Cardiff City secured three points in the dying embers against Brentford, on Tuesday evening.
After having squandered a two-goal advantage for the third time in four games, Slade’s men did what they should have after Jones’ second, and pressed for a third goal. Fabio and Jones saved Slade’s blushes, in stoppage time, with the Brazilian’s low cross finding the Trinidad and Tobago captain’s outstretched leg, which was enough to place the ball past Brentford’s keeper.
I take a look at five things learnt from the game.
Watt needs to be signed on a permanent deal
The Scotsman scored the opener and provided for the second; ever tenacious, Watt was a constant thorn in Brentford’s side. Reminiscent of Ross McCormack, the on-loan forward has been quickly welcomed by the City faithful.
Watt’s ability to run with the ball, at pace and direction, makes him a constant threat, and is exactly what Slade’s side require. The ex-Celtic man complements the speed and skill of Pilkington and Noone on the flanks, offering a further option in an attack that was previously stagnant.
Is it a coincidence that Watt’s arrival has coincided with the Bluebirds finding the net 7 times in their last three games?
Whether or not Tan will fork out the money required for the Charlton forward is another matter, however.
Slade’s no tactician
It happened against Burnley, Sheffield Wednesday and against Brentford: a switch was made by the opposition manager that changed the dynamics of the game, and Slade was oblivious.
In this instance, Dean Smith brought on Chelsea outcast Josh McEachran, who then dictated proceedings. Brentford’s midfield switched to a central three, enabling them to dominate the middle, and thus the game.
Slade’s inability to recognise this occurrence was at the detriment of Cardiff’s potential clean sheet. If either Whittingham or O’keefe had been brought on to match Brentford’s central three, then such a threat would have been nullified and City wouldn’t have had to rely on a last minute winner.
I’d contend that Cardiff’s current position of seven, meaning their still in contention for a play-off spot, is not the result of Slade, but a combination of the quality within the Cardiff team, and luck.
Gunners is back to his best
The Icelandic captain was back at what he does best: disrupting play, hard challenges and initiating attack.
Gunnarsson and Ralls appear to be building an effective partnership, allowing a fluidity previously absent to the Cardiff midfield.
Long may this form continue.
Mason needs to regain boyish energy
Tony Watt’s arrival at the club has been at the expense of Joe Mason, who has seen his starting place vanish. So, when Slade brought on Mason for Watt, it would be reasonable to expect that he’d want to make his mark and prove a point: this, he did not.
Instead, the 24 year-old mirrored the lethargic actions of his strike partner, kenwyne Jones. Mason’s reluctance to put pressure on defenders is a far-cry from when he first broke onto the scene; his youthful exuberance was appreciated by the fans, quickly making him a fan-favourite.
Never blessed with pace, height, strength or a particularly high level of skill, Mason compensated with his tremendous work-rate. For some reason, such a trait has disappeared from his game.
It is clear that if Mason is to steal back his starting place, and win the fans’ affection again, he needs to regain his boyish energy.
Football fans are a fickle bunch
Probably not a complete shock to many of you, but this point was especially highlighted on Tuesday evening. Brentford’s equaliser brought a chorus of boos that reverberated around the CCS. Yet, Jones’ equaliser meant that the Bluebirds left the pitch to a standing ovation.
Granted, not everyone voiced their displeasure in such a fashion, but was it really wise to boo a team currently short of confidence at the back? Yes, the direction of the boos were clearly aimed at Slade, but it still doesn’t help, or inspire, the players.
Image courtesy of Sky Sports.