THE ‘You're The Man' AWARD to:
Darren Purse - looks a rock and is leading by example.
Kevin Campbell - got injured early so we didn't have to suffer him.
West Midlands Police and Jez Moxey - the way City are playing right now, these guys have done us a favour by banning us from watching them next weekend!
THE “You're Not Very Good” BOOT goes to:
Willo Flood - awesome last week, awful this week.
Michael Chopra - not working hard enough
McPhail & Scimeca - both very very poor and they know it
Ledley - With Whittingham looking useful, the writing could be on the wall for our Joe.
Siege mentality has set in as Dave Jones used a portion of his programme notes to respond to a fan letter in The Echo telling up to stop continually moaning about the lack of training facilities at the club as he knew the facilities when he arrived. Dave Jones has every right to make his point and we can all appreciate it needs to be put right yesterday but I suspect many fans have had enough of him banging on about it. What is there to be achieved by doing this in public? Some now argue, with good reason, he is almost gift-wrapping an excuse for the players when we are failing as at present. Managers should never give their players excuses.
Jones' reply? Telling the supporter it's best to get the facts right as he didn't know what the set up was like until he was here. That's not an admission I'd be proud to make. What sort of manager accepts a job like this without finding out these sorts of things in advance?
THE DAY, THE TEAMS & THE MATCH:
"No more heroes anymore" blurted over the tannoy at final whistle. Nobody argued as City's zeros brought our now dire run to its lowest low - a 1-0 home defeat to rock bottom club Southend giving The Shrimpers their first away win of the season. Playing The Stranglers was fitting as City once again choked.
Losing was bad enough but our performance was unacceptable, little wonder half the crowd exited before final whistle. A portion of those who stayed booed at final whistle and, this time, Dave Jones shouldn't attempt to argue with that feedback
A few will point out City hit the woodwork twice and brought a couple of good saves from he visiting keeper whilst Neil Alexander's only work of the afternoon was getting the ball out of the net after Lee Bradbury's superb strike midway through the first half. They will be missing the point.
City were inept. In midfield and the final third, there was barely a moment of quality all afternoon. For much of it, City didn't even look a team but a collection of individuals. A lack of communication (typified by three occasions where 2 City players challenged each other for the same ball), interplay and personal responsibility combined with City appearing to be devoid of passion and commitment is pretty damning. At times, we didn't look motivated and just seemed to be going through the motions. It was so bad that it made Celebrity Big Brother seem more entertaining - yes it really was that bad. Belief and conviction have been ripped away from the team but this is where the manager and his staff must prove their worth as this is just not good enough.
Failing to score for the fourth successive home game is ridiculous, the last Ninian Park success was 7 home games back. Cardiff City Nil could be our new name after failure to score in 8 of our last 11 winless Championship matches (that after blanking just once in our first 17 fixtures). A paltry 7 points out of 33 means, I'm afraid, Dave Jones and his team have become a joke as City are fast closing in on the worst winless run in club history. They took the bouquets when all was going well, now they have to accept the criticism.
Yet, incredibly, we're still 8th and 2 points off the play-offs but it's worth pointing out we're now just 4 points away from mid-table obscurity. Right now, that looks more likely, the only thing likely to go up this season is the Blimp!
The transfer window finally produced a signing, left footed defender/midfielder Peter Whittingham, for a reported eventual fee of £350k from Aston Villa but a hard dose of reality saw targets such as Carlos Edwards and Rowan Vine join Championship rivals at top fees well beyond City's current capabilities. Getting a striker must be an urgent priority and how it showed as Chopra continues to struggle but has to play as we have no alternative whilst, with Thommo suspended for 1 game (5 yellow cards), it was Help The Aged time as Kevin Campbell had another chance despite showing it's already a season too far for him at this level.
We lined up with Alexander, Gilbert-Purse-Loovens-McNaughton, Flood-McPhail-Scimeca-Ledley, Chopra-Campbell. On the bench were Ford-Ferretti-Glombard-Johnson-Whittingham.
Steve Tilson's Shrimpers arrived with 21 points in 27 games, 6 points adrift of safety, the division's worst goal difference (-23) and whilst every other side had won at least twice on the road, Sarfend hadn't won at all, their record was just 5 draws and 4 goals in 13 awaydays. After two successive promotion, a return to League One is probable but they are not going down without a fight, coming here with 3 successive away draws and unbeaten in 4 including a great 3-1 New Year's Day success over West Brom.
Their side, backed by a very good away support of 700 or so were Flahavan, Hunt-Barrett- Clarke-Hammell, Gower-Maher-Guttridge-Campbell Ryce -Eastwood-Bradbury. A few recognisable names but no stars other than Freddy Eastwood, no doubt delighted his visit to Cardiff coincided with a caravan show in the city. Freddy however is Michael Chopra form with just 1 goal in 13 games and provided little threat all afternoon but I still thought there were a few more than the crowd announced of 13.822. They had the worst shirts seen this season. White shirts with silver numbers, the numbers were on the border, they was no filling - it made it impossible to see their numbers and looked as if they were wearing t-shirts! How did they get away with that?
The opening stages were all about City, we looked good and should have gone ahead. Darren Purse so nearly reproduced his recent opening minute goal against Ipswich by meeting a Flood free-kick attacking the same Canton Stand goal with a low diving near post header but it was inches wide with the Bob Bank thinking he had netted. A couple of minutes later and Kerrea Gilbert missed a far post sitter as Joe Ledley crossed at the second attempt leaving him with a point blank header. He thought about it too much and concentrated on making sure he hit the target and so presented it perfectly into the grateful arms of the diminutive Flahavan. Had he just gone for it, it was odds on City would have been ahead.
City's play remained strong with McNaughton in particular getting us forward with some driving runs but moves were now starting to break down. A lot of ball was coming left but Joe Ledley wasn't up to it, either by not being reactive enough to meet balls zipping his way on a greasy surface (although the perceptive Joe Ledley of early season would have been there) or failing to get crosses in. Five were blocked in the first half by him taking a touch too much, he needs to get back to basics. For older City fans, he's starting to remind me of David Giles in a City shirt where he's spending too much time dancing around in front of a defender to make an an angle when the cross was already on so is closed down by the time he tries to release it and by not attacking defenders at pace, it's no surprise his cross often gets blocked. That wasn't how he played earlier in the campaign.
Another attack saw Southend scramble the ball away and Kevin Campbell get a kick in the head which saw him absent for several minutes for treatment. We were almost down to 9 men as well as Riccy Scimeca seemed to turn his ankle but recovered after treatment and, shortly after, tested Flahavan with an edge of area header in a game quickly going stale.
City had a major let off on 22 minutes when Freddy Eastwood rode a challenge and looped the ball to the far post for Lee Bradbury completely unmarked but the journeyman decided to head back across goal when it was gaping for him and the chance was cleared but 30 seconds later, City hadn't taken heed of that warning and were behind. The ball came back, midfield didn't close down and when Lee BRADBURY was found 25 yards out, he waited for the ball to bounce before he unleashed a superb 20 yard dipping volley over Neil Alexander leaving him completely helpless. A wonder striker, a fantastic goal but where were our players closing him down?
And that was my biggest problem with this display. We worked like trojans last week, hunting in packs to close down Spurs players, there were very few signs of that all afternoon today. The rest of the half was mostly dross as Cardiff's confidence seeped away with that goal. Kevin Campbell returned, presumably with a stitch or tow, but must have been feeling the effects as he went off 3 minutes after the goal replaced by Andrea Ferretti who, at least added some life to City with some neat touches. Shooting, as it's been recently, was best described as wayward. Chopra and Flood's effort almost registered with NASA and play was breaking down all over the park. Southend nearly added a second but Gutteridge did a Kerrea Gilbert and headed straight to Alexander. We all needed the interval for our own sanity but just before it arrived, Willo Flood fluffed a short corner but it almost came off as Loovens met at the near post, his rising drive thundered off the topside of the bar.
H/T: CITY 0 SOUTHEND 1
The first action of the second half came just 6 minutes in when Peter Whittingham was being blooded, at last we had an option on the bench. The man is now the proud owner of our Special No 7 shirt that Sam Hammam had reserved all season! Everyone expected to see 16 displayed for Joe Ledley and it was a shock that it was Kevin McNaughton. He didn't look visibly injured at all but he must have been given 5 minutes to shake off a knock in the 2nd half and had failed to do so. Joe dropped to left back.
If you look for positives, Whittingham's would be one. He was direct, charged at defenders with pace and was delivering balls which, pleasingly, tended to be whipped crosses rather than the floaty stuff which has crept into our game. He did sometimes run into trouble but at least defenders were now being confronted by someone going at them. In fairness, Joe Ledley also gave him strong support and burst forward making overlapping runs for options.
However City continued to struggle. Despite having all the territory and possession, they just weren't able to create. Flahavan made very smart saves from Scimeca and Ferretti who both spanked efforts at goal but our shots were coming from distance rather than anything we could create in and around the box. Some crosses were still high balls which was quite useless without Thommo or a natural target man on the pitch.
Frustration showed as Chops was penalised for a series of niggling pushes and fouls, he was lucky not to get a card but the ref seemed to have forgotten them on an afternoon when nobody at all was booked. Jamie Campbell-Ryce ludicrously dived for free-kicks by turning his back to defenders on the ball and waiting for them to get behind them them fall theatrically. Darren Purse was so incensed that he mimicked him.
Resignation that we would lose set in midway through the half when Whittingham fired over but then after a splendid move with Gilbert finding an advanced Purse, his back-heel getting Whittingham behind the defence, his rasping drive could only be parried by Flahavan into Ferretti's path but his reactive header at an open goal came off the outside of the post.
It was almost as if City gave up after that. The final twenty minutes produced just two efforts at goal, Ferretti getting Flahavan to save from distance and Whittingham shooting over. We failed to pressuirse Southend and, bewilderingly, never altered tactics at all. The final sub for the closing assault was like-for-like with Horse Glue (Glombard) replacing the very poor Flood but played as a wideman instead of a striker (which he is ... or supposed to be anyway) and no centre-half was thrown forward.
The game appeared to go through the motions so the crowd decided to start drifting through the exit gates. Darren Purse did show the way and famously said how he would rather lose 7-0 to Spurs as long as we beat Southend as that was far more important. Judging by the excellent display of his team-mates last week and their sub-standard efforts today by comparison, you didn't get the impression they were in agreement with his thought process. Pursey was awarded man of the match, the announcement came in the last minute, I think the club were too embarrassed to announce one but credit is due to Purse.
Final whistle brought out some boos, not too many. To be honest, it has amazed me how the crowd have remained patient with City for this long but we keep being reminded we're at the top of the table with a brilliant chance of a push for the play-offs and the Premiership. It's about time Dave Jones stopped telling us that and showed that he and his side deserve to be there and can produce the goods to stay there. There is no longer any hiding place for them. The rest of the division have come back to us, a third have passed us. The rest will too unless this slump is arrested now. It's time to truly earn your money!
Report from FootyMad
Southend United recorded their first away win in ten months to leave Cardiff City stunned and their promotion dreams fading badly.
City have not won in their last 12 outings after Lee Bradbury's stunning first-half strike ended the Shrimpers' search for a first away win of the campaign.
Steve Tilson's men are still rooted to the bottom, but the result at Ninian Park will have done much to inspire belief they can launch a survival battle.
But that will be of little matter to unhappy Cardiff fans who have seen their side slip from top of the table to out of the play-off places and way out of form.
Still Cardiff could have found themselves leading as early as the third minute when skipper Darren Purse fired a header on goal from Willo Flood's free-kick, only for the defender fail to get his effort on target.
And fellow defender Kerrea Gilbert didn't fare much better five minutes later when he tamely headed into the arms of Southend stopper Darryl Flahavan after Joe Ledley's cross had picked him out at the far post.
Southend, fighting for their Championship lives, showed some real determination to carve out some scoring chances of their own, but they spurned their first when Freddy Eastwood's chip found Bradbury at the far post, only for his strike partner to head back towards goal rather than try and test Neil Alexander.
Yet less than 60 seconds later, Bradbury had more than made up for his error when Adam Barrett put a ball into the striker just outside the box.
The former Portsmouth and Man City star controlled and volleyed a dipping shot past the Cardiff keeper for a shock 23rd minute opener.
It left the home fans stunned into the silence and it almost got worse 12 minutes later when Luke Guttridge beat the offside trap but did not take advantage when his header was easily saved by Alexander.
Cardiff did their best to force their way back into things and Glenn Loovens saw a shot come back off the bar just moments before the interval.
But they were restricted to long-range efforts after the break and Flahavan was equal to anything thrown at him, Andrea Ferretti heading against the post when Peter Whittingham's 68th minute effort rebounded in front of him.