I’m not aware of ever having bought a copy of the Daily Mail in the whole of my life and in the past fortnight the paper has shown exactly why that is the case. However, credit where it is due – the Mail were, by far and away, the most accurate newspaper, both local and national, when it came to reporting Cardiff City’s transfer dealings during the summer. Therefore, when the paper ran with this story last Friday, I had no reason to disbelieve it.
There did seem to be a contradiction in the story though in that club Chief Executive Simon Lim’s comment right at the bottom of the piece gives the impression that the matter had been dealt with around three weeks earlier and the tone of the article suggested that the row over bonuses may have been resolved. However, the players still didn’t want Vincent Tan in the dressing room on match days – thereby suggesting that, on one side of the dispute at least, the bad feeling caused by it still lingered.
If we take what Simon Lim says as the truth, then City played four matches in between the resolution of the dispute and the Daily Mail story appearing and, a dismal first half at West Ham in the League Cup apart, I saw nothing to even remotely suggest that the dispute was impacting on team performance.
However, that first half showing against Newcastle on Saturday was different. My piece on that match is below this one and you can see from the name I gave it that I thought there was something not quite right about the side’s attitude. I struggled to find an explanation as to why this should be, but I still think that wasn’t a Malky Mackay Cardiff City side we watched in the first half – something was missing when it came to spirit, competitiveness and drive.
Could it be that this story from the same paper published overnight offers an explanation for Saturday’s first half no show (as well as seeming to offer evidence that the bonus issue rumbles on)? I suppose the fact that Iain Moody has been suspended (it does say “club sources” have confirmed this) could be totally unrelated to the row over bonuses, but, I tend to belong to the no smoke without fire school of thought when it comes to matters like this at football clubs. I’m of the opinion that it’s not a coincidence that the man who, presumably, negotiated contracts on behalf of the club, is suspended within days of the first Daily Mail story appearing.
Once again, I feel that I need to preface what I say by acknowledging the possibility that Iain Moody might have been caught doing something he shouldn’t have been and that his suspension is justified on disciplinary grounds. Even if this is the case mind, it doesn’t explain the bizarre choice as Mr Moody’s replacement which, surely, sends out all of the wrong signals if you are a foreign owner/investor who wants to be taken seriously in the UK footballing environment?
In the interests of fairness, I should say that Wales Online’s take on the matter says that Alisher Apsalyamov has been appointed in an “acting capacity” - it also says Iain Moody has been suspended, but later it says he has “left his post”. Therefore, I suppose it could be argued (not by me mind!) that having a 23 year old friend of Vincent Tan’s son who, seemingly, has no experience in the world of football (except, allegedly, “shadowing” Iain Moody for some months) as our Head of Recruitment while we are nearly three months from the next transfer window opening is not that bad a thing.
I beg to differ. I like to put at least one other picture besides the one that always appears at the top of any piece I write on here because it breaks up what is often an awful lot of text, but there won’t be one this time because my intention was to include a picture of our new Head of Recruitment until I tried Googling his name and found absolutely nothing there for him. If I added the word Cardiff, then all of the stuff that’s come out overnight as a result of the Mail article appears, but all those stories do is rehash the original one, there’s no additional info about Alisher Apsalyamov anywhere – one other issue in passing, the aforementioned Simon Lim has been appointed acting Finance Director, acting Chief Executive and acting Chairman within the last year and, as far as I’m aware, he’s still doing the first two of those jobs.
I don’t know if Malky Mackay was consulted over Iain Moody’s suspension. My guess is he wasn’t, but I feel very confident I’m right when I say that it’s hard to see how he would have agreed with the choice as Mr Moody’s replacement.
So, even if you put the most charitable of interpretations on the club’s (i.e. Vincent Tan’s) actions in the whole bonus row and the suspension of Iain Moody, it’s hard to see how Malky Mackay can be happy with developments since Friday. In fact, I would argue that there is every chance that he is considering his position at the club and if he were to leave, I strongly believe that a large proportion of the staff with footballing experience would go with him – so, who would we be left with to try (and probably fail!) to persuade the “powers that be” at the club not to make a ridiculous appointment like the one we almost got before Malky took over.
Even if things don’t turn out as I fear they will and Malky stays on at the club, it’s hard to avoid the feeling that there will be another Vincent Tan induced flashpoint some way down the line in the coming weeks or months. There’s also the fact that our widely admired young manager might feel less inclined to sign any new contract the club offer him after what has happened to a man he hired at Watford as well as Cardiff and who he has previously described as the most important person at the club.
I daresay there are a few people around this morning who feel vindicated after learning of the story which broke overnight and, truth be told, it appears that they have a right to. However, one thing which I think has become pretty clear over the past eighteen months or so is that the numbers who have stopped going to games in protest at the re-branding are not high enough to have any real influence on Vincent Tan’s position at the club. If fan power is ever going to lead to him considering whether to leave the club, then an awful lot more of the reluctant reds as they are called would have to change their thinking quite radically for the numbers to become big enough to make this a possibility.
As always, I cannot speak for others, so I can only give my thoughts on these issues. As someone who has become a lot more anti red since “scarfgate” and who now admits he got a few things wrong when the re-brand was first debated so much during the summer of 2012, I still don’t agree with those who advocate trying to force Vincent Tan out purely on the issue of re-branding.
However, if as seems likely, Vincent Tan has decided to start meddling in footballing matters, then my attitude changes. The clubs which enjoy sustained success don’t do so because they have the owner or Chairman telling the manager where he is going wrong every five minutes, they do so because the football people make the football decisions.
No one should deny that Vincent Tan played a big part in our success last season, but, as far as the football side of things goes, he’s like a sponsor who provided all of the best paints, brushes and other equipment for an artist and said to him “paint me a masterpiece”. Now, I’m sure there are some who moaned about our style of play last season who might argue that Malky and his support staff didn’t produce a masterpiece, but you get my drift – what they came up with was, far, far more impressive than anything a man who has only got into football in the last two or three years could have produced.
If the best manager I’ve seen at the club feels his position has been undermined by our largest shareholder’s (that’s all he still is as far as I’m aware) interference to the extent that he decides to leave us then I’ll join any campaign for Tan’s removal from the club. I’d do so fully aware of the possible consequences of him leaving, but would figure that Vincent Tan would soon have us in as big a mess if he kept on thinking he was better qualified to make footballing decisions than the professionals hired to do the job.
Although our finances would, almost certainly, still be in a precarious position if the man left and took all of the money he has put into the club with him, we would have the benefit of at least a season’s Premier League money (and four years worth of parachute payments) to soften the blow somewhat and, while a takeover would be expensive for any potential new investors, we might be surprised at how many people would be prepared to buy into a club with Premier League status who are getting 27,000 in for every home game.