clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Preview: Forest V Cardiff

If it doesn't seem that long since we last splodged around against Cardiff, that's because it isn't. We spoke to comedy writer, actor, musician and sports journalist Sarah J Price to find out how Cardiff are shaping up.

Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images

A solid if unspectacular start for the Bluebirds: better than expected? Worse than expected or pretty much exactly what you expected?

SJP: Slightly better than we expected, (but we had very low expectations after last season) but at the same time it's been disappointing - two of the games were definitely a case of two points dropped, and all have highlighted Cardiff's weaknesses, particularly in defence, and the need for a holding defensive midfielder with touch. Nonetheless, at least we seem to have waved goodbye to the hoofball of last season, which was dire to watch and was not even executed in an sort of productive fashion. It consisted of Sean Morrison kicking the ball as far as he could, as hard as he could with little or no aim for the players ahead.

I and the vast majority of my fellow Bluebirds are of the same school thought as Brian Clough on the long ball game who famously said "If God had wanted us to play football in the clouds, he'd have put grass up there… "

Let’s talk about Russell Slade. Lovely chap (briefly a teacher in Nottingham) but he’s probably not the guy to lead a club to the Premier League is he? Is there a bit of tension between him and the fans or is it just fans being fans and grumbling?

SJP: Must we?

Yes. Them’s the rules.

SJP: Russell Slade like Ole Gunnar Solksjaer before him is a nice bloke - I'm sure good company at a dinner party, stands his round down the pub, but neither are a good football manager. I have this theory nice blokes rarely are, (Bobby Robson being the exception) the good and great managers all have something a little off about them: short tempers, surliness, egotistical, sociopathic tendencies - they are leaders of men they have to have a steeliness or a steadiness about them.

Slade is stuck in his ways and unbending in the 4-4-2 system  - if things start to go wrong he's got little idea how to change things. He's never going to be loved, or held in the regard Eddie May and even Malky MacKay (despite the textgate revelations - we've all shared a dodgy joke or called someone who's pushed our buttons something unfortunate in the heat of the moment) are.

Slade will also never be forgiven for dumping Cardiff City legend Kevin McNaughton, first out on loan then this summer out to pasture. As a Bluebird, when you picture promotion to the Premier League after 51 years in the wilderness, two images strike true: one is Craig Bellamy walking around with an stunned expression on his face holding up one of the much derided ('Tan- fan giveaway') Cardiff City scarves.  The other is Kevin McNaughton aloft supporters' shoulders, fists clenched, shouting and swearing his head off  - "We did it" as he was passed from fan to fan. (We both had a narrow escape when I ducked under his legs as someone attempted to hand him to all 5.1 size 8/10 of me!!)

Last season Slade gave up on chasing a promotion slot too soon, then latterly loaned out the better players and showed no interest in attaining the highest finishing position possible. There was a distinct lack of fight, passion and pride - the two things a Cardiff City team has always had, even in the days of the old division four and being woeful and thrashed 4-0 at home week in week out, those players gave their all and they played for the badge for the fans.

That was lacking and that's what's caused the hurt that (despite the return to blue and the return of the proper Bartley Bluebird Bluebirds mascot) is what is keeping many away from the Cardiff City Stadium now.

Looking at your squad, there’s still a good degree of quality and experience in there.  Lee Peltier did well on loan with us and Federico Macheda loves a goal against us. Who’s in form? Who’s a bit useless?

SJP: Federico Macheda has failed to make an impression and seems to have been injured for much of his time with us. Lee Peltier seems to struggle to fit in - he goes missing for long periods of the game. Both are pretty much fringe players now.

Much has been made by some fans (unfairly in my opinion) of the loss in form of Peter Whittingham. While it's true he's no longer scoring 25 goals a season, no one at Cardiff City is and Whittingham is no longer playing in a position or with the type of skillful holding midfielder that encourages that style of play in him. Instead he's been asked to become that holding defensive midfielder - a job he can do and did do in the Premier League season. Whits made the most defensive blocks of any player on the top flight and last season he held the same honour on the Championship: that's a waste and not something appreciated by a number of fans. However he was superb on Saturday and relished having Sammy Ameobi and Joe Mason to ping balls to chase into.

Kenwyne Jones is also striking fear into defences, tracking back and making goal line clearances - he's another player some fans (in my view) get onto the back of for little reason.

David Marshall, despite all the uncertainty surrounding him and a move to West Brom, remains outstanding in goal. Poor captain Sean Morrison is apt to ball watch, be caught out of position and just go missing. True, he pops up with the odd goal, which seems to excuse him but for me, he shouldn't be at the club, much less the captain following that incident in the street. (He had a poo in the street. Yes, you read that right.)

Dikgacoi is out of shape, off the pace, clumsy and slow to the tackle.  Craig Noone's worked hard in the summer - regained his pace and found a touch, which eluded him last season. His balance is also greatly improved. Joe Mason is back with us another loaned for reasons unknown after being a hero in the 2012 League Cup final.

What’s the feeling around the club these days? On the up side, you’re back in blue. On the down side, last season was a bit average and you’ve still got that chap running the show like the Wizard of Oz.

It’s fantastic to be back in blue and in a really well designed kit by Adidas (if they want to send me one, I'm a small).

We also have after a five year long hard fought campaign by Elliott Cantor and myself for the return of the rightful much loved by generations Cardiff City FC mascot, Bartley the Bluebird. He had been replaced by a foam figure that depending on the time of season looked like a jockey, spaceman, overgrown schoolboy and traffic warden!!  His wife lately joined him and he too was rebranded into the hated red - he was never embraced by the City fans and his departure was long over due.

However, too much damage has been done now, one too many body blows have been landed for many of the supporters, the Malky MacKay episode dragged on far too long and was plainly a deeply personal issue rather than a footballing one.

Fans’ favourite players have been discarded and booted out against their will, for example, McNaughton by Slade and also Solksjaer sold much adored club captain Mark Hudson: scorer of one of the greatest goals, not just for Cardiff City but ever - a 68 yard wondrous strike. In full flow, Hudson looked up, saw Derby 'keeper Frank Fielding off his line, took a touch and with the Cardiff faithful screaming, ‘Shoot’… he did just that.

The rebrand, meddling in team selection, popular employees of the club suddenly being let go, (the PA announcer was told he wasn't wanted any more the day before the opening game of he season with no reason forthcoming) players released for complaining - Jaun Cala tweeted he was upset at being made to train with the junior team two days later he'd been sacked - members of the media team, back room staff, legal team, public relations and even the tea lady have faired no better and have been shown the back door for want of looking the wrong way or rolling their eyes...and goodness knows what else.  All of this has only served to cause bad feeling and unrest.

Sounds familiar.

SJP: Every time supporters think things are settled and getting back on course, something crazy happens.  I can’t see things massively improving while Vincent Tan is there unless he lets some people tell him some home truths and acts on them, which I can't see, as he isn't a man who takes instruction - he's used to just to being obeyed blindly.

Come to think about it, there are more than a few similarities between our clubs at the moment. How are Forest regarded: nostalgia blinkered arrogant idiots living in the past thinking they support a big club or everyone’s favourite second side?

SJP: Forest fans are regarded highly, and will forever be held that way; it said everything about humanity how you reacted at Hillsborough and in the aftermath. We all watched as you tore at wire metal fencing with your bare hands trying to get at your dying footballing brothers and sisters knowing every second counted then watched in horror as you sat comforting the injuring, fighting to revive those who'd stopped breathing sitting and giving dignity to those that couldn't be helped any further. Forest fans reacted the way the police should've done. You will always be admired for that and in the aftermath you continued to stand beside the people of Liverpool and all real football supports so the truth was heard that those that had lost their lives hadn't been drunken hooligans they had been football supporters men women, young girls and boys, they'd been people not a media stereotype.

Not a joke.... But our footballing brothers and sisters.

Give us a reason Cardiff will win.

SJP: Dougie Freedman  - His  "They and their supporters must be scared stiff of failure" speech before the 2012 Carling Cup tie will continue to galvanise Cardiff City players and supporters against his teams until his retirement.

Another set of supporters who Dougie has upset – get in line with the Bolton fans. Here, by the way, is Cardiff's response to what Freedman said:

Give us a reason Forest will win.

SJP: With no disrespect to any of your players, Sean Morrison’s woeful defending.

So there you have it - a more detailed and thorough rundown you couldn't wish to read. Our heartfelt thanks go out to Sarah who can be followed here and keeps herself busy doing all manner of things that you or I could only dream about. Her credits include: Feathered Friends, Kingdom, Gavin And Stacy and starring as Frenchie in the West End production of Grease.

Also in preproduction is the drama comedy, 'Fwynwyr Dref' - the lives and loves of the four cleaning ladies of the South Wales primary school including the much loved husband of leading character Tina - James Hammond who lost a leg in Afghanistan and suffers with  PTSD and their loopy Labrador Jimmy.

Also, 'Dandylion And Daydreams' -  Television musical drama comedy - a faded, cynical and egoistical musician, suffers a life changing accident and is forced to put his recovery into the hands of an relative and her friends, while he tires to win back the heart of his childhood sweetheart, who isn't without faults herself.

Behind the scenes of a sci-fi series with a Rada trained actor bemoans playing in a bit part while reality TV star take the lead part. Careful, it's a bit sweary:

And if that's not enough for you, here's the Cardiff preview from last season with Jonny Owen with a few little titbits about on his forthcoming film, 'I Believe in Miracles'.