Five big talking points doing the rounds at Cardiff City
Five Cardiff City talking points
It may appear churlish to pick apart a side that is only goal difference away from topping the Championship, but despite exemplary home form, Cardiff have been surprisingly flaky at times this season. This could be due to the large number of players that have been integrated in a short space of time, but that was also the case last year, where home and away performances were more consistent. There have also been plenty of significant injuries already, but there are also certain issues worthy of highlighting at present.
Will the real Craig Noone please stand up
There have been few Cardiff debuts as impressive as Craig Noone's performance against Wolves. Tricky, direct and relentless, he was the star turn in Cardiff's best performance for a long time. Unfortunately, for every good performance, there seems to be a showing that is every bit as disappointing. Anonymous against Ipswich, he was subsequently replaced by Craig Conway for the Forest game. Having returned to the side for the Watford win, he was again under par and strong competition for places may seem him continue to yo-yo in and out of the side. Consistency is key for wingers, but having made 21 starts for Brighton last year, while emerging from the bench a further 16 times, Noone appears to have previous.
Joe Mason is too good to be warming the bench
Despite substantial investment over the summer and an array of options, room in the side needs to be found for Joe Mason. With Heidur Helguson often isolated up front, Mason is the ideal candidate to provide the link between midfield and attack. With Craig Bellamy and Tommy Smith both absent for the visit of Burnley on Saturday, hopefully Mason will be called upon and given a run in the side and share Peter Whittingham's creative burden.
Time to upgrade the full backs
When you consider some of the full backs that have featured in the Championship in recent years; Nathaniel Clyne, George McCartney, Paul Konchesky, Wayne Bridge, Kyle Naughton etc, Cardiff have not had genuine quality in this position since returning to the second tier. Kevin McNaughton has been reliable and a wonderful servant for the club, but his poor distribution and lack of attacking threat are why he has not been poached by a Premier League side. Andrew Taylor is steady, but one-paced and uncomfortable in possession, plus you get the impression that opponents target him as a weak link. With only Matthew Connolly as cover, this part of the team requires investment, but not cover, starters should be sought.
Do Kim Bo-Kyung, Etien Velikonja and Kadeem Harris actually exist?
Having spent around £4m to bring in these three players, Cardiff fans are still to see where the money went. I appreciate that a settling in period is required when importing players from overseas, but you would have expected as significant a signing as Kim Bo-Kyung to have seen a bit more game time. Velikonja has played even less and Harris has yet to turn out for his new club, although injuries have curtailed his progress this season. Should their lack of playing time be a cause for concern?
Don Cowie and Aron Gunnarsson are struggling
Signed as freebies, Cowie and Gunnarsson were revelations last season. Cowie made a blistering start to his Cardiff career, netting four goals in his first eight games and playing every minute of every game until it all caught up with him towards the end of the season. He has since struggled to find form and this purple patch appears to have skewed expectations. Gunnarsson's influence has also waned this season, compared to last year's ferocious performances. He came off the bench to bag the winner on Tuesday and hopefully that will prove a turning point, as recent showings have been relatively poor.