Trust chair Tim Hartley reports on the meeting yesterday evening between fans and new manager, Russell Slade.
Members of the Trust Board joined other supporters groups at a meeting with City manager Russell Slade and Scott Young. It was an informal affair but the manager left us in no doubt that he understood the task ahead of him and was committed to seeing it through.
Russell joined the club at a difficult time. His contract with Orient meant that he could note ‘hands on’ with the first team for the first couple of weeks. This, however, allowed him to look at things from the outside and take a considered view of where we were going wrong.
Russell produced a fascinating large, spider-like chart on which he had mapped out the problems as he saw them and how he wanted to change them.
He explained that the team needed to go back to basics and emphasised the need for almost every player to look at his fitness levels. The question of fitness was raised time and again and the manager said that the international break had come at just the right time.
Russell was also looking for full post match reviews and said he wanted continuous improvement from individuals and the team. He then said he had set goals, in terms of performance, the number of points we should be expecting to win and in key areas for improvement. Finally, he pointed to the top left hand corner of the chart. This, he said, was where the players took ownership for themselves. The important things here are communication and ‘togetherness.’
Russell gave us an example of how this worked in practice. On Thursdays and Fridays before a match he would walk the players through that week’s opposition setting out their positions with mannequins on the training field. It was important he said that everyone understood his role. You can walk through the set plays and counter attacks but these drills take time to sink in and become second nature. To demonstrate this, Russell said that after the goal at Millwall the players forgot the game plan and were doing their own thing.
We were told that with 38 players to call on the City squad is just too big. We have some good players out on loan and although the door is not closed on them, some players will have to be moving on to other clubs. In the past we have perhaps collected players like buying paintings without understanding how they might work together.
Russell is confident that change is coming and that we do now look a threat on the counter attack. However, he agreed with a number of those present that we are still missing a bit of pace. He has identified ‘a couple of players’ he would like to bring in, but the question will be whether we can ship some out and then tempt others to the Cardiff City Stadium.
Russell’s emphasis on hard work and commitment was obvious throughout the meeting and he praised the leadership of David Marshall and Aron Gunnarsson.
He said he gets on well with Vincent Tan but added, “So far so good. But then again we have been winning.” Mr Tan quite rightly wants value for money. He has committed himself financially and wants to see the fruits of that investment.
The group of players Russell Slade inherited was very quiet when he took over but Scott Young said it was great to see them discussing every aspect of play during and after training, and, he believes, they are now coming together as a team. Scott is keen to bring more players through the club’s own system and to offer them pathways to play for the first team. To help with that he and the manager are looking afresh at scouting and recruiting players.
The meeting offered us an insight into how Russell Slade aims to transform the City into a winning team. He certainly has the commitment and drive to make that happen and Bluebirds fans will wish him well. We now look forward to a full Fans’ Forum where all supporters have a chance to meet the manager to hear his views and, of course, to share our thoughts with him.