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Kenwyne Jones vs Hull City

Cardiff City columnist Scott Johnson shares his frustration at star striker Kenwyne Jones, claiming he's capable of dominating at Championship level.

Plenty have felt the need to jump to the defence of Kenwyne Jones in recent weeks, but my thoughts on him can be neatly summarised by an extract from Harry Redknapp’s autobiography: ‘Always Managing.’

Reflecting on his time in charge of Southampton, Redknapp states: “In pre-season training, we did a bleep test and Kenwyne was beaten by my assistant Kevin Bond. Kevin would have turned 50 that year. He outran Kenwyne.

Relating another anecdote to emphasise his point, Redknapp claimed that Jones asked to come off in a pre-season friendly at Bournemouth, claiming it was too hot.

By way of a summary, Redknapp added: “He had all the tools — a great spring, good pace and power in the air.”

His frustration, which I share, was that with a little bit more application, he could be so much more.

I recall Dave Jones bemoaning his budget at one stage during his time in charge at Cardiff City, stating that he wished he could sign a striker of the calibre of Jones, but didn’t have £5m to spend.

Kenwyne went on to be a prolific Premier League striker, albeit for a brief period, but it’s a long time since he was getting linked with the likes of Liverpool, moving to Sunderland for £6m and Stoke for £8m.

When Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took charge, he seemed to immediately target Jones. Maybe he was picturing the player that was still in his prime when Solskjaer left Manchester to take charge at Molde. The player he signed was a very different proposition.

Jones was not exactly the most popular member of the Stoke squad and few were sorry to see him go.

Since joining Cardiff, Jones has been on his best behaviour, but his performances have not always been much to write home about.

Despite this, he has always been a popular member of the squad amongst fans and is a potent threat on his day.

But should Cardiff supporters be expecting more from Jones?
After underwhelming during the second half of Cardiff’s disappointing season in the top flight, expectations for Jones were lower than a snakes belly ahead of last season.

But he scored on the opening day and went on to become a fixture in the side. He was mystifyingly loaned out towards the end of the season, but many were happy to see him return in the summer.

If I’m honest, I’ve never really warmed to him and there are a number of reasons for this.

Firstly, I still remember how formidable he was at Sunderland and when he first joined Stoke.

I know age catches up with you, but Jones is only 30, not 35. He is about the same age as Peter Whittingham who is often considered past it by some supporters, but remains a hard-working, model professional.

These days I think he is probably better suited as an impact sub.

Eddie Howe is considered one of the brightest minds in English football and he never started Jones when on loan at Bournemouth last season.

Jones has become something of a deluxe Adebayo Akinfenwa, the man mountain striker at AFC Wimbledon, which makes me a bit sad because Jones should be far more than that.

Dominating and terrorising
Rather than earning unintentionally patronising praise for executing basic tasks, he should be dominating games and terrorising opposition centre backs.

Redknapp’s comments were from a decade ago, when Jones was barely out of his teens, so clearly a lack of work ethic is nothing new and he is not going to turn into Alex Revell any time soon.

But it is impossible not to relate his performances back to his undoubtedly hefty salary.

Some will argue that as long as he’s scoring, he is justifying his selection and that is a perfectly valid point. But to get the best out of Jones, you have to play a certain way.

He’s not going to work the channels, so you have to hit it long and directly at him. He’s certainly a handful at this level and a lethal weapon when scoring, but when he’s not scoring, he’s an expensive luxury.

His current contract expires in the summer and Cardiff appear keen to agree a new deal on reduced wages but with greater incentives. That sounds like a very good idea to me, but they may find it difficult to get his salary down to an affordable level.

The signing of Idriss Saadi should keep Jones and Joe Mason on their toes, which can only be a good thing. Saadi will certainly get the opportunity to impress in the coming weeks.

If he thrives and proves to be as good as Russell Slade will hope he is, Jones may find his place under serious threat.

Maybe these factors were the inspiration behind arguably his best game for Cardiff in the 2-0 loss against Hull on Tuesday. Jones looked up for it and it was great to see, but he now has to maintain those high standards.

The ball is his court. Jones will certainly have a big role to play in the narrative of Cardiff’s season. Just how big is up to him.