A couple of games ago, Oumar Niasse simply vanished and no one really noticed. That just about says it all really.
Neil Warnock’s undisputed first choice since joining in January, Niasse has dropped off the map without explanation. Maybe he’s injured? Who knows. No longer photographed or mentioned, it’s as if he never happened. He’s like the rebrand in player form. It wasn’t meant to be this way.
Niasse looked a good fit for a Warnock side and initially appeared keen. A trier, like a deluxe Eddie Johnson. He would put in the graft that Kenneth Zohore at times looked unwilling to do. Niasse was also an actual striker, rather than a renovated right back like Callum Paterson, so moved like a striker and kept defenders on their toes.
Unfortunately, Niasse had also mastered the unwanted art of making the difficult look simple and the easy nigh on impossible. Surround him with three players and he’ll find a way to wriggle free, but ask him to pass from A to B and it appeared genuinely beyond him. At Wolves, Warnock paired Niasse and Zohore together and it was a low, with both seeming to drag each other down like crabs in a bucket.
The sad thing is that it was all set up for Niasse to be Cardiff’s saviour, but he never once looked like scoring. He was clean through on two separate occasions and still never looked like scoring. The worst thing is that I would have backed Zohore and Paterson to find the net on both occasions. He was supposed to be an upgrade on both, but I’m left feeling that Cardiff would have fared far better had they just stuck with what they already had.
Niasse had his supporters, but they appeared to dwindle with every passing week, in line with his performances. Warnock would always back him in public too, as you would expect. He used to defend Gary Madine too and claims that Niasse made those around him play better started to resemble claims that Madine’s arrival gave Zohore some sort of needed kick up the arse. That’s the sound of straws being clutched at.
I appreciate that playing up front for Cardiff has always been a thankless task. All the way back to the last time they were in the Premier League. Just ask Fraizer Campbell. It must take years off you. Running was sold as one of Niasse’s key strengths though, but he ran out of gas before Cardiff’s chances of staying in the top flight did.
I have nothing against Niasse, rooted for him and wish him well for the future, but found him the most frustrating striker Cardiff have had since Kenwyne Jones. I appreciate that Zohore is just as frustrating for some, but at least there have been some highs to even out the lows. It feels like we’re all waiting for Zohore to come good again, like we used to with Joe Mason, but it never happened with Mason and might not with Zohore either.
Niasse was different though. He was supposed to be a quick fix, but all he did was aid a slow death. Zohore and Niasse both let Cardiff down and that went a long way towards their eventual relegation. Zohore can still make it up to Cardiff, but Niasse had his chance and blew it.