McPhail Thriving In Cardiff City's New Midfield
Cardiff City midfielder Stephen 'Macca` McPhail is hoping for the nod to start for the Bluebirds against his former club Leeds United on Sunday, he played in the 5-3 win against Barnsley on Saturday and followed that with another influential display in the Carling Cup midweek.
The 4-5-1 system currently favoured by City manager Malky Mackay plays to McPhail`s strengths. He has struggled in the past as part of the 4-4-2 formation and never really regained the excellent form he showed whilst protected by Riccy Scimeca. However, in a 3-man midfield McPhail finds more space, can receive possession more easily and rarely wastes his pass.
That formation also suits Whittingham, but those who thought the inclusion of both left-footed 'cultured` players might be too lightweight have been proven wrong with the new look midfield showing good balance. McPhail is most comfortable playing deeper in that formation - sitting just in front of the back four, acting as a link and dictating the play.
Aron Gunnarsson and Filip Kiss are much better suited to the traditional defensive midfielder mentality but Gunnarsson has thrived in a more forward role and continues to close down and hassle opponents. Don Cowie too offers good protection and with such good passers of the ball, and the willingness of Cowie, Whitts and Conway to push forward - McPhail is given more time and license to influence City`s play.
Since suffering a loss of form, and then undergoing difficult treatment for a MALT lymphoma, McPhail has not been an integral part of Cardiff City`s team over the past couple of seasons. Illness during pre-season was another huge blow to McPhail`s hopes but he has returned and shown great character and form to stake his claim for a starting place in Mackay`s XI. Hopefully, he can continue to show his quality and experience in the Bluebirds` midfield.