Thursday, June 24, 2021
Home Football The winners and losers from Mick McCarthy appointment as Cardiff City outcasts...

The winners and losers from Mick McCarthy appointment as Cardiff City outcasts given boost but Neil Harris kingpins could suffer

10
0

requestAnimationFrame(function () {
setTimeout(function () {
window._perfMarker && window._perfMarker(“TTVR.ArticleContent”, true, true);
define(“c.articleContent”, 1);
}, 0);
});

As is often the case when a new manager strolls into town, there will be those who are buoyed by the prospect of working with a new man, while others will be fearful of their positions within the squad.

Mick McCarthy will adopt a supremely talented squad, but one which has certainly performed to less than the sum of their parts this season.

And that is putting it politely.

Bluebirds fans hope that McCarthy’s appointment will inject some much-needed energy and momentum as we head into the business end of the season, indeed many seem to have been won over by the manager’s candidness during his first press conference.

One thing is for certain, he knows this division like the back of his hand and, importantly, he knows how to get out of this division.

That means he knows just what is needed for the back half of the campaign and how best to get the results to push Cardiff into the top six.

But who will play a crucial part in the final 22 games? And who will feel their position come under threat?

We take a look at what could happen here…

Winners

Josh Murphy

The most obvious winner in all this appears to be Josh Murphy.

Murphy is, by all accounts, a confidence player. And at the minute his tank is empty.

It has been reported by The Sun that Cardiff are now keen to keep hold of Murphy, who has been linked with moves to Sheffield Wednesday, Nottingham Forest and Derby County in recent weeks.

With McCarthy at the helm, all Cardiff fans are hoping they finally have a manager now who can get the best out of the most valuable player in the squad.

After his first press training session, McCarthy said: “I wanted to see who were not very confident, who were the aggressive ones, who were the progressive ones, are there any voices in the camp?

“Who are the confident ones? Who are the ones who need an arm around them, low in confidence? It seems to me there are a few of those.”

You can’t help but think Murphy is one of those at the minute and McCarthy’s big job is to get the winger fit, firing and scoring and assisting goals again.

Harry Wilson

Another beneficiary, to a lesser extent perhaps, is Harry Wilson.

It has already been pointed out that high on the list of things to do for McCarthy is to eke the very best out of the Liverpool loanee and make him the kingpin of the team.

Wilson, in the absence of Lee Tomlin, will likely be given a more central role under McCarthy, pulling the strings in behind the striker or strikers.

We have seen some real quality from Wilson so far, but he has sometimes been pushed out to the fringes and had his attacking edge blunted by the need to track back while wasting priceless energy and legs.

We already see McCarthy make a beeline for Wilson in his first session, putting an arm around his shoulder while having a quiet word, and that is the sort of treatment that fans hope will benefit the player and the team.

Aden Flint

Aden Flint is definitely someone who will be looking forward to working with McCarthy.

Neil Harris consigned him to the sideline after the chastening 6-1 hammering by QPR on New Year’s Day last year and he was scarcely seen in a Bluebirds shirt again.

Flint had become a maligned figure of sorts among fans, a lightning rod for abuse when there were a litany of problems.

But the truth is he is a vastly experienced player at this level, has done it for a decade and also knows where the back of the net is.

Given Cardiff’s prowess at the set-piece, he will certainly add another dimension to the mix from corners or set pieces, taking some of the burden away from Sean Morrison and Kieffer Moore. If he is afforded the chance, of course.

You get the sense, though, that McCarthy would be keen on a gnarled centre-back, someone with experience and who can affect the game at both ends of the pitch.

While he has a couple of weeks yet before he gets up to speed, it will be interesting to see just how much involvement Flint has when he returns to fitness.

The press

We, the press, have been lucky with our Cardiff City managers in recent times.

Neil Warnock was gold for any reporter at a press conference, always spouting out a comical soundbite or anecdote, while the odd rant and rave was always enough to keep us gripped.

Neil Harris, while of course completely different to Warnock, was excellent with the media. He would always answer the tough questions, came across very well and always had time for you. You were also never struggling for a strong line, too, which is important.

And although there was an initial disappointment surrounding McCarthy’s appointment, although the temperature on that appears to have cooled drastically since, there is no doubt that the media were looking forward to the Irishman’s forthrightness and candour.

McCarthy, similarly to Warnock, is one of the characters of the game and his big personality will no doubt keep City fans entertained for the length of his tenure.

Greg Cunningham

Greg Cunningham’s time at Cardiff City has been frustrating.

Having joined for £4m from Preston back in the summer of 2018, he played second fiddle to Joe Bennett during the Premier League season.

He left on loan last year and despite starting well up at Blackburn Rovers, he endured a horrible ACL injury which kept him out for the best part of a year.

But since his return he has endured a hamstring injury and illness and has really struggled to force his way into the conversation.

With his contract set to expire this summer, all roads pointed to the exit door while Neil Harris was at the helm.

Perhaps, though, McCarthy’s appointment offers Cunningham a glimmer of hope.

McCarthy’s last post before his jaunt in Nicosia was as Republic of Ireland manager and he knows Cunningham all too well. In fact, Cunningham’s excellent performances for Rovers last year earnt him a call-up to the national squad, for whom he hasn’t played since 2013, under McCarthy in October 2019.

Just days later, though, he suffered his knee injury and his career has stalled ever since.

But McCarthy’s appointment at Cardiff can only be a good thing for the Republic of Ireland international.



a person hitting a ball with a racket: Greg Cunningham of Cardiff City.


© Huw Evans Picture Agency
Greg Cunningham of Cardiff City.

Losers

Junior Hoilett

I think any Cardiff City supporter would class Junior Hoilett as a fan favourite.

He has been excellent for the Bluebirds and was one of the driving factors in getting them promoted to the Premier League, while his performances in the top flight, and indeed last term, were relatively consistent.

But, this season, for whatever reason his form seems to have taken a downward turn.

Hoilett just hasn’t been able to find that usually so accurate cross, or beat his opposite number with regularity.

But Neil Harris was a massive fan and has been loyal to him for the vast majority of the season, even when many supporters were calling for him to have a period on the sidelines.

Hoilett is still an important part of this squad and is certainly valued within it, but might we see a reduced role with a new manager at the helm? That remains to be seen.

Curtis Nelson

Curtis Nelson enjoyed a breakthrough season last year and arrived at Championship level.

Indeed, at the start of the season, Neil Warnock picked Nelson out as one of the five players to watch this term.

But it has been a rocky season for the centre-back. He has not been his usual, consistent self and as such has come in for much criticism from the fan base.

Harris continued to stick with the partnership of Sean Morrison and Nelson, even when the defence were leaking soft goals, and opted to keep Leicester City loanee Filip Benkovic sidelined before his recall earlier this month.

With Flint close to a full return, though, Nelson will have a battle-hardened Championship centre-back breathing down his neck and it will be interesting to see whether McCarthy is as loyal to that centre back pairing as Harris was.

Robert Glatzel

Robert Glatzel’s Cardiff City record reads 11 goals in 57 appearances. While that is not a dreadful return by any stretch, the hype surrounding his £5.5m transfer from Heidenheim promised more.

Neil Harris branded Glatzel the best finisher he had ever worked with, but it was telling that Cardiff still sought to bring Wales international Kieffer Moore in from Wigan in a deal worth up to £2m.

Cardiff clearly thought Glatzel needed competition for that shirt and Moore has grabbed it off him.

Harris backed Glatzel, despite the German having himself admitted that he has not had the best of it since making the move in the summer of 2019.

Whether McCarthy will have the same patience remains to be seen, though. McCarthy likes players who know the division and strikers, like Moore, who offer a lot more in the top third of the pitch.

It could well be that Glatzel thrives under McCarthy and benefits from that arm around the shoulder. But we are still waiting to see the best from him after 18 months of being here.

Lee Tomlin

It is no secret that Lee Tomlin and Neil Warnock did not see eye to eye, the player said as much an a fairly explosive press conference back in December 2019.

One of Harris’ best accomplishments was getting the best out of Tomlin last season, trusting him with a starting spot and playing him for 90 minutes, when his body allowed.

Tomlin bemoaned the fact Warnock would never play him and knew he was getting substituted every match because the manager didn’t take a liking to him. Warnock, on the other hand, insists Tomlin was never fit enough to be on the pitch.

The truth, as ever, is usually somewhere in the middle.

Whether Tomlin, who is due back in the playing group in a couple of weeks’ time, enjoys a Warnock-like relationship or a Harris-like relationship with McCarthy is pretty crucial. But with the manager who got the best out of him having just left, it will no doubt be a little dent in Tomlin’s confidence.

Cardiff fans will hope McCarthy can continue in the same vein as Harris when it comes to the mercurial playmaker.

Youngsters

This is not to say that McCarthy will not place his faith in youth. Not at all. His mantra is seemingly “if you are good enough, you are old enough”.

But the advantage the kids had with Harris at the helm is that he took such an active interest in their development and the changes made within the academy.

Harris would be a regular spectator at under-23s and under-18s games and saw a longer-term value in ensuring youngsters were brought in around the senior camp. It was a project for him and one he loved doing, given his history as an academy boss at Millwall.

McCarthy’s current remit, though, is to ensure safety for the first team and to get the club further up the table.

That means there is an immediacy to the job he has and longer-term projects are likely to take a backseat.

For the likes of Tom Sang, who is playing for a contract extension and who Harris knew well, it will be a concern.

Joel Bagan and Mark Harris have come in and impressed, but it will be interesting to see whether McCarthy is able to stick with them while also getting the results.

We have seen Kieron Evans, Keenan Patten and Chanka Zimba all named on the bench in recent weeks, but will that still be the case moving forward?

Perhaps it will. But it’s certainly something the academy bosses will be mindful of.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here