Robert Earnshaw’s first spell at Cardiff was a complete success, but his second spell, for various reasons, not so much. In his own words, Robert here analyses his return to the club and why it never really went according to plan.
“I had some reservations about coming back to Cardiff because it had been so long since I was last at the club, but apart from that, I wanted to come back. It didn’t go so well, but it did start off well because I scored in my first game against Bristol City. I think there were a number of reasons for that. Different decisions that were made and things behind the scenes. There was an accumulation of things, plus the team were also playing very well and with only one up front.
I didn’t even have much chance to make an impact off the bench because often they didn’t make any changes to the front line. It was a strange time really, but it didn’t really happen for me. There were disagreements with the coach at the time and differing opinions, but I learned a lot. About people as well. In the end, I needed to make the next step in my career after that and experience something different.
In the beginning, it was about going there, being one of the main strikers, scoring goals and contributing to the team. That was what I had wanted to hear from the manager, but after a few games, actions did not follow those words. After that, I found it strange that I wasn’t playing and there was no real reason. I spent a lot of the time puzzled. Here you are with a goal scorer who has scored goals in the Premier League and just done well at Nottingham Forest, so why wouldn’t I be playing?
There was never a falling out with Malky Mackay because I always trained well and was professional. When they signed Kenny Miller, I’m a player that thinks about things and was wondering how is that going to work. Were we going to be playing together? A couple of weeks before, you say that and now this happens and we’re only playing with one up front. I had no problem with it, but I felt that things could have been better if I had played! Maybe myself, Kenny and Joe Mason could have played together, as Rudy Gestede was injured. We had a few discussions, but Malky wanted something completely different.
It was great to score again in a Cardiff shirt. I loved it and even though it felt like my club, if felt like I needed some time and support from the manager when I moved back. A bit of time to adjust to the football club. It’s not always the case that you know the club and have played here before, so it should all just happen from the first minute. I needed a few games, or a couple of months to adjust and lear the tactics we would be playing. How can I contribute? Which players do I play well with? I felt like it never really got to that stage and that’s why I got frustrated. I wanted to play with the likes of Kenny, Peter Whittingham and Stephen McPhail, amongst others. They will see my runs and movement. I need some time to get to know these guys.
I was really, really disappointed not to play in the Carling Cup final against Liverpool. I wanted to play in a final for Cardiff. I was on the bench that day and didn’t get on. I think, the way that the game was going, I think I could have contributed too. I actually woke up on the morning of the final and I felt in a kind of zen space. This was the feeling during my career when your mind and body are in complete sync. I just had that feeling that I was going to do something. Throughout my career, when I feel like that, nine times out of 10, it happens, but I never got that chance.
That definitely felt like a turning point. Those things contribute when you decide when is the right time to move on. You think back to those moments. That left me feeling very frustrated, especially with how the game went and what the game was crying out for. All of our strikers were getting cramp! Rudy Gestede and some others could not run for about half an hour and I was the only striker on the bench. I was happy to be involved in that final though because sometimes you learn a lot and take experience from games like that. Whether good or bad.
It was my decision to leave in the end because I always wanted to play in different leagues and cultures. Any opportunity that came along, I was definitely going to look at it. I didn’t plan on going to Israel, but Jordi Cruyff knew of me and was interested in me for Maccabi Tel-Aviv. At the time, I was unsure, but I made the decision to move abroad within a few hours. Jordi was the one that convinced me. He told me that he would look after me and that if I didn’t like it, no problem, you can come back. I looked in to the club and what the positives could be, but I just wanted to play. I just felt it was the right time to try something completely different and they had a strong Spanish influence, through Jordi and the head coach. It was one of the best decisions I ever made.
I don’t regret re-joining Cardiff because at the time, it was what I wanted to do. If I had the chance again, I would make exactly the same decision. I was 50-50 because there were other opportunities at the time, but that’s where I wanted to play football. Coming back to Cardiff was about feeling the club again and it ended up being my farewell. There was frustration, but I learned a lot that has also helped me a lot in my coaching.”