglia ahead of a possible short term deal, The Canaries were Marshall, Kennedy-Stefanovic-Bertrand-Omozusi, Clingan-Hoolahan-Fotheringham-Pattison, Cureton-Russell.

It's a 6 hour trip but the Credit Crunch is affecting the Carrot Crunchers as they brought about 350 fans, far fewer than usual. While Cardiff has big gigs (Madonna's in town today opening her World Tour), numerous national and international sports and a host of attractions, Norwich has Morris Dancing and Tractor Driving as the only opposition to its football team so little wonder they are well supported.

Those who came probably wondered why they bothered as City stormed ahead inside 3 minutes and threatened to run riot charging up the 18,032 crowd on an overcast but mild afternoon. The opener was a beauty as Blake fed Bothroyd, he turned and released ROSS McCORMACK and, as befits a man who scored his first City goal midweek followed by a Scottish Under 21 goal midweek, he showed supreme confidence to beat the final defender on the edge of the box and drive coolly past Marshall.

City were fluent, buzzing and threatening to rip Norwich apart so what a shock as they cut us open on the left and Pattinson - the best player on the pitch for my money - enticed Joe Ledley to lunge and take him down just inside the box. A soft but obvious penalty and the chance for Norwich to level inside 8 minutes but more City celebrations as Jamie Cureton rolled it wide although Heaton maybe had it covered even if he had hit the corner.

It was an electric opening but that turned out to be pretty much it as the next hour of football produced very little of note. Neither defence were convincing but somehow facing few troubles. Norwich energetic but lacking quality although Pattinson nearly grabbed a shock equaliser as his low shot was spilled by Heaton but gathered from behind rolling towards goal at the second attempt. For City, Joe Ledley had two golden chances but the first, a scuffed free-kick clearance rolling to him, saw his placed high effort gathered by Marshall while he wasn't instinctive or reactive enough as superb McCormack skills saw the ball unexpectedly drop at his feet in front of goal. In the added time, an angled edge of area free kick saw Bothroyd's red boots blast low for goal but hit the side netting.

Half-time: CITY 1 NORWICH 0

After seeing former heroes Don Murray and Bobby Woodruff introduced to the crowd at half-time, the second half football carried on in much the same vein as the final half hour of the first half, it felt as if City were grinding their way to a narrow victory but without much substance or style, their deficiencies quite apparent.

The defence, shorn of McNaughton and Capaldi and with Purse in the middle, were coping well but nowhere near the formidable unit we know and love. Blake battled hard but had a tough time against that man Pattinson who reminded us of his presence was a surprise effort from 25 yards near the touchline which rose over Heaton's bar. Johnson and Purse, both doing well, just don't click together for me but you realise how Super Kev covers the whole back line and distributes so well, it was badly missed. Another annoyance - why was Purse sent forward at set pieces with Johnson staying back? Maybe DJ feels Purse hasn't the pace to cover? Nobody can't argue that it disrupted City and weakened their threat.

Midfield were overrun and disorganised. McPhail was working hard but constantly out of position, Scimeca was tidying up well and passing perfectly but unable to get on those forward supporting runs he loves, Parry and Ledley suffered as City seemed to attack through the middle or with long or high balls rather than deploy them. Joe is out of sorts but Parry was in the mood but never given enough of the ball. While concentrating on getting forwards, inaction to replace Aaron Ramsey leaves Dave Jones lightweight in midfield which will be costly if he doesn't act quickly.

Opinions will differ about the forward line. McCormack was excellent but he loves to drift wide and could do with being more in and around the box. Bothroyd is still striving for fitness but I felt he should have been far more involved. He played too far away from McCormack, wasn't jumping for headers and spent far too much time going down looking for free-kicks. He possibly had an argument for a second half penalty but had fallen so many times that he wasn't going to get it against the terrible performance of ref Taylor who infuriated throughout the whole game by playing on when they were fouls while then giving free kicks where there was no or minimal contact. It was truly awful but although City seemed to suffer more, at least he was consistent - he was terrible for both teams!

City had a couple of chances, McCormack nearly stabbing home early while Johnson - who managed (was allowed) to get forward for once had a free header in the box but directed it wide but City looked to have sealed it (and really should have) when Parry sizzled on the left to get into the box and cut the ball to McCormack who jinked and was taken down for the game's second penalty. McCORMACK went for the same corner as Cureton in front of the Grange End but rolled it inside the post, Marshall sent the opposite way.

It wasn't pretty but effective then Dave Jones made a decision he must now surely regret even if he'll blame the players for the lapse and now own up to his mistake. Before the game could restart, McCormack was taken off - WHY? - and replaced not by another forward but Whittingham. Last season, City never had a bench so Dave Jones couldn't make changes. Now he's got the novelty of a surplus of forwards, it's almost as if he's a kid in a sweet shop and has to meddle and change. A couple of minutes later, on came Thommo for Bothroyd who had, unlike McCormack, faded out of the game but the decisive change came as Roeder brought on Arturo Lupoli, a talented player who has lost his way, but what an impact ... and what a shambles by City.

Norwich won a corner but Purse and Johnson both saw Mark Kennedy pull up and were distracted waving their arms to the bench for a change. The corner came in,.Whittingham scuffed a clearance and City were too slow coming out playing Lupoli and another forward onside. It looked way offside but tv showed otherwise, Heaton motionless as LUPOLI arced a tame effort wide of him.

That was with 12 to go, Comminges replaced Kennedy but went straight to left back where I saw him struggle pre-season at Carmarthen. It surprised me, I thought Joe may have dropped back. A quick warning came as Lupoli was afforded far too much time and sent an effort narrowly wide, City didn't learn. Four minutes later after their lifeline, Norwich attacked Comminges via Lee Croft who turned him inside out. His cross looped off Comminges but as it dropped flush in the centre of goal on 10 yards, there was Lupoli and nobody else, Purse looked stranded. LUPOLI dived low and sent an unconvincing header goalwards but Heaton went down with the speed and grace of a snail. I have no idea how he was too slow and failed to reach what looked every inch a scare but routine save but in it went. Unbelievable!

City woke from the restart, Parry's shot after a goalmouth scramble from a corner beat Marshall but was headed off the line by that man Pattinson while Whittingham's rebound effort into the ground cleared the defence but Marshall tipped it around the post. .At the other end, Lupoli, in search of an improbable hat-trick, tested Heaton with a low drive at him. This time, he got down and got there.

Final whistle and it was flat, it felt like defeat. The inquests started immediately although some were still in deep shock to take it all in. City can't feel sorry for themselves as MK Dons won't be easy in the Carling Cup while next Saturdays' visit to Sheffield United, with due respect to those played so far, is a big step up ... playing like this, it's a massive step.

IPSWICH CHASING HARD FOR ROGER JOHNSON?

While Cardiff City concentrate on the visit of Norwich City later today, it is their East Anglian rivals Ipswich Town causing a little consternation with newspaper talk in Suffolk of them making increased bids for centre-half Roger Johnson and weighing up a final offer believing they have a chance of prising him away from Ninian Park.





Think there's several factors why it wouldn't happen in my view;

- City don't need to sell (I bloody hope not anyway!)

- With Johnson signing a new long term deal recently, it will surely include a 'silly price' release fee

- RJ may want Prem football but can't see any reason he'd want another middling Championship club ... albeit one with a bit more money to spend.

- City, and Ridders, would lose credibility

- It leaves City with no time for another replacement



One thing concerns me though - Ipswich, it would seem, haven't been definitely told to **** off by CCFC otherwise they wouldn't keep coming back with increased offers.


Not sure whether to be worried or unconcerned.

HASSLEBAINK 'NOT ON THE RADAR' OF JOINING NORWICH

... ...Not yet anyway!




Although it is still suspected, even if not publicly admitted, that JIMMY FLOYD HASSELBAINK will be offered a short-term deal with Norwich City, the fact that his contract dispute with Cardiff City is still to be resolved (despite Peter Ridsdale informing South Wales press that it would be concluded by early this week) couple with the fact Norwich are playing at Ninian Park today, means that JFH's presence is East Anglia is still in the "I'm training with them' category.


When pressed on the issue, Canaries boss Glenn Roeder is quoted as saying, "He was here Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and I think he's coming back next week for another three days. He's really enjoying it and he feels that his fitness has increased greatly in just the three days he's had with us. But I think he had business on yesterday and is back in Cardiff today before moving back to London." I wonder if JFH will pop along to the game later?


Roeder however seems to have been guardedly impressed by the Serial Moaner adding, "I think he's been good for the younger strikers and even Cureton passed some nice comments about Jimmy. And in the small-sided games that we've had, he's scored plenty of goals. There's nothing wrong with that right foot - that's still working, even at 36 but I don't want to talk about if there's any possibility of him joining us. It's not on the radar at the moment. We're just helping him out - and in his own way, he's helping us out.".


I reckon the deal wil be sealed next week once the City contract and our game is out of the way.

Friday, August 22, 2008

EDDIE JOHNSON LOAN DEAL CONFIRMED


EJ - HE ALREADY KNOWS HOW TO AYATOLLAH!
EDDIE JOHNSON was tonight confirmed as taking up a season long loan with Cardiff City from Fulham. He will be shown to the crowd at tomorrow's home game with Norwich and is expected to feature in the Carling Cup 2nd Round home game with Franchise FC on Tuesday night.

Like all Cardiff City signings, he's a gamble rather than proven and he certainly has a lot to prove. For a club with money to spend, they should seem keen to make sure it doesn't get used.

Johnson, however, has a good goal record in US and for the national side and was in demand with several Premiership sides before signing for Fulham in January.

DARREN PURSE ON CARDIFF CITY PHONE-IN


DARREN PURSE was the guest on tonight's Cardiff City phone in show on GTFM. You can listen in or download it via the link below. It's worth a listen.



DAVID DAVIES TRIALS FOR GAVIN & STACEY

David Davies, not content with being a Barry boy and a Cardiff City fan, has declared his wish to appear in Barry-based sitcom Gavin & Stacey.

Nessa gave him an on air rehearsal tonight which he declared was better than his Beijing Silver Medal.


Listen here > http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/7575715.stm

RAMBO IN, EARNIE OUT FOR WALES

Aaron Ramsey is one of nine Under 21's who faced Romania on Wednesday who have been called into the senior squad for the World Cup opening qualifiers home to Azerbiajan on September 6 and in Russia on September 10.
The squad features 2 current Cardiff City men (Paul Parry and Joe Ledley) and four former Bluebirds but Wales have major defensive problems with centre halves Nyatanga and Gabbidon injured while James Collins is named having just returned to West Ham reserves after lengthy injury.
A huge disappointment for Robert Earnshaw who only just got back into the squad last Wednesday, played just a few minutes as a late sub and now finds himself dropped again by John Toshack.
The Under 21's face a massive task to win their final game in Romania on September 9 for qualification but all those in the senior squad are also named in the Under 21 squad as some may be discarded for the senior trip to Russia which follows the Azerbaijan match and head for Bucharest instead.
WALES SQUAD
Wayne Hennessey (Wolverhampton Wanderers)
Boaz Myhill (Hull City)
Lewis Price (Derby County)
Gareth Bale (Tottenham Hotspur)
James Collins (West Ham)
Steve Evans (Wrexham)
Chris Gunter (Tottenham Hotspur)
Craig Morgan (Peterborough United)
Sam Ricketts (Hull City)
Ashley Williams (Swansea City)
Andrew Crofts (Gillingham)
Simon Davies (Fulham)
David Edwards (Wolverhampton Wanderers)
Carl Fletcher (Crystal Palace)
Owain Tudur Jones (Swansea City)
Jason Koumas (Wigan Athletic)
Joe Ledley (Cardiff City)
Paul Parry (Cardiff City)
Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal)
Carl Robinson (Toronto FC)
Brian Stock (Doncaster Rovers)
Craig Bellamy (West Ham)
David Cotterill (Sheffield United)
Freddy Eastwood (Coventry City)
Ched Evans (Manchester City)
Sam Vokes (Wolverhampton Wanderers)

EDDIE JOHNSON - FROM USA TO NINIAN WAY

IS THIS FOOTBALL OR MIAMI VICE??

Following yesterday's post on this blog, it does appear that the final pieces are being put into place for EDDIE JOHNSON's arrival from Fulham next week on a season's loan for Cardiff City albeit with a reported clause allowing his possible return to the Londoners in January.

EJ has been in South America with USA for a tough World Cup qualifier against Guatemala. USA won 1-0 but Johnson was not involved with the action but agreed to negotiations over his loan during his absence and is very keen to come. The final hurdle, notwithstanding geting gazumped again(!), is getting a work permit. It won't be in time for this weekend but is believed to be a formality.


HASSELBAINK - LIKELY TO SIGN DEAL FOR NORWICH BEFORE TOMORROW

In a week when Hasselbaink declared his belief that he has one more season left in him, Norwich skipper, Mark Fotheringham, would like to see Jimmy sign a short-term deal to help inspire Norwich's players and the club.

However his only duties tomorrow will be 'insider secrets' on Cardiff City for the club will the official line is that he is there for training only.

Fotheringham, in an audio interview, says he is looking to visiting ST. NINIAN'S PARK tomorrow!

http://new.edp24.co.uk/content/sport/story.aspx?brand=EDPOnline&category=Sport&tBrand=EDPOnline&tCategory=Sport&itemid=NOED20%20Aug%202008%2017%3A10%3A34%3A443

Thursday, August 21, 2008

CALLING CARDIFF CITY EXILES




There's now a website for you for information and, importantly, arranging car share and lifts for areas aroudn the country for home and away matches.


Run by City fanatic Steve Barnett in the South West, it has helped many fans already and aims to do that for plenty more. The web address is below.


www.cardiffcityexiles.com

EDDIE THE BLUEBIRD??




It's being reported that Cardiff City are very close to finally netting a transfer target, this time in the shape of Fulham's American international striker Eddioe Johnson, initially on a season long loan deal.


24 year old Johnson is an American football star - if there is such a thing - with 32 caps and 11 goals. That brought him to the attention of Europe and Fulham swooped, taking him for £3,000,000 in January from Kansas City. He started 4 games and had 2 more as sub but the Londoners were struggling badly against relegation at the time and new boss Roy Hodgson brought in new men.


Here's hoping the deal gets done.

DAVID DAVIES WINS SILVER


Barry boy and Cardiff City fan DAVID DAVIES got pipped at the very end of the gruelling 10KM, near 2 hour, open swin at the Olympics in Beijing.

A fantastic effort but he'll be annoyed at errors in the final moments which cost him Gold but magnificent all the same. Well done David, you did CCFC proud especially doing The Ayatollah at the end.



News Story here

http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/2008/08/21/david-davies-storms-to-swimming-silver-91466-21576719/

DEVO IN ROCK BAND

I suppose you've made it these days in music if your songs get featured in the latest game craze.

It proves how DEVO's music is still valid as two of their songs have this week been added to ROCK BAND.

Full article and interview with Jerry on the Rockband.com site:

LOOVENS - THE FINAL WORD(S) ... we hope


While Dave Jones and Glenn Loovens exchange words with each other - Jones suggesting (quite rightly) that Glenn has joined a two team league while the Dutchman tried (in vain) to protest it isn't - some encouraging words came from fellow Scotsman and now Cardiff City man Ross McCormack.


Talking about his transfer, McCormack commented that, "Glenn really is that good a player and I can understand why Celtic and Rangers wanted him so much. It was just his composure that stood out. He's like Boumsong when he was at Rangers. When the ball comes up hell bring it on his chest and pass it. He never panics and he's a mixture of maybe Boumsong and Kyrgiakos."


"I saw him for a couple of months, played with him a few times and trained with him. He'll do really well for Celtic – I have no doubts about that at all."










Meantime, Celtic boss Gordon Strachan expresses his delight at getting Loovens


http://www.celticfc.net/news/stories/news_190808143740.aspx

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Friendly Result: WALES 1 GEORGIA 2

In their final friendly before World Cup qualification commences next month, Wales fell to a shock last minute defeat in Swansea to the war-torn Georgians thanks to horrific defending.

It was a game and result to forget. The second half performance, in which Wales seemed to switch off almost completely will worry John Toshack, but he will bear in mind a first half showing beofre changes were made that saw Wales lead through Jason Koumas on 16 minutes and not quite take the chances that would have put them out of sight.

Cardiff City's Paul Parry returning after a self-imposed absence of 18 months for personal problems - which he recently revealed were problems of divorce - played well up front.

Coming after the U-21 deflating defeat, it was a bad night for Welsh football but, in the bigger picture, an emotional one and national morale booster that trancends football to Georgia.

Independent
WalesOnline
International Herald Tribune - France
Goal.com - Switzerland
The Press Association

WALES U-21 0 ROMANIA 1

It was echoes of days gone by as Wales again fell at home to Romania on a night when a win would have seen them qualify for a finals.

This time it was U21 level and the Euro's but it was just as gutting as Wales dominated, missed a number of golden chances and then fell to a sucker punch goal.

The side featured Cardiff City's Darcy Blake, an injured Joe Ledley was watching on and ex-City men Chris Gunter and Aaron Ramsey were starring. They deserved success but didn't take their chances, that will hurt.

Wales go to Romania next month now needing to avenge this defeat with a victory of their own to make it. However it is likely that some of the players will be in the full squad for World Cup games significantly weakening their hopes.

USAIN BOLT SUPERMAN

Just incredible performances and history by Jamaica's Usain Bolt to make him the fastest man on the planet ever.
Not content with smashing the 100M World Record, including starting celebration 20M from home, Bolt stunned the World again in taking the 200M also with a World Record time.
His showboating this time came before the race. How can he look so cool mock combing his hair, I'd look a prat doing that!
Watch it here and also see the 100M via a link within it.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

NEW STRIKER ... SUBJECT TO PERMIT

With Gabor signed from Northampton today, news permeates that Cardiff City are also on the verge of capturing a foreign striker and have applied for a work permit.

More details/news to follow but fans are expecting another bargain basement capture rather than a big name. We're becoming accustomed to being underwhelmed.

CITY'S SIGN A NEW CENTRE HALF HUNGARY FOR SUCCESS

CARDIFF CITY tonight unveiled a new centre half replacement for Glenn Loovens in the shape of 6 foot 3" 27 year old 22 capped Hungarian international Gabor Gyepes from Northampton Town for a fee believed to be rising to £200,000.


As with many recent signings, he represents a gamble by Dave Jones rather than someone tried. tested, proven and very able but he appears to have been popular wherever he has been and, clearly, Northampton Town fans are not pleased to be losing a fans favourite ... and it's not Cobblers!
Gyepes was in outstanding form for Ferencvaros and Hungary which brought him to the attention of then Wolves boss Glenn Hoddle in 2005, a deal which saw his agent charged with improper practise.
After starring alongside Joleon Lescott, Gyepes suffered horrendous injury problems that eventually led to his contract being terminated by mutual consent and returning to his homeland in April 2007.
It was therefore a surprise that the player resurfaced at Northampton this January but proved his ability and fitness that earned him a 1 year contract for this season. However it also meant, like Loovens at City, then player had no value once this transfer window closes so The Bluebirds swopped for him at a potentially bargain fee.
While Northampton fans bemoan their, initial reaction from Cardiff followers has been variable. With the F.A. Cup Final run, record season ticket sales and £7.5M banked since summer for the sales of Ramsey and Loovens, many supporters expected the club to show more ambition and to flex some muscles when spending.
However, for all we know, Gabor may yet prove to be the answer. Welcome to City and Good Luck.

CARDIFF CITY LOANS TO BOURNEMOUTH TURNS INTO FARCE

As mentioned in this blog last week, good relations between Cardiff City's boss Dave Jones and his Bournemouth counterpart Kevin Bond saw The Bluebirds agree to loan players to the stricken South Coast club in the week of City's Carling Cup victory there a week ago.

It was then reported that Cardiff were sending striker Jon Brown and defender Aaron Morris to Dorset with the pair scheduled to join The Cherries yesterday for training. It would have helped Bournemouth and been a good development experience for the pair ... except neither turned up.

Brown has been called into the Wales Under-21 squad for tomorrow's crucial game against Romania. It is currently unclear whether he will now join Bournemouth at all especially as they have now taken a young forward from Charlton.

More embarrassing was City not understanding loan rules when it came to Morris. The defender is on a Scholar contract and League rules expressly forbid any youngster being loaned to other clubs while on this type of contract.

Doh, doh, doh!

BOB HUMPHRYS R.I.P.


Very saddened to hear this morning that Bob Humphys passed away last night after recently being diagnosed with cancer.

Always thought of him as a fantastic, passionate, humourous sports presenter who loved his work and life, it always so obviously showed.
Luckily enough, I got to meet and know him a few years ago. He covered all sports, a lot of it naturally being egg chasing working with Beeb Wales, but have no illusions, he was a Cardiff City fanatic.
I fondly remember meeting him and his family at the play-off final and he was as proud and passionate as any of us, he had a tear in his eye at City having such a momentous day at last after all the torture of being a Cardiff fan.

You would be unaware of this but Bob was also an avid reader, and occasional contributor, to the CardiffCity.com messageboard under the username Bluebarney.
He used to love reading my match reports and it made me proud that someone so respected for covering sport professionally took such an interest in what I did as a kind of hobby.

It probably says everything about the man that even though he knew he had a short time left with his terminal illness very recently, he was the first to contact me wishing me well, and giving me some advice, when he heard about a problem of mine just a few weeks ago.

My genuine thoughts and sincere condolences got to Bob's family, those who loved him and knew him even better than I did. I'm just honoured that I did know him.

Monday, August 18, 2008

BOTHROYD ON FOOTBALL AND LIFE IN CARDIFF


Bothroyd - playing against City last season





In the latest entry to his Icons Diary, Jay Bothroyd talks about house hunting in South Wales, his delight that Cardiff City do things differently to his previous clubs and just concentrate on their own game, his debut at Bournemouth and tries to say nice things about Wolves (the club he left) and Leeds (the club he didn't sign for).

Have a look here: http://www.icons.com/bothroyd/diary.html?16.08.08

HASSELBAINK - BLUEBIRD TO CANARY TO FACE CITY?

A rare shot of Jimmy looking as if he
nearly got off the ground for a header


What an irony if Jimmy Floyd-Hasselbaink joined a new club and faced Cardiff at Ninian Park in his first outing ... it may still be unlikely but there's an increasing chance it could happen this coming weekend.

With his Cardiff City contract dispute believed to be near settlement, JFH - who has recently been seen pounding the streets of Cardiff around his Cyncoed home - set the Farmer's Boys' tongues wagging as he sat with Norwich officials in their Director's Box at their home draw with Blackpool last Saturday.

It is with some irony that on the same weekend last season, Jimmy was seen in the Director's Box at QPR as he joined City ... deja vu!

Glen Roeder, Norwich Manager, commented "Was he? Did he come and watch the game? I don't know" post-game while Jimmy today said that he is there for training ... Norwich is a hell of a long way to go for training when you live in Cardiff.

This evening, it is being touted in East Anglia that Jimmy is set to be offered a short-term contract, apparently to the end of the year initially with a view to the full season if successful. Roeder is under pressure with Norwich having a poor season's start, his failure to bring in new faces and a transfer window closing which, it is believed, has seen him turn to our Jimmy who is believed to be trying out for the short-term deal.

If concluded quickly, Jimmy ironically could be back at Ninian Park this weekend ... stranger things have happened.