Feeney hopes his Cardiff switch was worth the wait
IT was a deal nine months in the making – and even then it went down to a nervous final few minutes on deadline day.
But Liam Feeney is confident his long-time-coming Cardiff City move will prove worth the wait as he aims to become the latest Neil Warnock success story.
Wideman Feeney was left hanging on the telephone on deadline day, his loan switch from Blackburn Rovers still not formally completed with less than 10 minutes to go over the summer window.
The 31-year-old may have been forgiven for thinking that his hopes of arriving at Cardiff City Stadium may have been dashed again having been the subject of Bluebirds interest in the January.
Yet, before the FA’s fax machines had been switched off, Feeney got the confirmation he needed to travel from Lancashire to Leckwith.
Now, as he prepares for a potential home debut against Sheffield Wednesday, Feeney is aiming to follow the kind of journey taken by Kenneth Zohore and Nathaniel Mendez-Laing, attackers who have improved under the watchful eye of Warnock.
“The size of the club speaks for itself, but I’m sure I’m not the only one to say the gaffer is a massive draw here,” said Feeney of the attraction of the loan opportunity offered by the Bluebirds. “It’s been in the pipeline a couple of times before previously, so it’s pleasing to actually get here and get to work. It means a lot he wanted me to work for him and, hopefully, I can do well for him and the club.
“I’ve been aware for a while he wanted me. The interest shown in January was there and this window was a bit different and didn’t actually come through until right at the end, but I was pleased it finally happened.
“It was a bit too late to make the journey down, so we did the paperwork up north, but it’s not a nice day; it’s an exciting day for everyone else, but being actually involved can be quite stressful.
“We got the call late in the day, I hardly had time to speak to anyone, we had to get the right things signed and make sure it got done, but once it was over the line I could get excited about it.”
It’s not being disrespectful to Feeney to say late deadline-day links to him didn’t get too many pulses racing among Cardiff supporters.
After all, he had struggled to nail down a starting berth with Blackburn following their relegation to League One, with Tony Mowbray all but claiming he wasn’t a part of starting plans.
Yet Warnock knows what he wants and was convinced Feeney – and his 200 games at this level after starting out in non-league – would offer him something, just as he could offer the golden touch he has shown others with talent to bring to the fore.
Zohore was on the fringes and ready to be farmed out to Belgium before Warnock got hold of him, while Mendez-Laing has seized his chance since signing on a Bosman-free from Rochdale, named the Championship’s player of the month during Cardiff’s surge to the top of the table.
Warnock, a former winger himself, now has Feeney to work with.
“He seems to love his widemen, he wants to encourage and get the best out of them which is exciting for me,” admitted the man who has second-tier spells at Millwall, Bolton, Ipswich as well as Blackburn before signing on in South Wales until January 1.
“Everyone can see his enthusiasm and love for the game, his encouragement and man-management is excellent. I’ve been here a couple of weeks and already I feel ten feet tall.
“It’s exciting to think it will be like a few months down the like and what performances he can bring out of me.
“His love of football and especially for me the way he likes his widemen and attacking players to play is a big draw.
“At the same time, he’s mentioned a few times his days as a winger and you know his demands – but it’s great because you don’t want to be mollycoddled, you know you have to perform because the squad is strong. It’s nice to have the confidence, but you know once you get in you have to repay it and perform. That’s the challenge.”
Feeney has made a good start, setting up Danny Ward for the equaliser at Fulham last weekend and coming off the bench in the defeat to Preston and now pushing for a first start.
He added: “I want to improve and I think he can help. I know what I’m capable of and, with the right kind of guidance, a manager like him is going to get it out of me.
“I’ve made an OK start, but there’s a lot more to come.”