In the third and final part, Glyn Chamberlain, now Head of European Scouting at Blackburn Rovers, but currently grounded like the rest of us, reflects on his final transfer window with Cardiff and his time at the club as a whole.
Curtis Nelson and Gavin Whyte also both arrived from Oxford. They felt like a return to the smart signings of the first Warnock summer window. What was the appeal of that pair?
Neil has always liked Curtis Nelson and I had seen Gavin Whyte about two years before, playing for Crusaders. I know he’s only slight now, but he has filled out since then and developed physically. He was always capable of creating or scoring a goal and I just think he needs the opportunity to play. He’s got ability and now he’s got to see if he can make the next step, which is nailing down a place in the Cardiff team. Curtis has come in and done OK.
Cardiff also brought in Aden Flint, who is an experienced Championship performer. He cost a fair amount of money, but were there any concerns that he might be too similar to Sean Morrison?
Not really. I think if you look at Morrison, Flint and their strengths, they’re both solid, dependable centre backs at that level. Would you say Morrison and Bamba compliment each other? You don’t really know until you throw them together. I had Flint recommended to me when I was assistant manager at Macclesfield when he was playing for a Sunday league team. He’s taken every jump since then in his stride and I think he’s a good player.
We’ve seen very little of Isaac Vassell, who is currently injured, but in the games he’s played, he seems more like a Zohore kind of striker. As much potential as he clearly has though, he has a poor injury record. Was that not a concern?
It is a concern and you take medical advice, but the injury he has at the moment has nothing to do with his previous injury at Birmingham. Some players unfortunately pick up lengthy ones. I don’t think there was any concern when we took him, but he’s picked something else up and that’s just bad luck. He worked so hard to make it back and I was watching the Under-23’s against Sheffield Wednesday when he did his ankle and you just hope it’s not another bad one. It was such an innocuous thing that put him out of the game.
From the outside, it looked like Warnock was far more comfortable operating with a limited budget than having large sums to spend. Do you think that’s fair?
You could say that, but I think he’s got a pretty good record at all levels to be honest. If you pay big money for players and it doesn’t work out straight away, that’s the stick you get beaten with. People will forget about the free agents because they’re only concerned with how much you’ve spent. That’s all clubs though, not just Cardiff.
Cardiff didn’t make any loan signings in the summer and there’s an assumption amongst supporters that clubs are reluctant to loan Cardiff their promising youngsters due to their style of play. Have you found that to be the case?
No, I don’t think so. We took Marko Grujic from Liverpool, who was a good loan signing and fitted what we did. We’ve also had players offered to us that we didn’t think were a good fit for how we play. It’s no good taking players on loan from Premier League clubs just to give them experience. They’ve got to do what we need them to do and play how we need to play because our 46 game season is riding on it.
If you look at Frank Lampard at Derby, when you took Fikayo Tomori and Mason Mount, he knew those boys already. Their loan players were their best players last season, so when five loan players are your best players and they all leave along with Lampard, problem.
It’s a means to an end though, surely? Cardiff lost a lot of quality in the summer, with Camarasa, Gunnarsson, Manga, Arter and Zohore all leaving, they can’t afford to replace them, so the alternative is to bridge that gap with loan signings. You can’t afford to do neither
Yeah, I get that argument, but it’s unlikely that you can replace the likes of Manga and Gunnarsson with loan players. Bruno was always going back to France anyway, it wasn’t dropped on the club. We knew what his plans were ahead of pre-season training.
The other thing is that when you come down from the Premier League, you’ve got to try and keep morale up, but relegation affects players. There were five to 10 games where you’re thinking we’ve got to get our mojo back sharpish to have a chance of going back up, and that doesn’t always happen quickly.
Kenneth Zohore left late in the window. I know he was in the last year of his contract, so were the club looking to sell him, or was it a surprise when he went?
I don’t know about that one. It may have been the manager’s decision.
It seemed to leave them a bit short, with Reid also leaving
If you look at Sheffield United, for example, Chris Wilder has signed some players in one window and if it hasn’t worked out, he’s moved them on in the next window. There’s been a few and Callum Robinson was the most recent one and I think that’s good management.
For how much work you do with scouting and looking at players, you don’t know what’s going to happen until you’ve got them in the building because they’re human beings.
Take Glatzel, who arrived in the country without his wife and kids. It’s a different kind of football with different training in a different city. You’ve got to give people time to settle in. Ideally, if they bang a few in while they’re settling, that’s a big help. If they don’t, you can’t just say they’re a waste of money. He scored a lot last season in a really good league. He’s not a mug.
Looking back at your time with Cardiff, how would you rate your transfer dealings for the club and are there any players that exceeded your expectations?
If you look at the lads that came in from lower down the leagues and helped the club get in to the Premier League, so Etheridge and Mendez-Laing I would say did exceptionally well. Camarasa was also a very good signing because he was quality.
The gaffer already had Sol Bamba lined up, but he’s also been a terrific signing and Junior too. I wouldn’t criticise any of the boys we’ve signed though because they’ve all given everything they’ve got and if they haven’t been good enough, they’ve been moved on.
Similarly, were there any standout disappointments, that you didn’t sign, as opposed to those that you did?
Hundreds! There were lots of players we threw in to the mix that for one reason or another you can’t get or afford or wouldn’t come. Some players probably looked at Cardiff and thought this is going to be a relegation battle and I don’t want to be a part of it. There’s loads of different reasons why you don’t sign players and loads you would love to sign and can’t get.
Cardiff had a pretty underwhelming January window, but is that inevitable under the circumstances, with both Warnock and yourself having left between windows?
The new management and recruitment team will have their own ideas. I’ve not seen Dion Sanderson yet, but I’ve heard he’s done well. We’ve seen Albert Adomah many times over the years and looked at him at certain times. Brad Smith was with Liverpool as a kid, but he’s only played a few games in about six seasons, so they’ll be trying to get him fit as a bit of cover for Joe.
Had you already started making plans and identifying targets for January?
You can plan for January, but it can change tomorrow. You’re always assessing players and looking at positions, we know certain players are heading out of contract, so we’re definitely keeping an eye on them, but it changes every day. I don’t think there’s a hard and fast plan at any club.