Date:Wednesday April 25 2007
Cardiff City's cultured midfielder Stephen McPhail has come under pressure form dissappointed Bluebirds fans over the last couple of months.
Ex-Leeds Utd player McPhail joined Cardiff City on a free transfer from newly promoted Barnsley in the summer. On first inspection, he appears to have been an excellent acquisition having made 41 appearances for Cardiff City this season. In fact he has appeared in every single game excepting a 3 match suspension he picked up.
An injury-free season for the Republic of Ireland International and player whom teammate Malvin Kamara branded the 'most talented individual in the squad' and man to whom Michael Chopra has often paid tribute. Ringing endorsements them from team-mates and manager alike, Dave Jones selecting McPhail as his captain when Purse and Scimeca were missing.
Cardiff fans however have been slightly disillusioned with the player recently. At first, his crisp passing and intelligent play were instrumental in our brilliant form. However, as the pitches got soggier and teams began to suss Cardiff out, McPhail has failed to adapt his game and looks a little out of depth.
A feature of his play is rarely surrendering possession but many passes end up going sideways or backwards. At a time when service to the strikers has been poor, McPhail is not providing the killer pass, not unlocking defences while his own shooting can only be described as woeful.
McPhail is not a born shooter, but he must realise that chipping tamely towards goal is unlikely to yield any goals. He took free-kicks for the first half of the season, and most were on target but lcking any pace or menace. No goals in 41 appearances is very dissappointing for a central midfielder, especially one who has had the steadying presence of Riccardo Scimeca behind him for much of the season.
Cardiff City must be on the look out for two central midfield players in the summer. McPhail has a part to play, but needs to develop his game. Play has passed him by in recent games, and whilst he will never be a physical, dominating presence - he simply must get stuck in and involved.
You can't afford any passengers at Championship level.
Date:Wednesday April 25 2007
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