If you were to visit the Cardiff City Stadium this season, you may have been struck by the pervading sense of hope in the air. A miserable time of melancholic meandering through the Championship had ended, as Neil Warnock’s mighty men upset the odds and achieved promotion.
Hope springs eternal and is the sweetest of fruit when your team fails to meet your possibly unreasonable expectations. Where else do we go to pay good money, yet leave unsatisfied time and again? Hope is the balm on a festering wound. After all, there’s always next week.
Sometimes football places you in that realm, where you’re watching 11 men wear your colours and play on your pitch, yet appear to be complete impostors. If you were at the Cardiff City Stadium on Friday night when they played Watford, or Tuesday night when they played Everton, you’d be mistaken for thinking you’d somehow wandered into a training session for the first team versus the kids.
Neil Warnock relies on guile, spirit and passion for his success and whilst he can (and does) make tactical tweaks that can be easily missed, this isn’t really his forte. His promotion successes have been built on a bedrock of a never-say-die attitude, but when you reach the promised land that is the Premier League, it isn’t always enough.
The last two home games represented a real opportunity for the Bluebirds to stick it to the man. When you have people like Mark Lawrenson referring to you in his BBC column as a Championship side, it’s clear that the media see you as such. Here was a perfect opportunity for Cardiff to show the world that it was so much more than the sum of it’s parts.
How sad then that zero points and a goal difference of minus seven was aggregate the result over the two matches.
When you work hard and football is your time to forget the worries of the world, all you really hope for is that your team shows the same passion for your side that you hold. You want to see sweat dripping from their foreheads. You want to see the grimace that only lactic acid brings when your team has just chased down that defender in the 80th minute.
It’s hard to understand what went wrong in the last two matches. It appears to be a combination of multiple factors. The team selections have been baffling, but giving the benefit of the doubt, one can only assume it is down to illness, injury and planning for three matches in seven days.
The defence which had prided itself last season on multiple shut outs has begun to creak under the strain. Bamba is apparently playing through the pain and it’s beginning to tell. The strike force is still not striking and the midfield has been something of a baffled bystander of late.
One thing is for sure; if the Bluebirds continue to perform in the way that they have in the last two matches, relegation becomes the likely final destination. The supporters will continue to back a team that tries, the Cardiff City stadium will continue to be filled with a song for Sala and the pervasive hope will triumph.
Something has to change and it has to change quickly. The train to safety is departing soon and apathy just might mean we’re left in the coffee shop when the train departs.
Let’s not be that team. If we’re going to go down then let’s go down fighting.