Saturday, January 22, 2011

3 big points: City 4-2 Watford

This game put the spectre of City's 4-1 defeat at Vicarage Road at New Year to bed. It was also a fantastic game for the neutral. Not so for the City faithful, who were chewing their fingernails to the quick.

For us City supporters it was game of three periods. The first period saw City take a 3-0 lead with some scintillating football. The second period saw the Hornets pull back to 3-2 with two soft goals as City completely switched off. The third period saw City get some rhythm back, and see the game out, sealing the points with a fourth goal.

Bothroyd was back in the starting line up after a month out injured and massive speculation about whether he's staying or going. The other Jay - Jay Emanuel-Thomas, our new loanee from Arsenal also started, and with Chopra and Bellamy also in the starting 11, there was talent and pace in abundance.

The game was open and fast from the outset, but it was City who took control in the 14th minute after a raking crossfield ball by Whittingham found Bellamy on the corner o the 18 yard area. His first effort was blocked, but the ball fell to him again and he finished well. 1-0 City.

Three minutes later it was 2-0, after a scrambled City City clearance fell to Bothroyd, Chopra raced wide was was fed by Bothroyd who calmly slotted the ball home. 2-0 City.

To be fair to Watford they were giving it everything, and looked dangerous, clearly having targeted the left channel with McNaughton at left centre back and Naylor at left back as a potential weak spot. Everything was coming that way, and they did look dangerous.

But on 31 minutes man of the moment, Bothroyd made it 3-0 with a great finish after being fed by Whitts who'd been shaping to shoot himself, and many would have said City were home and dry. But we City supporters know different.

Two minutes later a long throw into City's box was left by everyone, it bounced and fell to Buckley who rammed the ball past Heaton to make it 3-1. It was a really, soft goal and Dave Jones will be furious with his defence.

But the shock of conceding rattled City who 's game went completely. They couldn't pass the ball, they stopped moving - basically stopped doing everything they had done up to that point. Watford in contrast, looked the team in the ascendancy, and the next goal was going to be crucial.

Naylor, who still looks suspect was subbed at 40 minutes with Gyepes coming on. It seemed like an injury, but either way, the extra height of Gyepes in central defence with McNaughton moving wide looked a good move. 3-1 at half time.

It was Watford who came out of the blocks in the second period and it took them only three minutes to narrow the gap to one goal, as Sordell beat Heaton with a curling shot, although it looked like Heaton slipped at the vital moment. Whether he would have saved it had he not slipped, I can't say without looking at it again - it was the other end of the pitch and my eyes aren't that good!

There was a worrying moment when it seemed Kevin McNaughton had been knocked out, but he eventually got up and carried on, so presumably can't have been out.

At this point, it looked for the world like Watford were most likely to get either a draw, or even a win, with City looking shell-shocked, but the weathered the storm. Burke came on for Bothroyd on 61 minutes, hopefully just a precaution, and Rae came on in the 74th minute to shore up the midfield in favour of Whittingham. It almost went pear shaped as Watford hit the post, but a short corner by Bellamy/JET put the ball in the mix in the area for Gyepes to stab home on 83 minutes for 4-2.

Watford to their credit threw everything at City, and had one disallowed for offside but the Bluebirds played sensible easy balls and tried to keep possession. It's something they need to work on though, as to often they give away cheap possession, but even with 5 minutes of added time, the Hornets were unable to find another goal. The final whistle brought rapturous applause, for what had in the end been a cracking game.

A word about the officials. They were dreadful. Mr Tanner and his accomplices missed many fouls for both sides, two good penalty shouts for City, and were generally very inconsistent, and Malky Mackay, Watford's manager was going apoplectic at times with the officials. (Dave Jones doesn't generally do apoplectic, or else he may well have been too).

So a big win for City and the 23,000 crowd. And vital with Norwich winning. Leeds and the Jacks dropped points in draws.

Nice to see Jay B back. JET looks quality too. Big Seyi was good today breaking it up in midfield, and Nauts was brilliant (again) at the back as was Hudson.

City need to keep this up, and with two more Premiership signings yet to make the team - Aaron Ramsey on loan from Arsenal, and former Blackpool defender Dekel Kienan, Dave Jones now has the ammunition he needs to mount a serious attempt on automatic promotion. Let's do it.


Just heard Malky Mackay's interview on the BBC. Claims that City were repeatedly fouling (especially fouling Buckley, and rotating the person who committed the foul so the ref wouldn't couldn't take action), and spent the whole game time wasting - suggesting that City do this a lot.

Err...what game were you watching Mr Mackay. City fouled no more than Watford, who I thought were quite dirty at times. And as for time wasting - though I don't hold with it, show me a team that doesn't do that when they're ahead in the closing stages of a game. I thought not.

Poor loser.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Rambo Returns

Fantastic news today that Rambo is returning! Aaron Ramsey, once of the parish of Ninian Park is coming back on a one month loan from Arsenal as he seeks to regain the regular starting spot he had before his horrific broken leg.

It's only a month, but this will be massively welcomed by City fans who rate Ramsey as one of the most talented players ever to come through the ranks at City. It's a huge lift for the club to hear this news.

And hot on the heels of our second Arsenal loan signing in a couple of days, comes news that we've signed (all bar the dotting of the i's and crossing of the t's) Dekel Kienan, the Israeli international from Blackpool.

Assuming all the paperwork goes through, that's a pretty impressive January transfer window spree from Jones, with Jon Parkin, Jay Emanuel-Thomas, Aaron Ramsey and Dekel Kienan. And with Bothroyd appearing not to be going anywhere (fingers crossed) and coming back from a long lay off, that's like having another quality player come in.

We've certainly got the ammo, now we've just got to use it - Rambo style!!!!

Cardiff City - half time/term report

OK, I've been meaning to do this for a while, but things have got in the way.

Here's my half term report on the main City squad players. I should point out that this is wholly subjective, and entirely based on what I have seen (and heard) of the team this season to date.

I'm not doing the whole squad, just those who I think have either played enough to warrant a mention, or who I care to mention anyway. You can of course feel free to argue otherwise. That's the point of opinion.

David Marshall ('keeper): 7/10
Has looked good in spells, and dodgy at times. Personally, I think his confidence has suffered a bit after a solid start. Still one of the best keepers we've had for a while.

Tom Heaton ('keeper): 8/10
The better keeper for me. Had to wait for his chance, but has been brilliant in several games IMHO. Still prone to the occasional lapse (aren't all keepers), and to be fair, both he & Marshall have had to put up with a pretty dodgy defensive unit in front of them.

Kevin McNaughton (Defender): 9/10
"Nauts" has been outstanding (again) this season. Early injury plagued him, but once those hammy's are warmed up he's generally performed consistently in an inconsistent defence. Can play either flank or centrally. Pacey, never gives up. Contender for player of the season so far.

Lee Naylor (Defender): 5/10
OK going forward, but frankly very dodgy in defence. Beaten far to easily. Teams worked him out very early on in the season, and we are consistently attacked (and beaten) down the left. To be honest, only still there because there's no one better in the wings.

Gavin Rae: (Midfielder): 5/10
Few opportunities, but I still rate him. Works hard, goes about his business without being flashy.

Mark Hudson (Defender): 8/10
Huds took a lot of stick early doors. He's not quick...alright he's slow, but he's generally assured, and has got better and better as the season has gone on. Lacking anyone consistent enough to partner him. However, neither he nor Gyepes (see below) even come close to scoring at set pieces.

Gabor Gyepes (Defender): 6/10
The big Hungarian is far to inconsistent, and prone to silly mistakes. When he's good, he's good, when he's bad he's awful. Neither he nor Hudson even come close to scoring at set pieces.

Peter Whittingham (Midfielder): 7/10
Not found the same form (or goals) from last season, and back to blowing hot and cold again. There's no doubt he's quality, he just needs to produce it consistently.

Michael Chopra (Striker): 7/10
Chops is crucial to our team. Not scoring enough goals, but his movement on the pitch makes a hell of a difference when he's in the 11. Needs to play from the start and regularly.

Jay Bothroyd (Striker): 9/10
Jay has been outstanding until his injury in December. Goals, hold up play, laying off - he's blossomed this season. He needs to buckle down and keep doing what he's doing. I'm sure we'll lose him if we don't go up, and it'll be a big loss.

Stephen McPhail (Midfielder) 6.5/10
Can be class in midfield, but too often for me innocuous or injured. He should be running games, not taking part in them.

Chris Burke (Midfielder) 7/10
Another hot and cold player. When he's doing what he does best - running at defenders with the ball at his feet, he scares the living daylights out of them. Whether we don't feed him enough, or what I don't know, but too often he's not in the game, and defensively he's not strong enough.

Paul Quinn (Defender): 4/10
Frankly I'm not sure what DJ sees in him. Has never impressed me. Too easily beaten, distribution is poor.

Andy Keogh (Striker) 7/10
Another one that works hard but doesn't quite produce enough end results. Doesn't seem "greedy" enough to me. Too often want to try and put someone else in, and for a striker, his shooting is terrible. Plays best with Bellamy.

Seyi Olofinjana (Midfielder): 7/10
A rock at the start of the season, lost it a bit in the middle, and slowly coming back to his best. On form breaks up play, passes it simple and scores the odd goal. Solid. Very solid!

Daniel Drinkwater (Midfielder): 7/10
On loan from Man U and the class shows. Well it did in the early season, but then injured and hasn't looked the same player since. Match time maybe?

Darcy Blake (Utility): 7/10
Darcy can play almost anywhere - and has often been asked to! Not tall enough for a central defender though. A good player, who needs to play regularly. Still young and the best is yet to come.

Adam Matthews (Defender): 6/10
Not sure what Adam's done to get so few games. Even at his age I rate him above Naylor and Quinn. He's pacey too and gets forward. Will we get the best of him before someone else snaps him up?

Chris Riggott (Defender): 8/10
Bear with me. I'm rating him 8/10 on the basis of one game. When he finally played he looked just what we were after. Someone to partner Huds who was composed, level headed and could defend. I really, really, feel for him. He's clearly desperate to play, but it sadly looks as though his persistent injuries will scupper his City career almost before it's started, and quite possible his playing career full stop.

Craig Bellamy (Striker): 8/10
Bellars brings Premiership quality to the Championship. Sometimes. Occasionally, he's just ordinary. But only occasionally. He's passionate, gives it all and is a wonderful talent - albeit with dodgy knees. When he's on the pitch he creates space because there's always two people on him. It's been great to see him in a City shirt. I just hope he's able to pull us up to the Premiership.

Dave Jones (Manager): 8/10
I've said on many occasions Jones is the best manager City have had since I've supported them (since the mid 80's if anyone wants to know) and I stand by that. Yes, occasionally he's intransigent (Google it), bloody minded, and downright moody. But hey, he's a football manager, and to be fair some of the crap written of him, questions he's asked, and so on would hack most people off.

There's no doubt that he had a bad run from November to the New Year, where it looked like (as it often does with him) that there's no "plan B". But despite that God awful run, we're still right up there. We've still got Bothroyd (just), we've got loan players (and good ones) in from Man U, Man City and and Arsenal. We've never had it so good at City, and sometimes we just need to remember that.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Bloody pot holes!

I've complained about road surfaces before, although that was a specific rant at the Vale of Glamorgan about a certain stretch of road.

This is a more general observation about the state of roads following the recent freezing weather, which seems to have led to an unprecedented number of pot holes in our road system.

It's not just the uncomfortable ride that these result in - I had a puncture last week. First I've had for as long as I can remember, and the puncture was in the side wall - almost certainly I suspect caused by a pothole. There have been three other people with punctures at our work in the last week, and I suspect there are other vehicular woes associated with driving over the tarmac equivalent of the Himalayas.

I heard or saw a report recently about the cost of repairing potholes - it was something like £47 per pothole, so clearly not a cheap job given the millions that must be out there. The suggestion was also that the quality of the stuff they use to fill the bloody things isn't great, meaning they quickly degrade again.

Anyway, the long and short of it is I wish it were different. It's expensive enough motoring now as it is, without having to shell out for repairs caused by crap roads.

Another signing - still no defender

City signed another loan player yesterday ahead of the FAC replay with Stoke, with Arsenal youngster Jay Emmanuel Thomas joining the Bluebirds until the end of the season.

I don't know too much about JET (as I will call him because his name is too long to keep typing in full) but seems to be a pretty versatile player in an attacking midfield, winger or forward role. He has started for Arsenal first team at Premiership and Champions League level, so clearly is a talented player who old vinegar face Arsene Wenger has seen something in.

He's tall - something City lack in parts, so that will be a bonus.

There's still no sign of a defender coming in though - lots of rumours, but no real action, and given that the defence seemed, and continues to seem the most problematic area, we really need to get our skates on and get someone in before the transfer window slams shut. Unless DJ's philosophy is going to be, it doesn't matter how many they scores, we'll score more.

If only.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Wembley dream over: City0-2 Stoke

So that's it then. This years FA Cup dream is over.

To be perfectly honest, this was a pretty very turgid game. Neither side really needed the extra game, and it showed. Both fielded largely second string teams, and the game was often played at a pace more reminiscent of training matches.

I can't really remember a shot on target by either side in normal time. If there was one, it wasn't memorable.

City huffed and puffed, and Jon Parkin on debut put himself about. Stoke looked pretty uninventive. Both keepers could have stayed at home. Quality was lacking from both sides. The game cried out for one player to take charge, but it never came. City's most likely player to do that, McPhail went off 5 minutes before half time. Even at set pieces it was hard to see where and sort of half decent delivery for City was coming from. In most cases it appeared to be Lee Naylor. Not his fault, but enough said.

City could arguably have had a penalty in the dying seconds of normal time when Chopra appeared to be brought down by Collins, but ref Peter Walton either didn't see it, or with literally only seconds to go bottled the decision.

Still, on the bright side, City didn't concede in 90 minutes - never looked like conceding to be fair, and some fringe payers got a run out.

The thought of a further 30 minutes of extra time did for some of the original 13,000 crowd, but those that stayed had to wait only a minuted into extra time to see the Potters take the lead, from a corner. To be honest that looked the only way they were likely to score. By then, Hudson and Gyepes apart, the average height of the City side was about 3 foot 2 after Parkin had been subbed by Chopra mid-way through the second half.

The goal didn't really help matters either way. City looked like they were running on empty as extra time continued, and Stoke were understandably in no hurry to do anything much. Shortly before the end they grabbed a second when after failing to clear a scrappy melee close to the touchline, John Walter grabbed his second goal from an almost impossible angle.

It was disappointing at that point to see so many of those who had stayed for extra time, immediately get up and start leaving. City hadn't played badly and if you were staying on in extra time, surely another 5 minutes wouldn't have hurt to stay and clap the players for their performance and effort, even in a losing cause.

So with the old cliché "we can concentrate on the league" being wheeled out, we face Watford on Saturday. Hopefully, Bothroyd, Bellamy, McNaughton and Whittingham will be back, and City can get three points and their promotion push back on track.

If they put half the effort in they did tonight, but can add some quality that was sadly lacking, we should be OK.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Panto! Oh yes it is....

For years, since our kids were small, we've had an annual outing in January to the pantomime at the New Theatre in Cardiff with our friends.

The kids are bigger now - 13 and 16, but we still go. It's a great afternoon out.

This year it was "Cinderella" and the "star" was Brian Conley as "Buttons". It was really funny - I was in tears at several points, but then I'm easily entertained by sometimes pretty basic humour. If you've got kids you should really make an effort to get to a panto. If you haven't, well go anyway.

So nearly: Norwich 1-1 City

The Bluebirds almost managed a smash and grab at Carrow Road, but Norwich equalised in the 92nd minutes to snatch a draw.

I can only go by what I've read about today's match as I was ensconced in our annual panto trip at the New Theatre in Cardiff (which incidentally was great fun).

New signing John "The Beast" Parkin, made his City debut, and what a debut, hitting a stunning goal in only the 7th minute.

It seem that the match was fairly ding-dong from then on, with the home side piling on the pressure, and City defending desperately, and trying to catch the Canaries on the break. Norwich had a goal disallowed for offside, could (and in some reports should) have had a penalty, and hit the bar.

City too had their chances, but failed to put a second goal on the board.

It looked like City were going to get a priceless three points to keep them in second spot until Russell Martin popped up in the 92nd minute to break the hearts of the travelling faithful.

Still, a point away at high flying Norwich isn't a bad result, and given the pressure City were under for large parts of the game they'll probably be satisfied with a point, but will be annoyed they didn't hang on for all three.

The worst thing is all the other sides around us won, including the Jacks who leapfrog both Norwich and Cardiff into second spot.

Light relief on Tuesday as the Bluebirds entertain stoke in the FA Cup 3rd round replay at the CCS, but then it's back to serious business with the visit of Watford a week today, in a match City really must win.


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

T-Mobile have kicked up a bit of a fuss by saying they are going to cut the unlimited mobile data use for it's customers to 500mb.

For those used to getting (and as importantly paying) for "unlimited" data, this came as a bit of a shock to say the least. If it had been me I'd have been really hacked off, but fortunately I'm not on T-Mob any more, I'm on O2.
Oh hang on, I forgot, my data cap is 500mb anyway. D'oh!

Anyway, turns out T-Mobile weren't quite right in what they were saying. They are only going to apply the cap for new customers and those upgrading from (I believe) 1st February. Those currently on "unlimited" data plans can stay on their current useage plan.

But here's the rub. When they say "unlimited" they don't mean it. It's not unlimited at all. There's a fair useage policy which basically limits the data you can use to 3GB. If you go over that (routinely) you'll be told politely by T-Mob to stop using so much, and if you persist they might well take more heavy handed action (knocks on the door in the middle of the night?).

I'm not sure how often that happens in reality, but that's not the point. The point is, today you get unlimited (sorry, 3GB) for your money tomorrow (or from 1st Feb) new customers or those upgrading will be getting 500mb for the same money (more or less). Hardly seems fair.

And in an increasingly connected world, giving people the tools to use data easily, but then restricting what they can do with those tools seems a bit arse about if you ask me. and it's not OK to just say find a wifi hotspot, because in many places - including most of the places I go, they're not abundant.

The theory is that a few data "hoggers" are ruining the bandwidth for the majority, but penalising everyone because little Johnny is misbehaving doesn't seem to be the right way to go about solving the problem.

I'm going to stop now, and enjoy using my 500mb data cap by browsing and tweeting and so on.

Remember though, use wifi where you can and it won't be an issue!

New signings....not yet

There's little to report on the new signings front at City. Apart from "Big" John Parkin, we're still yet to see any confirmed new faces at the club. I guess it's only 12th January, but I'd rather hoped we'd have sorted a few more out by now.

Of course the rumour mill is hard at work. There's clearly a need for at least one central defender. Andy O'Brien snubbed us to stay at Leeds. There's talk of Loovens coming back to us, though I can't see it and Kienan from Blackpool amongst a couple of others.

Wayne Routledge, a left sided player who the fans loved when he was (briefly) at City until he snubbed us for more money and the bright lights is still being mentioned in despatches. Not sure what sort of reception he'd get if he did decide to come back?

The James Vaughan from Everton option has died a death or so it seems.

And there may well be others. Frankly, I'm getting fed up of listening to all the rumours, and will only believe stuff when it actually happens.

But I hope something does happen. And soon. We've got some big matches coming up.

Blackpool: What are they on?

Though it pains me to say it after losing out to them in the Championship Play Off Final last May, Blackpool are making a great fist of their Premier League debut.

A side that came from nowhere in the second tier last year is now sitting in 9th spot in the biggest league in the world after defeating Liverpool under new (again) manager "King" Kenny Dalglish.

I don't know what Ian Holloway is feeding his lads on, but I wish he'd send some of it down to Cardiff. Picked by almost every pundit as an absolute certainty to go straight back down, the Tangerines are defying all odds, as they play generally attractive and attacking football. They don't seem to realise they're supposed to be second best to everyone else in the league.

Of course, it could still all go horribly wrong. Remember Hull, who made such a great start in their first season up in the Premiership. Didn't last. And though they escaped relegation that year but the skin of their teeth, they didn't the second time around and they're now 15th in the Championship. I genuinely wish Blackpool well. No really I do. I didn't, but I was one of the people that thought they'd be lucky to win a game, and they've proved me wrong, so good luck to them. And I love their manager. Mad as a hatter.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

FA Cup 3rd Rnd: Stoke 1-1City

Crikey, it's that time of year again when City set out on the road to Wembley.
Wembley has of course been our second home in recent years with the two visits in the 2008 competition, and "that" Play-Off final last year, which I still can't bear to recall.

At round three stage though, the dream of making the trip again, is just that - a dream. There's a long way to go, and we have to get past the first hurdle, Stoke City, at their gaff. Never an easy ask.

I fancied the Bluebirds for this one. Even without Jay B, Big John, and Bellars, I just had a feeling that we might sneak something. When Chops put us a goal up after just 8 minutes from what sounded like a stunning Stephen McPhail cross, things were looking good.

You just knew though that Stoke would come back hard at us. They're not the prettiest team to watch, but they are big, strong and have some very decent players. Kenwynne Jones and Rory Delap were both on the bench but both came on later in the game. Their Welsh manager, Tony Pulis has moulded them into a decent Premiership outfit - never going to win many (any?) trophies, but incredibly hard to beat. The fact they are an established Premiership side now is testament to his management, and you know the players really play for him.

And so it was that Stoke did come back hard, finishing the first half on top with Tuncay grabbing the equaliser right on the whistle.

Stoke started the second period like a firestorm, testing City's recently fragile defence to the limits. Listening on the radio it sounded like it was all Stoke, with City grateful for small counter attacks. It seemed as though it was only a matter of time before they took the lead, but somehow City held on, aided and abetted by a defence that was showing far more steel than of late, and 'keeper Marshall, who kept any further effort out. The fact that Stoke brought on Jones and Delap to try and finish this one in one go showed how much they wanted to win it, and how well City did to keep them out.

BBC report here

So a battling draw for City, who can now look forward to bringing the Premiership side back to the CCS on Tuesday 18th January. As we sing......

"I'll be there...., I'll be there....with my little pick and shovel I'll be there......!!!!"

Up the Bloooobirds!

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Are you receiving me...?

I've posted before about my frustrations of not being able to get a data signal on O2 at the Cardiff City Stadium on match days, and anecdotal comments by various people about the connection being "switched off" on match days, although other people on other carriers seem to do OK.

I got so fed up with this that I sent a "Mr Angry from Barry" email to O2 yesterday.

This afternoon a very nice young lady from O2 rang me to discuss this. Initially she suggested that the lack of connection was due to the mass of people at the match until I pointed out that:
  1. People on other carriers seem to do OK
  2. It's only Cardiff City match days - Wales international matches and Cardiff Blues rugby matches don't seem to have this problem (though admittedly the crowds for both are smaller than Bluebirds games)
  3. I can text/SMS OK but get absolutely no data signal, almost as soon as I'm in sight of the stadium
She seemed genuinely willing to want to help, but was stuck on the "it's the volume of people" approach. I then told her that I'd heard (from two separate sources) that the data signal is turned off by O2 on CCFC match days. This threw her and she said she'd need to speak to someone else and promised to ring back.

She duly did 20 minutes later. She told me that after speaking with the "network infrastructure" team (or something like that) they could "neither confirm nor deny" that the data signal is turned off. Hmm....interesting. Sounds like a government or military sort of response!

She said that the mast was a small one and 0.4km from the stadium and that the most likely explanation was that in order to ensure a continuous connection for existing O2 users who reside in the vicinity when there are large crowds in the area, the likelihood is the connection is reduced (or switched off, but she could neither confirm nor deny that).

It doesn't help me, but at least now I know - I think. In addition she has arranged for a small discount on my monthly bill, as I complained (nicely) that in effect I'm paying for a service which is available but being denied to me in the 8-12 hours a month I probably spend in and around that area. A result!

The other option of course is to switch from O2 to a carrier that doesn't have the signal problems in the area on match days, but I don't want to do that....yet.

Maybe if everyone complains, they'll put a bigger, closer mast up??

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Crisis. What crisis? City 2-1 Leeds

Make no mistake. This was a massive game for Cardiff City. After some really poor performances and two good spankings in their last outings against Watford and Bristol City saw the Bluebirds drop to fifth, Leeds, unbeaten in 12 (since City walloped them at Elland Road back in October in fact) were the visitors to CCS. Victory would see the winners go to 2nd spot behind QPR.

There were some palpable groans (from me) when I saw that Bothroyd is was still not in the starting line up, and a slight surprise to see woeful left back Lee Naylor still in, and the slightly less woeful, and rarely seen Paul Quinn at right back, with the usually reliable, and very versatile Kevin McNaughton slotting in at centre back with Mark Hudson. Yet another surprise was a second game in a week for Craig Bellamy. Still, the manager knows best.

One point to note is that Lee Naylor has had some stick for what have been in all honesty some pretty awful performances. It was terrible though to see some of the City "fans" booing him when the team sheets were announced

City were out of the blocks in a hurry, and the chances (and corners) came thick and fast in an opening period that saw Leeds pegged back into their own half. It looked only a matter of time before City scored, and Craig Bellamy duly obliged in the 11th minute from close range. That only served to fire City up more, and peg Leeds back more, although the visitors did look dangerous when they got into the final third. In fact City had about 10 corners in the opening period and looked unlikely to score from any, whilst Leeds almost scored from their first. City though bossed the first half and went in one up.

It was not likely that Leeds would be quite so restrained in the second period, but again, City were in their faces from the off, showing a desire to chase and close down that has been lacking in recent games.

As I mentioned though, Naylor and Quinn both look particularly vulnerable, with poor passing, poor positioning and a seeming ingrained need to let the ball bounce before playing it, and that left a 1-0 advantage always on a knife edge. A sweeping pass from Leeds opened up a chance for Sam, one of Leeds' subs, who looked certain to score only for Heaton to pull off a brilliant save. But City failed to clear and the marvelously named Snodgrass curled a great shot in to level the match.

That blow took the wind out of City, and for 15 minutes they lost the plot. They reverted to route one, gave the ball way every time they got it and looked very likely to concede again. But they gradually settled again, and wih just over 10 minutes remaining, Whittingham fired a perfectly weighted long ball down the right channel for Chopra to chase. He outran the defender, but Leeds 'keeper Schmeichel seemed to be getting there first as he closed down the angle until Chopra finished superbly with an outstretched leg to send most of the 25,000 plus crowd into a frenzy.

Leeds pushed for a second equaliser, but City saw out the match which fires them back into 2nd spot, and takes a huge weight off everyone at the club and the fans.

This win doesn't paper over all the cracks though. Naylor (and Quinn) were both pretty awful again, and we depserately need some quality full backs (apart from Naughts, though he looks pretty decent at centre back too).

For the moment though, the heat is off. A very winnable FA Cup tie against Premiership Stoke on Saturday brings welcome respite from the tension of the league.

One final point, and one I think I've made before is that I can't get an internet signal on my phone at City matches. I can when Wales play, or the Blues are there, but when City are at home, the O2 data signal disappears. Apparently, I'm told by fellow Twitterer @Rhys1927 O2 switch off the data signal when City are at home. Why? Other carriers don't seem to. I pay good money to O2 every month to use their services, and they deem not to provide me with a service I'm paying for. That's why you don't get any match tweets/updates from me or @ministats during City matches. A Mr Angry email coming on I think.

It's never dull following City!


Sunday, January 02, 2011

Beast. Anyone else? Jones to stay or go?

So it's a done deal. "Big" John Parkin, known as the "Beast" in some parts in now a Bluebird after his transfer from Preston North End. I've taken the mick out of him before because of his size, but he's ours now, and I think he's got the chance to become a cult hero at the CCS.

He's a big, big lad, but Dave Jones obviously sees something in him. Mind you he also saw something in Warren Feeney, Solomon Taiwo, Iwan Redan, Malvin Kamara and a few others who never made the grade at City.

He's always caused City some discomfort when we've played against him, and whilst he won't win any 100 yard sprints, there aren't that many occasions to be fair when you need your striker to win a 100 yard race. So long as he's as quick over 10-20 yards that's probably good enough. And finally, we have someone else other than Jay Bothroyd to fill that "target man" role.

News on other signings is fairly quiet. All the hoo-ha about James Vaughan, which appeared done and dusted a couple of days ago has gone silent, and the other person who's actually been named with some truth about it, Andy O'Brien has secured his future at Tuesday's opponents Leeds. For the moment then, we wait with bated breath of news of other signings. Given Jones has been talking for what seems like months about another "four or five players coming in, we should see at least three more.

And what of Dave Jones? The various Bluebirds message boards are going into meltdown with rumours of his impending demise, although to be fair there still seems to be a fair amount of support for him as well. If not wholehearted praise, at least along the lines of "who's going to do any better"? And it's hard to see the owners sacking Jones after giving him money to bring new players in. Surely if they were going to ditch him, they'd have done it before Christmas, and give a new man the pot of gold?

We'll see. Leeds visit to the CCS on Tuesday night is clearly a massive, massive game. It's massive becase we desperately need three points. It's massive because we've been so awful recently, but especially in the last two games. It's massive for Dave Jones because despite what I've said above, another poor result could push the owners to the point of sacking Jones - and make no mistake, the fans will let everyone know if they think the performance is poor.

All done for another year

That's it. Christmas all done and dusted for us for another year. We have one more day off tomorrow before kids are back in school and Mrs Stats and I are back in work (though to be fair Mrs S has had to work 4 days between Christmas & New Year, including New Year's Day, whilst I slobbed about - who'd be a nurse manager?).

Anyway, as usual, and despite best intentions, I've eaten (far) too much, drunk (a little) too much and am developing indigestion. Resolutions for the New Year therefore include easting less, exercising more and maybe drinking a tad less. Yeah. No seriously. Well maybe drinking a tad less.

It's a funny old thing Christmas. It creeps up on you out of nowhere, and is gone before you can blink an eye. It's certainly a commercial free for all these days which rather grates with me despite all the above. Don't get me wrong, I don't want to go into a silent retreat or anything, but when did you last see a holy Christmas card, or go to church for the right reasons, rather than falling out of the pub for midnight mass? And try as we might we always spend more on presents that we intend to.

So, the last of the family gathering has gone - we had 15 including us four for dinner today, we've seen nearly everyone we wanted to, the tree is holding up (but will be down tomorrow), and then it's the packing away of decorations, lights etc.

We've managed to accumulate 5 black bags of rubbish (that's discounting the 2 crates of empty bottles, 4 large bags of plastic and three large bags of cardboard and two large bags of paper that will be going to recycling. As an aside why is everything packaged in plastic these days? Does my head in.

So, back to (relative) normality on Tuesday. Frankly I prefer being on holiday!

And no, we won't be chucking our tree on the side of the road like in the picture - well, only for the local council to pick it up for yet more recycling....

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Something badly, badly wrong at City

Something is badly wrong at Cardiff City. At the end of October they were rising high, topping the table.

Since then, it's all gone horribly, horribly wrong. We're being beaten and held by very average teams, the manager looks clueless in terms of selection, tactics and his legendary lack of a "Plan B"

Since they beat Norwich at home on 30th October, their results have read as follows:

Lost 1-0 at home to Swansea
Drew 1-1 away at Reading
Won 4-2 away at Scunthorpe (if the game had gone on longer, Scunny would have equalised)
Lost 2-0 at home to Forest
Lost 2-1 away to QPR
Drew 1-1 at home with Preston
Lost 1-0 away at Boro
Won 2-0 at home to Coventry
Lost 4-1 away at Watford
Lost 3-0 away at Bristol City

That's 8 points from a possible 30. Despite that, they've stayed in the top three most of that time, but today's result sees them fall to 5th.

The January transfer window is open, but you have to wonder if manager Dave Jones is going to be around long enough to make use of it. City are showing relegation form with no hint of being able to turn it around.

We've got the one striker capable of scoring goals this year out, and looking increasingly discontent with his lot as the Premiership sides start lining him up (and he's out of contract this summer), we've got a defence leakier than a leaky sieve, a midfield that looks increasingly incapable of passing the ball at all - oh what joy it was when they only passed it sideways and backwards - do you remember those heady days? The remaining strikers, Bellamy included all "work hard" but mostly it's bluster.

The Malaysians who are running the club must surely be asking questions about whether City have got what it takes to get to the Premiership. At the moment, the answer is a clear and resounding "No".

City are rumoured to be bringing in striker "big" John Parkin from Preston. James Vaughan from Everton has also been mentioned in despatches. As my previous post mentioned, and the last two matches have sorely shown, it's defenders we need, although someone to score goals would be an asset. Oh and someone in midfield. Defender Andy O'Brien is staying at Leeds after seemingly almost being snared by Jones.

These players are paid an arm and a leg to kick a bag of wind about and they're not performing. Nor is the back room team. They need to sort it out and quick - Leeds are here on Tuesday.

It's not good enough. We're being beaten by distinctly averages sides with no top name players, and largely quiet managers who are tucking us up though willing team work, good research and a desire to win that's not evident in the City camp.

Spanked: Bristol City 3-0 City

I'll leave today's summary to @CardiffCityNews on Twitter

"Lost for words to be honest. Defense has been terrible. The passing in midfield has been even worse. Strikers control severely lacking also."