Date:Wednesday July 28 2010
Cardiff City are in a financial mess. The news emanating from CCS since the devastating play-off final defeat has done little to lift the mood with outstanding debts (Charlton, Motherwell, Sunderland) coming to light, a new HMRC court date set and of course the hugely prohibitively transfer embargo preventing us from adding to an already small squad. The fact that we have negligible money to spend (either on transfer fees or wages) only adds to the difficulty while the weight of expectation in South Wales remains high. Our new Malaysian investors have undoubtedly steadied the ship with their £6m investment and commitment to pay player wages. Without that, we would be in administration with few remaining players or, even worse, could have been liquidated at the high court.
The current problems are 100% inherited from the Hammam and Ridsdale eras where we overspent, and incurred huge debts we could not service. Those debts could not be repaid, without more debts with higher interest and the 'mortgaging` of future player sales and of course, the infamous season ticket scam which has effectively robbed us of £3m expected at this time of year.
However, with the new season just over a week away, there are genuine causes for optimism. Most importantly, I believe problems are finally being faced head on and not stored up to gain more difficulties (and interest charges!) further down the line. In terms of the playing staff, we are far better off than many people feel at the moment:
At goalkeeper, I believe we are stronger. Last season, Marshall was largely unknown but established himself as the number one and will continue as such. Out went Peter Enckelman, who was far from assured when deputising, and in comes young former loanee Tom Heaton. He has improvements to make, but played regularly at this level before and is genuine cover for Marshall.
In defence, we look to be without Tony Capaldi, a bit-part player who barely featured who has been released. That suggests Kevin McNaughton is now number one left-back with Adam Matthews, Paul Quinn and Darcy Blake competing at right-back. It seems experienced pro Mark Kennedy is departing to Ipswich Town but to get £75k for a 34 year old is far from a disaster and there were signs his lack of pace was catching up. Admittedly, Kennedy was a major player in our successful season, but another year on, he would have struggled to play so regularly. At centre-back, we again start with Hudson, Gerrard, Gyepes and Blake though rumours of a move for Loovens if Gyepes leaves would surely be welcomed by many.
In attack, we have lost Josh Magennis and Warren Feeney, both of who were merely a squad number last season and failed to contribute anything meaningful in their extremely limited appearances. Therefore, Bothroyd, Chopra and McCormack form our strikeforce and a potent one at that.
Midfield poses a potential problem since we have not looked properly balanced in this areas for about 4 seasons (McPhail/Scimeca). Joe Ledley was arguably our best player and while many fans think he was over-rated, I have no doubt we will miss his energy, industry and overall contribution. To be frank however, McPhail and Rae have formed a successful, if not dominant, Championship pairing for several seasons and are experienced, committed and established. Add to that new loanee Danny Drinkwater, a highly rated box-to-box midfielder, and you could argue we are looking OK. Sol Taiwo, Darcy Blake and Aaron Wildig provide adequate young cover and all have shown potential. The quality of Peter Whittingham and Chris Burke speaks for itself and contributed over 30 goals last season - both quite rightly have Premiership ambitions.
Of course, things could change quickly if bids are received and we are pushed to accept. That said, the above squad represents a very strong starting XI with adequate cover in most areas.
IF our transfer ban was lifted, allowing Dave Jones to sign a left back, a winger, and a powerful striker - I honestly believe the fans morale would shoot back up to as high as in any season with the confidence, swagger and general hype we have all come to know. That seems a long way off at present, but the wheels are in motion, TG remains committed and all we need is an update, a reminder just to let us know that things are moving.
When Cardiff City run out this weekend to face Deportivo, it will lack the expectation and buzz of last season. However, the following Sunday when Sheffield United visit, there will be eleven highly talented footballers wearing the Blue of Cardiff City and when Ali asks each and every one of us to 'COME ON SUPPORT THE BOYS, AND MAKE SOME NOISE` - what will you do?
The answer is obvious, we want 100% from those players, we`ll give them 100% back.
Date:Wednesday July 28 2010
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