by Matt Bullock
“Here’s to you Peter Whittingham, City loves you more than you know”.
Personally I don’t know any Southampton fans but I wonder if Matt Le Tissier’s place in the team was questioned like Peter Whittingham’s in the decade he has been at Cardiff City? A player who despite their obvious talent is seen as a luxury that is not always warranted in place of a player who may show more ‘commitment’ through distance run or completed tackles instead of creativity or flair.
Today on the 11th of January 2017 Whitts will celebrate 10 years at the Bluebirds, a near lifetime in the modern age of football and has spent a lot of this time having his place in the team questioned by fans and journalists. These see his supposed lack of pace (he isn’t the quickest) and ‘reluctance’ to get stuck in as reasons he does not justify a regular starting spot ignoring his speed of thought to pre-empt passages of play and the wonderful technical ability to make the most of them. As the great Argentinian manager Cesar Luis Menotti once said ‘since when do you need to run to play football?.
Jose Pekerman, another Argentinian coaching great agrees quoting “Its the ball that should do the running not the player”. Indeed he is not playing in South America or continental Europe but his qualities make him stand out more in the hustle and bustle of the Championship where he has spent the majority of his Cardiff career. For examples see his goal against Leicester in the playoff semi final or Middlesbrough in the FA cup quarter final or just about most games where he usually plucks a pass out of nothing.
My personal favourite is the outrageous control and volley against Barnsley in 2012 which won the 2012 football league goal of the year (Look it up on YouTube). Dave Jones, the manager who signed him for Cardiff for a reported fee of £350,000 had an impressive transfer record at the club (Michael Chopra, Jay Bothroyd, Roger Johnson, David Marshall etc etc) but surely Whitts was his finest purchase.
He was an integral part of the success and attractive football under Jones management once finishing joint top scorer in the league with 20 goals. Malky Mackay said he was a major part of the team in his more systematic approach usually deploying him in a deeper midfield role, Russell Slade was a keen admirer as is current manager Neil Warnock who wants the magical midfielder to sign a contract extension. Ole Solskjaer and Paul Trollope also used him as a key part of their teams although the less said about their tenures the better as highlights were few.
The championship is widely viewed as one of the toughest leagues in world football due to the 46 game season and the strength in depth of the teams but Whitts performances have mainly shone with such clarity that he got voted into the football league team of the decade from 2005 to 2015. He has also been voted in the PFA championship team of the year three times, championship player of the month, Cardiff city player of the year twice as well as the previously mentioned goal of the year. It is not only his technical abilities that have endeared him to the bluebirds faithful, he has proven his loyalty consistently stating he is happy at the club until he is told he is no longer wanted by the management.
This has been through periods where there has been geninue interest and bids from premier league clubs. He now claims to be a Cardiff city fan as well as a player he has that much affection for the club. This has led to Whitts playing nearly 400 games for the club (as it currently stands) with the slight possibility of breaking the clubs all time appearance record of 573 held by Phil Dwyer and being only 6 goals away from reaching 100 for the club at the time of writing. So despite the occasional nagging doubters here’s to you Peter Whittingham City love you more than you know........after all with his wand of a left foot “He does what he wants”!
Malky Mackay said he was a major part of the team in his more systematic approach usually deploying him in a deeper midfield role, Russell Slade was a keen admirer as is current manager Neil Warnock who wants the magical midfielder to sign a contract extension. Ole Solskjaer and Paul Trollope also used him as a key part of their teams although the less said about their tenures the better as highlights were few.