May 26, 2024

Cardiff fans' fury - Eurosport

Aaron Ramsey’s return is finally a moment of pure joy for Cardiff City fans after years of hurt

Glen Williams: It’s been a challenging few years for Cardiff City and the club’s fans, but this is finally a moment for them all to savour

When I accepted the job to cover Cardiff City, the club were still in the Premier League and had more than a puncher’s chance of staying in the top flight. The feeling surrounding the club was generally good, positive.

Indeed, my first week in the post, in the summer of 2019, was brimming with optimism, too, with Cardiff tipped to go straight back up under Neil Warnock. Suffice to say, the intervening four years have not gone according to plan.

Every fan of every team will feel their club has been hard done by in some capacity, but the last four years at Cardiff have been particularly taxing and challenging, both on and off the pitch. It’s been a real struggle at times.

READ MORE: Aaron Ramsey’s son signs for Cardiff City on same day in ‘special’ twist

Football-wise, the trajectory has nosedived since relegation from the Premier League. The club have finished in a lower league position year on year and burned through six managers — Warnock, Neil Harris, Mick McCarthy, Steve Morison, Mark Hudson and Sabri Lamouchi — in that time.

There were precious few high points within that period. City’s rampant run into the play-offs under Harris after the first coronavirus lockdown was an obvious high, while McCarthy’s 11-game unbeaten start to his tenure in the Welsh capital, including a South Wales derby victory, was also a brief period of positivity.

McCarthy, though, presided over the worst period of these last four years, suffering an eight-game losing streak, which included the implementation of five centre backs and egregious footballing tactics, which left so many supporters disenfranchised and angry.

City’s South Wales derby record since Premier League relegation also makes for unsightly reading; eight games, one win, six defeats. It’s been tough, tough going from a footballing standpoint. But City’s fans continued to flock to games in their droves, even amid two successive seasons of fighting perilously close to the League One relegation zone, such is their unerring loyalty and optimism. Credit to them.

Off the pitch, Cardiff have been hit with all kinds of pain and tragedy, enough for a lifetime but jam-packed into just a couple of years.

The ongoing heartbreak of the Emiliano Sala ordeal and the painful passing of arguably the club’s greatest player of the modern era, Peter Whittingham, have taken their toll on so many people; supporters, families and those inside the club.

Fan favourite Sol Bamba’s cancer battle also rocked City supporters, but it’s fantastic to see the big man fit, well and doing what he loves again.

In the background, Cardiff have fought a hat-trick of laborious and costly legal cases, with Michael Isaac, Sam Hammam and the ongoing Sala wrangle. Financially, debt rose to £123million last year, a precarious position for any club and leaves them purely beholden to the principal, Vincent Tan. And, to boot, they have been operating in the last two transfer windows with a transfer ban, or a partial one at least. Throw in world factors such as the cost-of-living crisis, the devastating Covid-19 pandemic and the numerous floods in the valleys, it’s been a lot for Cardiff fans.

Lest we forget the small matter of the heartbreaking transfer miss of Gareth Bale last summer, too. That one stung.

It’s all been tough to cover, truth be told. Ask any reporter of any club and it’s a far more difficult job when said club are doing badly or things are going awry. City have been hit left, right and centre on and off the pitch in recent years — some self-inflicted, some not — and the supporters’ ire tends to zero in on you, the conduit, so-to speak.

Sol Bamba: Cardiff defender announces he is cancer free following battle  with Non-Hodgkin lymphoma | Football News | Sky Sports

It’s why the last few days, even weeks, have been so good and life-affirming. Since first hearing of the possibility of Aaron Ramsey’s return — I was told Ramsey messaged Lamouchi after the Rotherham game to wish him congratulations on securing Championship safety — things have really started to track in a far more positive direction, notwithstanding the brief period of uncertainty during the managerial changeover to Erol Bulut.

The announcement of Ramsey on Saturday evening was a moment of pure, unspoiled joy, the likes of which I have not seen while covering this club. I can imagine the return of Craig Bellamy might have been similar.

Social media can be a cesspit at times, and it has been a veritable binfire on occasion in the last four years, but it was simply wholesome, heart-filling glee on Saturday night. It seems to have represented a line in the sand and has pumped in a genuine hope that times they are a-changin’.

The exciting Cardiff City youngster who has impressed Erol Bulut the most  and given him something to think about - Wales Online

I feel a little bit sorry for Karlan Grant, because that is a really good signing for Cardiff and the only way it was ever going to be overridden was if Ramsey was announced the same day – and that proved to be the case.

Bulut has received some real backing from Tan and the board, with Ramsey and Grant adding to a forward line which has already been bolstered by the loan signing of Ike Ugbo and permanent addition of Yakou Meite. Add that to the shrewd acquisition of Greece international Dimitrios Goutas and it really is starting to feel different this time around.

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Cardiff have signed five internationals, including the captain of Wales. There is also more to come, we are led to believe. They don’t seem to be messing about this time. Given they have been unable to spend a penny, it is mightily impressive.

Ramsey, of course, will come with heightened expectation. Fans will expect the world from him and that might count against him. Patience will be needed, because he will be a class act and will prove it throughout the course of his stay. Injuries might play their part, too, but, again patience is the key word

The exciting Cardiff City youngster who has impressed Erol Bulut the most  and given him something to think about - Wales Online

He brings more than just his puppet-mastery playmaking, though. What he will do for the progress of City’s young players, namely Rubin Colwill, is really intriguing. He also has the power and pull to galvanise a fan base, who at points last season had really given up hope, and make them believe again.

If you’re a Cardiff fan and his signing doesn’t fill you with anything other than unbridled happiness, then you’re in the wrong game. This is exactly what it’s all about. This is why you schlepped up the M6 to Preston North End in the driving rain in the middle of winter. This is why when Cardiff had lost seven games in a row, you still turned up to see them lose the eighth.

These are the moments you do it for. So, remember to soak it all in.

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