QPR Report Twitter Feed

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Hammanless Cardiff Visit Loftus Road

This will be the first time Cardiff have visited QPR since Sam Hamman left Cardiff. There have even been reports from QPR Chairman Paladini that Hammam made a recent offer to buy QPR (which was rejected).

Cardiff Official Site -AWAY TO RANGERS

This Saturday we travel to face QPR, with Rangers looking safe, but still a mathematical possibility for the drop.

QPR are currently in eighteenth place with forty nine points going into the weekend. While it would appear that their place in the Championship looks secure for 2007/08 due to being four points clear of Leeds in twenty second place, the R's run in looks anything but straightforward.

Nine points are available from the final three matches. QPR start that run with our visit on Saturday, followed by a trip to Wolverhampton the following weekend. Rangers then entertain Stoke City on the final Sunday. Expectation should dictate that one win or possibly two draws will see their status retained, although based on the form of those below, QPR could conceivably lose all three and still stay up, such is the nature of the league this year.

News from Loftus Road this week has seen loan-signing Inigo Idiakez returning to Southampton after being recalled by the south-coast outfit. Idiakez, 33, had joined QPR on loan for the remainder of the season, but a clause in his contract gave the Saints the option to recall him at 24 hours notice, and his manager George Burley has activated this clause.

Rangers boss John Gregory told qpr.co.uk, "It's unfortunate, but I do appreciate the predicament that George finds himself in. As Inigo was into his second month with us, Southampton had a 24-hour recall option, so ultimately we had no choice with this. We will miss him and take this opportunity to thank him for his contribution whilst he was here."

Idiakez made five appearances for the R's, scoring one goal in their 3-1 win at Leicester City in March. Meanwhile, City old boy Gareth Ainsworth will also be unavailable for selection following a spiral fracture of his left fibula during their 3-2 home win over Luton.

Of Rangers run in following their loss to Sunderland over the weekend, Gregory added, "Hopefully we just need a couple more points to be safe. Leeds won, but we've got two games at home and one away and if we win one of those home games then it should get us over the line."

Cardiff will aim to turn their late fortune of an equaliser against Stoke into a more positive result at Loftus Road. In our last encounter Rangers left Ninian Park one-nil winners thanks to a late Ray Jones winner. While the play-offs are now a remote possibility, the question that now takes centre stage is, 'Can Cardiff end the season without falling to a negative double?'

QPR and Hull City both have that chance. We'll hope to use that to our advantage to end as highly placed as possible. Cardiff

BBC -Cardiff planning a cull of squad - Cardiff manager Dave Jones will be ruthless in close season as he builds a squad able to make the Premiership.

"We have a group that needs to be built on and there are players that need to go, it'll be a busy summer," he said after the 1-1 home draw with Stoke.

"We've two on loan who'll go next year (Kerrea Gilbert and Simon Walton).

"We'll probably go down to about 12 players which will be a good nucleus. We need to get better in some areas, youngsters must learn fast or get out."

Neil Alexander looks certain to leave Ninian Park when his contract runs out in the summer, negotiations for a new deal with the Scotland goalkeeper having broken down.

You don't need to be a rocket scientist to know which areas need strengthening

Dave Jones

Midfielder Willo Flood could be in danger, having made just seven starts since arriving from Manchester City.

First-choice striker Steve Thompson is another man under threat, the Scotland international having scored just 10 goals in 55 appearances since his £250,000 transfer from Rangers in January 2006.

"You don't need to be a rocket scientist to know which areas need strengthening," said Jones.

"We're just not scoring enough goals and we're making too many mistakes at the back.

"We've got to plan for next season, but I can't do what Roy Keane has done and buy players for £2m or £3m.

"I'll just go out and do what I did last summer, which is pick up people like Michael Chopra." BBC

Cause for Jones to think twiceApr 17 2007

Steve Tucker, Western Mail

Steve Tucker believes culling the squad at Ninian Park might not be as necessary as some think

APPARENTLY not even the tea-lady will be safe at Ninian Park this summer if Cardiff City boss Dave Jones goes through with his threat of a mass clearout.

Irked by City's fall from grace over the course of this season, the Bluebirds boss came out all guns blazing following the tepid 1-1 draw at home to Stoke on Saturday.

Adrift of the play-offs in a season which saw Cardiff top the Championship early doors, Jones made it clear there were faces in the Bluebirds dressing room now that would not be there much longer.

"Every player here, whether they've got a contract here or not, are playing for their futures," thundered Jones.

Story continues


"The one thing they know about me, and I've proved it in the time I've been here, I will change things.

"I will get the formula right and will strengthen in certain departments as the fans and everyone at the club would expect me too."

Cardiff chairman Peter Ridsdale also felt moved to enter the debate, prescribing even more stringent measures.

"No player is sacrosanct. If we can bring in better players at affordable prices then any of the players we have can be released," said Ridsdale.

"There must be significant changes. We have weaknesses and they must be sorted out.

"I would expect 50 per cent of the squad to be refreshed in the summer. We have to be ruthless."

Quite, but are such wide-scale changes needed, even feasible at Cardiff this close season?

The very notion of virtually dismantling the entire squad actually flies in the face of Jones' own dictum that Cardiff face a gradual building period like Reading or Sheffield United. It's almost like pressing the panic button when there really is no need.

Cardiff have had a superb season, brilliant beyond anyone's wildest dreams.

They were clear at the top of the Championship, more than that they were playing scintillating football that no other team, not even those who will now be promoted, have come close to matching.

What went wrong, and it's been widely mentioned, not least by Jones himself, is a lack of depth in the squad when injuries kicked in.

It's as simple as that. So how does throwing out 15 members of the squad now help in the challenge of getting quality cover for positions throughout the Cardiff team? It doesn't.

There is even speculation the likes of club captain Darren Purse, Wales winger Paul Parry and Scottish forward Steve Thompson will be shown the door which, for me, is sheer madness.

Even if they are not greatly rated surely these are the calibre of players City would need on the bench next season if they are going to go up.

Because let's face it, those three players are not going to bring in a lot of transfer cash and replacing them could be costly.

And, in the end, that's all that will really be important this summer - money for transfers, and one gets the nagging suspicion that's a commodity which is going to be rather thin on the ground.

I know Ridsdale is now announcing that with the new stadium given the green light, the club's £32m debt is now down to £2m.

Although how that has occurred is a mystery to me, but one I'll take at face value in the new era of "transparency" at Ninian Park.

However, the new Cardiff board of former rugby players and property developers doesn't strike me as one keen to dip hands in pockets for extravagant funds for Jones to splash about.

That's of concern because though Jones may be excellent at bringing in top-notch players for small fees (Michael Chopra and Peter Whittingham) his record on free transfers and loans is not so good (Iwan Redan and Simon Walton).

Of course, there is one way the club can ensure Jones (pictured left) has a least a few million to spend and that's by selling Chopra. Jones insists the Bluebirds are not a selling-club anymore, but an offer above £3m for the club's top-scorer (and Premiership sharks Blackburn and Portsmouth are already rumoured to be circling) would test that to the very limits.

The manager has previous in this field: in a classic piece of wheeler-dealing last summer out went Cameron Jerome for £3m to Birmingham with just a fraction of that money spent very wisely indeed.

Would the selling of Chopra be a retrograde step? Yes, but one that could well be necessary.

There are a slew of players set to leave Cardiff this summer, Andrea Ferretti has already gone to seek his fortune in Spain, Walton will return to Charlton, Kerrea Gilbert to Arsenal.

Redan, Mark Howard, Kevin Campbell, Luigi Glombard, Kevin Cooper, Nick McCoy and Jeff Whitley will all go and, if they remember them at all, fans will not be sorry.

There are a few anomalies, though, that have been surprising.

Full-back Chris Barker has had an excellent season on loan at Colchester (currently two points and two places ahead of City) and would have provided good cover in defence.

The other cause for concern is allowing goalkeeper Neil Alexander go after contract negotiations broke down.

I wasn't privy to the ins-and-outs of the contract offer, but the Scot has enjoyed the best season of his career here. For most of the season he was in the top three keepers in the division, according to the people who compile such lists.

Alexander has got his flaws, he doesn't command his area too well, although he has improved. But I can't help wonder how much the Bluebirds will have to fork out to get a keeper who comes anywhere close to the same standard.

Whatever happens, it will be a busy summer at Ninian Park off the pitch.

But when Jones and Ridsdale sit down to sort out who stays, who goes and who arrives, they should take their lead from Dad's Army's erstwhile Corporal Jones and remember, "Don't panic!" Western Mail

Western Mail - Play-off hopes spin out of controlApr 16 2007
Steve Tucker, Western Mail

Cardiff City 1-1 Stoke City

THANKS to the vagaries of global warming, it's already summer at Ninian Park, time to kick back, relax and dream of far-flung places one might never get to visit.

In Cardiff City's case, the Premiership, a mystical land where dreams can come true, particularly if your name's Cristiano Ronaldo.

Back in November, the Bluebirds were top of the Championship and playing the kind of football that makes grown men weep with admiration.

Now, they are 11th and a full six points off the play-offs with three games left.

Sure, there's still a mathematical possibility of them making it, just don't quantify the odds.

Here in the sunshine, it took a last-minute equaliser from Michael Chopra, now on an impressive 22 goals for the season, to grab a point against a Stoke side that Bluebirds boss Dave Jones later described as looking like "the land of the giants".

Indeed, in strikers Vincent Pericard and Ricardo Fuller, the Potters had a couple of blokes who caused the City defence plenty of problems in the air and on the ground.

It was Pericard who set up full-back Carl Hoefkens to fire home the visitors' goal on the half-hour while the Cardiff defence had given the impression of popping out to buy an ice-cream.

In truth, Cardiff had no right to be in the position to snatch a point at all.

On 79 minutes, Stoke substitute Martin Paterson missed the sort of open goal that finds its way onto DVD compilations called 'The Greatest Missed Open Goals In The World - Ever!'

Failing that, see it on Soccer AM next Saturday.

But, to be fair to Jones and his men, they probably deserved their share of the spoils.

Joe Ledley looked back in good form in midfield, Roger Johnson's enterprise and commitment continues to impress in defence and 17-year-old Chris Gunter's development continues apace.

Wales boss John Toshack was in the stands and he must have seen enough to call the teenager into his senior squad for next month's friendly against New Zealand.

By the way, Tosh, in the match programme Chopra admits that if he qualified, he would play for Wales.

"It would be interesting to play alongside Craig Bellamy," the striker said. Time to dig out that grandad in Llangollen, then.

For City's players, the last three games of the campaign are all about clawing back some pride.

Oh, plus the little matter of making sure they're not thrown out on their ear by Jones over the summer.

"Every player here, whether they've got a contract or not, are playing for their futures," said the manager.

"The one thing they know about me, and I've proved it in the time I've been here, I will change things.

"I will get the formula right. At the moment we have the nucleus of a very young, up-and-coming squad that should hopefully stand this club in good stead for many years to come.

"But if some of the youngsters can't hack it, then I'll have no hesitation in shifting them on and bringing in other people that can.

"We have a plan and we have to stick to it. We tried short-term fixes at this club before and it didn't work.

"This club is growing now, we don't have to sell to survive like we did in the last two seasons.

"But I don't have the money to go out like Roy Keane at Sunderland and spend £2m or £3m on a player. So we have to look around and see what we can do.

"It doesn't take a genius to work out where we're lacking - we're not scoring goals and we're making mistakes at the back.

"I will strengthen in certain departments as the fans and everyone at the club would expect me too.

"Perhaps because of the situation we were in at the start of the season, people got carried away a little bit.

"Over the last few months, the pressure piled up and perhaps we didn't deal with it as well as we should have.

"I've spoken with the chairman and we intend to build, to use youth and take this club to be where everybody wants it to be.

"Personally, I'm in for the long haul at Cardiff City. I've committed to this football club as have other people and I hope that people will stick with us and be patient."

Of course, it's a given that Jones has done a great job at Ninian Park this season, having to operate under the kind of debt that might sink a small country.

But if there's one thing that has to be of concern, it's the number of times players have been handed ready-made excuses for failing to perform on the pitch.

The squad's too small, there's nowhere to train, we've over-achieved this season, have all been trotted out by Jones during the campaign.

OK, they might all happen to be true, but can you really imagine Keane claiming that his team was over-achieving? No way.

Naturally, the players are to be applauded for some of the performances they have given this season.

But when things were poor (and there has been plenty of duff football from the Bluebirds for long stretches), one feels the manager might have been a harsher critic of his players, even in public.

In the end it's all well and good building for the future, but the second-tier of English football is notoriously difficult to get promoted from.

Now the promised land of top-flight football seems as distant as ever.

A few months ago, the Bluebirds had one foot on the steps of the plane to the Premiership.

Now they are back in the departure lounge facing goodness knows how long a delay.

IC Wales

Cardiff's Results

League Table

Blog Archive