Liam Jones looks at City's 'once in a generation' talisman.
A place in the centre of Cardiff City's midfield hasn't been as hotly contested as it currently is for many a year. But the inimitable Peter Whittingham has been close to ever present.
Being the creative outlet in a team carries with it a large amount of pressure, and Whittingham has continually risen to the occasion. Under Malky Mackay, the midfielder's positional adaptation has been key to making the Bluebirds tick.
Considered by many as the best player in the British pyramid system outside of the Premier League (football magazine Four-Four-Two considered the Cardiff number seven the best according to votes from supporters who weren't allowed to vote for members of their own team), Whittingham's tactical role has changed from free scoring wide player to all action central midfielder. The art of the tackle has been woven into the player's naturally elegant psyche too, evident more than ever this season. The frightening thing for opponents is that aged just twenty-eight, he will continue to improve.
The Bluebirds have scored 60 goals so far this season, compared to 66 in total last year and Whittingham has contributed 7 – one less than leading scorer Heidar Helguson. He has 7 assists to date this term too, his set-piece delivery priceless with City's dominant aerial ability. Interestingly he has taken under half as many shots (58) so far this term, compared to last (120). This correlates with his tactical role – Whittingham sits deeper than previous campaigns, recycling possession and taking the ball off the centre backs, moving it patiently. Cardiff's success so far this year has shown that Malky has made the right choice in tweaking Whittingham's role – the team is winning and Peter Whittingham is at the heart.
His vision and creativity, as well as affable and shy demeanour around camp have made him a key figure at Cardiff City. Arguably the best talisman and creative lynch-pin we've have had in recent memory, Whittingham leads a team bulging with talent and sets an example with his exceptional contribution. Now in his seventh Cardiff City season, all connected to the Club and man would relish watching him at the highest level in term eight.