Cardiff City's McPhail Provides Valuable Balance
Cardiff City`s experienced Irish playmaker Stephen McPhail has made a welcome return to the line-up in recent weeks after a sustained period of rehabilitation has allowed him to regain control of the Sjogren`s syndrome which has caused him severe difficulties and threatened his footballing career.
Malky Mackay is clearly a big admirer of the former Leeds Utd and Barnsley man, and has offered constant reassurances and help to McPhail since joining the club last summer. The 32 year old missed the start of the season, before returning to play a big part in our good run through October and November. A relapse saw him miss the whole of December and February but in recent weeks he has returned and is capable of making a difference to City.
McPhail brings a stability and balance to the midfield which has been lacking at times this season. He has adapted to fill a very deep lying role, sitting in front of the back four and dictating tempo with a series of short, sharp passes. He tried to be always available, and rarely loses possession - this has been a persistent problem for the Bluebirds with midfielders often unavailable and the defenders forced to play long aimless balls forward and relinquish possession.
McPhail is not the potent creative force he once was, linking well with former team-mate Michael Chopra. He is certainly no goal threat whatsoever to the opposition and rarely even gets into a shooting position. However, he does bring control and balance and the Bluebirds do look better with McPhail in the side and he certainly reads the game well.
One problem remains that McPhail is unable to contribute for the full 90 minutes, so replacements are needed. Recently, this has prompted a change in shape from Mackay, with an additional striker replacing him. Filip Kiss is now back in contention, while Peter Whittingham can also operate in front of the back four. Hopefully McPhail can continue to improve his fitness and contribute effective to the Cardiff City cause. He has received good support from the fans, and often speaks about the positive effect that has given him. As a model pro, and a very gifted midfielder 0 he certainly deserves that continued support.