Cardiff have significantly underperformed this season and in this scenario, it seems that someone always needs to pay.
When times are tough, there is always a whipping boy. Why? I guess it makes everyone feel better, but it certainly doesn’t help the situation and it must be horrible to be on the receiving end of it.
We all have favourites, it’s part of the fun. Some players will be your cup of tea and others, despite their merits, may not do it for you. It’s a subjective, aesthetic thing and it goes with the territory.
Some fans go too far though. Sometimes players are simply written off, either over time or on a whim. There is a point of no return, they just crossed it and that’s their lot. There is rarely any way back either. So much for the supporting part of being a supporter.
There are plenty of reasons for this and a lot of them revolve around money. Jealousy aside, if you spend a significant amount of money on acquiring a player and pay them a hefty wage, it is only natural to expect them to perform at a certain standard. The problem is that when they don’t, people take it almost personally.
Take Gary Madine, for example. He was brought in to ensure a concerted promotion charge, signed from a position of strength in the automatic promotion places. Cardiff did a similar thing the previous time they were promoted, when they signed Fraizer Campbell. He was a great signing, brought in for relative buttons and he proved to be very influential in the 18 months he spent with the club. As for Madine, Cardiff did it without him in the end.
Madine has had a renaissance of late, coming in from the cold under Neil Harris, who has a thing for strapping centre forwards. Most fans seem to have got on board too, which is fair enough because he hasn’t done a lot wrong at Cardiff. He hasn’t done a lot full stop really.
The pendulum has swung with Madine, to the extent that some of the praise even feels slightly patronising. If he executes the mere basics of what you would expect from your target man, some coo when surely it is the least you should expect from such a significant investment.
Its probably because some went so hard in their criticism, that they now need to counter it with effusive praise, when the truth, as is usually the case, is probably somewhere in between. If he ever scores, some will surely lose their minds.
Full disclosyre and suffice to say that Madine is not really my thing, but obviously I’m still rooting for him all the same. I thought he was a bad idea and still think he’s a bad idea, but there are various personal prejudices and opinions at play. I’m more of a fan of Leandro Bacuna, and that was a very lonely pursuit for a while.
Bacuna began the season as a scapegoat, with some proclaiming that he was the worst thing since sliced shit. He’s too slow, too expensive, just generally too Bacuna. Where I saw a cultured midfielder, struggling in an uncultured midfield, others saw a passenger. Both sides dig their heels in and when you’re in the minority, its only natural to wonder if you’ve called this one wrong.
I think Bacuna has won a lot of people over since though, which is no mean feat and all you can ask really. Whether that’s due to improvement on his part or a general change in narrative is hard to decipher and doesn’t really matter ultimately. Or maybe it’s just because people have since moved on to Aden Flint.
I have strong opinions either way on Madine and Bacuna, but I’m a bit more indifferent on Flint. I seem to think he’s better than most, and there are stats to back that view up if you wish to seek them out, but I also see where people are coming from.
He was expensive and probably too similar to Sean Morrison. He’s also rather flat-footed and slow on the turn, like Mark Hudson. Yet we loved Hudson, eventually. Initially, we hated him too, and herein lies the problem.
We all have likes and dislikes, which can change over time. Aden Flint is only ever going to be the best Aden Flint he can be, so don’t hammer him for not being Danny Gabbidon. He has his charms, his strengths and weaknesses, and it’s up to Cardiff to maximise them. Gary Madine is never going to be Peter Thorne and Leandro Bacuna is never going to be Aaron Ramsey either.
What they are though is Cardiff City players, so deserve our support, and professional footballers, so deserve our respect. Do you know how hard it is to get their level? The years of dedication and hard work involved, only for someone to write them off on a glance. I don’t envy them, regardless of the lavish lifestyles afforded them.
Josh Murphy is clearly struggling at the moment and his substitution was cheered against Preston. I understand why fans are frustrated with him, but they crossed the line here. Murphy may not be cutting it at the moment, but he still deserves better than that. It’s counterproductive and I get the impression that he needs the carrot rather than the stick just now.
In a culture where everyone wants to be the first to proclaim a player as fab or crap, these wild swings in either direction are inevitable. There never needs to be a whipping boy though. These things tend to take care of themselves, without the need to crucify anyone. Sometimes individuals are at fault, but its usually a failure in collective responsibility.
Essentially, what I’m trying to say is don’t be the guy that unfurled a banner at Old Trafford proclaiming; “Three years of excuses and it’s still crap. Ta ra Fergie.” Although plenty agreed with the sentiment at the time, that guy is now known as the prick who unfurled that banner. There’s a lesson in there for all of us.