Cardiff City took their leave of the FA Cup last night in a game which never really got going and with the two sides making a total of sixteen changes from their Saturday line ups, the reputation of what was once known as the best cup competition in the world took yet another battering.
I know all about the need to rest players for what, in these money obsessed days are the main priorities (i.e. Premiership and Championship) and I am knock going to knock Tony Pulis because the players he picked got the job done, but one has to wonder why Dave Jones picked a relatively strong line up in the first game when he might as well have gone with last night's team (which by my reckoning contained no more than three or four members of our first choice starting eleven) at Stoke and have done with it.
Fair play to the club for reducing prices for last night's match, but, when all's said and done, those of us who went along were, effectively, paying £15 or more to watch a reserve match.
I haven't got too much to say about the game except that all I have seen of the recording I made of it was the what looked at the time like a nailed on penalty for us in added time when Michael Chopra appeared to be held by Danny Collins as he burst into the penalty area. The television pictures I saw weren't too conclusive either way, but, with Chopra making little of the incident and Dave Jones saying he didn't think it was a penalty, I suppose I owe referee Peter Walton on apology for all the abuse I hurled at him at the time. That said, I still thought two of the officials were poor last night. Walton was another in what is becoming a pretty long list of Premiership refs who fail to impress when they slum it by coming to Cardiff to officiate and the linesman on the Bob Bank side of the ground was just plain inept - now I accept that current rules make the offside law a lot harder to get right, but there were quite a few dubious looking calls on that score by Mr Flynn I think his name was and he certainly should be able to tell whether the ball has crossed the touchline or not.
Looking for positives, I would say there were encouraging performances from Danny Drinkwater and Aaron Wildig in midfield and with Steve McPhail now likely to be out for a while, perhaps they will come into first team contention (although my bet is that it will be Whittingham and the under achieving Olofinjana in central midfield come Saturday). Man of the match for me though was definitely Lee Naylor and, speaking as one of the many who thought he was on his way out after the games at Watford and Bristol City, it's good to report that he has done well in the three matches out of our last four that I have seen since then - hopefully he can keep it up when he faces Will Buckley again on Saturday.
The truth is though, that once Stoke had scored from a dead ball delivery by Michael Tonge which was far better than anything we came up with in the whole one hundred and twenty minutes, you just knew there was no way back for us as, an early shot from Drinkwater apart, Sorenson in the visitor's goal only got any exercise by coming out to deal with the corners that we, generally, floated into the box - I get the feeling that we could have been playing now and still not have scored.
Anyway, that's enough about last night's non event because it looks like we might well have two new players by the time we are in action again. The Daily Mail is reporting that we have signed Blackpool centre half Derkal Keinan - Keinan is an Israeli international and, although the fact that Blackpool seem prepared to sell him just six months after signing him doesn't inspire confidence, the truth is that I am not aware of ever having seen him play before so it's only right that I at least give the guy a chance before passing judgement on him.
As can also by seen from Mail article, we have completed the loan signing of Jay Emmanuel-Thomas from Arsenal until the end of the season and, having continuously e-mailed Dave Jones about the great job he has been doing in my Cardiff City Football Manager 2011 team, I would like to think that I have played a big part in bringing him to Cardiff (I'm not being serious there by the way - I know I'm sad, but not that sad!). Emmanuel-Thomas is good in Football Manager though as his sheer versatility (he has played left back, central defence, all along the midfield and up front at different times for Arsenal's youth and reserve teams) makes him a good loan signing. However, it is what he did during what were, seemingly, successful loan spells at Blackpool and Doncaster last season that make me hopeful that he can provide a real boost to our promotion challenge - as to where he'll play, well this season, he has, apparently, settled on an attacking left sided midfield role for Arsenal's reserves for whom he has scored ten goals in nine matches.
One last thing, I have been determined this season not to have endless messages on here about our finances, but it has been reported that there is a meeting with Sam Hammam today in London to discuss the Langston debt. With a deadline for repayment having run out at the end of 2010, Langston's loan notes have become a live issue again. I could go on for ages about the rumours and conjecture that there has been on the messageboards recently concerning Sam Hammam, suffice it to say though that, if him getting some sort of recognition or role at the club means that we are finally shot of the debt then great, but please Lord don't let him near the financial side again and, to be honest, I think we have had enough of "football men" who have brought players to the club solely because they have paid them money we didn't have.