Cardiff City Season Review: Jay Bothroyd
8 - Jay Bothroyd
Cardiff City needed a complete overhaul of the striking department last summer with the likes of Hasselbaink, Fowler and Feeney all headed elsewhere while it was already apparent Steve Thompson was not a long term feature in Jones` plans. Our top target was undoubtedly Kris Boyd at Rangers. When that fell through and a few others, we turned our attention to Marcus Bent. However, with the deal all but signed he decided to opt for a season in Birmingham`s reserves earning more money and departed. That meant we had little time to secure a replacement and eyebrows were raised when we moved to sign journeyman Jay Bothroyd.
With as many clubs as virtually anyone in the leagues, Bothroyd was a strange choice. We were after someone proven to compliment the as yet un-tested McCormack and while Bothroyd is undoubtedly a player of immense talent - it had arisen only sporadically and without consistency. Wolves fans liked him, but were not sorry to see him go - we were told he`d be a matchwinner 3 times a season but fail to deliver in the other games. Well he arrived, short on fitness but talking a good game about getting his head down and determination etc etc.
Bothroyd began the first games on the bench but made his first start against Norwich City and showed some nice touches. It`s fair to say that the Wolves` fans assessment seemed spot on as we got periods of good play and times when he was passed by. However, as his fitness improved, he began to forge a good partnership with McCormack and was putting in some good shifts. As always seemed likely, fans began to question his goalscoring record and started to liken him to Peter Thorne i.e. an astute and clever player with skill but who failed to justify his inclusion as a striker. Alan Lee and Steve Thompson have suffered similar fates and it`s no coincidence that both found their scoring boots after leaving Ninian Park.
The elusive first goal came against his first professional club Coventry City with a neat low finish from inside the area. He was to further torment his old club by winning a second half penalty in a good all-round performance from the forward. His link-up play was improving all the time and he was emerging as a powerful presence in the air. Just a few games later, he really silenced the doubters with a crucial brace against Watford. The first was a slightly fortunate deflection but the second was pure magic as he smacked home a glorious effort from 20 yards. Three goals from 12 was not a terrible start and his all-round play was effective. However, further mutterings were heard as he went 6 games without hitting the net though the more thoughtful fans were soon coming to realise Bothroyd`s importance to our style of play.
We really suffered when Bothroyd was missing, Eddie Johnson providing scant cover. It was his impressive skills at holding the ball up that really helped our cause and Jay was contributing for the full 90 minutes. Whenever his head began to drop, Jones or Burton would be on his case at every opportunity - it was actually very good man management and Jones should be applauded for getting the best from a talented yet inconsistent player - he was certainly looking a bargain at £300k.
Bothroyd ended the season with a decent haul of 12 goals from 35 starts. However, he was certainly responsible for a number of other people hitting the net and was a major player over the season. Doubts remained over his tendency to go to ground, and occasional tendency to lose interest or get frustrated. When that happened, our play became scrappy and dis-jointed with Bothroyd responsible for wasting possession. I have great sympathy with him for the end-of-season performances. His contribution was weak and he did very little during those disastrous last four games. However, the only service he got was the all too predictable long ball from the full-backs. The midfield was non-existent and he had to live off scraps. Neat footwork gets you very little in the middle of the park, and Bothroyd was ineffective.
Arsene Wenger talked of Bothroyd as a Premiership quality player when we met Arsenal and even likened him to legendary Frenchman Eric Cantona. Few would back that statement given our disappointment but Bothroyd had a good first season with Cardiff City. It`s easy to overlook his contribution given some of his more annoying habits but as the song goes: "he`s better than Jimmy Floyd, and cheaper than Krissie Boyd"
Season Rating: 7