Football comment: Charles Dickens's famous Tale of Two Cities may have sold millions of copies worldwide, but it’s the story of two strikers from south Wales that’s now gripping the attention of football fans.
Cardiff City’s Rob Earnshaw and Swansea City’s Danny Graham arrived at their respective clubs with great expectations, but have since fallen on hard times.
And as we head towards the second-half of the January transfer window both face big decisions about their future.
Earnshaw has netted 109 times in 217 appearances for the Bluebirds, making him the capital club’s second top scorer. But since rejoining Cardiff in the summer of 2011 Earnshaw has been frozen out by manager Malky Mackay, initially it appeared for tactical reasons.
After returning from a recent loan spell with Israeli club Maccabi Tel Aviv, the Scottish boss has made it clear Earnshaw won’t even be allowed to warm the bench under his leadership, perhaps pointing to a more personal dispute.
That decision left Earnshaw free to appear on the Soccer AM couch last Saturday.
Asked where, not if, he would be moving in this transfer window, Earnshaw admitted he desperately wants to play any part possible in Cardiff’s march towards the Premier League.
But Wales’s own “Zambian Prince” isn’t even being selected to play in the reserve team.
Whatever Malky Mackay thinks about Earnshaw’s style of play, he is a born goal scorer who could at very least make crucial cameo appearances in Cardiff’s promotion bid. In fact, “Earnie” first gained fame at Cardiff as something of a supersub.
Earnshaw’s enduring quality in front of goal is the reason former Cardiff boss Dave Jones is so keen to attract the 5ft 8 poacher to struggling Sheffield Wednesday.
Cardiff meet Wednesday at Hillsborough in mid-March and if the transfer goes through I’ll be rushing to the bookies to back Earnshaw to reap his revenge.
Although, if Earnshaw does score against the club he loves you can put your last pound on the fact he won’t celebrate with his trademark somersault.
While Earnshaw remains adamant he wants to stay in south Wales, it is reported that Swansea’s Graham has been agitating for a way out since signing-of-the-season Michu arrived at the Liberty Stadium.
After scoring 12 Premier League goals last season Graham believes he deserves first-team football.
Sunderland and Reading are among the clubs chasing Graham and, while in the short term the striker might bask in the adoration he would receive from a new manager and fresh set of fans, neither club are safe from the drop.
While the Black Cats may only have one dependable striker, hard-working Steven Fletcher won’t surrender his starting berth without a fight.
And Reading’s new Russian owner Anton Zingarevich was instrumental in signing fellow countryman Pavel Pogrebnyak to lead the line for the Royals and the Russian frontman bagged a crucial last minute to steal three points against West Brom on the weekend.
Graham has still secured 16 Premier League appearances this term and since scoring in three of Swansea’s last four matches things are starting to look up for the Englishman.
With Michu almost certain to attract attention from the England’s top clubs in the summer, Graham would be better served to stay and fight for his place in Swansea, who will continue their Premier League progress next season.
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