“Having been the highest-spending promoted club and the seventh-highest spender in the Premier League last summer, the owner believes that the manager has been given the best possible chance of retaining our Premier League status.”
As far as Christmas cards go, Malky Mackay could have done without receiving Vincent Tan’s, for the Malaysian’s statement sounds more like a paraphrased P45 than a letter wishing Mackay and his family all the best for the festive season.
The Cardiff manager has been walking on thin ice for sometime – as would, for that matter, anybody who came across the Malaysian businessman – but with Cardiff hovering perilously over the relegation zone – the Bluebirds are four points clear of 18th-placed Crystal Palace – Mackay had hoped to strengthen his squad in January.
Tan is a hugely unpopular figure in the Welsh capital, with fans either openly loathing him or merely tolerating his presence in virtue of the money he’s poured into the club’s coffers since arriving in South Wales.
In fairness, most newly promoted could only dream of embarking on the sort of spending spree that characterised Cardiff’s summer, with Mackay recruiting the likes of Gary Medel, Steven Caulker, Kevin Theophile-Catherine and Andreas Cornelius.
However, while the former three have been successful addition to the squad, the latter has struggled to adapt to English football and has only appeared four times in the Premier League – all of them as a sub – after missing three months with injury.
Sizeable though the investments were, Tan’s philosophy betrays his limited football knowledge, for the footballing industry, these days, ruthlessly disposes of those who stay still.
One only has to look at the last two seasons to realise how important it is for smaller clubs to spend to improve their squad and, more importantly, to spend astutely – which Mackay has largely done so far.
Reading failure to strengthen after their promotion in 2012 sealed their fate before last season even kicked off, a destiny that could soon be emulated by Crystal Palace and Fulham – West Ham could potentially be in the mix too, unless they find a striker.
While it’s true that spending sprees do not guarantee improvements, let alone safety – as QPR proved last season and as Sunderland have so far done this year – it is panic buying that normally condemn teams, rather than planned, pondered recruitment.
Mackay isn’t the first manager to refused funds by his chairman, but it’s the manner of Tan’s refusal that spoke volume for the increasingly sticky wicket the Cardiff manager has found himself on.
Furthermore, Tan’s latest outburst comes only months after he sacked Cardiff’s head of recruitment, Iain Moody, and replaced him with a 23-year-old bereft of experience in football who was then, mercifully, relieved of his duties himself.
Mackay, summed up the predicament common to all teams fighting to avoid relegation: ”You have a choice,” said the Cardiff manager.
“Do you invest knowing you have a really good chance of staying up or do you invest knowing you might go down and then have to build again?”
Unfortunately for him, and ominously for Cardiff, the choice seems to have already been made.