Cardiff City Likely To Persist With Don Cowie
Cardiff City struggled for width at times last season, a fact clearly acknowledged by Malky Mackay who has brought Craig Bellamy and Kim Bo Kyung in over the summer, as well as youngster Kadeem Harris signing from Wycombe last January.
The observation was all too apparent once again for the season opener against Huddersfield Town, with Craig Bellamy having to contend with a paucity of space and 2 markers for the majority of the match. In theory, that should allow more space in other areas - most obviously on the right flank but once again the man tasked with operating that position was usually found infield.
I am a fan of Cowie, he is neat and inte;lligent with a phenomenal work rate and determination. However, a wide midfielder he is not. The Bluebirds were already operating with a midfield three of Whittingham, Gunnarsson and Mutch - but Cowie's 'tuckin-in' role sees him contributing as a fourth central player. That cuts down the space tremendously and may be a useful tactic to nullify opponents - but was not helpful in terms of our own creativity and forward momentum.
For me, Cowie is somewhat of a luxury at the moment. What he gives is energy, tenacity and short accurate passing - but we have those attributes covered elsewhere and are at times crying out for natural width. Although Harris is injured (though now back in training), City do have viable options in attacker Joe Mason (not a natural winger, but an attacking threat and could be given license to roam) and Craig Conway - an established wide midfielder offering a natural outlet, and with ability to cut inside or cross.
Cowie is clearly a big part of Mackay's plans, and was one of his first signings last year - as they re-established their relationship from Watford. He was a virtual ever-present last season, a successful season for City - but there is absolutely no doubt we are much stronger this time around. It seems likely that Cowie will again start tonight's match against Brighton, but will need a big performance if he is to keep his place for Saturday (vs Bristol City) and especially the following week vs Wolves when the home side will be under more pressure to attack and create.