Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Daveja Vu? City target Sky Blues Turner

This sounds a bit like a Dave Jones strategy. Identify a player who hasn't played for (insert any amount of time here, but usually a long time), and aim to get them into City.

This happened so often under Jones, who shrewd though he often was in the transfer and loan market often bought players in who had a history of injury, only for them never to see the light of day in a City shirt - at least not in any real sense.

Today news that Cardiff are targeting Ben Turner, a former Coventry academy player, was their player of the year in 2008/9, but who hasn't played since November 2010 after undergoing surgery on a knee injury.

It's obviously early days, and before we write this off it's worth remembering that:
  1. We haven't signed him yet
  2. Birmingham are apparently also in the hunt for Turner
  3. Malky Mackay isn't Dave Jones
Other rumours suggest that City's out of favour striker "Big" Jon Parkin, who hasn't had a look in under Malky apart from the Carling Cup matches might be going the other way as part of a possible deal.

With transfer deadline day approaching fast it'll be interesting to see what Malky can achieve, and me and the rest of the fans can only wait with bated breath.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Honours even: Portsmouth 1-1 City

I can't comment overly on this match as I've been so busy I didn't see or hear the match, and only have picked up what's been on the BBC website report.

Pompey is always a tough place to go, a cliche maybe but true. From what I've heard it was probably a fair result. Nice to see Andrew Taylor get off the mark - goals coming from everywhere this season which is always good to see, but I guess ultimately disappointing to lose the lead once we had it.

Still, I think it's been a pretty decent start to City's campaign all told, and I've been impressed with the manager and the players and their approach.

Up the City!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Apple: Innovative, dominant or just control freaks?

Despite their ├╝ber cool kit, and oh so easy to use OS's, Apple have a habit of rubbing it's own users up the wrong way from time to time.

One of the things that irritates a lot of people about the iPhone and iOS, is Apple's insistence on approving everything, and apparently vetoing apps that it thinks are too similar to it's own offerings. They usually cite the need for control and having a closed ecosystem does have positives, but I struggle to understand the rationale why when developers are coding better apps than Apple can provide.

Now I think it's fair to say that the general consensus, certainly amongst nearly all the iPhone users I know, personally and online, is that the iPhone's default calendar app is pretty crap.

There are all sorts of things that someone who makes a lot of use of a calendar (which is most of us I guess), that the in-built offering can't do. It's views are limited, it can't set a default alarm for new entries, and more.

So inevitably a plethora of alternative have sprung up. Some are relatively simplistic like Agenda and some like Pocket Informant try to cram loads of features in.

I like the principle of the default app but want something a bit more. Utilitap's Week Cal fits the bill perfectly and I've been using it for some months. I particularly like the the various views the app offers.

Tonight I noticed there was another update for this in the App Store , but imagine my suprise when checking the details of the update, its said, and I quote:

Apple ordered us to change the old month and change the day overview from Week Calendar. We had no choice but to comply, otherwise there would be no Week Calendar app anymore

This is astounding.

Apple must be aware that users want more from the in-built Calendar app - if they don't their head is in the sand. They are clearly aware that there are better apps than theirs out there. But to make a developer remove functionality and stubbornly fail to develop their own app to provide the functionality that users want (unless by some miracle it's coming in the iPhone 5) beggars belief and is arrogance in the extreme.

I am seeing more and more people starting to talk about the closed nature of the iOS system as a problem rather than a plus. If Apple keep doing this, developers will get fed up, and they'll go and code for Android (if they're not already).

Apple needs to take a long hard look at itself in relation to this. Idiots.

I've "downgraded" Week Cal with the latest update, but I'm never going back to the default Calendar app. It's been long consigned to an "unused apps" folder, along interestingly with the default weather app, the default stocks app.....get my drift?

A crazy night: City 5-3 Huddersfield

This was a crazy night at CCS. City, in control of the game at 2-0 after two good goals from Gyepes and Parkin, almost threw the match away on a terrible mistake from on the night captain Paul Quinn, who gifted the ball to Rhodes who shot low past Heaton to pull Huddersfield back into the match.

A second soft goal after City failed to clear made it 2-2 and with their tails up, Huddersfield went ahead through Rhodes again, with just minutes remaining (although he looked offside to everyone except the officials and Huddersfield fans and staff).

Amazingly, Cowie levelled it in the last minute of normal time to take the tie into extra time.

At the 90 minute whistle it was clear to see the devastation on the lower league side, as they thought they'd won it, and from that point there was only going to be one winner.

Conway added a second in the first period of ET, before Cowie wrapped it up towards the end. By then, Quinn was almost immobile with cramp, Gestede was running on empty, and everyone looked shattered, and understandably so, perhaps with the exception of Cowie who looks fitter than a butcher's dog.

City will be grateful to be through (unlike those Premiership teams who want to be out of the competition - yes Mr Warnock that's you). They should have breezed this, and were cruising at 2-0 before Quinn's aberration. There are still too many lapses in defence for me, but there are some real bright spots.

Young Joe Ralls looks an amazing prospect with his vision and skill. 1st XI regulars Cowie & Conway were superb, Keinan had a decent game as did Blake for the most part and Gestede looked good. Parkin was great for 30 minutes, and took his goal well, but I do fear for his long term prospects at City.

Malky replaced Parkin from Miller on 64 minutes and Ralls for Whittingham on 81 minutes and when the score was 2-2, presumably hoping to wrap up the game, but that was before Huddersfield re-wrote the script. However, it was Whitts composure and guile that eventually saw City through ably assisted by Cowie's never say die attitude.

This was ultimately impressive by City, with a determination to see the game out that sometimes was lacking under Jones and the previous squad. It's not perfect though. We need more consistency in defence, and are leaking too many easy and giveaway goals.

Still, for the moment, lets revel in a fantastic night with plenty of goals. I wonder how many of the "fans" who left when Huddersfield scored their 3rd on 88 mins missed a City win and another to goals? It's never over until the fat lady sings.....


Saturday, August 20, 2011

Dogged draw: Burnley 1-1 City

City fought out a tough draw at Turf Moor today after the home side got off to a rapid start courtesy of a free header for Austen inside 2 minutes.

That put City on the back foot, and the radio commentary talked of a sluggishness and tiredeness about City, which is a it worrying only 2 weeks into the season.

City appeared to be struggling to put any rhythm together whilst Burnley were quick on the break. Anthony Gerrard seemed to be lucky to get away with a rash challenge midway through the first half, with Radio Wales suggesting he was lucky to get away with a straight red.

You can't count City out though, and on 40 minutes Earnie popped up for a tap in to draw the sides level.

Listening on the radio, it sounded a fairly open match, although most of the attacking seemed to be coming from the Burnley players. Malky made some changes with Blake for Mason and Gestede for Earnie, (no Parkin on the bench - presumably his twitter rant still rankling with Mackay).

The defence still sounds dodgy I have to say. Nauts has yet to find his usual imperious form, and it seems doubts still remain about Gerrard. Mackay has said he wants another three or so players, and it's clear amongst those is a defender, and probably a striker. The Miller/Earnshaw partnership isn't one made in heaven, and whilst Gestede has potential, Malky is yet to risk starting with him, and Parkin seems persona non grata in the League at least. Maybe a booming performance from the big man on Tuesday in the Carling Cup, assuming he starts may make the manager think differently.

In the end, Malky will probably be happy with a draw against a decent side on their turf. There's a bit of light relief next Tuesday with a home tie in the beer cup against Huddersfield, before another away trip to Portsmouth.

So a steady start to the season for Bluebirds.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Honeymoon over: City 1-3 Brighton

City were undone by a flock of seagulls tonight at CCS.

Malky Mackay's honeymoon period is over. After destroying a poor Bristol City side on Sunday (who incidentally managed to be Leicester away tonight), City were never able to reproduce the scintillating football of that match.

Brighton look a good side. They've (mostly) been together a yearor so, and won League One last term, and clearly have a manager in Gus Poyet who has transferred his playing ability into management ability.

The Seagulls looked comfortable for all but a 10 minute period in the middle of the fist half, when it looked like City, unchanged except for Mason for the injured Gunnarsson were beginning to raise the tempo, but a suicidal crossfield ball from Mr Reliable Kevin McNaughton gave Barnes a virtual one on one with Marshall and his finish was deadly accurate. By then though, Brighton had shown their intent, having had one ruled out for offside, and three more close line decisions having gone against them.

City, playing a diamond midfield were never at the races, giving Brighton the chance t utilise the space and pace of Mackail-Smith. It was he who turned Hudson inside out, and then won looked a fairly soft penalty which made it 2-0. As City chased the game, even more space opened up and Hoskins broke away to shoot past Marshall on the angle who probably should have saved it. Whittingham got a consolation goal from the spot, but 3-1 was probably a fair reflection on the game. Cynics might say Brighton made few chances. True - only four or five attempts that I can recall. The difference was they put three of those away and didn't need to create any more.

City looked out of sorts from Sunday's performance. Marshall insisted on booting the ball up the middle from goal kicks to Earnshaw & Miller, combined height 2ft 4 inches against the ginat Brighton centre backs. When we did get possession we were wasteful, and in truth at times we looked tired - but we were chasing the game from early on.

My view, for what it's worth is Miller and Earnshaw aren't working. It should be one (my preference is Earnie on the three games I've seen), plus Gestede, who did more in his 23 minutes on the park than Miller did in 90. The midfield needs to be stronger. It's nice not to see a rigid 4-4-2, but with Whittingham deep and Mason at the tip of the diamond there's a huge hole that was exploited to the full by Brighton tonight.

Still it's early days. We were never ging to win everything, and it'll test both the players and more importantly the new manager to see how we respond to this defeat.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Swans learn a tough lesson

Manchester City 4-0 Swansea

I'm not going to gloat. I'm not. Well maybe just a bit.

The Jacks learnt the hard way of the gulf in class between the Championship and the Premiership as they were soundly beaten 4-0 away at the Etihad Stadium by Manchester City.

Much though local rivalry prevents me from admitting it, I was, and remain impressed by Swansea's style of football. Get the ball down and pass it. And for 20 minutes or so this evening, they looked if not comfortable, not madly out of their depth.

But then Man City turned up through the gears, and it pretty much became a backs to the wall effort. How the richest side in the UK if not the world weren't up at half time no -one but perhaps new Jacks 'keeper Vorm knows.

After the break it was more of the same, and inevitably the floodgates burst. First Dzeko who should have scored in the first half from close range, and then the man who's going to make all the headlines. Aguero, £35m of Argentine brilliance. Talk about an instant impact. One goal, an assist for Silva for City's 3rd and then in the dying embers of the game a screamer to make it 4-0. It wasn't a hat-trick, but ref Mike Dean must have thought it good enough as he handed the ball to City's new superstar (move over Balotelli) at the final whistle.

Swansea were never in it after the first 20. The question is can they in the oft repeated words of former Cardiff manager Dave Jones, "get up, dust themselves down and move on"?

Only time will tell. I think they will have enough to beat some sides this year, but on today's performance, when they come up against the big boys, it's going to be hard....very hard.

And before any Swans fans accuse me of dissing them when Cardiff aren't even in the Premiership, I know that. I'm trying to be objective here. Honestly. Any team might have found it hard tonight. It was Swansea's tough luck it was them.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Super City: City 3-1 Bristol City

Cardiff City followed up last weeks away win at West Ham with a highly impressive 3-1 demolition of Bristol City in front of over 22,000 at CCS, Malky Mackay's competitive home debut as manager.

Fielding the same starting eleven and bench as last week, hopes were high, but after only 10 minutes Mackay's tactical nous was being tested as enforcing midfielder Gunnarsson left the pitch with a nasty looking ankle injury. I suppose I was expecting him to be replaced with Quinn, a full back, and shifting Andrew Taylor up into midfield - perhaps something that would have happened under Dave Jones, but no, Mackay instead brought on the young striker Joe Mason. Immediately he had an impact, running at the Bristol defence he was fouled first by McAllister and then Spence, both drawing yellow cards inside his first few minutes on the pitch.

This period of play galvanised City, and a few minutes later they were in front after Conway's sublime cross was nodded past former England 'keeper David James at the far post after the Robin's defence went awol.

Cardiff were rampant now, and everything just kept coming back at Bristol. Their passes went astray, City cleaned up and pressed harder. Whittingham was pulling the strings in midfield, with outlets left and right. It was no surprise that 5 minutes after the opener, Joe Mason ran at the defence, sent a ball across the face of goal 20 yards out that Conway hit beautifully into the bottom corner for 2-0.Even at this early stage, the City fans were giving it the 'ole", and giving David' James a bit of stick with repeated chants of "England's No. 1".

And more was to come, when Cowie's poweful shot was parried by James, then went loose leaving returning legend Earnshaw the simplest of tap ins for City's 3rd, followed by his trademark somersault. David James should probably have been booked for his reaction, kicking the ball right out of the stadium, but in truth, the defence in front of him was pretty dire, and his handling wasn't great, so a lot to be annoyed and frustrated about.

For City fans, after the often dogged and sometimes downright stubborness of a Dave Jones side, it was so refreshing to see City players rushing into the box when we attacked, and those same players fighting back to defend every time Bristol attacked - which in truth wasn't very often. How many times last season did we see precisely no-one in the box when we attacked? A lot.

However, warning signs are still there. A couple of times the Robins thrust forward, and in truth should have pulled one back after Marshall was forced to make a great close save, only to see the ball hooked back to Pitman, who managed to hit the bar from about 3 yards out with an open goal begging.

After the break, things were understandably more restrained. City had the job almost done, and Kieth Millen had obviously re-organised his disheveled Robins at half time. He brought on the diminutive Campbell-Rice who attacked down the right, and started to give Taylor and Cowie something to think about. Stead also came on - someone who's haunted City in the past, and to give credit to the Robins, they did start to threaten. Eventually it told when Campbell-Rice's cross was picked up by Maynard on the corner of the 6 yard box, and he neatly turned Gerrard and fired past Marshall.

But it was a consolation goal for Bristol, no more. City had the ball in the net through Mason less than a minute later, but it was ruled offside.

Last week's super-sub, Gestede came on, and though he didn't make the same impact, he gave Bristol something else to think about.

City saw the game out comfortably enough, and that win sees them top of the table after two games. Man of the match? The fans vote was Joe Mason, who has been christened by the faithful "Joe Messi". Hard to argue with that the way he impacted the game, but in truth, any one of the eleven could have got it today. They were magnificent.

Brighton will be a sterner test on Wednesday. Bristol City I think will have their work cut out this year unless Keith Millen can sort that horrible defence out.

As for City? Well, at the moment, Malky can do no wrong. Two wins from two games, goals from around the team, passion, or as we like to say here in Cardiff "passhun", a vocal, clearly passionate manager. Life is good. We're not complacent, there's an awful long way to go, but after the performance today, I'm looking forward to the journey.

Up the City!

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Miller's Hammer blow: West Ham 0-1 City

Cardiff City started their 2011/2012 Championship campaign with a 1-0 win away to title favourites West Ham courtesy of a late strike by Scottish international Kenny Miller.

City fans probably are still not sure where to pitch their hopes for the season with a new manager and almost completely new squad in place, but if today's performance is anything to go by, they should have no fears, and could well be in contention come April/May next year.

West Ham certainly had the best of the first half an hours play, but City gradually came into the game and arguably finished the first period stronger. City grew in confidence and generally passed the ball well, with Hudson and Gerrard at the back having no real scares, giving Marshall, preferred in goal to Heaton a relatively comfortable time. City pressed on a few occasions with Miller and Robert Earnshaw not really getting a major chance. It was evident that Gunnarson is no Andy Legg, as his two long trhow efforts went straight behind for a goal kick.

The BBC coverage I have to say was a bit poor. Dave Jones was one of the pundits, and though not everyone likes him, it was a bit harsh to hear Gabby Logan questioning him on how the current City team compared to his. All other commentators/pundits were generally fawning over West Ham, who undoubtedly have the quality with the likes of Nolan, Cole, Parker, Collinson etc.

In the second period the game began to open up a little, and the Hammers had the best chances. Piquionne hitting the bar, and Whittingham clearing one off the line with his knee. Marshall made several good stops, including a fizzer from Matt Taylor.

Mackay changed things around, bringing on tall Frenchman Rudy Gestede for Earnshaw, and Mason for Conway, and it was Gestede that made the impact. Hi first missed a decent headed chance. His height and strength added a new dimension and a minutes into three of stoppage time he brushed of Piquionne on the touchline, ran into the box and pulled the ball back to Miller. It looked like the ball had gone too far behind him, but he twisted and shot high into the net
through the hands of England 'keeper Robert Green to seal the points and send the travelling City support home in ecstasy.

Make no bones about this. This win a great win for City. Away from home, on national TV, against the favourites for the title in a side packed with genuine Premiership quality.

Every City player deserves credit. They looked and played like a team. They were all outstanding, but my MoM was David Marshall who made a couple of crucial stops.

I'd have settled for a draw, but realistically expected us to lose. To go home with all three points, and having looked generally assured throughout, send all sorts of really positive messages to players, fans, and the wider Championship. Yes it's early days. Yes there are still 45 matches to go, but hey. You can't get sweeter than beating the Hammers on their own patch on opening day.


Friday, August 05, 2011

Turkey - and I'm not talking Christmas!

Well we're back from our summer holidays. This year we went all inclusive to Antalya in Turkey.

All the piccies are available here.

It was a fantastic (if very hot) holiday. The hotel, the Delphin Palace, was immense - not just in size, but the food, the staff, the decor. Brilliant.

The temperatures were mad. On the hottest day the temperature guage just outside the pool hit 50C! The lowest it recorded was about 30C, even at night. Every day it was above 40C.

Sadly didn't get to see much of Turkey as only left the complex one day to go into the old town (Kalieci) which was fantastic - all the small bazaars, spice shops etc.

Would we go again? Definitely!

The season dawns. What lies ahead?

And so the season kicks off again. As I sit watching what has to be said, a fairly droll affair so far between Hull and Blackpool, City's opener is still some way off - a 1pm ko v the Hammers on Sunday.

It's the start of a new era, as the "Malkyasian" revolution begins in earnest. Who knows what ups and downs Cit fans are going to see over the next 10 months or so? Hopefully attractive football with plenty of wins.

I'm still unsure to gauge quite what a good position for us to finish in would be. Heart says the play-offs, head says top 12 in this new era under Malky Mackay with an almost totally rebuilt squad.

One thing's for sure. I'll be there!