Dave Jones was hit with a serious blow prior to the derby against Swansea City. Initially, Michael Chopra (suspension) and Stephen McPhail (operation) were ruled out in addition to the long term injuries to McNaughton and Etuhu. However, the news that Peter Whittingham was ruled out was also a huge problem for the Bluebirds with no recognised cover in that position.
If McPhail was fit, you can bet any money that Joe Ledley would have reverted to left wing with McPhail and Rae in the centre. However, McPhail`s absence meant that Dave Jones would have had to use either Solomon Taiwo or Riccy Scimeca in the middle – and the fact that he didn`t speaks volumes as to his faith in those two players.
Instead, Tony Capaldi was utilised in midfield – a position he has adopted in reserve games but never for the first team save for a few minutes during the 0-0 draw with Arsenal last season. We were unbalanced, and offered no threat whatsoever on the left – Angel Rangel must have loved it. Ross McCormack would usually have come in, having started the season in that position but unfortunately he was needed up-front for this one-off game.
Dave Jones had a chance to change the formation with McCormack on the left and Burke on the right. Rosco`s favoured position is on the left of a front three and we could then have matched Swansea`s midfield three with Rae, Ledley and Scimeca. That wasn`t considered and even when we were chasing the game, no formation change was made and Taiwo was inexplicably used in a wide left role – he we hopeless.
Dave Jones was restricted in his options but he got it wrong. There will be no such admission from him of course and perhaps rightly so but despite the players under-performing, Pablo Sousa out-managed Dave Jones with his selection, tactics and leadership. It`s not in Dave`s style, but to see a bit of passion and involvement from the touchline would have been nice for the fans to see. We know little of what goes on in the dressing room, but there were no pitchside rollockings, encouragements or tactical changes. A goal down with 20 minutes to go, an International striker on the bench – and all we did was bring a lower league inexperienced central midfielder into the derby day heat in an unfamiliar position.
The Championship`s manager of the month was outshone, and played a big part in this defeat. That is undeniable, yet somehow overlooked.