5 – Darren Purse
Darren Purse began this season in a familiar role as Roger Johnson and Glenn Loovens began the season as first choice centre-back pairing. However, Pursey was re-instated to the team after Loovens moved to Celtic and impressed in his comback games.
Darren was looking fitter and as sharp as ever, forming a good partnership with Roger Johnson. Back-to-back clean sheets against Sheffield United, Barnsley and Bristol City underlined their improved understanding and Purse was reaping the praise. Fans and pundits were growing in confidence with some proclaiming Purse to be in the best form of his career.
In recent seasons, pacy strikers had managed to turn Purse too easily as he committed to tackles early while the more burly attackers out-muscled him in the air. I was suprised however as Purse seemed to have added an extra foot to his jump while stood up and strong with the ball on the deck.
After a run of 17 games in thefirst team, Purse was back and looking happy – we had been beaten just once in thirteen games. However, back-to-back defeats against Wolves and QPR dented our impressive form and it was Darren’s red card in the first half that spoilt the game. If was a terrible decision, given for a high foot on Lee Cook but both managers agreed it was never a red card.
A three game suspension would jhave been a huge blow for Purse but he was given a reprieve after the ban was overturned. However, after two more games Purse did find himself out of the side following a dismal team showing away at Plymouth Argyle. Purse himself was guilty of a lapse as he allowed Emile Mpenza to bustle through and poke home. Dave Jones was quick to point the finger at his captain, a decision that upset Purse who complained these matters should be kept in the dressing room and not in the press.
That mistake and outburst was to cost Purse his place in the side as he was dropped to allow the inclusion of Gyepes. Purse only made 7 more appearances in a Cardiff City shirt covering a groin injury to Gyepes and Roger Johnson’s throat problem. A high-tension 2-2 draw against Swansea City would have been a high point while a 4-0 drubbing at Arsenal and a poor backpass to gift Burnley a goal were low points.
It always seemed likely that Darren Purse would leave the club in the summer. He made repeated attempts in the press to begin talks on a new deal but even back in January, he was nearly allowed to move to Norwich City. As summer came, Purse was released and was quickly snapped up by Sheffield Wednesday. Purse left with the thanks and admiration of Cardiff City fans.
As a defender he wasn’t always the best, but as a professional and ambassador of the club – he was top notch. Purse led well, was 100% committed and will remain a popular ex-player. Cardiff City fans wish him the very best of luck.
Season rating: 7
Cardiff City Season Review: Darren Purse
5 – Darren Purse