The Monday Profile: Kalifa Cissé

Posted by on Jul 12, 2010 in The Monday Profile | One Comment

During his time at Reading, Steve Coppell rarely missed an opportunity to reunite with former charges and his signing of Kalifa Cissé for Bristol City was predicted on these pages on the manager’s arrival at Ashton Gate in the Spring.

The Dreux born, Malian international’s time at the Madejski hinged on two matches against Chelsea. Signed for an estimated £600,000 at the onset of the Royals’ second Premier League season, his low key arrival was evidence of the Berkshire club’s lack of spending power at the top table. Along with other cut price signings by EPL standards such as Marek Matějovský and Emerse Faé, Cissé would never look likely to replace the departing Steven Sidwell, but he will have wished for a better start than he enjoyed, being dismissed erroneously by Mike Dean for a challenge on the sprawling Claudio Pizarro as Mourinho realpolitik won the day. Five months later and the African was prominent again, this time putting in one of his best performances in a Reading shirt whilst employed as an emergency centre back at the Bridge. Michael Ballack’s header nonetheless won the match.
A third occasion perhaps evidences why the Robins have taken this plunge. Royals’ more pragmatic style of their first post-relegation season suited Cissé’s rangy style and he crowned a dominant afternoon at Ashton Gate with a rising drive into the roof of the net; Reading winning 4-1. At his best, the Mali man can break up the play effectively and with a World Cup hallmarked by dual defensive screeners, his destructive style as well as his versatility may be in vogue.
Too often in his time at the club however, the directing of the ball’s traffic flow through Cissé would result in a bottleneck. At best, his lumbering style and telegraphed passing would slow the sweep of a move; at best, possession would be lost altogether, as if a lining of lead had been inserted into his toecaps. The ex-Boavista and Estoril man lacks the finesse to play the holding role properly – one should remember that even the likes of van Bommel and de Jong are tidy passers. The move may signal a switch away from Bristol City’s pleasing style of the past half decade and a toughening up of a side that has looked powder puff on occasion, but Reading will not be too sorry to see him go.
Rob Langham
Rob Langham (pen name: Lanterne Rouge) is co-founder of the defiantly non-partisan football league blog, The Two Unfortunates, a website that occasionally strays into covering issues of wider importance. He's 47 and lives in Oxford while retaining his boyhood support of Reading FC. He tweets as @twounfortunates and has written for a number of websites and publications including The Football Attic, The Inside Left, When Saturday Comes, In Bed with Maradona, Futbolgrad and The Blizzard as well as being nominated for the Football Supporters' Federation Blogger of the Year Award in 2013.

1 Comment

  1. Bristol City’s woes are likely to be the norm | The Two Unfortunates
    December 9, 2012

    […] have been on peanuts and nor would those less heralded former Premiershippers Nicky Hunt and Kalifa Cissé. Brett Pitman reputedly turned down Blackpool and Jon Stead has been fleetingly impressive even if […]

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