Cardiff City: All Quiet On The Eastern Front
Cardiff City endured a tumultuous season which predictably ended in an end-of-season collapse and the Bluebirds lived up to our billing as the 'nearly men' of the Championship. That label is deserved and all the more difficult given that our squad this season was easily the best we've had since returning to this level.
This time last season saw an even more turbulent time for City after missing out on the Premiership in the play-off final and persistent financial problems that saw City in court on numerous occasions. Investment was needed urgently and our longstanding Malaysian link finally grew into a takeover led by Dato Chan Tien Ghee and Billionare backer Vincent Tan.
Many longstanding debts were re-negotiated to affordable levels and other paid off. The tax man was paid in full and has not been back this season - in fact we've heard little of the debt problems which are still there, but apparently being managed properly and responsibly at last. With all that, funds were still found to support Dave Jones in bringing quality players in on hefty wages. Jason Koumas, Seyi Olofinjana and Craig Bellamy joined the likes of Chopra in picking up massive wages each week and the squad looked extremely strong.
However, despite a few decent patches - the squad never gelled into a team. Too often we were over-run in midfield, and Dave Jones had no answers. Well placed in January, he was given the backing to bring in Jay Emmanuel-Thomas on loan and secure permanent signings of Jon Parkin and Dekel Keinan - both for fees.
A run of successive victories raised hopes we would end the season on a high and had finally timed our run perfectly, but it wasn't to be and we couldn't match Norwich City's points tally - especially after crumbling to a dismal 3-0 defeat at home to Middlesbrough. The play-offs too raised hope with a creditable 0-0 draw at Reading, only for a shambolic goalkeeping mistake and subsequent surrender to lead to another crushing 3-0 defeat.
Since then, the majority of fans have admitted that Dave Jones' 6-year tenure should be ended. He's a good manager, even a great one but his flaws are evident and he has become too comfortable here. He is an omnipotent force within the club and media, fan and player relations have all soured. The mistakes have not been learn and we need a new, fresh approach. The mass exodus of loan players, and out-of-contract ones has begun - so what better time for a change?
Tan and TG are known to be bitterly frustrated and feel let down by Jones, who assured them he was the man to get promotion if backed, only to change tack late in the season insisting expectations were too high and a play-off place was a great achievement. As yet, however, there has been no word from the board - only repeated please for calm for Chief Executive Gethin Jenkins.
We're led to believe that things are happening behind the scenes. A 'review' is in progress, which will be relayed in due course. Dave Jones' future, and estimated £750 pay-off clause, are clearly high on the agenda. Neither Vincent Tan, TG or Gethin Jenkins has any significant experience of running a football club but have certainly acted professionally thus far.
A major period of squad building and club overhaul is required - and fast. Hopefully, our owners will show the required leadership and assertive qualities to provide a speedy and robust strategy for the critical summer period and next season.