By all accounts Malky MacKay is a good guy. He is certainly a good motivator and tactician, and an excellent communicator, unburdened by the airs and graces normally associated by managers in the self-appointed Greatest Show on Earth. None of this saved him from the sack, though, accused of running riot with the cheque book in the summer.
Cardiff City certainly ran riot, spending in the region of £50m to help prepare for top flight football. If, as owner Vincent Tan alleges, the spend was unauthorised, Cardiff have a management control problem, not a problem with the manager, who is within his rights to spend whatever money made available to him.
‘Bluebirds’ fans are united on Malky’s side, they are equally united against owner Tan, who appears wholly unsuitable to control a football club. Changing their strips from blue to red, as red is the colour most associated with Wales, tells you all you need to know about Tan and where he will ultimately take the club, but the extravagance of the summer has already set Cardiff off on the road to rapid decline.
Every club should anticipating making mistakes in the transfer market, it is part of the territory, but they need to be able to afford those mistakes. Cardiff’s summer signings allowed for no mistakes. The totem was Andreas Cornelius, recruited from from Copenhagen for an outrageous £10m. The player received a five year contract worth more than the transfer fee. He’s only 20. Cornelius also earns more than seven times his salary at Copenhagen, no one will be able to afford to take him from Cardiff, his 18 career goals, all in Denmark, suggest he’s simply not worth anything like money he’s on.
If you’re Cardiff City, here’s the problem when you try to recruit for top flight football: after 50 years in the wilderness, you’re favourites for the drop. Players with other top flight options will take them, you’ll have to pay over the odds to convince players to sign on. You’re also shopping in a market you have absolutely no experience of – making mistakes more likely.
Spending £10m on a striker was possibly a sensible idea for Cardiff (I can imagine how popular it was, any sane voices would have been whistling against the wind) but what striker, genuinely worth £10m, would go there without being ‘bribed’ with copious amounts of cash? I’m aware of the parallels with Celtic, which £10m striker would come to Scotland?
They could have received 50 knock-backs before doing a deal in Copenhagen. This pattern was replicated across the rest of their summer spend. They should have invested their Premier League windfall on long-term development, irrespective of the short-term consequences.
For the sake of the club’s fans I hope they survive but inadequate controls at board level, with an owner seemingly intent on self-destruction, a rapid decline through the leagues seems inevitable, sooner or later.
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