The Monday Profile: Scott Sinclair

Posted by on Nov 8, 2010 in The Monday Profile | 16 Comments

Swansea’s sterling 1-0 victory at Cardiff was, despite Robbie Savage’s best efforts in the commentary box, an engaging watch yesterday. Prior to the match, I had the game down as a bit of a turkey shoot for the Bluebirds, taking my eye off what happened the last time that centre-forward Jay Bothroyd wasn’t on the pitch for the home side, but the way that the Swans controlled and dictated the match was a joy to watch for this neutral.

There are some pretty amiable Cardiff fans out there, but the way the club has recently gone about its business continues to rankle. The commentary team were at pains to praise the job that Dave Jones has done in the Welsh Capital, speaking up the significant c. £15m net profit he’s made on transfer fees over the years. Overlooking the fact that he’s probably had that kind of figure to play about with in wages every season, and his crass exploitation of the loan system, it was heartening to see their arch rivals, who’ve made progress the right way, travel back to the Mumbles with the points yesterday.

There were a few doubters when Chairman Hugh Jenkins picked Brendan Rodgers to succeed Paolo Sousa in the summer, but it appears to have been a well-judged decision to date. Rodgers’s new side initially struggled on the road, but four wins from the last four away games along with an enviable defensive record have seen the Jacks establish themselves as play-off contenders for the second year in a row. As this previous post suggested, that managers who have been unimpressive elsewhere have thrived at the Liberty is telling, but that’s not to degrade Rodgers’s achievements thus far.

Although he’s continued with a tried and tested back four and hasn’t tampered too readily with a footballing philosophy that had already been established by Roberto Martinez and Sousa, Rodgers has managed to complement and improve upon what was in place upon his arrival. Nine of yesterday’s starting line-up may have already at the club last season, but two of the Swans’ better players were Rodgers signings. Marvin Emnes, perhaps an easy player to criticise after flopping at Middlesbrough, quietly impressed as a lone centre forward while Scott Sinclair, playing to Emnes’s left, really caught the eye.

Offering an alternative outlet to Nathan Dyer on the opposite flank, Sinclair might well prove to be the tonic to Swansea’s well-documented problems in front of goal. As capable of knocking over an unmissable cross as he is scoring himself, the player who was on loan at six different clubs before finally calling it a day at Chelsea looks to have found himself a mutually appropriate home in Swansea. Yesterday, he drifted in and out of the game, but while Craig Bellamy was, according to Savage, busy “not doing nothing”, the lithe left-footer contributed several very near misses for his side and toyed with his marker every time he received the ball.

We’re barely into November, so it’s still too early to make knee-jerk predictions, but this performance from the Jacks suggests that the race for automatic promotion could well be extended to a third horse at least. One shouldn’t forget that Cardiff were missing the focal point of their attack, but the extent to which they allowed themselves to be dominated by this, their closest of rivals indicates that this most competitive of leagues won’t be sewn up without a few slip-ups along the way at the very least.

Lloyd
is co-editor of The Two Unfortunates. He’s 30, supports Plymouth Argyle and takes a particular interest in the fortunes of those Football League clubs west of Bristol.

13 Comments

  1. Kai
    November 8, 2010

    It was an absolutely tremendous result for us, and well deserved too, we played Cardiff off the park.

    It's signings like Emnes and more so Sinclair that also reinforces the faith you have in the manager. He can see that raw talent that hasn't had a chance to be showcased prominently (alright, he worked with Scott at Chelsea, so that was the majority of scouting done!) but has shined through once they put on the shirt.

    Automatics? Might be a little bit of a push? Play-offs however? Surely we can't miss them again?

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  2. mirkobolesan
    November 8, 2010

    Woah there! Whilst I wouldn't defend the way Cardiff City run themselves as a business (they are shocking) Swansea City's winner was scored by loan signing Marvin Emnes (I very much doubt Swansea are paying his full wages). Surely that's a crass signing too?

    And whilst it's right that Swansea City are currently doing things the right way, it's perhaps worthwhile to note that they once paid 5p in the pound to creditors whilst Cardiff City have never been into administration (a rare boast amongst Championship clubs)

    Mr Amiable ;-)

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  3. Lloyd
    November 8, 2010

    Emnes is currently on a month-long loan, true, but this must pale in comparison with Bluebirds' outlay on Bellamy, Koumas, Olofinjana and Keogh; all on longer-term deals.

    In my haste, I perhaps overlooked Swansea's less noble past but at least the current board are doing all they can to ensure that it doesn't happen again. I'm not sure you could say the same for the current owners at Cardiff, who seem to be choosing Double over Quits, just as their predecessors have done in recent seasons.

    I think Swansea would have to invest in a striker in order to effectively challenge the current top two, but I was really impressed with them yesterday. The players knew exactly what they were doing, and I wouldn't bet against them right now.

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  4. mirkobolesan
    November 8, 2010

    Yes Emnes' loan is for a shorter time period, but it's the same loan system that Cardiff are using. It's also the same loan system that the much lauded Tony Pulis used in order to get Stoke City promoted.

    I'm not sure the current owners of Cardiff City can take any blame for the financial mismanagement of the club. They have invested 12 million pounds into the club by covering wages and paying off historical debts. Yes the outgoings are currently larger than the income – but that's the case with most of the clubs in this division.

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  5. mirkobolesan
    November 8, 2010

    Anonymous said…
    swansea played cardiff off the pitch while cardiff tried to kick swansea off the pitch.

    ==

    Cardiff attempting to kick Swansea off the pitch would involve some sort of coherent strategy or gameplan, neither were evident from the Bluebirds on Sunday.

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  6. mirkobolesan
    November 9, 2010

    “Cardiff City are £70m in debt and the Malaysians can walk away at any time by cashing in their stock options (asset stripping at its best).”

    You seem to forget that the last two owners of the club were Sam Hammam and Peter Ridsdale. If you think there was a penny left to strip after that then you are severly deluded.

    In fact, the only way the new Malaysian owners are going to be able to make any money from their investment is promotion to the Premier League.

    My personal opinion is that they were mad to invest so much money into a club that was obviously a financial basket-case. I have absolutely no idea how they could make any money considering their current 12m investment, I also do not recognise the £70m figure you've conjured up either.

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  7. Lloyd
    November 9, 2010

    Mirko: I think it's perhaps a little disingenuous to liken Cardiff's loan policy to Swansea's single month-long loan signing of Emnes. Also, weren't most of that Stoke team permanent signings (e.g. Fuller, Delap, Whelan, Cort)? From memory, I can only really remember Shawcross being on loan, who would have probably been on pretty modest wages at the time.

    I'm not criticising Jones for bringing in players on loan, rather for being allowed to bring in players on such highly subsidised wages (which are still unaffordable), which I think distorts competition.

    Interesting comment from Anonymous in including Forest and Derby amongst some of the best sides s/he's seen. There's still a long way to go, and who's to say that sides such as these can't go on a proper run and catch the top two (although I've heard Forest are a bit of a one-man team at the minute)?

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  8. mirkobolesan
    November 9, 2010

    The fact remains that Emnes is still a player that Swansea couldn't afford the wages of unless he was on loan to them.

    Cardiff's wage bill might be high, but they're currently 4th in the attendance table and probably pay less in wages than the likes of Middlesbrough, Hull and even Burnley. In fact, the reason that Cardiff were able to take Olofinjana on loan was because Hull couldn't afford to pay him despite huge parachute payments (which distort competition in a far greater way than the loan system ever has).

    The Cardiff loan issue only really reared its head once Cardiff signed Bellamy. City are to pay him 1m in wages for the season which I don't think is too bad considering that Sheff Utd paid 3m to sign Ched Evans last summer. I suspect Pompey's four loan rangers Dave Kitson, Liam Lawrence, Ibrahima Sonko and Greg Halford didn't come cheap – and they've not even exited administration yet have they?!

    In the season Stoke were promoted they took Shawcross, Wright, Craddock, Zakuani, Cort, Pugh, Gallagher, Fulop, Nash, Riggott, Ameobi, Pearson and Jay Bothroyd on loan (Though soccerbase could well be wrong on some of those counts).

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  9. Stanley
    November 9, 2010

    “…Bluebirds' outlay on Bellamy, Koumas, Olofinjana and Keogh; all on longer-term deals.”

    ————————————————

    Surely, Man City, Wigan, Hull and Wolves' outlay? My beef is not with loan signings in principle (which is, I think, what Mirko is driving at), but rather that Cardiff's loanees are being subsidized by other clubs to an amount that exceeds the total budget of some in the division.

    While I accept that financial variations are inevitable, spending should be based on a club's actual revenues and not gifted by others. (This is not a dig at Cardiff City, rather against the notion of subsidized loans. The Bluebirds are just an example of a club abusing the system. There are no doubt others who are just as guilty.)

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  10. mirkobolesan
    November 9, 2010

    And I can genuinely see the point.

    Cardiff are paying Olofinjana, Keogh and Koumas approx 10k each a week (Drinkwater on less I guess..) I don't think that's too bad on the divisional scale. It's Wigan, Wolves and Hull who deserve the derision for giving these players contracts that were too long (or too expensive). Wigan are paying half of Koumas' wages on a season long loan deal when his contract runs out next summer for example, whilst relegation threatened Hull have had to let Olofinjana play for Cardiff as they can't afford to pay his full wages!

    Bellamy was a deal presented to Cardiff's board at 21k a week. The deal was done by the board as an “extra” on top of the club's current budget. I doubt any club in the entire country who could raise the 1m necessary (including Manchester United) would have turned down that deal had it been presented to them. Even if Cardiff City don't go up I suspect the deal will almost pay for itself.

    You have to remember Cardiff shipped out nine players last season in Etuhu, Feeney, Capaldi, Gerrard, Scimeca, Ledley, McCormack, Kennedy and Taiwo and have only replaced these with 6 (Naylor, Keogh, Koumas, Olofinjana, Bellamy and Drinkwater). The Bellamy deal aside I suspect Cardiff's wage bill is pretty much the same this year as it was last.

    Can Cardiff City afford to pay the wages on the income that's coming in? I doubt it. But how many clubs made a profit in the second flight last year? I think Cardiff are being unfairly maligned due to the marquee signing of Bellamy, I doubt it'd have been mentioned otherwise – after all Pompey have been saved some vitriol despite their loaning of four Premier League players whilst in admin.

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  11. Ben
    November 9, 2010

    I'm not sure that Pompey have been spared that much vitriol for their loan dealings, to be honest, Mirko – and I have to agree with the consensus that Cardiff are milking the system.

    I suppose Newcastle could perhaps have been accused of the same thing last season – we may not have been in the best shape financially but were still able to call on the likes of Zurab Khizanishvili, Marlon Harewood and Danny Simpson as loanees. All fringe Premier League players – though I doubt their wages came close to those of Bellamy…

    Anyway, back to Sinclair. A player who looked a steal at £500,000 is surely the main contender for signing of the summer. Swansea's defence was immense last season, but he's now providing what they missed: goals at the other end. I guess the worry for Swansea fans is that they don't become too much of a one-man outfit offensively – they'd certainly struggle if Sinclair was to suffer an injury or loss of form.

    Interesting to see Emnes thriving in his temporary surroundings too – must be galling for Smoggy fans to see someone deemed not good enough for their relegation-threatened side stroll into a team challenging at the top and thoroughly deserve his place. Still, Swans fans better enjoy it while it lasts: it doesn't seem he'll be at the Liberty Stadium for much longer, Tony Mowbray having said he's keen to assess all of his players in person.

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  12. Stanley
    November 10, 2010

    From the evidence of Sunday's game, Nathan Dyer would have good reason to question the notion of the Swans being a one-man team. Both he and Sinclair ran Cardiff ragged. But I'd agree with the point about a reliance on Sinclair's goals. If they are to make a more serious promotion challenge than last season, the signing of a striker is imperative.

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  13. Lanterne Rouge
    November 11, 2010

    An enjoyable debate. Still marooned in America, I missed the opportunity to see Cardiff in the flesh last night but by all accounts, young Heaton in goal and the ever excellent Chris Burke were the pick for the Bluebirds.

    Reply

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