| Cardiff 1 Sheffield Wednesday 2
Championship, April 7th 2007
"Shame, shame, shame - shame on YOU!"
Difficult to find words to describe that performance, but try these: Gutless, Spineless, Clueless, Chinless, Winless, Pointless.
Standing on the cusp of greatness, the Bluebirds inspected their carefully ironed and manicured script, then picked it up, scrumpled it into a ball and tossed it in the garbage.
Faced by yet another thunderously ordinary side of Championship scufflers, they turned in a performance of such powder-puff insipid woefulness as to make the assembled masses wonder if they do truly want promotion. To err is human and to forgive divine and all that, but yesterday's insulting aberration was unforgivable.
Not many heroes and plenty of villains. First up, Dave Jones. What was he thinking? His treatment of Alexander this week was nothing short of criminal.
To publicly debag the man and rubbish his performances was morally reprehensible and downright dumb.
We all know that Alexander has faults - he is too short for a keeper, he doesn't command his area, he doesn't collect crosses, he has a weakness at the near post, his distribution is painfully slow, he always kicks instead of releasing his full backs with quick throws. Yadda yadda yadda. But...
He has had his best ever season so far, kept FIFTEEN clean sheets in the league alone and kept us in plenty of games with superb shot-stopping performances.
To drop him at the start of such a crucial, critical run-in was irresponsible, reckless and foolhardy. Equally, his decision to bring back Purse was a big mistake.
So far off the pace was Dazzer, his communication with Forde would have improved if he'd written letters and ambled down Penarth Road to post them. No great shock that both Wednesday goals could be attributed (in part) to errors by the Purse/Forde double act.
Picking up the pieces at the back was Roger Johnson, who had a captain's performance (did Darren Purse really rip his armband off after the second goal had been conceded?).
Every time Roger has stepped in he has shown up many of his first-choice colleagues in terms of hunger, effort, strength, commitment and let's be fair, a defensive awareness and skill which should have made one of the central defensive positions his for keeps.
His headed goal yesterday was superb, and for a brief period brought the life back into the Bluebirds.
Full backs also played well - McNaughton has had a great season, and has proved his versatility by playing all over the park.
Ledley is not and never will be a full back, but has knuckled down to the position when asked, toughened up his defending and went on some adventurous marauding runs again yesterday. His shot in the first half deserved a goal and was denied by the width of an upright.
The midfield - all of 'em - were hopeless. Parry flitted in and out of the game without seriously providing the strike force with a decent chance. Whittingham had his worst game so far, his choice of pass and execution were diabolical.
McPhail was again ineffective, close control, neat swivels and elegant touches are all very well, but there was never anything solid to follow up. In the great midfield tradition of Paul Wimbleton, his progress was almost always sideways.
Walton was out of his depth and simply cannot hack it at this level. His atrocious lunge on Peter Gilbert in the 90th minute summed up the man's frustration, and led to his third sending off this season. The man is a liability.
Without the midfield guru and dynamo, Riccy Scimeca, this team cannot function. He provides the 5 star rock 'n' roll petrol which fuels this bunch of players, and without his drive, energy and desire, they look like the patched-up lightweights they have come to resemble in some of the most demanding fixtures this year.
So clueless were the midfield's efforts yesterday, that they almost abandoned all attempts to play through the middle, and started launching gormless long balls to the dynamic diddy men duo of Chopra and Feeney - which brings us neatly to:
Strikers - rubbish - the lot of 'em.
Feeney and Chopra barely had a kick, nothing went right, and Chopra's lack of match fitness was clear to see.
The jury is still out on Feeney, and it was only right and proper to give him a shout in front of the tireless but under-achieving Thompson, but yesterday's performance did not exactly excite the fans as to his long-term usefulness to this squad.
A good football friend bent my ear yesterday with the theory that every manager has a weakness at one position when it comes to bringing in new players. No prizes for guessing Dave Jones' achilles. Aside from Chopra and Feeney - we have Andrea Ferretti, Luigi Glombard, Kevin Campbell, Steve Thompson, Iwan Redan, Matt Green and Jason Byrne - none of them are up to the job, and all of them should be on their way next term.
As for the ludicrous 'golden handcuffs' deal offered to Chopra, I will ride a blue painted elephant through the streets of Swansea to the Liberty Stadium if Michael Chopra is lining up for Cardiff City at the start of August 2007. No longer a selling club, eh Rids and Jonesy? We'll see about that.
Don't usually subscribe to the crowd manipulation conspiracy theories but if yesterday's attendance really was 13,621 then we are going up as champions. Full marks to Wednesday for bringing the atmosphere, Cardiff fans were as rubbish as the team.
Five games to go, three points off sixth. Mathematically, we are still in with a shout, but realistically the play-off dream is over.
Paul Davies © 2007
Comments from the urban75 boards
Marius: 'That report is pretty damn spot on.
I can normally guess the crowd by how many away fans there are and how many are on the Bob Terrace.
Although the terrace wasn't packed tight every part was used. I'd say true attendance was about 15-16k
Maybe they weren't counting the free tickets they gave away to 'new' Season Ticket purchasers. A promotion that has annoyed many ST holders who have 'renewed'.'
1927: 'Grange End full-Check
Good away support-Check
Bob Bank Terrace full-Check
mmmmmm gotta be 17500 imho!'
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