How Does Don Cowie Fit Into Cardiff City's Plans ?
Cardiff City secured an excellent deal around this time last season when newly instated Malky Mackay managed to tempt one of his former midfielders at Watford to join the Bluebir-ds on a free transfer - Don Cowie.
Cowie arrived as an energetic and tidy midfielder, with the Hornets fans certainly far from happy that he had departed, and even less so on a free transfer. The descriptions of Cowie were certainly accurate, and Mackay opted to name the Scotsman in his starting XI for almost the entire season.
Initially, Cowie was selected in a putative right wing role, though is was clear from the start that he was not a winger - but instead operated in a semi-wide midfield role, often tucking in to provide extra cover in the centre of the park. He did at least offer an option on the right, but was rarely able to carry the ball down the sideline and any crosses came from deeper, less dangerous positions.
Cowie chipped in with goals, and the sheer amount of ground he covered was extremely impressive. Cowie contributed in attack and defence, chasing, harrying and offering a willing passing option through midfield.
However, as City developed as a unit, and the likes of Joe Mason forced his way into the side - Cowie's role was less influential and with no natural width, he became somewhat of a luxury, despite there never being a lack of energy or determination.
Ultimately, a lack of width, pace and creativity harmed our chances - and saw the Bluebirds fall short again. In Mackay's favoured 4-5-1 formation, with the likes of Mason and Conway pushing forward, there wasn't really a role for a 'tucked-in' midfielder in Cowie's mould.
Mackay has clearly recognised that weakness, and Kadeem Harris is expected to feature this coming season, while South Korean star Kim Bo Kyung is a promising signing and provides another exciting wide option to complement Craig Conway's more 'bullish' style on the left.
If Mackay again opts for 1 frontline striker, with Mason, Kim etc offering support then Cowie's position again looks uncertain. With Whittingham, McPhail and Gunnarsson along with promising new recruits Filip Kiss and Jordon Mutch - all competing for central midfield positions, Cowie will struggle to force his way in there. Young prospect Joe Ralls will also be hopeful of being involved on a regular basis.
I'm yet to ever figure out Don Cowie's best position, and there's no doubt he is a valuable asset to any Championship side. However, it remains unclear how he will fit into Cardiff City's plans for the coming season. It may well be that he is used from the bench, and if so, that is a mark of how Cardiff City are progressing. Cowie has much to offer, and remains a favourite of Mackay's so will surely continue to be an important CCFC play for the upcoming, and hopefully successful, Championship campaign.