Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Sharp End

Billy Sharp seals his move to Southampton F.C
Billy Sharp is one of the most prolific finishers in the Championship, especially when he was at Doncaster Rovers. In his time at the Yorkshire club he scored 40 goals in 82 appearances which is an incredible feat for a club that have been fighting relegation constantly since getting promoted to the Championship. After completing his transfer to Southampton this week he will now form a strike partnership with Rickie Lambert that is simply mouthwatering. Lambert is currently the Championship's top goalscorer with 15 goals and when I have gone to watch Southampton this season the one thing I thought they needed was a small man to play off Lambert's flicks and headers.

After hearing the hearbreaking news of the loss of his two-day-old son, Sharp played against Middlesbrough hours later and scored an absolute cracker of a volley. His celebration was, as you could imagine, very emotional and it was great to see even the Middlesbrough fans applauding him, a great sign of respect for one of football's 'good guys'.
Sharp celebrating against Leicester

The signing of Sharp may just give Southampton fans and players alike renewed belief that they can get their promotion charge back on track after having a dip in form which has allowed West Ham to go top of the league and the chasing pack the chance to catch up!

The signing gives Southampton the most formidable front line in the Championship, with Lambert and Sharp up top with De Prado and Lallana creating behind them. This reminds me a bit of Cardiff last season with Bothroyd, Chopra up top with Bellamy and Whittingham creating. Ah, good times.

I expect big things from Southampton now this season. They have everything they need to go up, they just need to start grinding results out again and I'm sure they will be fine!

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Blues Brothers

The Demise of one CCFC is the Rise of Another.

Aron Gunnarsson
Cardiff City and Coventry City are both one of the top longest serving Championship teams, but this season that looks like it's about to change!

With Cardiff pushing for promotion and Coventry holding everyone up at the bottom, both teams could go their different ways next year. This isn't to say Cardiff haven't exploited, and probably assisted in Coventry's downfall, and Malky Mackay must feel like Daniel Ocean after we stole Aron Gunnarsson and Ben Turner away from them for a smidgen of their true value!

Ben Turner
When Coventry lost these players, they really had to be replaced, but they weren't. They survived last season due to these two players, Marlon King (boo) and Keiron Westwood. All four departed in the summer and Coventry have taken just 22 points from 27 games this season. Add to that their average attendance is at the lowest in years, there is a real fear around the club that they will be playing League One football next year. Who can blame them? If they did go down, I would fully expect them to be at least in the playoffs at the end of the season. Coventry fans may wonder where the money has gone, but in football you can never give up hope! Coventry have a decent youth academy and with no players being bought, maybe manager Andy Thorn is just looking to the future and trying to establish a good youth base for a promotion push next year if the worst should happen this year.

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Different Cardiff

Since packing up and moving out of Cardiff, travelling down south, and moving into university halls in Southampton, I haven't been able to watch my beloved Cardiff City. While at home I watched Cardiff City whenever they played at home, now I end up going to one or two games every three months, my last being Middlesbrough which we lost 3-2, typical! My reaction to this result however was strange. I accepted the fact that the better side had won and just brushed it off, as if the result meant nothing. Of course it did! We lost to a Championship promotion rival, we lost to a team who embarrassed us last season. Instead of moaning about the players performance or our manager not being able to change a game, I thought back to an exciting game which unfortunately didn't go our way. If Dave Jones were still in charge I probably would have reacted in the same manner as Pepe to a nudge in the back and gone completely mental! Under our previous regime I had no belief, no confidence in the team to grind out results. Now, I am fully behind the movement of 'In Malky we Trust!'

Being in exile is not easy as a football fan. It was a strange feeling as I left the game, even though we had lost, I was glad to have just watched my team play live and not the usual 37 seconds of highlights on the Football League Show or some dodgy internet stream on Radio Wales. It was nice to see how the team had progressed over the months I had been away. My last visit prior to this was the 2-0 win against Doncaster, which was hardly convincing. Now there seems to be chemistry within the team just like Jon Parkin's chemistry to pork pies, electrifying!

Mackay seems to have done a miracle job so far. There's a buzz when people talk about the club, people are excited by the position we are in, especially after what was left when Dave Jones departed. When Mackay entered the club, he had very little to work with. As he quotes "I was standing with David Kerslake, my assistant, and we had 10 people jogging round a park." And when people look at the squad now, they see Carling Cup Finalists (possibly winners!). Mackay has somehow guided us to Wembley for a 4th time in 5 seasons and the whole outlook of the club looks positive. What would Mackay be regarded as if he won us the Carling Cup and Promotion? Any big club with a manager nearing the end (Arsenal, Man Utd) would be silly not to look at Malky.