As We Journey On #9: Comfortable Cardiff, The Blame Game, Players Fault And Hosting Hull

It seems nothing is changing for Blues, in terms of the results they are getting. We are definitely showing progress under Monk but the players are still making stupid mistakes at the back and we desperately need a goalscorer. The Cardiff game was a prime example of what our season has been like, trying to do too much too late. It’s not looking good for us and I think we would have been done if Norwich hadn’t equalised against Barnsley. We have a huge game on Saturday and I urge every single bluenose to get down to St Andrew’s and fill the stadium. Tickets are just £10 an adult. Before I get ahead of myself, let’s start with the away game against Cardiff.   

Cardiff Cruise…   

Saturday had the hopeful bluenoses traveling to another country as we played Cardiff in the Championship. Going into the game, Cardiff were 2nd and really putting the pressure on Wolves, who look more and more likely to choke the league title. Blues had just come off the back of a 1-0 defeat to Middlesbrough, where we showed some improvement in our attacking play.    

Blues fans were hoping that, after a week’s training with Monk and Co, that we would show what we are made of. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case as our defence just doesn’t seem to change. Something isn’t right with our back four and goalkeeper, there isn’t a connection between the players and a common understanding of who closes a player down and where their partner will be situated.    

There was one major change in the side that lost to Middlesbrough and that was Jukey coming into the side for Che Adams. I didn’t like this one bit, he and Gallagher seem to be too similar and we would be lacking pace up top. However, Adams was non-existent in the Boro game, so I can understand where Monk was coming from.   

The game started and both teams didn’t really threaten each other. However, Cardiff scored an early goal and it was one of the luckiest goals I have seen in a while. Mendez-Laing went to cross the ball to the back post, scuffed the effort and it rolled into the bottom corner. I must question the defending and goalkeeping for this goal, but it just sums our luck up.    

We had a few small chances with Gallagher and Gardner going close but, once again, we weren’t creating anything dangerous and really troubling Cardiff’s keeper. Cardiff got a second eleven minutes later and the linesman deserves to be down the jobcentre right now. A corner was delivered in, bounced back to the take, who was offside. He delivered the ball back in, which went through a crowd of players, with Craig Bryson getting the final touch to make it 2-0. That was game over already, however, to be fair to the players their heads didn’t go down and they rallied on.    

Jukey was greedy with one chance and Morrison glanced a header wide from a corner, however, we weren’t troubling the Cardiff keeper again. Cardiff got their third lucky goal on the stroke of half-time. Morrison couldn’t do the basics of a defender right and failed to flick a cross away, this meant the ball went straight to Paterson who stuck it home. 3-0 and the game was over after one half of football.   

The first half was poor from both sides and Cardiff were very lucky to be 3-0 up. They don’t deserve to be a Premier League club; their attendances are awful for a team who are 2nd in the Championship and their style of football is atrocious. However, Blues were just as bad, especially with their defending and three simple goals had been let in, once again.    

The second half started and Blues went straight on the front foot. They were attacking Cardiff with everything they had, and Jota was fantastic once again. We were handed an early lifeline when the referee awarded us a penalty on fifty-four minutes. Gardner stepped up and smashed it home. 3-1 and shockingly, it was Gardner who scored.   

Cardiff were a little shook when that goal went in and they went for the kill straight away with Hoilett going down in the box. Neil Warnock was going mental on the touchline when the ref didn’t give it as a penalty. Blues then went up the other end and nearly scored through Jota.    

Morrison then had a golden opportunity, however, he managed to smash the ball straight into the Cardiff keeper from four yards out. The remainder of the second half was just Blues going close to Cardiff’s box and then failing to break through.   

We scored a second on ninety-five minutes through Colin’s top corner finish, however, we had left it too late and the three points went to Cardiff. Another poor defensive performance had cost us again and relegation was looming large.    

Players Fault…   

I’ve seen a lot of fans on social media saying, that is was never the manager’s fault, it’s the players and I agree with that to a certain degree. I can honestly say, if Cotterill was still in charge for those two games, we would have lost 3-0 and 5-0 or something stupid like that. We have shown improvements in our game and Jota has been fantastic the past two games, all we need to do is sure up at the back.   

Fans have short memories and easily forget that we have chopped and changed the back four multiple times this season. We have a right-back in Colin playing LB because we lost our best defender in Johnny Grounds. We have Carl Jenkinson playing RB when he shouldn’t even be on the pitch. Harlee Dean keeps being given new partners each week, without being able to establish a connection and partnership.    

The players are at fault, but Cotterill had more of the blame. He was a dreadful manager, making up poor excuses for losing games and, let’s be honest, he isn’t a motivational person. I can’t see the lads looking forward to his pre-match team talks, he’s just a boring man.   

The players do need to perform better, there’s no denying that. Our squad should be at least mid-table, even dark horse for the playoffs, however, we aren’t and we may be looking at League 1 next season, which no one wants.   

All the players need is our support, if there is anything the players have always had, it’s the support from fans and if we keep it up maybe we keep our club up. Remember Huddersfield at home last year, nearly a packed-out St Andrews, all screaming the team on. The players thrive in that atmosphere and we need to give it them. Stop playing the blame game and just get behind the team.   

Hosting Hull…   

Before I get into the preview, I must apologise for this piece being a little shorter than usual. There hasn’t been a lot of news around Blues this week. I’ve also had a very busy week with the Indian Super League and I joined a UK based US sports site this week, so I have been preparing pieces on the mayhem that is the NFL free agency and the last full month of the NBA action, before the playoffs.   

Anyway, enough about me and onto next week. It’s the start of four massive games for Blues as we face three of our relegation rivals. These four games are must wins and will define our season. First up is Hull and they have recently hit form. They smashed us 6-1 back in 2017 and I am sure they are up for this game as much as we are.   

All we need to do is keep playing the way we are on the attack and just improve our defending. Maybe we drop Jenkinson and put a young right-back like Harding in the eleven. All of us Bluenoses are praying for a win, it really is a life or death matter and the players better be up for the task. I’m not going to make a prediction, I’ve had enough of betting this week after Cheltenham, don’t ask how it went.   

About the Author

Stephen Beavon
Just a young football fan who likes to get his opinion across to others. Love Birmingham City, although it is difficult at times.