There are many issues I have with the modern football fan. The fickle nature and impatience can be intolerable. Taking the helm at Cardiff City on 16th November 2019, Neil Harris has succumbed to such fan behaviour. But are the fans justified?
After suffering relegation from the Premier League, fan favourite Neil Warnock left his role as Cardiff City manager on 11th November 2019. It would be a difficult task for any manager to take the reins at the club, with Warnock being such a popular figure in the Welsh capital.
Many fans were indeed underwhelmed, with the news breaking just five days following Warnock’s departure, that former Millwall boss Neil Harris was appointed the new Cardiff City manager.
Not a glamourous or adventurous appointment by any means, it felt like a safe decision that was made by the club’s hierarchy.
However, Harris had a lot of Championship experience, spending over four and a half years as thee Millwall boss. My question is, who were fans expecting to take the job? It was a big opportunity for Harris, which he grabbed with both hands.
The tough tactical transition
With the players and fans alike accustom to Warnock’s pragmatic approach, it would take a long period of time to adjust to Harris’s style.
Harris seemed eager to change the team’s identity slowly, but surely. He encouraged the players to be more positive, with an emphasis on attacking.
A transition such as this does not happen over night however. It takes time for players to adapt, to get used to a brand new philosophy. With no summer transfer window to work with, Harris was left with the exact squad Warnock left behind. With players being drilled a certain way for so long, Harris had a tough task ahead.
Successful first season
I do think both neutrals and fans have underplayed how impressive a season Harris’s first in charge truly was. Getting a team into the Championship playoffs is no mean feat, especially a relegated side low on confidence.
The transformation was evident to see, resulting in a fifth place finish. Whilst losing against Fulham in the playoff semi finals may of been disappointing at the time, fans could not argue that Harris exceeded many expectations.
Neil Harris’s Good recruitment
With a limited transfer budget, Cardiff’s business during Harris’s first summer in charge, should be praised.
Kieffer Moore is an astute signing for just £2m. The price being so low due to Wigan Athletic having to sell their assets quickly, following financial problems.
Sheyi Ojo was brought in form Liverpool on loan until the end of the season. The dynamic winger bringing an element of creativity that has been missing at the club for some time.
Filip Benkovic and Jordi Osei-Tutu being examples of utilizing the loan market effectively, whilst goalkeeper Dillon Phillips was purchased as backup also.
The cream of the crop in terms of incomings has to be Welsh international Harry Wilson. The free kick expert was tipped to join a Premier League club in the summer, choosing instead to drop down a level. He is guaranteed first team football at Cardiff, something he may not have received elsewhere.
If Wilson is ever going to break into a formidable Liverpool side, he will have to produce on a consistent basis for the Bluebirds. Many feel Wilson’s quality belongs in the Premier League, but Cardiff City fans will be ecstatic he wanted to play in the Welsh capital.
The start of the 220/21 season has been a tricky one for Harris to say the least. With just four wins in the opening fourteen games, Cardiff are left in fourteenth position in the table.
The general conscience with fans is that Cardiff should be battling for a playoff spot. The top six is the overall aim for the season. Nevertheless, the Championship is potentially the most unpredictable league worldwide. Anybody can beat anybody.
Stringing together just a few wins shoots any club right up the Championship table. Following a 4-0 victory against Luton on Saturday 27th November, things don’t quite seem as bad all of a sudden.
The majority of football fans today seem to have short term memories. One minute you can be lauded for doing such an amazing job, the next you deserve to join the unemployment line.
In Cardiff’s case, fans have to be more realistic. No club is owed anything in terms of success, they have to earn it. With next to no backing in terms of squad investment, Neil Harris has performed remarkably thus far as manager.
A few bad results at the beginning of the season does not warrant a manager receiving his P45.
The word “project” is thrown around a lot in football. Managers take over at a club, have a long term vision and should be given sufficient time to achieve the goal. In most cases, the manager gets relieved of his duties before even scratching the surface of what they can potentially achieve.
Before Cardiff’s resounding victory over Luton, rumours were circulating that it may be Harris’s last game in charge. With Harris having to defend himself and his position in interviews, some fans also turned on him.
These are the very same fans who probably cheered all four goals that Cardiff put past Luton.
I don’t quite understand the mentality behind the concept of just sacking the manager. If Cardiff were to sack Neil Harris, they would still be in exactly the same position, with the exact same players. A new manager will not change anything.
Each manager should be given the required time to attain success. Harris has been in the job for just over a year and has already taken the club to the playoffs. Losing a few games does not require a managerial change.
I understand a fans will for their club to achieve, but getting rid of a manager who has only been in the job for a year will not help. Nobody likes to lose, but that is part of the game. Managers and players will learn form loses more than they will victories. Replacing Harris, who has a long term goal for Cardiff, is not the answer.