Date:Tuesday January 22 2008
Cardiff City have turned their season round courtesy of a fine run that has seen them climb from barely above the relegation zone, to sitting just outside the play-offs. There have been good wins against Plymouth Argyle and Sheffield United while promotion favourites West Brom and Watford were both relieved to steal a point at the death on their respective home turfs.
During the run, all of Cardiff's team have improved and they look a different bunch of players. Confidnece is high and they look lively and alert in attack whereas they lacked any cutting edge or threat previously.
One player who stands out as typifying that improvement is the current matchday captain Stephen McPhail. The cultured midfielder was noticably poor early in the season, passes went backwards or sideways with too many lumbered or going astray. Decisions and execution were poor and McPhail was lucky to keep his place in the side.
However, he has come to the fore again and at the moment is back on form. The passing is quick and fluid, finding angles and gaps whilst Paul Parry is especially profiting from the Irishman's vision and range.
On his day, McPhail is hugely influential for Cardiff and both his personal form and central midfield partnership with Gavin Rae are unrecognisable from a few short months ago. The ability to hang onto the ball under pressure and release a striker or wideman is a rare commodity and McPhail really can control a game when he wants.
Shooting is still a real problem, and sometimes he can drift in-and-out of games but he is now a key member of the starting XI and deservedly so on current form. Plenty of fans, including myself, gave him stick when he was off colour and struggling. Now however, he is doing well and deserves the praise.
Date:Tuesday January 22 2008
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