Weekly review 24/5/24.

Last updated : 31 May 2024 By https://mauveandyellowarmy.net

Thirteen years can seem like an eternity when you’re in the first quarter of your life, but for those of us who are likely to be in our last one, it’s nothing but the blink of an eye almost. It was thirteen years ago that Neil Lennon, who was then manager of Celtic, implored his team “not to do a Cardiff” when they travelled to lowly Inverness Caledonian trying to keep their fading title challenge alive.


Lennon was referring specifically to City’s implosion a few days earlier against a Middlesbrough team with nothing to play for at Cardiff City Stadium in early May 2011. It was our penultimate game in a regular league season which had boiled down to a fight between us and Norwich City for the second promotion spot behind eventual Champions QPR, but three unanswered Boro goals in the first twenty odd minutes paved the way for an embarrassing defeat that handed the initiative to the Canaries who confirmed their promotion a few hours later by winning at Portsmouth.

What Lennon was saying in essence to his team was “don ‘t bottle it like Cardiff did”. While it was a humiliation for the City team and manager to be publicly criticised in such a manner, it could not be denied that Lennon had a point. For example, City faced Reading in the Play Offs a week or two later where after a creditable 0-0 away draw, they fell apart spectacularly without their injured talisman Craig Bellamy and and were once again beaten 3-0 on their own ground in what turned out to be Dave Jones’ last game as City manager.

However, I wonder if Lennon also had in mind City’s collapse to beat all other collapses in 2009 where what looked like a likely top two finish after a memorable Ninian Park win over Burnley on Easter Monday turned into a car crash of a last four games as a 6-0 defeat against a Preston side that had all but given up any chance of overhauling us was followed by a another 3-0 home hammering as Ipswich turned Ninian Park’s last game into something akin to a wake. Then there was a 2-2 draw scraped at a bottom of the table Charlton side which had already been relegated, before a 1-0 loss at Sheffield Wednesday on the final day of the regular season which enabled Preston to clamber above us into the last Play Off place because they had scored one mote goal than us.

I honestly cannot remember a better example of a team choking over a period of games quite as spectacularly as that – Ross McCormack missed penalties against Preston and Ipswich which would have enabled us to scrape into the top six if he’d scored just one of them. This goes to the heart as to why Dave Jones, who put together sides that offered way, way more entertainment and won more often than Cardiff sides of today do, does not rank as highly among City managers as he possibly should do – sad to say, the accusation that his teams tended to be bottlers had an element of truth to ti.

I should also note that Neil Lennon got what some might think was his just deserts when his side were beaten 3-2 by Inverness and ended up losing the title to Rangers by a point.

I mention all of this as a prelude to saying that if the phrase “doing a Cardiff” was to originate today, it would not be to describe a team that made such an expensive habit of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, it would be used to epitomise a club that has got it completely and hopelessly wrong off the pitch – that is, the owner and the club’s Board are in the habit of messing up big time when it comes to things like appointment of managers, player recruitment policy, communication with supporters etc.

The season before the one just ended was typical Cardiff as the manager we started the season with was sacked a couple of monthe into the campaign for reasons which were never made clear and it’s a persistent rumour that Vincent Tan is keen on offering him his old job back. We then had the caretaker boss appointed from within eventually given the job on a longer basis, only for him to be sacked three months later with the team on a long run without a win. There was then a short lived caretaker role for someone else from within the club, before they brought in someone from outside who did enough to steer us clear of the drop – even though it needed Reading’s points deduction to ensure our survival. It was generally assumed that the new man would be offered the manager’s job for 23/24 (he’d originally just been appointed until the end of 22/23), but, instead, Vincent Tan was not convinced by Sabri Lamouchi and so told him a week or two after the season ended that he would be looking elsewhere for a manager.

This time last year, we were very much in a state of limbo with no manager at the club and it was not until early June that Erol Bulut was appointed – it was far from ideal as the three month break between seasons is nowhere near as long as it seems if you look at in terms of player recruitment and, by sitting on their hands like they did a year ago, City were putting themselves at a self inflicted disadvantage compared to many of their Championship rivals.

Now, incredibly, we find ourselves in a similar situation – Erol Bulut has not been sacked, but the saga which began in January (actually, that’s not true, it was in late 2023) regarding his new contract is still dragging on with no official indication as to whether he is willing to sign a new deal or not.

The rumour is that the length of contract on offer is the sticking point with Tan reluctant to commit to anything more than a year after the disaster that was Mick McCarthy’s two year contract given him after a good start to his tenure as interim manager and Bulut wanting the security of a longer deal which would enable him to bring over his family from Turkey to settle in Cardiff.

It’s also believed that Bulut wants to bring in more coaches and recruitment staff, but, whatever the truth regarding this, City find themselves in a position where everything is up in the air again and, frankly, Tan and co are making themselves into laughing stocks.

To be fair to all parties, I can understand Tan’s reluctance to offer more than a one year deal given what’s gone wrong when he’s committed to a longer one in the past and Bulut’s belief that he merits something more than another single year deal from their perspectives. However, it’s ludicrous that the situation has been allowed to drag on for six months or more – there really should have been a firm decision made as to whether Bulut stays or goes by now.

For my part, City are left in a lose. lose situation – one season of Bulut’s oh so negative football was more than enough for me thank you very much. However, if he were to leave, we’d be back in a situation whereby we’re trusting Messrs Tan, Dalman and Choo to get it right in a facet of football recruitment where I’m being very generous indeed if I call their record patchy.

Usually, I give myself a break of two or three weeks after City’s season ends before starting these weekly reviews which tun through the summer. While I’ve done the same again this time around, the truth is that I could easily have just left things go for another few days at least because there’s not really anything of note to report and there probably won’t be unless and until the managerial situation is resolved.

On the international front, Wales’ under 17s have been eliminated from the Euro Finals after defeats, by 2-0 and 3-0 against Denmark and Austria respectively. Now, of course, it needs to be remembered that until last year Wales had not reached the finals of an age group Euros competition in something like forty years, so it would be wrong to be be too critical of the team, but, I have to say that this group do not look anywhere near as strong as last year’s City dominated squad. The fact that we’ve not scored yet points to an obvious weakness – sometimes a lack of goals can be misleading as to the quality of your forward players, but it doesn’t appear to be in this case, because we’ve offered very little going forward in our first two games.

There are just three City players in this squad compared to the seven or eight last year. Sixteen year old Ronan Kpakio has been possibly Wales’ best player so far while playing as a wing back on the right. Kpakio was switched to the left with less success in the second half of the Austria game last night when Jac Thomas, City’s second representative, who had started both games, was withdrawn. The third City player in the squad is midfielder Jake Davies who has come on as a sub in both matches.

Wales under 16s are also playing in what I think is a qualifying tournament for their Euros. but; like their elders, they are out of contention after suffering comprehensive defeats in their first two matches. City’s T Jay Parfitt and Hayden Allmark (who appears to have signed for us after being released by Liverpool) started in the 3-0 defeat by hosts Poland in the first match, while a third City youngster, Rob Tankiewicz, was introduced as a sub. Tankiewicz was in the starting line up for the 4-1 defeat by the Czech Republic a few days later with Allmark being brought on as a sub.