Every now and again I become overwhelmed. Overwhelmed with a feeling of pure love. And I’ve hidden it for so long but now it’s time for me to say it. I’m in love with Sean Morrison and Joe Ralls.
It’s an unconventional sort of love. Neither know I exist, though I have interviewed them both. I’ve certainly not met either of them. I’ve seen them. From a far. I’ve watched them on the football pitch enough. But it goes beyond them being just another footballer. I just have a deep affection for them both.
And who’s to say that’s wrong? You can’t judge me for this.
There’s a lot to like about this football team at the moment. The past 40 days of football have been a joy to watch and even though we lost in the playoffs, that second leg performance was something to be proud of. We could have won. We should have won. We were a keeper’s fingertips and a lick of paint from going through to a playoff final.
But watching the game from a Scandinavian themed bar in Soho, I was overcome with love for Moz and Ralls. You could highlight a lot of players in our team. Nelson has been superb, a revelation. Ditto Smithies. Vaulks, a terrier. Mendez Laing, a man who can be unplayable or completely inept. Big Bobby and Danny W up top. Lee Tomlin – a man who’s equally likely to do something completely indescribable or elbow someone in the neck, all while becoming a bit of a TikTok dance legend.
But, for me, it’s Moz and Ralls who embody everything good about the Harris era.
Let’s start with Moz. He didn’t have a brilliant start to this season. At one point, he was hindered by two broken wrists and Aden Flint. But he’s turned it around and his leadership has shone through the second half of the season.
He’s led this team into battle and hasn’t shied away from a single thing. There’s been moments where he looks spent, absolutely shattered, but he’s approached the games with such a professional attitude. He’s coming of age with each game and is now a mature, intelligent centre half. There were times last season – like the Newcastle home game – where his decision making was questionable. But that seems to have changed.
He’s stepped up with important goals – Hull and ‘Boro. Important tackles – his slider on Bobby at Craven Cottage was immense. And he’s almost unbeatable in the air, consistently winning his battles at both ends of the pitch. Playing alongside a defender who complements him has undoubtedly helped him and Moz and Nelson are like partnerships of old. They do the basic stuff brilliantly and you trust them implicitly when facing up to attackers.
Morrison’s start at Cardiff wasn’t the best. A tempestuous half year in red and then he was linked with a move away. But the past three years, he’s turning into a Cardiff legend. If he can lead this club to glory next season, he will have cemented his place in Cardiff history.
Likewise, Joe Ralls. I just get this feeling that he’s going to be absolutely key to everything we do next season. His season was hampered by injury this year but he should be one of the first names on the team sheet next season.
He’s another player who has had a mixed reaction from Cardiff fans over the years and last season in particular, he had his critics but it’s becoming clear. When Ralls plays well, so do we. Ralls is a player who seems equally adept at all parts of the midfield role. He can tackle well and isn’t shy about putting his foot in. He’s quality on the ball and does good things off it – you can always be sure he shows for the ball and makes the option to relieve the defenders when they are under pressure. He’s also got good production, directly involved in 12 goals in 31 games this season.
Part of me can’t help but think that his production could improve even more if we free him up. He plays well as part of the midfield two but I’d like to see him that more advanced role. I know we have Tomlin there but Ralls should be considered. He’s got a goal scoring touch, he’s brilliant at creating chance, and I want to see him breaking lines a little bit more. I can see him bursting into the box, getting on the end of crosses pulled back toward him.
Him playing in a more defensive role works but J just want to see him given more opportunity to do that creative work. His set piece delivery against Fulham was absolutely deadly – his corner for the goal was right where you want it and his free kick that Glatzel got on the end of was almost pornographic. The whip! Shout out to Devo.
We also need to acknowledge that Joe is still only 26! 27 in October but he’s 26 until he becomes 27, that’s how it works. It’s remarkable that he’s been at the club for 10 years and around the first team consistently for the last six. He’s as important to us next season, as Moz is. They are becoming the backbone of this side. Smithies-Moz/Nelson-Ralls/Vaulks. That is a solid and good spine of the team and gives us a platform to build something great on.
Morrison will lead this side into next season and the group seems as tight-knit as ever before. Ralls is our midfield general and will have an even bigger role under Harris. I trust Harris to really move things forward next year and maintaining the post-lockdown performances of these two will be key to that from the season beginning in September. While I know the players need a break, a quick turnaround could be integral to keeping that momentum up. And I know when football returns, these two will be there to lead the team into battle once more.