Thursday, 5 May 2016

The end of the road for Slade?

After last weekend's 3-0 capitulation away to Sheffield Wednesday, Cardiff City's faint play off hopes were ended in emphatic style.  It was a poor performance that has been symptomatic of a season where Cardiff have blown hot and cold and haven't quite been good enough to achieve either promotion or the play offs. Despite this City look set to finish either 7th or 8th depending on how they get on in their final game at home to Birmingham City on Saturday.

Manager Russell Slade (pictured above) has come under a lot of criticism since being appointed in October 2014.  Much has been made of the fact that he is a former P.E teacher who has never played at a professional level.  When he was appointed it was noted that he had only managed clubs in Leagues One and Two and had not led any team to promotion during his lengthy career as a manager. In fact many City fans have questioned why he was even appointed at all, as he had never managed a team in the Championship.

When it comes to unpopularity I can only think of two other former City managers who were despised as much as him, as I shudder to remember the Russell Osman and Alan Durban eras.  I too used to be very critical of Slade, but I now have some sympathy for him.  The difficulty is that over the last 15 years Cardiff City fans have enjoyed a largely successful period in the clubs history.  The dark old days of being a yo yo club swinging between Leagues One & Two, lurching from one financial crisis to another have been largely forgotten.  F.A.Cup, League Cup and play off finals, trips to Wembley, promotion to the Premier League, the infamous red rebrand and change back to blue, the settling of the Langston debt have all occurred during a time when City have become a leading side in the Championship.  Expectations still remain high and Russell Slade has been on a hiding to nothing.  Last season his style of football was heavily criticised with many supporters staying away in protest, which resulted in some of the lowest attendances ever seen at Cardiff City Stadium this season.  Some supporters have expressed frustration at his perceived reluctance to use youth team players and his persistence using under performing players such as Alex Revell and Sammy Ameobi. He has had to continue to reduce the clubs wage bill and playing staff and compared to other leading clubs in the Championship he has had no money to spend on the playing squad this season.  Part of this has been due to a transfer embargo being placed on the club for breaching financial fair play rules, which they will be released from this summer.  The question now is whether owner Vincent Tan will keep faith with Slade after we failed to get anywhere near promotion, or if he will be released after his contract finishes this summer.  My own opinion is that he has done a good job given the circumstances and that he has steadied the ship after the chaos that was Ole Gunnar Solksjaer's reign.  However, I still think it is time for a new experienced Championship manager to be appointed and whilst I am thankful for Russell Slade's hard work, I think it is time for him to leave.  Neil Warnock and Nigel Adkins are two such managers who I think could lead back City to the Premier League. The question is would either of them want to work with Vincent Tan?

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