After a much-publicized drama, Cardiff City Manager Malky Mackay was finally fired on Friday by Vincent Tan. It was a move that surprised nobody, despite it being a wildly unpopular decision among fans and players alike. The battle between coach and owner has been playing out in the media for weeks, and behind the scenes for far longer. After losing on Boxing Day 3-0 to Southampton, Tan was given the opportunity he had been waiting for to get rid of the popular manager. Despite a reported meeting scheduled to be held on Saturday between Mackay and Tan, the Cardiff manager was relieved of his position Friday. Mackay has been firm in his resolve not to resign as manager, despite being asked by Tan on December 15th and told that he was facing termination. Speculation has been rampant that Tan might relent from his ultimatum after news of talks between the two camps were reported just prior to Boxing Day. All of the talk is silenced now.
The battle between Mackay and Tan has been traced by some back to a conflict that arose in early October over player bonuses. Mackay reportedly kicked Tan out of the Cardiff City dressing room, telling him that he was not welcome there even if he was the club owner. Another report surmises it was Mackay laughing at Tan’s suggestion that Cardiff players ought to shoot from the center line more often in order to score more goals that poisoned Tan against the manager. It has also been suggested that the primary conflict rested with a dispute over who was responsible for how much money was spent in the acquisition of new players and the add-ons that might have brought the contracts over the intended budget. Regardless of the actual reason, the decision to fire Malkay Mackay as manager of Cardiff City FC is one in a line of unpopular decisions by Vincent Tan.
Tan, and the Malaysian consortium he represents, has not made many popular decisions. In fact, his decision not to fire Mackay after the 3-1 loss to Liverpool on December 21st was hailed as his most popular one yet. With the reversal of that decision, there is renewed interest in what has been perceived by most fans of the South Wales club as a campaign to change the character of the club. Tan has been accused of being indifferent to the voice of Cardiff fans with the decision first to change the club colors from blue to red, and then to change the club emblem from Bluebird to Dragon. He has been accused of indifference to his own fan base since his arrival. Friday’s decision has added fuel to that particular fire with a vengeance.
Mackay led Cardiff City into the Premier League for the first time in its history. For that alone, he will be remembered fondly by fans. His much-publicized defiance of the unpopular owner has elevated him to near-martyrdom in their eyes. Whoever follows Mackay as manager, and the rumor mill suggests that it might be Ole Gunnar Solskjaer of Molde, will face a difficult battle to win the hearts and minds of the Cardiff faithful. A vote of confidence from Tan will not endear anyone to disappointed fans. Without a doubt, Cardiff City FC has not seen the end of its manager controversy at all now that Malky Mackay has been fired.
By Jim Malone