Date:Wednesday February 25 2009
Cardiff City host fellow promotion hopefuls Queens Park Rangers tonight. We headed over to Vital QPR to get the esteemed view of their editor and ardent Hoops fan Adam Boxer.
How confident of a play-off place are you?
Saturday`s result certainly put a lot of things in perspective with regards to a realistic playoff push. While we have a first team that is capable of a charge when you scratch a bit deeper our defensive unit suffers with just one omission and without a few key attacking players we seem incapable of creating any serious chances.
Make no mistake about it though when we play to our potential we are one of the better sides in this division. Additions such as Wayne Routledge, Liam Miller and Heidar Helguson have shown the supporters that the club is buying the correct players for a promotion push.
By packing the squad with promotion experience and Premier League experience we are beginning to get matters on the field right after wasting the first half of the season on inexperienced foreign youngsters and a dinosaur style of management in Iain Dowie.
I wouldn`t say I`m confident of a playoff place, but it`s something I`m sure we can get comfortably if we play to our true potential, and Saturday`s result aside I think we are good enough.
Disappointment against Ipswich, how's your general form?
Our general form has been very good under new boss Paulo Sousa and Saturday marked only his second defeat in 14 games in charge of the R`s - not bad for your first job in management. We`ve started to get matters on the pitch correct and we`re playing with a confidence and surety in recent weeks that tells me that playoffs could be a distinct possibility.
The Ipswich defeat I`m hoping will serve as a wake-up call to some players who believe that we can coast into the playoffs - this is a tough division and we`re going to need to go on a similar one to that above to get a place in the top six.
The defence had been rock solid despite conceding two against Forest - where individual errors cost us more than the defensive unit. Sousa decided to tinker against Ipswich and by changing the back line we cost ourselves the points. Fitz Hall is a good player, of that there is no question, but the unit as a whole suffered when Damion Stewart was left out.
Going forward we are scoring goals but not taking the many chances that our wingers - notably Wayne Routledge - are creating. Heidar Helguson is the stand out forward as we only play one up front, with Dexter Blackstock not really getting a look in under Sousa. Samuel Di Carmine and Angelo Balanta are options, and I feel a confident Di Carmine can be an incredible force given the time.
All in all one defeat in ten, two defeats in 14 and five points off a playoff place with a couple of games in hand on the teams around us. It`s really not so bad and I expect us to start kicking on after the result on Saturday.
How's Wayne Routledge been getting on?
Routledge has been a revelation in W12 since arriving from Aston Villa in January. He proved in his spell at Cardiff City that he still had the hunger for a promotion push and I`m glad that Rangers made the move for the winger.
We had been after him in the previous window, and by all accounts weren`t so far from getting him. He instead opted to sign for Aston Villa and the rest as they say is history. It hadn`t worked out for him at Villa Park and all credit to him for dropping down a division in search of first team football.
He has made an immediate impact more so away from Loftus Road where he has more space to express himself and get in behind defences. He has been a key player in Rangers' revival and I expect him to thrive in a cauldron of atmosphere on Wednesday night where undoubtedly he`ll get quite a great deal of stick for choosing the R`s over Cardiff.
You know as well as I do the potential of the lad to perform in these big games, and I suppose I don`t need to tell you that you should ignore the forward at your peril!
Player to watch Wednesday?
Wayne Routledge as mentioned above is a big player for us as much of the R`s creativity comes from the nippy winger. Beyond him there are several other creative talents that have pushed Rangers into the periphery of the playoffs.
Players such as Lee Cook haven`t quite hit top form as yet but the potential is there for him to be a match-winner if he sticks to what he is good at. Cook has started to believe he is a marauding attacking midfielder but when pushed inside onto his right we have lost everything that is useful about him. He needs to be doing what he does best, getting down that left wing and putting in those telling crosses for Heidar Helguson.
Helguson himself should be getting a start on Wednesday after returning from injury and his ability in the air is truly excellent and will test the likes of Gyepes to the full. It`s not just the fact he wins the headers or flick ons it`s the way they are cleverly guided and always using a degree of intelligence which is encouraging.
In short we have a multitude of match winners in our side and it`s just a matter of time before it begins to click and we start to take our chances.
If you could have one Cardiff City player on a free - who and why?
Ross McCormack has proven himself to be one of the more formidable talents in the Championship at present. 16 goals in his first season with Cardiff has made him a real force to be reckoned with and judging the history at previous clubs was quite a surprise to me.
Whether he proves to be a one-season wonder or not remains to be seen for the time being but so far his form has been mesmerising.
Other than McCormack the obvious one has to be Michael Chopra, every club at this level wants a top goalscorer and in Chopra Cardiff City have someone who is proven and capable of firing the necessary goals for promotion.
Jay Bothroyd is another proven Championship forward and I think Dave Jones made an inspired signing buying him in the summer. He is a player I was begging QPR to go for, but instead we opted for totally unproven young talent, a unnecessary gamble when you consider the likes of Bothroyd was going cheap.
Cardiff have a lot of talented players who know how to play well together and I am certainly envious of the squad and the position that you hold in the Championship. We have made things unnecessarily tough for ourselves but here`s to hoping we can now chase you down!
Prediction for the game?
I have normally been very confident going into any game at this level however I am not very ambitious when it comes to this game. Cardiff are a good side especially at home - looking solely at the Arsenal result can tell you that, but we have become resurgent on the road and have certainly grown in confidence playing away from W12.
I would hope that we would keep a clean sheet first and foremost which certainly won`t be easy. If we do manage to keep a clean sheet I think we can win this one as I back us to hit the target and score a goal away from home.
My heart says 1-0 but my head says 1-1, which I think and hope would be a more fair reflection on proceedings.
Many thanks to Boxer for his opinions.
Date:Wednesday February 25 2009
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