Cardiff City's 'Bottlers' Tag Is Well In The Past
Cardiff City are looking to overturn a 1-0 deficit in tonight`s Carling Cup semi-final 2nd leg against Crystal Palace with the Eagles` manager Dougie Freedman broadcasting his views all over the media that Cardiff City will be under great pressure due to past failures.
That view was once held by a good number of Cardiff City fans, frustrated with being the 'nearly` men of the Championship - always competing, before fading away and narrowly missing out on promotion. He also spoke of the 2008 FA Cup exploits after a brilliant run was ended at Wembley by then Premiership outfit Portsmouth. What Freedman failed to note was that we actually did succeed in the semi-final against Barnsley. It appears the former striker is treating the double header with Cardiff City as his side`s cup final. The past two years has seen play-off dreams ended, firstly by Blackpool and then by Reading in a dismal 3-0 reversal at home last year.
However, very little about the club is the same since those failures. Peter Ridsdale and Dave Jones are gone. Both men had managed to make themselves central and almost indispensable figures within the club - but no more. Gone are so many of the players that make up those squads that came close but ultimately failed. The likes of Chopra, Bothroyd, Rae, Burke, Parry etc are all departed. All had quality, but each could also be prone to obvious frustration on the pitch and we lacked unity as a team. Gone too are the 'stellar` signings like Trevor Sinclair, Hasselbaink and Robbie Fowler - even Craig Bellamy, though immensely talented and committed would have stuck out as a big name and ego in the dressing room. Other players like JLloyd Samuel and Kelvin Etuhu played in massive games but were never really committed to the club.
Malky Mackay has changed everything that saw us labelled 'bottlers`. The work ethic is tremendous and the belief, confidence and endeavour is evident every week. Instead of moments of brilliant skill from Jay Bothroyd etc- we see 90+ minutes of gutsy, determined hard work - but with plenty of quality to win games at this level. Players like Cowie, Gunnarsson and Andrew Taylor don`t always make game-changing impacts, but the consistency, and efficacy is indubitable.
Then there`s the fans. Impatient, quick to criticise and vent frustrations with even a tendency to target individuals with abuse e.g. Tony Capaldi, Rhys Weston etc. That`s not the case at the moment and the fans have entirely bought in Mackay`s honest and hard working philosophy. Last week`s dramatic win against Portsmouth was testament to this with instant support for David Marshall following a bad mistake from the Scotsman which cost us a goal. Previous years would have seen booing, and frustration until we were back in front but the spontaneous chants of 'Scotland`s number One` and 'do the ayatollah Marshall` were appreciated by player and manager. There was patience when Darcy Blake`s passing was poor early on, and the belief and support continued even when we went 2-1 down. Encouragement rather than frustration, and with manager, players and fans united - the Bluebirds were able to push on and grab that dramatic late winner.
In all honesty, Cardiff City fans will be confident for the first time in many years that, if we do not win tonight, it will not be down to 'bottling` whatever Dougie Freedman would have you believe.