Saturday, February 24, 2007

Cardiff 4-1 Preston

About five years ago I was working in the press box at Ninian Park when David Moyes' Preston team scored four and completely destroyed the home side. I interviewed David Moyes who cut a very impressive figure even at that stage of his career. But when Frank Burrows bravely appeared to face the music, I kinew that I wasn't cut out for the harsh world of sporting journalism.

City had been on a poor run, and the press were in no mood to let him off lightly. There was almost a feeling of glee that a big home defeat would help them fill the back pages, and they could smell the blood of a respected and likeable man who was about to appear from the home dressing room.

Frankie Burrows was and is no mug. As he made his way up to the Director's Box, where press conferences were held he knew which way things would be going. He stood with his back to the well, outstretched his arms and mocked us; "Nail me up fellas, nail me up." They did, and he left the club.

But the thrashing was reversed last night. And I didn't see it coming. In fact, I laid Cardiff quite heavily at Betfair because I just couldn't see a home win. I saw us lose at Preston earlier in the season, when we gave them a footballing lesson for an hour before somehow losing the game. But since then, we had lost form and fluency, the two attributes which have helped us to over achieve so far.

But there are a few players coming back into form now. And while we aren't fluent, we are at least fast. Peter Whittingham is a proper player and has replaced the threat that Joe Ledley provided in August and September before he ran out of gas.

The most obvious difference of course is Michael Chopra, who is getting close to my all time City X1. But I sense something dislikeable in his manner. Is he arrogant, feisty, or just a moaner? The jury's out, but he's no Carl Dale thats's for sure. I can't see Chopra being a sparky in Newport when he retires.

Roger Johnson had his best game for the club, the daft penalty notwithstanding. There is surprise at his old clubs that he isn't a regular at Cardiff. He is held in high regard universally, and maybe now we have some solid defensive cover.

And a word for Matt Green who came on at the end. Good for Dave Jones on giving the lad his chance. It had seemed that the local route to pro football had been blocked, but Green joins a long list of illuminaries who have progressed to Cardiff from Welsh football, including John Lewis, Carl Dale, and Mark Delaney. Good luck to him.

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