The End For Macca + Rae In Cardiff City Midfield?
Cardiff City have had problems in midfield all season, and the central areas have been of particular concern. That said, this is the one area that has been stable all season with McPhail and Rae absolute certainties to start whenever fit.
The loss of Remco vsn der Schaaf to Burnley in the summer, as well as the departure of Aaron Ramsey to Arsenal had left us short of options especially with serious concerns over Riccy Scimeca's fitness having been absent for two seasons now.
The truth is, McPhail and Rae just are not working as a partnership. Individually, they both have strengths but just do not look like a Championship pairing despite their pedigree.
McPhail is a very gifted footballer, often praised by his team-mates and regarded as the best passer in the division. It is undeniable he is important to the way we play but he has not dictated a game in a long time and is regularly bypassed. It has become far too predictable and teams are able to nullify McPhail with startling ease.
Too often, McPhail sits deep, closer to his defence than attack and his first touch is normally to stop. This is usually followed by a turn (sometimes 360 degrees!) and a pass - but all too often this results in a sideways or backwards movement.
McPhail's natural game is a quick passing one and his class and physique do not allow him to aggressively dominate the centre of the park. That is why he often plays with another to 'anchor' and do more of the tackling and enforcing - why then is McPhail further back rather than probing behind the strikers? Unfortunately, whilst tackling is not his strong point - McPhail often commits silly fouls, usually un-necessary to pile pressure on the team.
Gavin Rae works very hard but even his strongest supporters must now be of the opinion he is limited. His distribution is very poor, and while he does try to add impetus and momentum to attacks - there is rarely an end product and possession is regularly lost.
Tackling is a strong point but while the wingers should be an easy and immediate outlet - we seem to loft high balls forward more often than not. Gavin Rae can often be bypassed in midfield and seems lost from the game.
I really do think Cardiff City have a serious problem in midfield and cannot expect to be serious prmotion contenders without a change in this area. McPhail and Rae are both good squad players but we are just not able to accomodate them in the same system. Everything is slow, deliberated and lacking quality yet we have very few options to change it.
Let us know YOUR thoughts - leave your comments on Rae / McPhail and your support or criticism!