On Friday, Malky Mackay was dismissed from his post as Cardiff City manager when the devious Vincent Tan decided to sack him following a 3-0 home defeat to Southampton. It was an expected end for the Scotsman, who guided Cardiff to the Premier League last season. The Malaysian had given him an ultimatum of ‘resign or be sacked’ the previous week following some comments on potential signings in January. In his two years at Cardiff, Mackay managed a win percentage of 43.20% over 125 games in charge of the Welsh club. Speaking in response to Friday’s announcement, Malky admitted he was disappointed that his reign had came to an end:
“As disappointing as today’s decision is, I am already able to look back at my time at Cardiff City FC with immense pride and joy given the number of milestones the club achieved during the last two-and-half years.”
The sacking was inevitable, but harsh. After guiding the club to the top flight for the first time in over 50 years, Mackay deserved more time than a few months at the beginning of the season. Cardiff had picked up points early on and had looked like a side able to compete comfortably in the Premier League. The saga started and ended by Tan getting rid of Malky Mackay could have disastrous consequences. Cardiff had been progressing smoothly before Tan decided to put pressure on Mackay for a few bad results.
He showed his nous for management, and despite the sacking being harsh and disappointing for Mackay, it may not be a totally dire situation. He will now be a leading candidate for most vacant positions in the Premier League and Championship should any need filling. After working his way from Watford to Cardiff, he could yet take the reigns of his home country in a few years time when Gordon Starchan calls time on his tenure as Scotland manager. For Cardiff defender Ben Turner, there’s no time to dwell on the sacking and he believes they just need to push on:
“He would have wanted us to look forward and carry on. We’re at the halfway point [of the season] and I think we’re in with a good chance of staying up.”
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who was seen at the 2-0 defeat Arsenal with owner Vincent Tan, was appointed as Mackay’s successor on Thursday. The Malaysian owner is expected to give Solskjaer £25m to keep Cardiff City in the Premier League. The Welsh club currently sit in 17th place, just a point above the relegation zone without a win in four league games. Solskjaer has yet to test himself in first-team management outside of Norway, where he has won two league titles with Molde in 2011 and 2012. He first stepped into coaching with the Manchester United reserves, who he guided to the Premier League Reserve title in 2010.
It will be interesting to see if he brings any of his Molde players to Cardiff. Jo Inge Berget was impressive in the UEFA Under-21 Championship in 2013 and seemed very capable of making the switch to a higher level from the Tippeligaen. Solskjaer’s move may bring an influx of Norwegian players into Cardiff City, but whether Tan would approve is questionable. Time must be given to Solskjaer; for a manager who has moved from the Tippeligaen, the Premier League is a massive step up in terms of man-management and coaching. As a well respected figure in English football, Solskjaer does have the influence to motivate a side. He can fall back on his great triumphs with Manchester United, such as the 1999 Champions League win.
It may not be a match made in heaven from the off, but if he could keep Cardiff City in the Premier League after the turbulence between Mackay and Tan, he will deserve some real credit for picking up a side that are currently rattled by recent events. It will be intriguing to follow the results of Vincent Tan’s ruthless decision. Perhaps it could move them on to the next level like Southampton’s bold move to sack Nigel Adkins and replace him with Maurico Pochettino, or it could end sour like it has for so many other clubs in the past. Ultimately, if it doesn’t work out, Tan will take his money and walk out from Cardiff. He would leave behind a club that, with a strong owner, could be an established Premier League club for years to come.