1828: He Should Do Well: Daniel Gabb
by : Paul Grech
The hype that followed Spurs’ signing of young defender Michael Dawson at the tail end of January’s transfer window was such that it left the impression that they had just bought a player capable of forming an immediate partnership with Ledley King at the heart of their defence.
And, whilst there’s no doubting Dawson’s potential, the fact that so far his first team appearances at White Hart Lane have been limited clearly indicates that in fact he is far from the finished product.
All of which will have been of little surprise to regular observers of the Championship who were well aware of this. Even more, most will tell you that when Spurs signed him, Dawson wasn’t even the best central defender outside the Premiership.
That honour belongs to Cardiff’s Daniel Gabbidon. Despite the Welsh club’s current struggle against relegation, the lanky defender has continued to excel and build on the impressive showing of previous years.
Naturally, the sceptics will point to the difficulties faced by Gabbidon’s former team-mate Rob Earnshaw at West Bromwich Albion as an indicator that players who look great outside the Premiership don’t necessarily carry their form in it.
Yet at the same time there is also the example of Tim Cahill, a player who was repeatedly overlooked until David Moyes decided to take the plunge. Now the £2 million he spent on him looks like the wisest investment he’s ever made in his managerial career.
And there’s no doubting that Gabbidon falls into Cahill’s category. This for the simple reason that he’s already shown what he can do against some of the leading strikers in the world.
A regular Welsh international, he has never looked out of his depth even when faced by much more experienced and vaunted players. Gabbidon matches the speed that is so vital for modern defenders with a good footballing brain that allows him to anticipate passes rather than being forced into making last ditch tackles.
His form must leave WBA fans wondering what possessed their club to sell Gabbidon for a mere £800,000 especially as he had shown early signs of promise in their first team.
Whilst it has been evident for quite some time that Cardiff were living beyond their means, it is only in recent weeks that the extent of their troubles has come to light. Indeed, the sale of key midfielder Graham Kavanagh was reportedly forced on the club so they could cover their short term expenses.
In the past, owner Sam Hamman declared that Gabbidon wouldn’t be sold. Now, however, that appears unlikely so much that in all probability he will be one of the first to go. Cardiff fans have already braced themselves for this move, although the probable cut-price transfer fee that can only be expected for a club in such a perilous situation – it is unlikely that they would get anything like the £4 million Spurs spent on Dawson – still makes it more of a galling proposition.
Already, Blackburn Rovers have expressed an interest in Gabbidon and former Wales boss Mark Hughes certainly doesn’t need any convincing about the defender’s potential.
Other suitors should eventually come to the fore. So far, however, only other mid-ranking Premiership sides seem interested. But rather than this being a negative assessment of Gabbidon’s potential, it is yet another damning verdict of the current trend at top clubs that look abroad in the search for potential recruits.
What The Fans Think
No one knows the potential of Daniel Gabbidon more than the fans who see him play every week. We’ve been on the forum of the site Bluebird to the Bone asking the fans what they think of their star defender. Here’s what they had to say.
It is little surprise that a recent FourFourTwo article voted Daniel Gabbidon as the 6th best player outside of the Premiership in domestic football. Since moving to Ninian Park from West Bromwich Albion for an eventual fee of £800,000 in 2000 following brief loan spell, Gabbidon's profile has rose and rose and his superb defensive process has been a nucleus to Cardiff City's progression through the Football League.
With over 200 Bluebirds appearances to his name, Gabbidon has established himself as one of the best defender's in the clubs illustrious 106-year history. He is composed and confident at the back and has taken the challenge of Third, Second, and First Division football in his stride. Mark Hughes handed him his Wales debut against the Czech Republic in 2002, and he now one of the first names on John Toshack's international team-sheet.
Gabbidon possesses great pace, and though he has been accused of being to casual in his approach, is evidently improving as each season goes by. His versatility is a huge asset having covered every defensive position in his short career, though he shines at centre-half. The Cwmbran-born 25-year-old is also being touted as a future captain with his leadership abilities clear to see as he helps develop centre-half partner James Collins to be an equally excellent defender.
Sam Hammam's foolish antics with the chequebook have seen the club enter a financial recession, and Gabbidon looks set to leave at the end of the season to ease crippling debts of £30million. A host of clubs including Celtic, Rangers, Fulham, Everton, Charlton Athletic, Ipswich Town and Wigan have all be linked with the services of the Welsh international and it is no surprise after a very successful career in South Wales thus far.
Chris O’Brien, editor of Bluebird to the Bone website (http://www.sportnetwork.net/main/s120)