Date:Friday May 29 2009
Cardiff City fans were little short of ecstatic after Peter Ridsdale and Dave Jones worked hard in January to secure the permanent re-capture of former favourite Michael Chopra from Sunderland. The former Bluebirds was snapped up for £5m by Roy Keane, and scored a few goals in the Premiership though not as many as he'd have liked.
An initial loan spell was agreed to allow Chops to overcome personal problems and improve his match fitness whilst also providing a huge boost to Cardiff City. However, he was recalled when Ricky Sbragia was appointed the new boss until a new deal was agreed, initially on loan but to be made permanent on July 1st.
Although Sunderland needed to clear their squad, I was unsure whether Chops would choose to come back. Although he clearly loved it here, he and best mate Roger Johnson have both appeared to feel big fish in the Cardiff City pond. Undoubtedly though, this signing was excellent news especially when you consider our idea of squad strenthening in previous Januarys ran to Warren Feeney and Jason Byrne.
What transpired however was that instead of the pacy, clinical and menacing Chopra we had a man struggling with injury, low in confidence and struggling for impact. He was nothing like the player he used to be but there were definitely signs his spell in the Premiership has improved him. He has added better decision making, runs and temperament from his game but was missing the sharpness and arrogance that made him such a threat in the Championship.
The heel injury that hindered Chopra was more serious that thought. He clearly struggled every time he played despite a special implant in his boot and painkilling injections. It was not a good scenario for Chopra or the team who would probably have fared better with McCormack up-front.
Chopra has a welcome rest now over the summer where he can re-assess the problem and will be urged to allow his heel to recover. It's an unusual injury, and a rare on in sport but can be incredibly painful. With time to 'heal' and a full pre-season behind him - we can hopefully see the Michael Chopra Cardiff City fans remember and one who will certainly be looking for 20 goals next season. He will also have the chance to face his hometown and former club following Newcastle United's relegation from the Premiership.
Date:Friday May 29 2009
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