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Quite the collapse - Interview
Tuesday, 2nd Nov 2021 11:11 by Clive Whittingham

From one defeat in the first six games to eight defeats in a row, Cardiff’s collapse has been brutal and already cost Mick McCarthy his job. We caught up with Phil Bushby and the guys from the View From The Ninian podcast to find out what’s been occurring.

You actually started the season quite reasonably, why did it go so wrong so dramatically and quickly?

VFTN: Last season under Mick, we were high goal scorers and lean defensively. At the start of the season, it looked like the same thing was happening. But the goals quickly dried up and we started leaking goals at the back. Once that happens, the confidence drained from us and Mick started doing mad stuff like playing five centre backs. We went eight losses in a row, scoring only once, and there was no going back from that.

PB: A few things have not gone right this season. Like many clubs, not enough money to strengthen the squad but also allowed some good players out on loan such as Josh Murphy, Ryan Wintle and Gavin Whyte without obvious replacements. Put that alongside one-dimensional play, lack of plan B and strange tactical decisions (five centre backs) all combine to the bad run of form. A lot come down to confidence which is what we saw in the turn-around at Stoke.

Cardiff league results so far…
Cardiff 1-1 Barnsley Pack 54 – Sibbick 69
Blackpool 0-2 Cardiff Bacuna 52, Moore 86
Peterborough 2-2 Cardiff Burrows 49, Dembele 51 – Flint 83, 90
Cardiff 3-1 Millwall Flint 66, 70, Morrison 83 – Afobe 76
Cardiff 1-2 Bristol City Bentley og 59 – Weimann 21, 70
Forest 1-2 Cardiff Grabban 23 – Colwill 58, 73
Coventry 1-0 Cardiff Gyokeres 15
Cardiff 0-1 Bournemouth Billing 54
Blackburn 5-1 Cardiff Gallagher 24, Brereton 32, 45, pen 90, Dolan 53 – Morrison 58
Cardiff 0-4 West Brom Grant 5, Nelson og 56, Mowatt 75, Phillips 82
Cardiff 0-1 Reading Hoilett 38
Swansea 3-0 Cardiff Paterson 29, Piroe 60, Bidwell 74
Fulham 2-0 Cardiff Cairney 57, Mitrovic 63
Cardiff 0-2 Middlesbrough Sporar pen 35, Payero 74
Stoke 3-3 Cardiff Brown 9, Fletcher 16, 46 – Colwill 66, Harris 70, Moore 71

Likewise Mick McCarthy, huge run of results at the start of his reign, and now this, what happened?

VFTN: I think he just had no plan B. He started brilliantly and gave us hope of making the playoffs but this season, while we started well, it went sour really quickly. He didn’t really click with the fans and in his last game, the players looked all at sea. It just felt like he didn’t have an alternative game plan and as soon as the losses started coming, he couldn’t arrest it. He had to go when he did. It had become really toxic.

Who's in the running for the job?

VFTN: Well, we all thought Wilder was up there as he was at our away game in Fulham but that was probably a pipe dream. It seems like three names lead the pack - Flynn from Newport, Jody Morris, and Michael Beale from Rangers. Flynn is probably the most likely as he’s local and without a job but I fancy us to pull a bit of a curveball with Beale…

PB: There is a different name every day. At the moment in seems to be Mike Flynn but Chris Wilder would be a better choice for me. Bizarrely Neil Harris remains as one of the favourites. Steve Morison has done a great job with the U23s. I would not be unhappy with him being given a chance.

Your last three managers have been unashamedly direct and old school - do you want to see a departure from that or is that a bit dangerous with this squad midway through a season?

VFTN: Ideally, we would see a departure and I think your question does a disservice to Neil Harris. There were games where we outpassed and out shot our opponents! He was moving us away from the direct play of Warnock. But if I’m being honest, we revel in that direct approach. As fans, we wore it as a badge of honour that we went up ahead of Fulham playing that way and it did get us results. It was direct but attacking and our teams were full of pace. Under Mick, it was direct and slow as hell.

PB: I would really like to see better football. But we need to be careful. Get these players more confident and look to evolve rather than risk a change in style too quickly.

What on earth happened on Saturday? Fluke, or sign of a tide turning?

VFTN: Well, the stats showed more passes and more chances created so hopefully it’s the tide turning. It seemed like a few of the goals were flakey - from both sides - but we also had one disallowed. We turned up in the second half and put on the pressure. Seems simple enough, right?

PB: I could not believe Saturday. I was at home listening to Radio Wales and I almost switched off. The first goal was a bit fortunate but after nine hours without a goal, the have the team some confidence to have a go. I think it could be the spark Cardiff needed.

Stand out players and weak links in the team?

VFTN: Kieffer Moore, Ryan Giles, and Rubin Colwill are probably our three best. Moore is a beast up front, Giles is a smooth crosser and Colwill is our bright spark in midfield. Weak links? We’re pretty slow at the back and our midfield isn’t the best on the ball.

PB: The highlights in the team this year have been watching the academy players come through. Especially Colwill, who is really one to watch. Most exciting prospect coming out of Cardiff since Ramsey. I also like Ryan Giles who is with us on loan. We have looked weak in the centre of defence and midfield. I rarely feel as though we have control in those areas.

Ins >>> Mark McGuinness, 20, CB, Arsenal, Undisclosed >>> James Collins, 30, CF, Luton, Free >>> Ryan Wintle, 24, CM, Crewe, Free >>> Ryan Giles, 21, LW, Wolves, Loan >>> Marley Watkins, 30, RW, Bristol City, Free

Outs >>> Robert Glatzel, 27, CF, Hamburg, £1m >>> Joe Day, 30 , GK, Newport >>> Max Watters, 22, CF, MK Dons, Loan >>> Sol Bamba, 36, CB, Released >>> Jonny Williams, 27 (seriously), AM, Released >>> Marley Watkins, 30, RW, Aberdeen, Free >>> Joe Bennett, 31, LB, Released >>> Junior Hoilett, 31, LW, Reading, Free >>> Gavin Whyte, 25, RW, Oxford, Loan >>> Ryan Wintle, 24, DM, Blackpool, Loan >>> Josh Murphy, 26, LW, Preston, Loan >>> Lee Tomlin, 32, CM, Released

Revised expectations for the season?

VFTN: A mid table finish and no administration. All of a sudden, our chairman is talking about being cash strapped…

PB: I think after the record run of defeats, consolidating in the league is realistic bit this is the championship and you just never know.

Links >>> Official Website >>> Three Little Birds – Blog >>> CCMB – Message Board >>> Wales Online – Local Paper >>> Mauve and Yellow – Blog >>> View From The Ninian – Website and Podcast

The Twitter @VFTNinian, @bushby_p, @loftforwords

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TacticalR added 13:53 - Nov 2
Thanks to Phil and View From The Ninian.

I notice in that bad run Cardiff played Bournemouth, WBA and Fulham, so maybe it wasn't quite as bad as it looked.

I once regarded McCarthy as a reliable Championship manager, but his kangaroo football at Ipswich was truly unwatchable and convinced me that his day as a manager was done. I was therefore a quite puzzled when results went for him when he arrived at Cardiff. However, it seems things have come full circle and these days you really can't get away with blind enthusiasm, booting the ball in the air and trying to outmuscle the opposition.

GroveR added 07:22 - Nov 3
I doubt we even have five centre backs on the books.

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