The Prodigal Son Returns

By Yousef Haider
Since the end of last season, where Cardiff fans yet again, fell just short of reaching their goal of reaching the promised land of Premiership football, things have gone from bad to worse.
Long standing manager Dave Jones was relieved of his duties, and several key players left the club. Players like, Gavin Rae, Adam Matthews and Chris Burke all left the club to name but a few. However, slightly more worrying was the loss of strikers such as Jay Bothroyd, Craig Bellamy and Michael Chopra.
Our midfield still has some good players such as McPhail who knows all there is to know about Cardiff City, and Peter Whittingham, who has played Premiership football and is one of the most free scoring midfielders in the Championship, but up front, we were bare bones. Last season we probably had the best selection of strikers outside of the Premiership where as before today we had virtually none.
Since the Transfer window opened there has been one story dominating the Welsh media and there have been rumblings and murmours in every Cardiff pub about a possible return for one of Cardiff's best loved sons, Robert Earnshaw.
Today, Robert Earnshaw delighted Cardiff fans, and disappointed Nottingham Forest fans, and their newly appointed manager Steve McLaren, by turning down the option to extend his contract at Forest and make a sensational return to his spiritual home. The old Ninian Park has gone, but the fans remain and they will ALL remember some of the outstanding performances he put in for us on his way to his 105 goals in 205 games.
"Earnie", as he is affectionately known by his fans, is most definately a cult figure at Cardiff and the day he was sold was a sad day for all. Several times since there has been talk of his return, and although we have had a number of excellent strikers in his place (Jerome, Fowler, Hasselbaink, Chopra, Bothroyd, Bellamy to name but a few) no-one, not even the much loved Chopra, has surpassed his level of success or his cult status.
Some may now feel some level of trepadation over Earnshaw's age and fitness, and have some doubts over his ability to lead Cardiff to where they want to be. My answer to those would be to ask them to consider his influence in other aspects other than his on the pitch performances.
Earnie is a real character, and is someone who has never been in trouble and always applied himself in the correct way. He will have a positive influence on the dressing room and will be a great role model to young players coming through the ranks.
With regards purely to his ability ON the field, he's hardly a spent force. He is 30 years old; traditionally 29-31 are regarded as the prime years for a striker. It's only in the last decade or so that we have got used to seeing strikers playing at high levels of football regularly by the time they are 21. Even if he has lost a bit of pace, he had plenty to start with.
In three seasons at Forest, he managed to find the net 45 times, and new manager Steve McLaren, who knows a thing or two about football, was keen to get him to sign a new contract, and McLaren was not alone.
Celtic, West Ham United, Blackpool and Birmingham were all interested in signing him. Three of those teams have only just come down to the Championship from the Premiership, and one is team who regularly plays Champions League Football. Maybe we are lucky to have him after all.
All in all, I would say that today is a great day for fans, and I have no doubt this will inject a bit of buzz back into the stands at the start of the season as Bluebirds will no doubt to see their favourite son once again "do the Ayatollah".
I myself am on my way now to order myself a brand new Cardiff City shirt with "Earnie" on the back.


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