Weekly review 22/07/2018

Last updated : 22 July 2018 By Michael Morris

Paul Evans looks back at the tour to Devon and Cornwall and the chase for Marko Grujic...

Top of the list to cover this week has to be Cardiff City’s week in Devon and Cornwall, where their results went as follows;-

15/7/18   Truro City 0   Cardiff City Development  2 (Pilkington, McKay P)

16/7/18   Tavistock AFC   0   Cardiff City   6 (Hoilett, Ralls, Madine 2, Reid, Ward)

17/7/18   St Austell   2 (Eddy, Goldsworthy pen)   Cardiff City Development   4 (Healey 2, Tinsley og, Veale)

18/7/18  Bodmin   1 (Gilbert)   Cardiff City   11 (Reid, Mendez-Laing, K Harris 3 [2 pens], Murphy J 2, Ward 3 [1 pen}, Madine)

19/7/18  Porthleven 1 (Beasley)   Cardiff City Development   9 (Healey 5, McLean, Evans, Waite, Veale)

20/7/18   Torquay   1 (Keating)   Cardiff City   1 (Murphy J)

21/7/18   AFC Liskeard 0   Cardiff City Development 11 (Tomlin, Shaw 2, Pilkington 3 [1 pen], Waite 2, Wootton, Healey, McLean)

The first thing to say is that senior players Stuart O’Keefe and Omar Bogle did not travel to south west England with the party – hardly surprising in O’Keefe’s case really, but Bogle has dropped a long way down the pecking order after his flurry of goals in the limited number of games he got after signing from Wigan.

Also, as can be seen from the list of scorers in Development team games, Anthony Pilkington and Lee Tomlin were used at that level – neither of them were involved in the three senior side games and the same applied to Lee Camp. Therefore, it seems pretty obvious that the five players I’ve mentioned are among those the club are looking to move on, but that might not be as easy as it sounds if they have all had wage rises following our promotion.

Aron Gunnarsson traveled with the squad, but did not get any game time because he was not considered to be ready to play yet following his late return to training after the World Cup, while Kenneth Zohore only featured for forty five minutes in the match with Torquay after being given time off after he became a father for the first time.

Zohore in action at Torquay

As for the results, well, it would be easy to look at that draw against a Torquay team which are now in the sixth level of the domestic pyramid following their relegation from the Conference last season and fear the worst for the coming season, but if the big wins against Tavistock and Bodmin are, rightly, written off as meaning nothing in terms of our prospects for 18/19, then shouldn’t the same apply for Torquay?

One other matter I’d mention is that both of the goals conceded by the senior side came via the same avenue – a long ball over the top which caught our back four cold. Now, normally what happens in these days of “sweeper keepers” is that there is a further line of defence able to nip such problems in the bud if your back four is caught too square and too far up the pitch by a ball played over them, but both of our keepers (Smithies and Etheridge) were caught on their heels and so allowed the opposing forward to get to the ball before them – this is the sort of thing which can be sorted out on the training pitch, but it is a little concerning that such basics were falling down against limited opponents.

Moving on, it would be interesting to find out just what Neil Warnock sees as the primary function of these week long trips to the county which is now his homebase. I believe this is the seventh or eighth time his teams have done it, so he, obviously, places great store by it. However, with the eyes of the national media on us so much more as we are now a Premier League club, it’s hardly surprising that the contrast between what we were doing and what probably all of the other nineteen sides in the division were up to as they jetted to all parts of the world was remarked upon.

Does our manager see it as a team building exercise first and foremost or is it a way to ensure that there is a winning mentality at the club right from the start? I suspect that both apply to some degree, but my feeling is that it’s the team bonding element which takes priority.

The truth of the matter is that, while not every Warnock led expedition to Cornwall has resulted in on field success, the precedent set last season says that, at Cardiff anyway, the approach worked as an unfancied team secured a promotion which was widely put down to a great team ethic that enabled them to perform at a higher level than their collective ability suggested.

Already, it’s being said, probably correctly, by many pundits that if Cardiff are to survive in the Premier League, it will be down to that united front which relies on everyone putting a full shift in as they cover for any team mate in trouble.

Hardly surprisingly, it’s been a quiet week on the transfer front. Matt Kennedy, who was released at the end of last season after a City career which saw him occasionally threaten to break into the first team as a regular starter, signed for St. Johnstone and I wish him all of the best there (he has the talent to succeed at that level).

However, it’s a potential move that is threatening to justify the “transfer saga” label so beloved by the press which has been the only real subject on that front this week with Neil Warnock suggesting that the clubs (City and Liverpool) want the move, as does the player (Marko Grujic), but the agent doesn’t.

Is that just our manager wanting to stir things up a bit in his usual manner or is he saying it as it is? There’s no way of knowing is there, but I read that Grujic will choose between us and Galatasaray (who can offer Champions League football) in the next few days.

I cannot deny that I have a little sympathy with the view expressed by some City fans about this loan move – while I would say it is over simplifying things to say Grujic is just not good enough full stop, it is a fact that he was more out of our team than in it as last season came to an end.

Neil Warnock says we are looking at two more signings (both of which will be loans), one of them is Grujic, while the other is a so far unidentified striker. Now, it wouldn’t surprise me if our manager, as is his wont, is being a little “economical with the truth” there, However, if we really are only looking at a Grujic type player in terms of our central midfield, then I maintain that, having lost the assets which Craig Bryson possessed more than anyone else in the middle of the park for us (e.g. box to box and closing down of opponents), we will be weaker in that area of the pitch than we were last season and we were hardly brilliant then!

No, the area where I have most doubts about our team ethic being sufficient to cover up for other defects is in the middle of the park – if we have to have “bread and butter”, can it at least be of the artisan variety – our manager is very keen on artisans after all!