Cardiff City: Our 'Loan Lottery' History !
Cardiff City are currently under a transfer embargo emplaced due to unpaid bills to HMRC, Motherwell, Charlton and Sunderland. However, our squad is frighteningly thin and any injuries or suspensions would hurt us badly. Therefore, it is abundantly clear that we need to add new faces and squad depth both in order to ensure a successful season, and keep other players (e.g. Chopra) happy with the ambition shown by the Bluebirds. Due to our financial circumstances, free transfers and loan signings are the order of the day - and Cardiff City manager Dave Jones has somewhat of a mixed record when it comes to success rates in the loan market.
In recent years - Jones has made some inspirational moves, and some absolute stinkers. Starting between the posts, the capture of Kasper Schmeichel was particularly pleasing. However, other recruitments have fared far worse from the disappointments of Ross Turnbull (now at Chelsea?!?), and the disastrous cameo of Dimi 'the drop` Konstantopoulos. The likes of Peter Enckelman, Tom Heaton and Stuart Taylor all came, played and were effective, if not particularly impressive.
It`s a similar story when it comes to defensive loan players. The signing of an unknown Dutchman from Feyenoord was hardly anticipated, but Glenn Loovens proved an outstanding capture and was signed on a permanent deal to great effect. Kerrea Gilbert, borrowed from Arsenal, also performed a good job until his form dipped dramatically mid season following alleged personal problems (!). Then there were some rather less glamorous moves for the likes of Alan Wright and James Chambers - both of whom performed a job when we were desperately short but neither were ever likely to be first choice players.
The midfield area has long since been a problem area for the Bluebirds, with difficulties achieving the right balance alongside Ledley, McPhail and co. Wayne Routledge provided width, pace and a genuine goal threat - he was a superb player for us and regrettably he opted to join QPR over us on a permanent deal. Another such success story was provided by the season-long loan of Jason Koumas from WBA in the 2005/06 season. Koumas was unfit, and dogged by attitude problems but Dave Jones somehow managed to extract the pure class he has shown mere glimpses of before and after his spell in South Wales. Week after week, Koumas dazzled defenders, creating numerous chances and scoring a fair few goals - many of a really high standard. He is warmly regarded as one of the best loan signings ever made in the Championship. Although not a Dave Jones signing, another player deserves a mention in this category having represented Cardiff City in 2004. Gary O`Neil is perhaps the most gifted player I have seen whilst supporting Cardiff City and it is somewhat of a surprise to see him in the Championship (he is currently at Middlesbrough). O`Neil provided energy, drive and genuine quality and was a superb acquisition, if only a brief loan.
Unfortunately those midfield successes were not to be emulated by the likes of Simon Walton, the maniacal midfielder remembered more for a poor attitude and reckless challenges - he spent more time banned than available! Walton`s exit from the club was marred by a Myspace comment in which he appeared to belittle our beloved CCFC - hardly a fans favourite. Further disappointments were to come and in the last two seasons alone we have suffered two of the biggest let downs in the forms of attacking wingers Quincy Owusu-Abeyie and Kelvin Etuhu. Both promised so much, and yet delivered next to nothing
Ever since Dave Jones came to the club, we have been both blessed and cursed in attack. We have always had goalscorers but failed to have depth and/or a suitable partner for the likes of Cameron Jerome etc. Jones gambled with some 'shot-to-nothing` acquisitions but Jason Byrne, Guylain Ndumbu-Nsungu and Luigi Glombard were never going to make it at Cardiff City. In terms of loans, we have also had a mixed bag. Clearly Dave Jones already knew all about Michael Chopra`s capabilities when we brought him back from Sunderland, initially on loan. Chopra is a striker capable of playing in the Premiership and his exuberance, energy and eye-for-goal made him a wonderful loan capture. Another success, though far less obvious, was the acquisition of Michael Ricketts. The journeyman striker was less mobile than a legless penguin but he performed a function, offering a bulky target and chipping in with a few important goals.
Far less impressive of Dave Jones` loans was Iwan Redan, on-loan from Willem II in 2007 and more famous for a headbutt than any footballing ability, the Dutchman featured only twice and was a complete waste of time, money and expectation. It is slightly harsh to cite the next player in a similar bracket but Warren Feeney must also be considered a very poor signing. With hindsight, it is completely ridiculous to consider Feeney an adequate goalscoring replacement for an injured Michael Chopra and we un-surprisingly missed out on the play-offs. We did however sign him permanently, and whilst he always tried hard and had relatively few chances - Feeney was a complete flop.
We then come to the final Jones loan of his tenure and one whom epitomises the 'loan transfer lottery` theory behind this article. The 2008/09 season saw us swoop to capture a £3m USA International from Fulham in the form of a gangly striker who will always be remembered by the Bluebirds fans. Eddie Johnson made a massive impression by being absolutely terrible! The hapless striker was a liability, offering absolutely nothing except a willingness to run and chase, much like an excited dog on the beach. He never looked a threat for many months and was barely fit to clean Jay Bothroyd`s boots, never mind deputise for him, but eventually Eddie grew into a decent alternative. His heading was far from incisive, and I have the feeling much was down to improving luck, but Johnson did contribute and ended the season as a genuine Championship standard frontman. He would never shake off the joke label he picked up, but Eddie became an idol, kept trying and eventually, finally, became a half-decent player - to this day I`ve never heard a louder cheer than the 60th minute, 7th march 2009 when 'The Eagle` scored his first goal-it was a long time coming.
It Cardiff City are to rely on loan signings again this year, us poor Bluebirds will be keeping everything crossed for a Koumas, Loovens or Chopra with all thoughts of Feeney, Etuhu and most certainly Konstantopoulos most certainly banished from our minds.
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