Sad departure of a decent man who I hoped would succeed at Cardiff City.

CoymayOn 9 April Cardiff City manager Ole Gunnar Solskjær kept an appointment to meet members of Cardiff City Trust despite his beloved Manchester United playing the Second Leg of the European Champions League Quarters Finals at the same time as the meeting. About forty of fifty fans turned up four days after the disastrous 3-0 home defeat by Crystal Palace which had many City supporters believing that there was no way relegation could be avoided. From memory, there were people there who thought he should be sacked and others, like myself, who had serious misgivings about him but believed he should have the chance to to put things right in the opening months of the 2014/15 season in the event of relegation.

The meeting lasted an hour or so and Ole got the chance to watch the second half of the Man United game, but, although references to the match became something of a standing joke as the event went on, he gave full attention to the questions he was being asked and was honest and open (more than I expected him to be actually) in his answers. I cannot speak for everyone at the meeting, but I was very impressed with our manager that night, he came across as enthusiastic, determined and fully committed to the club.

After the meeting, and not for the first time, Ole had me hoping that he would do very well at his club, not just because it was my club, but because I liked the man and thought he deserved success.

Unfortunately, even after his impressive performance in front of that fairly small band of City fans, it was a hope I had that he’d get things right, not an expectation, because, while you could listen to the rhetoric and believe what the manager was saying (in my case because I so wanted to believe it), it only took a few days before reality would set in. Then you saw a manager and team struggling, and failing, to provide the entertaining, winning football that was supposed to replace the dour, but more successful in comparison, stuff Malky Mackay’s side had been serving up in the autumn.

The first half of last season was played out against a backdrop of complaints about a lack of entertainment from the team as they looked to cobble together the points to keep us up by playing defensively while relying on set pieces to provide the goals that were nicking us the odd win or draw. At the time of Ole’s appointment in January, I think it was probably true to say that the feeling was that he might not keep us up, but at least it should be more entertaining from now on.

Truth be told though, I never came out of too many of the matches Ole had charge of feeling entertained – sure, there were more goals to see than there used to be and the encounters with Liverpool and West Brom were easier on the eye than almost anything Malky’s side had come up with a few months earlier, but with us conceding at a rate of almost two and a half goals a game, there was not much to get enthused about – in fact confused was the more appropriate word!

“Too nice to be a manager” is a phrase you hear when someone loses their job and maybe it applies to Ole Gunnar Solskjær. Our former manager often looked frustrated and bemused on the touchline, but he nearly always had a smile on his face when he met the media afterwards – it was hard to find anyone with a bad word to say about the man.

Ole didn’t have charge of too many games, but other City managers only needed a few to imprint their philosophy on the team. Ole’s predecessor is a excellent example of this – within weeks of him taking over people could talk of Malky Mackay’s Cardiff City and, good or bad, you knew what they meant (much the same could be said about Jimmy Scoular, Jimmy Andrews, Len Ashurst and Frank Burrows to name a few more).

Nearly nine months after his appointment and after thirty matches in all competitions in charge, could any supporter claim to know what Ole’s tactical thinking was or what his preferred means of setting his team up were? For me, the word I mentioned earlier was most appropriate – I was confused before games by his selections, confused during them as I tried, and almost always failed, to work how we were trying to beat our opponents and confused after them as I tried so hard to find anything worthwhile to take out of the match which suggested some promise for the future.

To be honest, it started going wrong for Ole right from his first league game in charge – addressing the crowd ahead of a crucial six pointer against injury hit opponents in woeful form didn’t seem the best of ideas at the time and the atmosphere soon fell flat as City made an unconvincing and nervy start which gave West Ham the confidence to think they could get something out of the game – the new manager had started with exactly the sort of result that gets sides relegated.

It’s ironic that it was just about the only match I can remember where an Ole team tore into the opposition right from the start which probably marked the beginning of the end for him. At half time against Norwich on Saturday I would say that it was inconceivable to think that Ole would be out of a job five days later, but when you look at the statement from the club today confirming his departure, there are clues which suggest that the writing may well have already been on the wall for him.

At the time I paid little attention to the fact that former Gillingham, West Ham, Watford, Newcastle and Norwich manager Glenn Roeder was at Saturday’s match, but when he was also present on Tuesday for the Middlesbrough game there seemed a bit more to it. The Supporters’ Trust have also issued a statement about their meeting with Mehmet Dalman and Chief Executive Ken Choo on Tuesday afternoon which contains the following;-

“We had been told at previous meetings that the club was looking to bring someone with considerable football experience into the boardroom and it was interesting to see Glenn Roeder at the recent Middlesbrough match. Mehmet is keen not to create any conflict with a manager but said that there are still ways of getting some additional advice and experience into the club.”

So, we have a statement about our manager’s departure in which both sides admit to a “a difference in philosophy of approach to the game”, an older, former manager at our last two matches and our Chairman, apparently, keen not to create any conflict with a manager but saying that there are still ways of getting some additional advice and experience into the club.

The man the fans want - Tony Pulis supported City as a boy, has never been relegated in his managerial career and won awards for his work at Crystal Palace last season - it sounds too good to be true that there might be such a candidate for the job and I think it probably is for all sorts of reasons.

The man the fans want – Tony Pulis supported City as a boy, has never been relegated in his managerial career and won awards for his work at Crystal Palace last season – it sounds too good to be true that there might be such a candidate for the job and I think it probably is for all sorts of reasons.

Now, it may be that these differences of opinion were down to Vincent Tan wanting to pick the team as some are suggesting, but it seems far more likely to me that our inexperienced manager was thought to be struggling by senior figures at the club (a completely reasonable conclusion to come to in my book given our results and the money Ole had been given to spend on the team over the summer) who reckoned he needed some informal help in the form of an ex Premier League manager. If that was the case, then I could fully understand Ole not being too happy about this if he hadn’t agreed to it and so you have the circumstances which made today’s news pretty inevitable.

All of this is pure guesswork of course, but, whatever these differences between owner and manager were, I think it’s probably best that Ole has gone sooner rather than later – performances and results were getting worse and I have to say we have had the look of a side that will be struggling at the bottom of the league more often in matches than when we looked like a potential promotion chasing team.

A change now means that there is still plenty of time to turn around the season, but hopes of an immediate appointment have been dashed with the news that Dundee manager Paul Hartley, who it seems was the club’s first choice, has said he has no interest in the job and so Scott Young and Danny Gabbidon will be taking charge for Saturday’s testing game at Derby.

As to who will eventually get the job, I haven’t a clue, but I’d be very surprised if it turned out to be Tony Pulis.

Anyway, despite spending much of this piece being critical of Ole’s management, I hope my opening few paragraphs made clear that there was a lot I liked about him as well – usually when a manager has left the club with a record as poor as Ole’s was, my reaction has been good riddance, but I genuinely mean it when I say that I hope his managerial career recovers from this setback, that he learns from this experience and he goes on to prove that he has more to offer than he showed at Cardiff.

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7 Responses to Sad departure of a decent man who I hoped would succeed at Cardiff City.

  1. Robert Williams says:

    Hello there, Well said the comments you made were certainly I hope the view of most supporters I don’t anyone has the right to bring into question his football prowess his record as a player speaks for itself a Legend on the pitch and an extremely likeable off it. I wish him well and hope he has the opportunity to manage another team soon a get the success he deserves.
    cheers bobw

  2. Mike Crocker says:

    Very good Bob, top form again.

    Your reference to Ole’s first match against West Ham I remember only too well. I had my head in my hands as he addressed us, thinking “please don’t do this”. From that point on it’s been a disaster. I too wish Ole well, just too nice and too inexperienced to deal with the task.

    Mike

  3. Dai Woosnam says:

    A thoroughly comprehensive summing up of the Ole 9 months’ reign, Paul. Much thanks for it.
    I will just say this: I may have been calling for Tony P in 1999, but I can save my breath to cool my porridge now, I fancy.
    Keep your eye on what happens to Alan Pardew if the Magpies get defeated by Hull this weekend. I fancy that mighty club on Tyneside might be his new home.
    If that is the case BY FAR the best option is a chap I never liked or rated until this summer in Brazil.
    I always thought that Neil Lennon was a hothead, and worse a CHEEKY hothead with his entreaty to Cardiff to “get real” and pay the £12.5m he wanted for his Kenyan with the name I cannot spell and am too lazy to Google. Eventually Soton coughed up the absurd amount, and Vincent was proved wise in calling a halt to our bidding at £9.5m.
    Why Lennon showed immense chutzpah of course, was the fact that he had stolen two City stars for nothing! And here he was turning the financial screws on us! I was spitting nails.
    But listening to him on the studio panel in Brazil, made me realise that I never really had previously got the first CLUE about the bloke!
    He turned out NOT to be dour, but rather witty.
    But most remarkable of all were his insights! What a keen football brain!
    And he proved to be easily the most insightful pundit of ALL the pundits on both BBC/ITV.
    So if Vincent can get Neil Lennon, I know City will be hiring real quality, and most importantly, a manager who will not be afraid of upsetting the occasional player in his squad and reading them the riot act!
    Kindest,
    Dai

  4. The other Bob Wilson says:

    Mike and Robert, thanks very much for your comments – I’m glad to see Ole leave in many ways, but have no desire whatsoever to “put the boot in”.

    Like you Dai, I’ve warmed to Neil Lennon somewhat since he left Celtic and would have no complaints if he became our new manager, but I don’t like the sound of some of this morning’s stories;

    http://www.express.co.uk/sport/football/512313/Clash-with-Cardiff-owner-Vincent-Tan-cost-Ole-Gunnar-Solskjaer-his-job

    http://www.dailystar.co.uk/sport/football/400564/Cardiff-could-become-a-no-go-zone-following-Ole-Gunnar-Solskjaer-s-departure

    http://www.mirror.co.uk/sport/football/news/cardiff-manager-search-square-one-4282861?

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/football/29259956

    Might be rubbish, but I fear getting someone good enough to turn things around might not be as straightforward as just waving a hefty pay packet in his face.

    Paul

  5. ROD GROVES says:

    Good morning read all to days comments and we all agree ,Oli is a nice man and a lovely thing to have said about you when you have just left the managers job at the mighty CARDIFF CITY in a total mess and a 3 million pay off ,great work if you can get it ,how this clown ok a nice clown ended up manager of Cardiff i do not know, but he says we have a lot of very talented players WE WILL SEE.Quite frankly he would be ok as a scout leader, nice man good with kids, but not involved with the scout football team that would be a bridge to far ,from day one he has been totally out of his depth lost confused and clueless ,i find it very sad that i think he was so confused he did not really understand how bad we have been under his control, like we have all said nice man but not the manager of CARDIFF CITY .

  6. Dai Woosnam says:

    Paul,
    I have to congratulate your contributor Rod Groves on making me laugh fit to burst 5 minutes ago with his gloriously funny line:
    “Quite frankly he would be ok as a scout leader, nice man, good with kids, but not involved with the scout football team: that would be a bridge too far”.
    Very good indeed. Still shaking with laughter now.
    I am trying to work out WHY it is so funny, and of course one shouldn’t.
    [I am reminded of the chap who wondered why the lark sang so beautifully ...so cut the throat of one in order to find out.
    Thus one must never analyse some things too much.]
    That said, I now will contradict myself and again run my eye over Rod’s excellent contribution: and (1 minute later) …having just done so, I now can see that his masterstroke is his choice of the last four words…”a bridge too far”.
    Touché, Rod !!
    Kindest,
    Dai.

  7. ROD GROVES says:

    Thank you Dai i am glade you enjoyed my post on Oli and i hope it gives a few fans a laugh i am just raping up Oli,s going away present it is a red nose and a pointy hat, i will send it to THE CLOWN NORWAY it will get there trust me.

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