Villa 1 - 0 Cardiff. Comment.

Last updated : 13 April 2018 By Michael Morris

C:WindowsTempphpCDA6.tmpWhen it became clear that I would be moving house last month, I was told by a few people that the biggest problem I would have when it came to having things back to “normal” once I was in my new home was getting my broadband working properly again.

I didn’t believe them – after all, there are so many, apparently, more important things that needed to be ironed out before you can start to feel settled, but they were right and I suppose it’s a commentary on how reliant we have become on something that barely existed a quarter of a century ago – it’s been almost three weeks since I moved now and I’ve been told that I’m still up to a fortnight away from getting the fibre broadband service I was used to.

For now, I’m soldiering on with a Mifi which means I can browse and do all of the financial stuff I need to do online, but, streaming is too expensive a pastime currently, given how quickly it eats up the data I purchase under my pay as you go arrangement.

I did splash out to watch the Sheffield United match, but I’ve seen barely any televised football since I moved and so, with nearly all of you who get to read this having seen a lot more of last night’s 1-0 loss by Cardiff City to fourth placed Aston Villa than I have, this is just going to be a short piece which will be more about looking at what’s to come, than our latest setback, which has taken us out of the automatic promotion positions for the first time in a few months.

I listened to the match on the radio and one comment which stuck in my mind came from Jason Perry in the dying seconds when he said, despite doing very little between the two penalty boxes, City had more of the chances on the night. Nathaniel Mendez-Laing hit the post quite early on in the game, but, apart from that, just as he did at Cardiff City Stadium back in August, Villa keeper Sam Johnstone impressed with some fine saves – although the impression given was that he shouldn’t really have been given the chance to show his shot stopping ability with some of them.

The inference of that comment by City’s ex centreback was that our midfield of Gunnarsson, Grujic and Paterson didn’t fire and, having watched the other two games, it seems to me that this has been the main problem in the trio of matches we’ve just played against genuine promotion contenders which has seen us only take the one, undeserved, point at Sheffield United.

I’ve made my feelings clear about the quality, or lack of quality, of our passing on a few occasions this season, and, although I get the impression it was more of the same last night, it would be unfair of me to go off on one again on this subject when I haven’t seen any of the action at all.

So, I’ll finish on the game which enabled Fulham to slip past us with a hard fought 1-0 home win against relegation troubled Reading, by saying that, if it were needed, there was more proof of the validity of the adage that what goes around, comes around when Jack Grealish scored what was, apparently, a superb winning goal in the eighty fifth minute.

Grealish, one of the Championship’s more naturally talented divers, was booed and barracked unmercifully at Cardiff City Stadium last season during his side’s 1-0 defeat and there was evidence that he let it get to him, so it must have been sweet revenge for him to volley in that winner. I still think he is the sort of player that gets you relegated from the Premier League though, but, by scoring that goal, I suppose Grealish has, just about, kept Villa’s hopes of going up automatically alive – can’t see it happening mind.

For me, it’s still either Fulham or us to accompany Wolves up automatically and if you look at it in terms of form and momentum, the Londoners, with their twenty game unbeaten run, are holding the aces at the moment.

However, after weeks of being told that we had the toughest run in of any of the automatic promotion contenders, I’d say things have changed and Fulham are the ones with the trickier looking fixtures now. If City were to win at Norwich on Saturday, then Fulham would entertain Brentford at tea time back in third place for a local derby against opponents who have won their last four matches without conceding a goal to keep their Play Off hopes, which had looked dead and buried when we won at Griffin Park last month, alive.

Brentford have been dangerous customers all season and, currently, I’d say that description can, perhaps, be applied to Millwall more than any other side in our division. A trip to the New Den has been a test for everyone in the Championship ever since August, but, at the moment, it is probably as tough an assignment as it has been all season.

Those are the two games most likely to cause Fulham to slip up. Sunderland at home could be tricky if the Wearsiders still have a chance of staying up, but their inability to win at home (they let a lead slip to draw 1-1 with Norwich last night) makes me think they’ll be down by the time they go to Craven Cottage. Something similar applies to the final game of the regular season at Birmingham – the Midlands team are likely to be safe by then, but it will be an awkward task for Fulham if they go there needing a win while the home side could still go down.

City’s game in hand is at Derby following the controversial postponement last month. It should be a real grudge match and could easily be a situation which will find Neil Warnock and his team in their element, but, even if we got nothing from that game, I’d still say our other four fixtures offer us the chance to sneak back into second if Fulham stop winning.

Norwich, Forest and Hull are all teams who are capable of beating us on their day, but the first named are the epitome of a mid table side with nothing to play for and it would take a catastrophic run of results, and a very good finish from twenty second placed Barnsley, to draw the other two into late relegation difficulties.

Reading, who we entertain on the final day of the season, are in a more precarious position, but have ground out a couple of wins in Paul Clement’s first four matches in charge and Sunderland and Ipswich at home and Sheffield Wednesday away before they face us should give them the opportunity to come here with relegation fears a thing of the past.

I’ve always said give me sides with no worries at either end of the table to finish the season with if my side is involved in a fight at the top or bottom of a league and we could be facing four of those in our last five matches, while it’s conceivable that all four of Fulham’s remaining matches will be “Cup Finals”. As long as the physical and psychological damage caused by our late heartbreak against Wolves and Villa hasn’t caused too much harm, this is far from over for a City team who are at least guaranteed a place in the Play Offs after last night’s results.