Often Partisan


Reflections on today’s cup tie against Sheffield Wednesday. Due to financial constraints, this was one I watched at home via the net.

1) Hleb the Engima

Having been critical of the Belarusian recently, I was pleased to see just how well he can play today. It’s a shame he got injured so early on; had Aliaksandr had the whole ninety minutes we’d have got a cricket score. His vision was good; he played some beautiful through-balls and I think he was nobbled because the Owls couldn’t cope with him. Unfortunately, I don’t think we’ll see him again for a month or so because of this latest injury setback, which is a shame.

2) Martins and Jerome

Both missed sitters; Martins did however score a good breakaway finish that used to be the trademark of Jerome at Cardiff. People on some messageboards still slate Jerome, but I thought he did okay; he started the move for the first goal with excellent chest control followed by a nice one touch pass wide into the path of the onrushing player (I think it was Hleb) which got everything moving. Nobody notices this – he can control the ball – they just pick on his negative aspects. No wonder the kid has no confidence. Martins showed some glimpses of what he can do, and I think he could well be a good acquisition for us. He’s a lot more languid than Jerome, but the linkup between him and the midfield is getting better – which can only be good.

3) The magic of the cup

Some might say that the magic of the cup is dead; fourteen and half thousand fans at St Andrews today of whom just over four thousand were away supporters. I think for many it’s a financial thing – an expensive Wembley trip next weekend and this being the seventh home game in five weeks is just too much to bear. I’d have gone if I could have afforded it, but it was too much for me to pay out having spent a wedge on Wembley tickets, train fare and whatnot. That being said, we’re ninety minutes away from going again; is it possible to get Wembley apathy? I hope not.

4) Depth of the squad

One other good thing to bear in mind was that this was quite a second-string side, yet for most of the game they barely broke sweat against the Owls. Indeed, we finished the game with a back three made of fullbacks (Carr, Murphy and Parnaby) and yet looked rarely troubled. There was also some competition for the slots in the Cup Final team; Bowyer looked back to his imperious best – certainly far better than Gardner has been of late – and Keith Fahey had the kind of game that should remind Blues fans he’s a decent enough squad player. After some average performances in the league it was also good to see Chilean winger Jean Beausejour play well; he took his goal with aplomb and that should be a boost to his confidence. It was good to see young Jordon Mutch get a cameo too in front of the home fans, especially after signing his new contract – he didn’t look too bad at all and hopefully he is a sign that our academy is starting to bloom.

All in all, it was a comfortable win against distinctly average opposition. Yes, you can argue that the Owls were poor but you have to beat what is in front of you and to do so convincingly with a clean sheet can only be a good thing. Another decent draw in the Quarter Finals and it could be Wembley again… which won’t be good news for my bank manager!

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