Cardiff 1 - 3 Hull. Comment

Last updated : 13 April 2024 By Paul Evans

I think I’ve mentioned before on here that I do some voluntary work for Cardiff City Supporters’Trust. One of my duties is to prepare and send out e-mail messages to members and today I was asked to send this one out.

“Cardiff City Supporters’ Trust Board today issued a statement because of growing uncertainty over the future of manager Erol Bulut.

The Board said: “We are reliably informed that the decision on who shall be the club’s manager for the 2024-25 season, and on what terms, has been solely in the hands of club owner Vincent Tan for some time.

“The Trust Board understands that as of today he has not made a decision on whether or not a new contract should be offered to the current manager Erol Bulut or the search should begin for a new manager.

“We strongly urge the owner to make that decision as speedily as possible to remove growing uncertainties and disquiet amongst fans about the matter. Cardiff City fans deserve certainty, given that at this time they are being asked to renew their season tickets or become new season ticket holders.”

Tonight I heard the message referred to on Radio Wales as a plea to give Erol Bulut a contract for next season, but is it really that? It seems to me that if there is a plea involved in it, it’s more that Vincent Tan should make his mind up one way or another on the matter- either offer Bulut his new contract or tell him he’s not getting a new one and start the search for another new manager.

Anyway, that’s not really why I made reference to the message, it was more to get over that, despite the issue of Bulut’s contract being the subject of the moment at Cardiff City judging by what I’m reading on social media and hearing on post game phone ins, working on that message for about ten minutes before I sent it out just brought home how apathetic I am about the whole thing.

I’ve been gradually moving into the Bulut out camp since he had his moan after the Plymouth match and the Swansea game, but more particularly, the feeble surrender against Sunderland moved me firmly into it.

Therefore, you would have thought that I would be thinking let’s get rid of Bulut as soon as possible, but how can you be hopeful that this would lead to an improvement when you know that the decision on who replaces him will be made by men who have gained themselves plenty of experience of appointing new managers in the last ten years or more, but still seem completely hopeless at it?

This week I saw it suggested somewhere that Vincent Tan and Mehmet Dalman have alternative attempts at appointing new managers because it’s thought that the other made such a bad pick with the last one that they were happy to let thee other have a go. I don’t think that’s true, but it doesn’t fall into the too ridiculous to be true category either.

Where the theory holds water is when it’s particularly applied to Erol Bulut. Back in the summer when he was appointed, it was pretty obvious that he was Mr Dalman’s man, not Mr Tan’s. Indeed, there were remarks towards our owner which may have been viewed as disparaging regarding his football knowledge made at Erol Bulut’s first press conference from a surprising source (I think you know who I mean).

Mr Dalman had tried to bring Bulut to the club a year or two earlier, but he was just about to be appointed Fenerbache manager apparently and it was his time in this job I believe which enabled the club and some in the local media to portray Bulut as representing a managerial step up in class from what we’ve been used to.

Well, today’s 3-1 home loss to Hull left me even more convinced that our manager is not much of an upgrade on the likes of Harris, McCarthy, Morison, Hudson and Lamouchi – if he is one at all. This afternoon, there was all of the usual negativity, obsession with what his team did out of possession, uninspired substitutions and lack of attacking numbers, but there were also one or two new things which only made the whole step up in class line all the harder to believe.

Of course, those who defend our manager can, rightly, point to the fact that, in reality, we’ve been safe from the drop for weeks and barring a very poor finish to the campaign, we’re going to finish in the region of ten places higher than we did last season.

So, although I’ll say that sometimes it’s hard to work out how and why it’s happened, there has to be an acknowledgement that we have improved since last season. However, while some will use the transfer embargo we were under to further Bulut’s cause in that he’s improved us while having his hands tied by not being able to spend on new players, I would argue that it looks to me as if he’s had the biggest football budget to work with of any City manager since the summer of 2020 when Neil Harris was able to bring Kieffer Moore and Harry Wilson to the club.

I’ll not go into a blow by blow account of today’s game because, to a large extent, it was more of the same old, same old, but there were a couple of notable exceptions.

For example, despite being 2-0 down at half time, I thought it was a slightly more encouraging first half compared to many at Cardiff City Stadium this season. I say this because, as someone who always used to rail against the long ball game we played for so many years, it was notable that it had all but disappeared today.

Instead, what attacking we did (there still wasn’t a great deal of it) consisted of us trying to put together the sort of move that Hull managed for their second  goal. The intention was laudable, but all it did really was show our limitations in this department (especially in comparison to most of the teams we play).

I’ll single out two players here, but they’re far from the only ones guilty of these sort of errors – today Manolis Siopis and Jamilu Collins had the chances to play passes to a team mate that would not have left them through on goal, but would have put them in down the flank clear of the full back, in both cases, they were simple passes that were completely botched. It’s a source of mystery to me that professional footballers in what is portrayed as one of the strongest leagues in Europe cannot be relied upon to make passes that should not test their technique – especially using modern day equipment and pitches.

In saying that, City did not have much luck today. Only Hull’s second goal out of the three they scored did not carry a degree of good fortune to it – before I develop this, I would just say that the goal, which to my eyes consisted of slick, incisive passing and combination play before a very composed finish by expensive Liverpool loanee Fabio Carvalho, provoked a totally different response from our manager. He saw it as the low point in what he thought was an unacceptable first half showing –  Bulut was left fuming at what he saw as his team’s lack of a press and not implementing what they’d done in preparation for the game in training – you know, all of the usual out of possession stuff he puts so much emphasis on..

Going back to City’s lack of good fortune, Carvalho’s opener was a fine example of hitting a half volley from the edge of the penalty area correctly, but there was luck in how a half cleared corner fell so perfectly for him.

Another example of this ill fortune came in the second half when sub Josh Wilson-Esbrand pulled up with a hamstring injury to end a promising looking attack, but, having made his usual type substitutions by bringing on Wilson-Esbrand for Josh Bowler, Aaron Ramsey for David Turnbull (the usual reluctance to have two attacking midfielders on the pitch at the same time) and Famala Diedhiou for Yakou Meite, Bulut now had to bring on Josh Tanner to play left wing back, but not acting to make his fifth substitution while he could looked like a mistake (needless to say, Joel Colwill and Cian Ashford stayed on the bench).

Whether Hull’s third goal was down to bad luck or pure farce is arguable, but, I’ll be generous and edge towards the former. Very annoying is definitely what it was though because, having just got back into the game when Karlan Grant surprised Ryan Allsop with a shot from fifteen yards hit earlier than the ex City keeper expected, Bulut decided to change to a three centreback system and he was passing on instructions to Nat Phillips when Joe Ralls, keen to keep the momentum in our favour, took a quick free kick to Phillips, but the defender, distracted by what his manager was saying, let the ball run past him and Jaden Philogene, making an otherwise quiet return to Cardiff City Stadium, accepted the gift and ran on to comfortably beat Ethan Horvarth to, effectively, kill the game off.

I wouldn’t blame Bulut, Ralls or Phillips too much for this goal, but it was yet another home defeat to go on top of the three previous seasons full of them – this abysmal record in front of their own fans makes it hard enough for the club to sell the season tickets for 24/25 that went on sale this week, so, to make that situation even worse with the uncertainty about the manager only makes the job even harder..

Elsewhere, the under 18s followed up a midweek 4-4 draw with Hull with a 5-0 win at Wigan thanks to goals by Tanatswa Nyakhuwa with two, Ronan Kpakio, Louis Phillips and Lennon Talbot.