McPhail Shows Improvement For Cardiff City
Cardiff City boss Dave Jones opted to rest key midfielder Joe Ledley last night and re-partner Stephen McPhail and Gavin Rae in central midfield for the Bluebirds. Both players have been dropped to accommodate Ledley in a creative midfield role of late but linked up to good effect yesterday with Rae grabbing his first goal of the season courtesy of a pass from McPhail.
McPhail has been nothing short of bitterly disappointing for the majority of this season, and he deserved to be dropped after his sending off away at Swansea City. However, whilst I was against his recall for the return fixture last Sunday - McPhail did contribute more than in previous games. He kept possession better, and provided a few clever passes. Additionally, he was prepared to tackle back and tried to drive his side forward. However, there are still issues regarding his availability when we have possession, often marked out of the game or dropping so deep that the only option is the goalkeeper or a lofted ball forward.
Last night saw continued improvement in McPhail, noticed by many fans who have been giving him a hard time of late. Macca was restored to the captaincy for the first time in many months and produced a decent and mature performance. Believe me, it was nowhere near as good as the 9/10 mark afforded to him in the SW Echo. Roger Johnson was streets ahead of McPhail last night and any level-headed Bluebirds supporter will tell you we were poor and that the midfield area was our problem. Ledley will surely return to action on Saturday, I would drop Whittingham based on last night`s performance but Rae is more likely to get the chop. I still believe Ledley/Rae is our most effective partnership and McPhail needs to show a lot more in order to change that, McPhail struggles for space against a 3 man midfield and his usual style of standing still to pick out passes is not ideally suited.
A slide-rule pass to provide Rae`s goal, a beautifully flighted pass to Chopra and some intricate one-twos in central midfield were the highlight for McPhail and it is good to see him re-gaining some confidence and form.