Filed: Friday, 10th January 2014
By: Preview Percy
The word "Preview" in Welsh is, according to our online translation "rhagolwg". Which, by coincidence, is pretty much the noise Preview Percy makes in clearing his throat first thing in the morning. Which is why we go and pick up his match previews in the evening......
Get yer passports out we’re going abroad. I’d leave the sun cream behind though. 3pm kick-off and this time there doesn’t seem to be any daft restrictions over tickets – like sending people to Outer Mongolia to pick up the things ten minutes before kick-off. Actually Outer Mongolia would have been preferable to that service area on the M4 they used to insist on.
There are no planned engineering works on Brunel’s railway contraption but you may have noticed that the Welsh have been exporting their standard weather to the rest of us. Matron’s sister got delayed coming in from that part of the world due to flooding the other day so keep an eye out for changes. Also there’s engineering work on both tube and rail between Barking and the centre of town – buses replace tubes and trains are diverted to Liverpool Street. More traffic and travel on the hour.
Turmoil. That’s the word to describe the recent state of play over there. Sometimes football clubs are purchased by fans or people who, if not fans at the start, at least pick up early on the essence of what a club is about. Most new owners at least try to empathise with a club’s ethos and traditions. Some try to pretend – Fayed never quite got it at Fulham for example. No matter how many scarves he wore he always had the air of that kid at school who had the latest Chelsea kit despite not knowing a full back from an abscess (an admittedly difficult distinction perhaps when you have Ashley Cole in your team). Then you get owners like Vincent Tan who, no doubt,, listened to all the well-meaning advice given to him and ignored it.
It was already bubbling up nicely with supporters rightly being cheesed off at the radical change of kit colour from the traditional blue to red, allegedly because red is a luckier colour. Then, with the season barely two months old, recruitment director Ian Moody was given his P45, apparently for exceeding his transfer budget. Moody was replaced by 23 year old Alisher Apsalyamov, who had previously been at the club painting the walls as part of his work experience duties. The fact that Apsalyamov was the son of a mate of Tan’s was, pure coincidence I am sure.
With Moody pitching up at Crystal Palace, Mackay’s future in Wales was already looking less than secure, even before he standard question no.1 in the list of “standard things for a journo to ask in a slow day in December”, namely “will you be looking to bring anyone in when the window opens”. Mackay’s response to the effect that he thought that the club needed three new players went down in Tan’s office like a mug of cold sick.
It was alleged that Tan had given Mackay a “resign or be sacked” ultimatum before Christmas. Mehmet Dalman, the club’s chairman stepped in and, a bit like the possibly mythical truces of WW1, an uneasy truce broke out and hostilities were interrupted by football. “As things stand, Malky is our manager for the foreseeable future” announced Dalman. As it happened the term “foreseeable future” translated into “during that weird period between Christmas and New Year” as, following a 3-0 defeat to Southampton, Tan took a break from the turkey sandwiches for long enough to wield the axe.
Not that it’s stopped there. Having been sacked Mackay is entitled to some sort of compensatory payment for the breach of his contract. Reports suggest that he’s yet to have received it as Tan went into the press again to express his dissatisfaction with the amounts spent under the Mackay reign, muttering threats of potential legal action against the former manager. I suspect someone might have a word with Tan before any of this gets anywhere near an employment tribunal, but in the event that common sense doesn't prevail it could be a fun day out.
Mackay's replacement is Ole Gunar Solskjaer whose baby face hid a nasty line in niggly fouls as a player. He's already had a decent start with a 2-1 win up at Newcastle in the cup. He picked up fellow Norwegian Magnus Wolff Eikrem from the Dutch side Herenveen earlier this week. Eikrem, has worked under Solskjaer before, having been under his management at Moan Utd Reserves and at Molde. Interestingly, Solskjaer went on record saying that he hopes to sign “one or two” more before this window closes. Which would make three then. Only I'm sure that the owner went Radio Rental when the last manager went on record saying he'd like to sign three players. Might be an idea to just rent a place for the time being then Ole.
The new boss arrives on the back of one win, one draw and four defeats from their last six league matches. The win came at home to West Brom (1-0) and the draw also at home with Sunderland. The defeats came at Palace (2-0), home to Southampton (0-3), at Liverpool (4-1) and, most recently, at Arsenal where the home side left it late scoring twice in the last few minutes. All of which leaves them in 17th spot on 18 points which is three points and two places above us, though, with our recent thrashings having come in the cups, we do have a better goal difference.
They have a spot of good news on the injury front – which could be bad news for us. Craig Bellamy comes into contention after two months off with knee and ankle problems. The manner of his departure from the club when he left us in 2009 still leaves a bit of a nasty taste in the mouth, with then club representatives falsely suggesting at one stage that the player had gone on strike. With Bellamy's previous record – Sir Bobby Robson once described him as “ a great player wrapped round an unusual and volatile character” - this was a slur that was all too beleiveable. Although his Boleyn career was punctuated with injury (whose isn't), here at the Avram Grant Olympic Rest Home For The Bewildered reckon he's the sort of player we've been missing for years.
Their injury list includes the brilliantly-named Kevin Theophile-Catherine who,disappointingly, has a long-term knee injury rather than writer's cramp from signing autographs.
KTC came in from Rennes during the close season as did Danish striker Andreas Cornelius who came in for what was for a few days a club record £7.5-£8m depending on your newspaper and exchange rate. Tan has been critical of the deal pointing out that the final cost could be significantly higher with add-ons. And stuff like wages, which appear not to have been factored into the Malaysian's calculations. Either way you look at it they've not had the best of returns from the Danish international for whom injury and a lack of form means that he's started only 7 league matches so far.
Talking of a lack of form brings me neatly over to us. The last couple of matches were all a bit of a blur really. Forest will be buzzing I suppose – as long as nobody reminds them of the fact that we put out a 4th XI. The Manchester City game, well it was rather dispiriting, especially as the home's supply of Valium, which Matron was shoving down our gullets every time they looked like scoring, ran out ten minutes before half-time. If we're looking for a bright side to things, and lord knows we need some cheering up, we could console ourselves with the fact that they only put six past a squad with its fifth and sixth choice centre backs in place. Which compares favourably with the likes of, oh, say, Spurs, who got exactly the same tonking with their first XI out there. Ok as “bright sides” go it's not up to much but you can't blame me for trying and, in all the doom and gloom we ought to give Man City some credit for the fact that they score six against everyone.
There is, at last some good news on the injury front. Tomkins appears to have recovered from both his groin problem and his recent trip to the local Magistrates' Court and will be available for selection in the middle. Ricardo Vaz Te is having a run out for the development squad as we speak. Oh and someone called Andy Carroll is apparently available for selection and may be on the bench.
Of course we couldn't go into a match without at least one new concern, that being Joey O'Brien, who picked up a knock on Wednesday to deplete the defensive resources anymore.
The relative positions of the clubs make this one a decent one to win. The return of Carroll should give the squad a boost. Whilst other “six-pointers” have proved to be anything but from our point of view, the spotty work experience kid points out that in recent seasons we have had the evil eye over the Welshmen. Actually what he said was “like Spurs they're our bitches”. We've won the last four meetings, including two this season. They'll counter that with the “first home game for the new boss” sense of hopefulness that will be about the place.
Prediction? Well for some bizarre reason I feel a wee bit optimistic for this one and my natural instinct says 2-1 to us but I'm going to temper that a bit and actually place the Avram Grant Olympic Rest Home For The Bewildered's Valium fund (£2.50) on a 2-2 draw.
Enjoy the game!
When Last We Met In Wales Isn't It – Won 2-0 (Championship, March 2012). Nolan put us ahead shortly before the interval following good work from Nicky Maynard – now a Cardiff player. A bizarre McCartney solo effort sealed the points, prompting the first airing of the “how **** must you be, we're winning abroad” chant.
Referee: Lee Mason Another village is missing an idiot. Cost us 3 points against Everton.
Danger Man: Craig Bellamy. Still has a point to prove.
Daft fact of the week: In the 1980's Cardiff were actually sponsored by tv cartoon character Superted, whose creator is a big Bluebirds (and I insist on calling them that) fan. Current sponsors are listed as “Malaysia” and BBC Cymru. Quite what Swansea fans make of that particular use of the licence fee is not recorded. Thankfully.
Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, nor should be attributed to, KUMB.com.
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