It’s common knowledge that the primary objective for any newly promoted team is to consolidate their Premier League status and avoid immediate relegation. However, due to the enormous gulf in quality between the two divisions, this feat is seldom accomplished without a relatively large amount, or at least intelligent, investment and recruitment. Fortunately though for Cardiff City fans they have experienced a transfer window full of new players coming in, and a lot of money going out. Yet, the question is whether this splash of cash will improve the Cardiff City squad or whether similarly to QPR last year they have simply spent money for the sake of spending it, rather than bringing in genuine quality.
I’d firstly like to highlight the outgoings of the club, and how little of them there were. I’ve often commented on teams using the transfer window to strengthen, and this inherently means adding to the squad rather than just replacing, something Cardiff have certainly done. Only 5 players have left, of which one is 33 (Stephen McPhail) and another Heidar Helguson who retired at the age of 35. This means that of their Championship winning squad only 3 players have left, and even these players are extremely young and only commanded a joint fee of £1.5 million, suggesting to me that they weren’t heavily involved anyway. My point is that no one will be expecting Cardiff to burst onto the Premier League scene and secure a mid table finish, the fans will simply want to stay in the division and by keeping the same core of players that were so successful in the Championship, Malky Mackay and Cardiff should be confident of survival, as often it is not a large amount of signings that brings success, but rather a group of players who know and understand each others’ game, something there is no doubt Cardiff have retained.
Saying this however does not detract from the fact that they have brought in 8 players and spent near enough £30 million doing so. The introduction of new, and Cardiff fans will be hoping, better quality players into an already well drilled squad again should be nothing more than a huge boost to Malky Mackay’s chances of survival. The likes of Peter Odemwingie and Steven Caulker are especially good signings due to the fact they both share the priceless asset of Premier League experience. Steven Caulker (21) is a player who impressed for Swansea on loan and then continued his excellent form last season for his parent club Tottenham, whilst Odemwingie (31) will bring an added potency upfront but also an abundance of the all important Premier League experience I previously mentioned. By managing to attract such a young and exciting talent as well as a veteran of the game and more significantly the league, Cardiff have shown us that they have every intention of being included in the opening fixtures for the new Premier League season, and more importantly have a chairman who is ready to sanction the necessary funds to accomplish this.
However, the only question I would have of Cardiff’s willingness to spend is that despite lauding the two previously mentioned signings, I have my doubts over whether their other acquisitions are worth the fee they commanded. Firstly, Andreas Cornelius, the strapping 6’ 4” striker from FC Copenhagen is a player I know very little about yet still required Cardiff to stump up £7.5 million for his services. Now, to be fair to him, he did manage to score 18 times in 32 games during his last season in Danish football but we have to take into account that it was in, well, Danish football. Secondly, if Nicklas Bendtner’s career is any indication to how another ‘young, exciting, Danish’ striker’s may turn out, again £7.5 million seems a very hefty fee indeed. Although he is only 20 years of age, paying so much money for an inexperienced and relatively unknown talent may be a risk that comes back to haunt Cardiff City and also heaps tonnes of pressure on the young man himself, especially considering despite his impressive size, the Premier League will be a huge step up for him in terms of the quality of defenders he will be up against.
The second signing who’s fee makes me slightly worried is the holding midfielder from Chile, Gary Medel. I like to think that I watch more La Liga games than most people and with only the best clubs getting TV rights, Sevilla were not a common occurrence, yet I did see them enough to feel I can comment on why I don’t think Medel is worth the £11.5 million Cardiff paid for him. La Liga is notorious for its slow pace and lack of opposition pressure, something that comes thick and fast in the Premier League. The reason I mention this is relative to my opinion of Medel’s strongest attributes, and how I think these will be nullified in the English game. Medel operates as a tenacious midfield general, very adept at winning the ball back and breaking up opposition attacks, whether legally or illegally, however his very aggressive nature, which no doubt contributed to his success in La Liga, may be his downfall in England as he will find it much more difficult to assert an intimidating presence amongst some of the most physical players in world football. Also considering that he stands at 5’ 7”, and unlike Cazorla at Arsenal whose job it is to create chances and avoid the larger members of the opposition team, Medel’s role requires him to confront these very members and be a solid part of his own team, something that I feel may be a task too big for such a small fellow.
However, the main point is that Cardiff, whether overspending or not, have done what they needed to do and that is to add to their squad. Also, its worth remembering that Christian Benteke proved to us that we can know absolutely nothing about someone and even at a young age they can set the Premier League alight, whilst Javier Mascherano was another tenacious and somewhat irritating holding midfielder from South America, yet seemed to flourish in the physicality of the English game for Liverpool. Furthermore, although I have only mentioned a handful of the eight summer singings this by no means suggests their other singings are not significant. Kevin Theophile-Catherine (23), Maximilian Amondarain (20), Simon Moore (23) and John Brayford (25) complete the list of summer signings for Cardiff City and due to the youth and also diverse nationalities of these players, it is clear that Cardiff City may have the best future of all the promoted teams; if not best chance of survival; due to their seemingly expansive scouting network and preference to invest in players with potential to improve.
Their signings have been plentiful and despite my qualms about the price tags of some of their new players, there is no doubt they have improved their squad, and Cardiff City fans will hope they can repeat the performance and result against Manchester City on a regular basis.
So will Malky.