Tan undermining Mackay’s efforts at Cardiff

Iain Moody was inexplicably sacked by Cardiff City's owner Vincent Tan

Vincent Tan is not a man who pays too much attention to feelings. Unless they concern his business, that is.

The man who became extremely unpopular in the Welsh capital after deciding that the blue that had accompanied Cardiff City Football Club for 113 years did not fit his commercial purposes in the Far East and had to be changed to red has gone a step further this time, replacing the head of recruitment with one his friend’s son.

If the news sounds farcical it’s because it is.

The Malaysian’s decision to replace head of recruitment Iain Moody with Alisher Apsalyamov, a 23-year-old Kazakhstani with virtually no experience in football, has left many baffled in Cardiff and not just because Cardiff’s new head of recruitment was in charge of the stadium’s maintenance as little as three months ago.

Apsalyamov is well known to Tan, having attended the same – obviously extremely expensive – Swiss finishing school than the Malaysian’s son studied at, but while Apsalyamov’s academic credentials might be well know to Tan, they won’t be enough to reassure Cardiff’s manager Malky Mackay.

Seven weeks into their first Premier League campaign, Cardiff sit rather comfortably in 14th place, a point above arch-rival Swansea and with Manchester City’s already on their belt.

Having led the Bluebirds to the League Cup final in 2012 and to first place in the Championship last season,  Mackay had overseen a steady start to the season so far, but things could soon get messy in the Welsh capital.

While Cardiff’s nemesis, Swansea, are an example of a well-run, ambitious, football club, Cardiff are at the opposite end of the spectrum. 

Granted, Tan’s money has proved crucial to the Bluebirds’ transformation from Championship also-rans into Premier League reality but, like many of his fellow entrepreneurs-turned-chairmen, Tan has become too involved with the club, thus threatening to ruin what his finance had helped to achieve.

Moody was instrumental in bringing 25 players to the club, including summer signings Gary Medel, signed from Sevilla for £11m, Steven Caulker, who arrived from Tottenham for £9m and Andreas Cornelius, signed from FC Copenhagen, £8.5m.

Furthermore, the former Cardiff’s head of recruitment was one of Mackay’s strongest ally, having worked with the Scotsman at Watford prior to Mackay’s arrival in Wales in June 2011.

While nobody can question Tan’s willingness to invest in the club, his decision to be heavily involved in dressing room’s issues irked many of the players, who decided they had enough of their owner after a row erupted regarding their end of the season bonuses.

One only has to look at Alan Pardew’s situation at Newcastle to understand how crucial it is for a manager to feel supported by the club, rather than constantly undermined, but at the moment Tan seems intent to isolate Mackay – who’s now 4/1 to be the next Premier League manager to be sacked, after being 20/1 yesterday – for reasons known only to himself.

At the start of the season Cardiff looked to become the new fairytale of English football, now they look set to become the latest casualty in the list of clubs that have fallen to their owners’ misplaced ambitions.


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