It’s been six weeks since that pitch invasion. New, expensive players have started to arrive. The fixtures are out. Boozy weekenders in Bournemouth, Liverpool and Newcastle are being booked up by the second.
But, somehow, it still hasn’t sunk in that Cardiff City are in the Premier League.
Even to the most optimistic of City supporter, it was hard to fathom that the 17/18 side would hold off the Fulham surge and get to England’s top flight. But they did.
However, what is arguably harder to understand, is that one of the Cardiff machine’s key cogs, Junior Hoilett, is looking increasingly likely to not feature at all for the club next season.
Hoilett, amazingly still only 28, was Cardiff’s most attacking threat and was many fans’ choice for Player of the Year alongside Sol Bamba and eventual winner Sean Morrison. With his goals, assists and direct running, the Canadian was a vital part in ensuring that the Bluebirds will eat at the top table for the first time since 2014.
Now, as June and his current deal trickle away, there appears to be a stumbling block in negotiations. Is it contract length? Maybe. Money? Probably.
I’m quite realistic when it comes to these matters. Having performed excellently last season, there is no doubt he’ll have interested parties. Last year’s relegated sides, West Brom and Stoke, are sure to sell their star players and Hoilett presents himself as a cheap replacement that has proved himself consistently at that level.
I’d hazard a guess that the money saved on a transfer fee would make its way into the hands (or wallet) of the winger in deals that would be far superior to what Cardiff could offer.
In an ideal world, footballers would turn down more money to instead ply their trade at a higher level, but, if a company were to offer me a higher wage to do the same job, would I stick around out of loyalty? Nope.
But football is a business like no other. Although often described as ‘mercenaries’ who follow the cash, players tend to get attached to coaches and managers rather than clubs. See Paddy Kenny and Neil Warnock, for example.
There’s a myriad of reasons why I thought Hoilett would stay, the biggest one being just to play under Warnock. The veteran boss says it himself: ‘My players would die for me.’
A relationship built at Loftus Road, Hoilett, as well as Bamba, was told by Warnock to hang tight and wait until he found a suitable club to manage. Well into October and with over two months of a season gone, both were promptly signed up by City days after Warnock’s appointment with the club in 23rd place.
It was a bond that seemingly worked. When he needed a rest, he got it. When he needed a kick up the arse, he got it. The results of which sent Cardiff rapidly up the table, producing a platform in which to launch a successful promotion challenge the year after.
However strong that partnership appears to be, it clearly isn’t as important as Warnock’s and the club’s steel.
At a press day following the fixture release yesterday, Warnock said this about the situation:
“We’ve made a very good offer. I think this is the best place for him, but you do have to have your principles as well,”
What I read into the quote is that Hoilett is asking something that is a bit too much, whatever that may be. He tends to do that. I saw him try to cut the queue in Dorothy’s down Caroline Street in the early hours after the Reading game, an act that is illegal in Cardiff.
Six months ago, I would have been very disappointed if I were to be told that Hoilett wouldn’t feature in blue next season.
He’s been at the forefront of everything good City have done in the past 20 months. I’d hoped that nearly everyone who played their part last year would have a crack at the big boys this time around, but if he seeks pastures new, alongside Aron Gunnarsson, then thanks for the efforts gents and good luck.
‘No player is bigger than the club’ as the cliché goes.
Graham Kavanagh to Stoke, Jason Koumas being unable to return and Michael Chopra leaving for Sunderland – it’s fair say City have had their sizeable share of players leaving just as hero status starts to kick in.
Whether Junior Hoilett is added to that list remains to be seen. One things for sure, we’ve done a world of good for his career, but he’s also done wonders for us.
Although, I really don’t think I can forgive him for delaying my celebratory chicken curry off the bone with chips.
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