The temporary truce barely lasted 5 days as Mackay leaves Cardiff Christmas is a time of surprises but the sacking of Malky Mackay yesterday certainly wasn’t one of them. As internal disputes at the Welsh club rumbled on for the past couple of weeks it was inevitable that the whole sorry episode would end with the manager being relieved of his duties.
In yet another saddening display of the madness of football owners, Vincent Tan has sacked the first manager in 50 years to lead Cardiff City to the top flight of English football and who has left them in a respectable 16th place. Looking as an outsider it is difficult to see what it is that Mackay has done to deserve such treatment. Rewind back to April of this year as Cardiff drew with Charlton to secure promotion to the Premier League. It was a vindication of the club’s belief in appointing a promising young manager and signaled exciting times for the club.
Tan had previously pledged to invest substantially should Cardiff gain promotion and whilst few fans welcomed some of the changes foisted upon their club, such as the change of their home colours along with their badge, these were far easier to swallow whilst toasting to a season of playing England’s top clubs.
The summer saw substantial investment, such as the signing of promising young center half Steven Caulker from Tottenham Hotspur and the irascible and tenacious Gary Medel from Seville, and many felt that with a talented manager in Mackay, they could look forward to the season ahead with promise.
Victories against Manchester City, respectable draws against Everton and Manchester United and a significant win over fierce rivals Swansea City saw Cardiff remain out of the bottom three and looking good to securing top flight survival, the holy grail of all newly promoted clubs. However, seemingly out of nowhere, all of the early season promise started to unravel in early December when the tense relationship between Tan and Mackay was revealed to the public. The stability of the club had already been tested with the sacking of Mackay’s trusted head of recruitment Ian Moody a few weeks prior and it seems the negative response from the fans prompted Tan to show his hand.
In a statement delivered by chief executive Simon Lim it was revealed that Moody was sacked due spending £15 million more than the clubs transfer budget. Furthermore, due to such spending, no money would be made available for Mackay to strengthen in January. Immediately suspicions were raised.
Whilst delivered by Lim there can be little doubt that his strings were merely being pulled by Tan. No doubt too that Tan had to authorise the alleged overspend seeing as he is the main money-man at Cardiff so to raise the topic three months into the season, with the transfer window well and truly bolted shut, seemed fatuous. The only reasonable conclusion is that such a statement was released with the sole intention of unsettling Malky Mackay.
Recent reports have suggested that Tan tried to influence team selection and tactics and was unable to understand why Mackay was taking all the plaudits from the fans whilst he, the man who’s money Mackay was spending, remained in the background.
The changing of the clubs colours, the changing of the crest, the attempts to influence the team, the bemusement at the lack of adoration directed towards him; all of this points towards Tan’s desire for power. In the fine tradition of Scotsmen who’ve managed in the Premier League, Mackay came across as a robust and uncompromising character, a man who would broke no nonsense, no interference, and this is what would have driven Tan’s desire to force him out of the club.
In the statement announcing Mackay’s sacking, Tan stated that ‘far too much dirty linen has been exposed to the public… not by me’. He went further to say that ‘Cardiff City Football Club means far too much to us all for it to be distracted by this’, seemingly totally oblivious to the fact that ‘this’ was largely his own doing.
Ole Gunnar Solksjaer looks to be the favourite to replace Mackay and if reports are to be believed he’ll be handed anything up to £25 million to bolster the squad in the January transfer window. The fact that Tan is willing to give substantial backing to a new manager but not to Mackay demonstrates further that Mackay’s sacking was down to a clash of personalities. Time will tell whether or not Tan has made the right decision but should Cardiff fail to survive and return to the Championship after one season in the top flight his own vanity will at least be partly to blame.