Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Mother and Child Reunion

Is it too late to wish everyone a happy Christmas? Probably.

I found myself in Cardiff on Christmas Eve and had two nice surprises: Spillers was still open, so I could browse their superb roots selection and get the Mrs something half decent and half obscure for her stocking, and, out of nowhere, a Borders bookshop has appeared. I had never been in a Borders before, and given that it incorporates a Starbucks, I suppose someone will tell me it is unethical to shop there but we are talking Cardiff here, a literary desert. And it is good, I got a brilliant music magazine imported from America with an ace CD attached and a load of books that were not available in Waterstones, just up the street. And the staff were cheery, a small but not insignificant point.

When I first moved to Cardiff it was well served for bookshops with at at least two good independents in the town centre, then Waterstones came along and swallowed everything up. For a while it wasn't too bad. There were two Waterstones within about a hundred yards of each other, but they were quite distinct. Now there is just the one, and it is awful. I remember when Waterstones first appeared and it was a real breath of fresh air, with a good selection of books, not just a load of bestsellers or Richard and Judy recommendations, and staff who seemed as if they had probably read a book themselves, at least once. Now it is the devil.

Three points for the Blues today with a 3-0 win and the fans are bickering, with some saying the result is all that matters and others wishing for a bit more. Personally, I would have wished for a bit more. As was the case with our defeat to Bolton last week, 3-0 flattered us. Middlesbrough were very poor, but we weren't much better, we created very little and all our goals were very lucky.

I think I still like Mr Eck, I like the things he said about a passing game when he arrived, I like the way he talks about us needing to have more belief in our ability and I like the fact that he has won us some points. I like the fact that, regardless of formation, we seem to have a more positive intent about us. I find it strange though, that for all the talk, he leaves our most innately talented players out. Fair enough, I suppose, if he doesn't trust them and generally, the cut of his jib sits well with me, he is still learning about the players he has, and he seems willing to make changes when he deems them necessary.

There was an interesting move today with him putting Larrsson on the left and Mcsheffrey on the right, a move which worked quite well, although I think we waste Larrsson when we don't play him in the middle. Teams have been killing us down the left all season, so with the introduction of Quedrue at left back and Larrsson ahead of him, we looked a bit more solid. Mcsheffrey had his best game of the season and seemed to put himself about a bit more than usual, plus it was a move that the opposition would not have anticipated.

Having said that, it was poor, all huff, puff and endeavour with very little subtlety or finesse. We rely on set pieces or mistakes by the opposition for our chances, we don't really create anything, and when we do, we look more like rabbits caught in the headlights than cold blooded assassins. Which reminds me. Cameron Jerome is not good enough, it as simple as that. I don't care how young he is, I don't care how hard he tries....he has no touch, he has no awareness and he lacks finesse.

We have a new Villain, O Connor. Every one has decided he is crap and not worth his place on the bench and when he comes on, the grumbles start. I am astonished. He has hardly started, but the minds have been made up and every misplaced pass is greeted with loud groans of disapproval. I think he is a good player, and given a run, and some love and patience he will prove it, but our benign and tolerant fans have taken against him.

The crowd was low, again. Well, some of us said years ago that if you want to be blase and price the working class diehards out, you do so at your peril; there will come a time when you want them back and they will say, sorry old chap, we have found better ways of spending our Saturday afternoons. We attracted a bunch of dilettantes when we went up last time, the kind of people who would post on message boards that no price was too high for the privilege of watching Man Utd and Arsenal and who would argue that everyone can afford it if they want it bad enough, Christ have we never heard of credit cards?

Well, thankfully, most of the dilettantes have fucked off, but the price remains too high for the old guard and they will take some persuading to make the financial sacrifice to come back. Lets hope Mr Eck makes us all believe that the price is worth paying. I think he will.
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