Cardiff City's Superb Centre-Back Catalogue
Cardiff City have had a complete overhaul of the centre-back department over the course of one season. Almost one year ago, we began the season with Loovens, Purse and Roger Johnson who have moved on to Celtic, Sheffield Wednesday and Birmingham City respectively in deals that could total £8m income, at least £4m of which has already been paid. The Bluebirds will begin the coming campaign with Anthony Gerrard (£250k), Mark Hudson (£750k) and Gabor Gyepes (£275k) as our centre-back options. On paper this does not look good, but despite all our trials and tribulations - Dave Jones has a truly outstanding record in bringing centre-backs to the club. We look at his previous buys:
1) Darren Purse
Pursey was one of Dave Jones` first signings and joined form West Brom, blowing our entire transfer budget of £650k in the process. He was immediately named club captain and established himself as a good leader and solid defender. He had his ups and downs, and became frustrated by a lack of opportunities when further re-inforcements were made. The majority of his 111 appearances were made in the first two seasons at the club but he was a consummate professional and left with the best wishes of every fan. An experienced Championship campaigner, he was immediately snapped up by Sheffield Wednesday on a free transfer.
2) Neil Cox
Cardiff City were reeling from the loss of Gabbidon, Collins and Vidmar when Dave Jones took over, his major action was to recruit Darren Purse but 2 weeks before that and only three weeks after taking over - Jones brought Neil Cox in on a free transfer. The veteran Watford man appeared over the hill at 33, and surely lacked the pace to cope in the Championship. Well no, and this was possibly the first of many cheap Dave Jones deals that saved us from likely relegation. Cox was an ugly footballer at times, unafraid to put his body on the line and willing to do the donkey work. However, he turned out to be exactly what we needed and filled a gap superbly making 30 appearances in the 2005/06 season. I admit to being supriosed at how well Cox did and although only a stopgap for our purposes, he went on to do well at Crewe Alexandra afterwards.
3) Glenn Loovens
Glenn Loovens was a virtual unknown when he joined on loan from Dutch side Feyenoord to provide back-up for Cox and Purse. Few would have predicted the Dutchman`s impact as he shared duties with Cox and put in some meaty and aggressive performances. Strong, dominant and powerful - Loovens was an all round defender if a little raw. Fans clamoured for a permanent deal and the Bluebirds did well to get their man for a bargain £250k. At the time we were strapped for cash, but theis was clearly a good investment and Loovens continued to impress. Good in the air and on the ground, Loovens became first choice defender and formed formidable partnerships with Purse and later Johnson. He attracted interest from elsewhere and eventually moved to Celtic almost a year ago. The fee may rise to £3m which is probably not what he is worth but a good return nonetheless. The Loovenator was a great buy courtesy of our European scouting network - Jones should get credit for that.
4) Roger Johnson
Probably THE success story of recent years for Cardiff City, Sam Hammam was dispatched to clinch the deal with Wycombe Wanderers but given a maximum transfer kitty of £250k by Peter Ridsdale. However, Swansea City were also close to a deal and Sam was not going to let that happen, and paid a little extra for Roger`s services. Whilst Ridsdale was less than impressd, his opinion presumably changed as Roger made some excellent appearances from the bench or as cover for Purse/Loovens. He would have been frustrated to spend so much time on the bench but he grew in confidence and showed some exceptional performances. His aerial dominance was backed-up by fearless battling, a strong tackle and good reading of the game. A little arrogance thrown in made Johnson appear a calm, committed and all-round dominant defender. He tried to play on with a broken wrist and a fractured larynx on rare occasions he was injured while he learnt to stay on his feet more regularly in defence. Distribution was probably the only weakness to Roger`s game in the Championship and Birmingham City were happy to take the punt, ending Roger`s 3 year spell at Cardiff City with a fee that could rise to £5m.
5) Gabor Gyepes
Following Loovens` departure, City had to move quickly to bring in another centre-half and Jones plumped for an old colleague in Hungarian Gabor Gyepes from Northampton Town. The name nor club did not inspire but Gabor looked solid enough and similar to Darren Purse in stature, appearance and determination. We`ve only really seen half a season from Gabor Gyepes, but already he has proved a good, strong player at this level. Although not the tallest, he has done well in the air and generally looked safe and dependable on the ground. Not many £200k signings would adapt so quickly to a new club and Championship football at the top end of the table.
Each of the above names has undoubtedly been a success, done a good job for us and remain popular with the fans. The only exception would be former Everton trainee Darren Dennehy who joined on a free transfer a year ago and is yet to make an appearance or convince. Hopefully both Anthony Gerrard and Mark Hudson will add themselves to the list of Dave Jones` central defensive success stories.
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