If You Want Instant Success, You’re Following the Wrong Club - Cardiff City Pre-Season Report
Tuesday, 2nd Aug 2016 10:30 by HarryFromBath
In the 16th of a series of pre-season reports, HarryfromBath assesses the mood in the Bluebirds’ camp ahead of the new season by delving into their forums. Reports on Bristol City and Reading will be on the site later today with the rest of the teams in the division covered between now and the start of the season.
“Comparing our squad to some other teams, there is more chance of a City fan being on the next rocket to the International Space Station than us winning the division”, “It’s clear that [owner] Vincent Tan has lost interest and is looking to balance the books and stop the club bleeding cash.”
With their club having spent the off-season addressing squad numbers and the wage bill, Bluebirds are not getting their hopes up for the season. “In almost 50 years of supporting Cardiff I have seen them go up once from this division. I don’t believe we have a chance in this league this season.”
“We are paying for the costly mistakes of the past. We have to get rid of players before we can spend or we will end up in an embargo”, “The club would no doubt be delighted with a season similar to the last one and a flirtation with the play-offs, with a few million wiped off the debt.”
The one bright spot this summer has been the appointment as manager of 35-year-old Paul Trollope as successor to Russell Slade, who is now with Charlton. Trollope had formerly worked as head coach with Chris Hughton at Birmingham and Norwich and had taken on a similar role with the Bluebirds in February 2015.
“A manager with common sense”, “Trollope is the manager who has the best footballing brain at this club since Dave Jones in 2011”, “After Slade he’s a breath of fresh air. I am really warming to him. I just hope he gets off to a good start this season or he’ll be up against it”, “I like him more and more.”
They have welcomed they way he has rejuvenated the squad he inherited by reshaping the system and style of play in pre-season. “Every time I read his statements and interviews I feel like he could be a massive hit for Cardiff. Although results matter, we need to be patient and give the guy time.”
One Out, One In
“Trollope wants to sign a couple more players but has been told to first trim the wage bill. Hopefully we can shift Adam Le Fondre, Federico Macheda and Kagisho Dikgacoi very quickly. I am certain that there will be no new players coming in until at least one of the three are off the wage bill.”
Adam Le Fondre
“We are paying for past costly mistakes.” All three high-earning players were left out of the squad’s pre-season trip to Germany and all have been told that their future lies elsewhere. Of the three, only Macheda has been linked with a new club in the media, newly-promoted Serie A side Pescara.
“The days of us signing established experienced Championship players appear to have gone for the time being, as they would be looking for more money that we can afford to pay. The fact that others clubs in this division pay such huge fees for players with high wages also isn’t helping the situation.”
“Since last season, we have swapped Jazz Richards in for Scott Malone and signed a striker on a free transfer who is hardly inspiring. Lex Immers and Kenneth Zohore were here last season.” Apart from a swap deal with Fulham with full-backs Richards and Malone only one other new player has arrived.
That player is 28-year-old Benin international striker Frederic Gounongbe, signed from Belgian side KVC Westerlo. Attacking midfielder Immers (from Feyenoord) and striker Zohore (from Vincent Tan-owned KV Kortrijk) were with the Bluebirds last season and have both now signed permanent deals.
A Summer Clear-Out
Eight players have departed this summer and three will be plying their trade in the Championship this season, defender Ben Turner (with Burton), striker Eoin Doyle (with Preston) as well as Scott Malone (at Fulham). Keeper Joe Lewis, on loan with Fulham last season, is now with Aberdeen.
Striker Kenwyne Jones is now with new MLS side Atlanta United, Slovakian midfielder Filip Kiss has moved to Norwegian outfit FK Haugesunf and Slovenia international Etien Velikonja is now with Olimpija Ljubljana, while young defender Jazzi Barnum-Bobb has moved to Newport County.
The Welsh System
“We may not see many new names on the shirts but we will see a very different team on the pitch”, “A change of formation and system, a more dynamic style suited to our players and easily adapted.” Trollope has introduced a new shape and approach which echoes that used by Wales this summer.
The starting line-up (above) for the Bluebirds’ final friendly of the summer at Bournemouth won’t be too dissimilar to that which kicks the season off next week. Fans have welcomed the switch to a fluid 5-3-2 system after growing weary of the inflexible 4-4-2 or 4-4-1-1 style used under Russell Slade.
To give an idea of the wider squad, the XI which finished the Bournemouth friendly, which ended in a 1-0 defeat is set out below. The Cherries won a competitive game through one moment of brilliance from Jordan Ibe, who scored the only goal after 11 minutes.
Fans have embraced the system. “We have one enforcer alongside two mobile ball-playing centre-halves, one creative and one combative central midfielder, two wing-backs bombing into space and two technical number 10s who can receive the ball, with one linking up to become a second striker.”
“Everything has gone through Whitts in pre-season.” Fans have welcomed Trollope using the passing ability of midfielder Peter Whittingham in a deep-lying playmaker role as part of the new system. “I think we are light up top. It’s hard to know how Freddy Gounongbe will be. He could be hit or miss.”
Prospects for the New Season
“We look like a mid-table team”, “Unless we strengthen the squad we have no chance of making the play-offs. Our current squad isn’t better than last season’s and it’s a tougher league this time around. I can’t see us getting into the top 10 without spending money and money won’t be made available.”
One poll which had 27 per cent of Bluebirds predicting promotion annoyed some fellow supporters. “I can’t believe that that number think we will be promoted. There is being optimistic, but that is really unachievable with this squad”, “We had the same ridiculous prediction last season.”
“I don’t see us competing at the top of the league this season and we will do well if we can finish in the top 10. As long as the football is entertaining and the atmosphere is good, that wouldn’t be the end of the world”, “I will be happy with a mid-table finish and a more exciting style of football.”
Photo: Action Images
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