March 2012 Archives
Stephen McPhail can save our season. It certainly needs saving, despite the fact that Cardiff City can still climb to fourth in the league by beating Millwall on Saturday.
The Championship form table, based on the previous eight games, has Cardiff in 21st place, just above the relegation zone with 7 points from a possible 24. Fortunately, the likes of Hull, Blackpool and Middlesbrough have only fared marginally better during this period.
As a result, the table has become more congested in recent weeks and now only eight points separate Brighton in 4th and Watford in 14th. The perennial debate regarding whether the competitive nature of the Championship is due to strength or weakness has been comprehensively answered this season, in favour of the latter.
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Cardiff certainly have their fair share of long-standing deficiencies, a chronic lack of width and a lack of physical presence up front being the two most frequently trotted out. These remain pressing concerns, but another problem area looks set to cost the Bluebirds a place amongst the top six.
Cardiff have thrown away a potential 25 points from a winning position this season, substantially more than league leaders Southampton (6) and second placed Reading (5), Cardiff top the table in terms of this particular statistic. When you couple this with an alarming tendency to conceded late goals, this fragility looks set to result in an anti-climax to a promising season.
Coventry City's manager Andy Thorn was blunt in addressing the issue after his side's late equaliser on Wednesday. "My analysts told me Cardiff conceded one hell of a lot of late goals. Cardiff concede more goals in the last 15 minutes than any team in the Championship," Thorn revealed. "I told the lads to keep going no matter what."
Anyone expecting to see any transfer activity at Cardiff City this week? No, me neither.
With Haris Vuckic returning to Newcastle and the forthcoming closure of the loan transfer window, this is a week that could make or break Cardiff's season. My expectations may be low, but the available options are encouraging, amongst the bloated ranks of the Premier League elite.
Malky is believed to have been in contact with both Arsenal and Chelsea in recent weeks, they certainly boast some excess attacking options that would be worth considering. Arsenal's Park Chu-Young is free of national service obligations and would add energy to Cardiff's tired side, while fellow South Korean international, Ji Dong-Won of Sunderland, is also an option.
It can't last. Cardiff won't be able to maintain a promotion challenge by flogging the same players week in week out. The same side that performed so heroically in the Carling Cup Final all started the following game against West Ham, with the same players again turning out, barring Rudy Gestede, at Brighton on Wednesday.
Against West Ham, Cardiff looked leggy and never got going. Gestede, who always pulls up if he starts two consecutive games, played a second consecutive game and pulled up. Malky may not have the likes of Carlton Cole and Gary O'Neil in reserve, but he certainly has options and appears unwilling to incorporate them.
Providing a much improved display at Brighton, they conceded a late goal, which may not have been directly linked to fatigue, but tired bodies and tired minds are always likely to come up short. Poyet was dynamic in his substitutions, bringing on three players when they fell a goal behind, injecting the side with fresh impetus. They soon equalised and despite Cardiff taking the lead once more, one of the players he introduced bagged the late leveller.