Smith needs some credit in his City account
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
If City were under any illusions about what faces them this season, they certainly won’t be after last Saturday’s defeat.
As one would expect from a team coached by Steve Morison, Cardiff were energetic, physical and constantly in the faces of City’s players, an approach that many opponents this season will adopt, and managers around the Championship will have noted how poorly City coped with it.
The Canaries, on the other hand were sloppy, lightweight and appeared to be carrying one or two players whose hearts didn’t really seem to be in the fight.
In many ways it was almost a re-run of City’s poor opening performance at Huddersfield two seasons ago, a game which they only won due to a calamitous late error by a home defender, but this time luck didn’t favour them, and frankly they didn’t deserve any.
The lack of creativity that so many had expressed concern about in pre-season was once again evident and wasn’t helped by the eternity that it seemed to take for City to get the ball moving forwards.
City regularly struggled to break Cardiff’s lines and offered the hosts ample opportunity to get organised, and while Todd Cantwell worked tirelessly to get his team moving, the lack of any sort of spark around him largely negated his efforts as possession was squandered again and again.
Even when City did generate a promising attack Dimitris Giannoulis failed miserably to pick out either of two unmarked players in the Cardiff box, and that pretty much summed up the afternoon.
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At a time when the mood amongst fans desperately needed lifting this wasn’t the start that anyone was looking for, but nevertheless a sense of perspective is needed.
We know that last season’s midfield was a major weakness, hence the signings of Gabriel Sara, Isaac Hayden and Marcelino Nunez, but none of them figured at Cardiff and with the transfer window open for almost another month it is still unclear what Dean Smith’s squad will ultimately look like, although that will do nothing to alleviate the disappointment felt by fans, particularly those who made the long trip to south Wales.
Given that Cardiff scored from pretty much their only real effort on goal I can understand why Dean Smith said that 0-0 would have been a fair result, and it’s hard to argue with that, but it also rather misses the point of how poor City’s passing and decision making was and how little cohesion the team appeared to have when going forward.
That said, with several players to return or make their debuts this isn’t the time to be pressing the panic button, but it is understandable that there is concern amongst fans who had become used to a specific style of play under Daniel Farke because it has been hard to discern one since he abandoned his after the awful start to last season which led to his departure.
Of course, it's always difficult for new players coming into a losing side, and the current atmosphere makes it harder with some fans likely to expect too much from them initially and, sadly, a few just waiting for an opportunity to write them off to provide another stick to beat their preferred targets with.
Hopefully the vast majority will understand that they will need time to get up to speed in a new country and a new league, but that shouldn’t detract from the fact that there is a desperate need for City’s overall performances to show marked improvement sooner rather than later, and that means that some of the more established players have a duty to step up while the new lads are settling in.
A bad start to the season has become almost de rigeur for City over the last couple of decades, but with little or no credit in the bank with some fans Smith really needs a win today.