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In many ways today was a microcosm of what's been good and bad under Cooper. Defensively we were solid, especially in open play - where I can't recall a single good opportunity for Cardiff, apart from the low effort blocked by Cabango from wide right, and the Paterson header late on. Our defensive shape and sharpness in sprinting to close down space was great, and our set piece defending was good considering the height disparity. Any fair-minded appraisal of Cooper's record to date should acknowledge the improvements made by him in our out of possession play. Even the likes of Celina, who was given a free ride under Potter, is now putting in a shift. Byers has improved significantly defensively as well - and if he can sustain today's efforts he may yet prove to be a worthy partner to Grimes in front of the back four.
Offensively we're still well short, although it doesn't help that Ayew is such an infuriating individualist. Risky though it would be to lose his goal-getting capability, I can't help but think that the shape of our team wouldn't be improved with his departure. We might see a return of Roberts' potency going forwards, that we saw under Potter, for a start.
One thing that is inexplicable from the last two games is how all but one of our corners over both games were sent in at head height, in spite of the opposition's height advantage in both games. Against QPR we must have fielded one of our shortest teams ever, and yet every single corner and free kick (and we won a fair few) were put in at head height with zero goal threat. The one time today that we worked a short corner Brewster ends up with a half chance. What exactly was Mike Marsh's thought process here?
Overall, I'm a tad more optimistic about the rest of the season. Brewster didn't have a great game but showed enough heart, pace and the occasional deft touch to suggest he'll be a good acquisition.
Disappointing though recent performances have been we all need a bit of perspective, and calls for Cooper's head are wide of the mark.
First of all, Cooper hasn't been given enough credit for the things he's got right. Our set piece defending has improved no end, and, in my opinion, that's less down to Woodman replacing Nordfeldt, and more down the change to man-to-man marking and the protection afforded to Woodman. Apart from that our defensive shape and output has improved on Potter. The likes of Celina and Byers are now expected to contribute to the closing down of passing angles. Borja, in an otherwise disappointing performance, ran his socks off for the 90 minutes. For all their dominance of the ball in the second half, Huddersfield's chances were almost all from distance, and Surridge's effort late on was probably the best opportunity in the second half. These attributes are not that dissimilar to those we displayed when Monk was in charge - and good attributes to have regardless of style of play in possession.
I think a lot of our struggles are coming from the predictability of our lineup and formation - making the task of countering our setup so much easier for the opposition. Just like our set-piece vulnerability as the season progressed became an obvious target under Potter - compounding the problem, our predictability in possession has been found out. Cooper needs to come up with some fresh ideas.
Tomorrow night could be embarrassing, given Fulham's footballing credentials. On the other hand our record against top half teams is outstanding, and it may well be that a more open approach from Fulham may give us the opportunity to express ourselves in ways that the likes of Millwall didn't allow. We may be pleasantly surprised.
We really need to cut Cooper a bit of slack. Swanselona we're not, but it's easier to get the defensive side of things right - which Cooper has largely done. Only time will tell whether or not he can build on those solid foundations.
That was a very worrying performance. We are becoming more like a Monk team with every passing game. How many times did we just lump the ball forward or play over-long passes in midfield. Borja getting caught offside so many times was very reminiscent of Gomis under Monk. On the rare occasion we tried to build through the thirds we looked half-decent. The rest of the time we tried out best to make Huddersfield look like Barcelona. Huddersfield!
It's not as you can put it down to the selection either. Even when VDH went off Cabango (the only bright spark on the night) wasn't any worse in his distribution. Cooper has to shoulder the responsibility. It will be interesting to see how we fare against Fulham, the pass-masters of the league. Could be an embarrassing evening.
I think Jackareme's assessment is spot on. Bidwell's been great offensively and solid defensively out of possession. It's in possession in deep areas he's lacked composure, and his stats don't lie. Hopefully he'll settle into the Swansea Way of playing with time. Certainly, if he can improve his passing game and maintain his performance levels in other areas he will be a terrific asset.