Cardiff City's McPhail Relapse
Cardiff City missed a good chance to continue their advance up the table on Saturday as a lack of creativity and guile saw them flop limply and lose to a late Norwich City wondergoal.
The Bluebirds were off the pace for much of the match and were missing the fizz and flair that has typified their resurgence over the last 2 months.
Noticably disappointing in this performance was captain Stephen McPhail. The Irish midfielder came in for sustained criticism early in the season, and admitted his form was poor. However, McPhail improved dramatically and more recently has shown much better form and creativity.
On Saturday, McPhail was back to the limp, lacklustre performances that saw fans demanding him to be dropped. Passes were slow, laboured and in many cases retuned to the sideways or backwards passing of the dark days.
We were crying out for some attacking impetus and drive, the quick passing and dangerous vision that has seen Paul Parry utilise his pace and flourish in an advanced role. Cardiff were overrun in moidfield and had few ideas of their own, the pressure restricted us and we had no plan B.
Only once in the 90 minutes did McPhail find himself in an advanced position, that was in the first half when he chipped a poor attempt woefully wide.
Hopefully, Saturday was a blip and we will see the wuick-footed and incisive McPhail we all know can unlock defenced and orchestrate a game from Cardiff City's midfield. McPhail on his day is a quality player, but needs to re-produce the form of December and January if he is not to be replaced by the highly-rated Aaron Ramsey, or the returning Riccy Scimeca.
Of course, it was not just McPhail underperforming. Many others were below par and I don't wish to single out McPhail for criticism simply because he is an easy target. Perhaps Dave Joens is equally to blame, McPhail is the lynchpin of the team - when on form we usually impress and that adds a great deal of pressure to his game.
Either an improvement in McPhail's game, perhaos through otehrs taking pressure from him, or, a different idea and style of play is needed if Cardiff City are to progress this season. There's plenty of work to be done.