It’s around 21:35 on April 6th 2018 in the Cardiff City Stadium and a 27 year old man dressed in blue cuts a lonely figure in front of a broiling Canton Stand.  That man is Gary Madine and the occasion is a top of the table clash between Cardiff City and Wolverhampton Wanderers in what could have been a potential title decider.

He has just missed a 94th minute penalty to draw the teams level after an imperious Ruben Neves free kick  had given the first placed side an invaluable lead against the Bluebirds. The stadium rings out to a chorus of sighs and boos. In that moment, many Cardiff City supporters decided that Gary Madine was definitely not for them.

However, this bleak tale doesn’t fairly represent the whole story, Gary Madine can be and one might even say will be, the main man to lead the line this season for Cardiff City.

Gary Madine arrived at Cardiff City on another frantic transfer deadline day for a sizeable five million pounds and it would be fair to say his departure from Bolton Wanderers caused a bigger stir than his arrival at the Bluebirds did. Many supporters were shocked that the South Wales club would spend such an amount on what was, in truth, a striker who had a patchy record at best.

Fast forward 13 games and Madine is yet to score for his new club. Many chances have come and gone, but he is yet to bulge the net for the Bluebirds and this has given many supporters cause for concern.

To write him off solely due to his poor form in front of goal is indicative of modern day football whereby a striker is judged almost solely on his goal scoring record. Whilst this may be fair to an extent, it most certainly fails to look at the bigger picture.

Neil Warnock has consistently sung Madine’s praise from the moment he signed, describing him as recently as last night as “the best player in training.” Of course what really matters is what happens ON the pitch, but Warnock sees something a lot of supporters miss.

Whilst it is undoubtedly true that Madine needs to start scoring and quickly, it would be remiss to not note his work ethic in what is often a lonely role up front for the Bluebirds. Watch any game he is involved in and he’s often the focus for most throw in’s and free kicks. He also wins more than his fair share of aerial duels with centre backs from all sides.

He tirelessly runs for the side and has assisted in at least two vital goals last season (see Ipswich and Sheffield United away), which turned out to be invaluable points at the end of the season.

Whilst Madine’s reputation off the pitch (for being, shall we say, a ladies man among other things) may precede him, it would be fair to say that the Cardiff City hierarchy have been nothing but delighted with his conduct.

Madine leads the line both on and off the pitch and is seen as one of many leaders in the dressing room. His experience and combative style wins many plaudits from his team mates and management. Warnock is delighted with his contribution to the squad as a whole.

This coming season will see Cardiff City face some serious challenges to its solid defence and rapid attack. Having a solid front man to lead the line and win the aerial battle is paramount to the Bluebirds staying up.

There could be a fearsome partnership forged with Bobby Reid and it will only take one goal to get the run going. Many defences will not enjoy playing against such a physical presence and an argument could be made that Madine is superior to Zohore in the battle of the skies.

In summary, Madine needs a break and not just in front of goal. Given the service and time, he can lead the Cardiff City line with guile, force and will take some stopping.

Over to you big man.