A few weeks back, I was extremely negative about Cardiff City’s chances in the league this season, even stretching to the point where I didn’t even want the campaign to begin. Yet here we are sitting pretty in sixth, in an albeit early Championship table, having lost just one in seven games.
It hasn’t been the easiest of starts, with QPR, Forest, Wolves and Hull all facing The Bluebirds. Despite this, I feel that Cardiff could have done even better. The most frustrating aspect of this current City team is the fact that for such a talented group, there is a severe lack of pace in the side. The only speed comes from our left-back, Fabio, plus a little helping hand from Sammy Ameobi, who can only play 30 minutes a game before nearly succumbing to exhaustion. The attacks are slow, lethargic, and are almost exclusively through the middle. Against Hull, Cardiff had more of the ball but the Tigers’ three centre-halves dealt with every wave of attack that came their way.
This ties in with another one of our faults, the lack of creativity. The main reason for this is the role that Kenwyne Jones has up front. Despite his height and strength, the Trinidadian is much more than a target man. Yet Cardiff’s ‘Plan A’ is to hit the ball up to him and hope he can flick it on or bring others into play. It’s all too one-dimensional and predictable. It stifles the creativity, when players feel like they have to hit a long ball instead of running at a man. Is it orders from the management? Or do the players feel that is the only option?
However, it is fair to say that I didn’t expect us to be this high up, even though it is early on, and credit to Russell Slade for that. There will always be some form of negativity surrounding the club, such is the nature of it. For me at least, the negativity is being replaced by more positive thoughts with every game that passes. There is a distinct improvement from last year, where we were quite simply awful, and it leaves me optimistic for the seasons ahead.
In spite of a decent start, league attendances at the Cardiff City Stadium are at an all time low, as the local media are seemingly loving pointing out. Tuesday’s 2-0 defeat to Hull was witnessed by just 13,000, however I’m struggling to recall a time where the noise was that loud and the support that good. There was no hounding of the players and no booing of Slade. I’ve also never seen that many fans still inside the ground at full time to clap the players off the field after losing. The extra 20,000 that were there in the Premier League may be missed by the club’s financial manager, but certainly not by me.
There are definite improvements that Slade can make in order to turn this team into definite promotion contenders. But for the first time since the 2011/12 season, I’m loving my trips to the ground to cheer on a group of players who seem to love playing for the club. The Premier League and games at Old Trafford can wait, I’m just happy to have the old Cardiff City back. Now, bring on Rotherham!