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Page last updated at 20:06 GMT, Saturday, 17 May 2008 21:06 UK

Kevin Ratcliffe's column

Kevin Ratcliffe
By Kevin Ratcliffe
Former Wales and Everton FA Cup winning captain

Cardiff have done the fans, the country and themselves proud. They were absolutely fantastic.

Peter Enckelman looks on in vain as Kanu's winner goes past him in Wembley
Enckelman gets sympathy - but Ratcliffe says City need a keeper
They gave Premier League side Portsmouth a run for their money, gave everything and were out on their feet at the end - you can't ask for more than that.

Cardiff's achievement was getting to Wembley, there was only ever an outside chance of winning.

But it could have been so different...

The Bluebirds deserved something from the first half, yet they were the ones who made the mistake - and it cost them.

People will look to blame keeper Peter Enckelman for Kanu's decisive goal, but there are plenty of other players to consider.

When you step up a level you need to know all about the opposition you are facing - and full-back Tony Capaldi should have known that John Utaka, who put the cross in for the goal, is all right foot.

Caroline Cheese
Capaldi should have done better and sent him inside - and Stephen McPhail should have been shouting and helping him, but the captain was nowhere.

Even when the ball got to the box, Roger Johnson should have been in front of his man.

Maybe Enckelman was watching for a deflection, but the ball travelled a long way. He made the final mistake, and as a keeper he'll always get the blame.

As a team there are times when you don't want half-time to come, and for Cardiff this was one of them.

The likes of Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink and Paul Parry stiffened up after the break, and the Bluebirds never recovered their tempo.

There were none of the surging runs we've come to expect from Parry - he couldn't get in behind Sol Campbell.

Credit has to go to Harry Redknapp for the second-half turnaround

The second half was a poor spectacle of a Cup final for any neutral, it was not good entertainment.

Portsmouth snuffed out the Bluebirds threat up front, and credit has to go to Pompey manager Harry Redknapp.

The Cardiff midfield looked completely lost in the last 45 minutes. Gavin Rae and McPhail were in two minds whether to surge on or hold off. They couldn't fathom it out.

Portsmouth had been playing 4-3-3, but in the second half it was more like 4-5-1.

The change confused the Welsh side. Their wide players pushed onto the Cardiff full-backs, who could no longer get forward.

But Bluebirds fans can be proud, especially of Joe Ledley.

Joe Ledley
Ratcliffe says it is time for Ledley to move up to the Premiership
His levels of consistency - with Cardiff and with Wales - have been fantastic for the last two seasons.

He was up against an established Premier League player and England international in Glen Johnson, and on Ledley's performance I think it's time for him to move on from Cardiff and test himself at the highest level.

I think that Ledley would be happy to stay in Wales next season while Aaron Ramsey, another Cardiff talent, would be disappointed if he was still with the club.

But I don't think Ramsey is ready for the Premier League yet.

He would be better off staying at Ninian Park, where I'm sure he would be a regular next season.

The important thing for Cardiff manager Dave Jones is that he knows what is happening to his squad as soon as possible so that he can formulate his recruitment plan.

I know from bitter experience of losing with Everton to our closest rivals Liverpool that Wembley can be one of the most difficult places in the world to be

Based on his current squad, I think he needs a keeper, another striker and maybe another midfield player.

If Cardiff hadn't had to sell their best players in recent years, I think they would already be a Premier League team.

You can only express sympathy with them over that - and the fact that they had to make the long, loser's walk over the Wembley turf.

I know from bitter experience of losing with Everton to our closest rivals Liverpool that it's one of the most difficult places in the world to be.

But Cardiff were lucky. Following the re-design of Wembley they only had to walk about half as far as I did!

Kevin Ratcliffe was speaking on BBC Radio Wales

see also
Portsmouth 1-0 Cardiff
17 May 08 |  FA Cup
Jones proud of beaten Bluebirds
17 May 08 |  FA Cup
BBC pundits on the FA Cup final
17 May 08 |  Premier League
BBC Sport Wales coverage
23 Mar 08 |  Wales

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