Cardiff City are facing a creativity crisis – and it could seriously damage their Championship play-off push.
The Bluebirds have back-to-back home fixtures against Nottingham Forest on Tuesday and Brentford next weekend, but the bad news is that playmaker Lee Tomlin is injured. He will be out for up to eight weeks and could miss 10 of Cardiff’s remaining 13 SkyBet Championship matches.
Manager Neil Harris must somehow come up with a plan to add new creativity. Josh Murphy has the ability, Will Vaulks can pick a pass, but I haven’t seen any player with who has a football brain to match Tomlin.
It’s strange that Tomlin has become so crucial to Cardiff’s team after he was ignored to a large degree by former manager Neil Warnock. He’s been fitter and more committed than I had seen from him before and it’s awful that he is out for two months.
“We have to find different ways,” said Harris. “We have players who have been creative and players who can score goals.”
Tomlin has a serious knee injury, having damaged his medial ligament running back to defend in training.
The Bluebirds, along with 2,000 City fans who travelled, were bitterly disappointed with the team performance at Stoke, particularly after taking seven points from their previous three fixtures.
“From the first whistle to the last, we were nowhere near the standards we’ve set, individually or collectively,” said Harris. “We’ve played against a Stoke City team who are scrapping for their lives and they gave it a right go.
“We conceded two poor goals away and that is not good enough. At the other end of the pitch, we missed that little bit of a spark. We didn’t make good decisions with the ball.
“Stoke looked a team scrapping for their lives and we didn’t match them.
“It pains me to say that. It is not often a Neil Harris team will be second best all over the pitch.
“Give credit to Stoke for the way they played and performed.
“Losing Lee Tomlin to injury before the game was a blow, but we have to adjust as a group. We’ve scored goals from different avenues since I’ve been here and we’ll have to continue doing that.
“If we’re serious about the play-offs, we have to beat the teams around us. With two huge games in four days next week – against Forest and Brentford – it’s a massive chance for us.”
An unfortunate deflection off Paterson following a 25th minute Stoke corner put the home team, ahead and Wales international Joe Allen made it 2-0 with a close range tap-in after 72 minutes.
The result was a major blow to Cardiff, but they can bounce back with two big home performances against Forest and Brentford in the next week.