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‘Tis the season to be jolly – unless you are Malky Mackay. His two-and-a-half year reign at Cardiff City could come to an end at any time over the festive period as his relationship with club owner Vincent Tan has been damaged beyond repair.
Malaysian businessman Tan has never been afraid to make unpopular decisions since buying the Bluebirds. Changing the club’s home kit to red simply because that colour is regarded as lucky in Far Eastern culture was a notable example. The subsequent promotion achieved by City made this step a self-fulfilling prophecy.
This latest episode, which is progressing inevitability to the sacking of Mackay, has made Cardiff a circus – and one that borrows elements from Dickens’s A Christmas Carol. We have Tan, who can easily be likened to Scrooge.
No longer seen by sections of Bluebirds supporters as the benefactor that helped them finally gain Premier League status, he is now vilified as a miser that refuses to pledge “a single penny” to the club in the January transfer window.
Outraged, in the best Dickensian and Victorian traditions, by overspending this past summer, he summarily sacked Cardiff’s head of recruitment Iain Moody in October. Mackay has been vulnerable without such key support in the hierarchy ever since.
What Tan did not bank on is that Mackay is made of sterner stuff. He is a manager in his own image as a player – the centre back carved from Glaswegian granite that will never die. Mackay reiterated his refusal to resign as Bluebirds boss after losing at Liverpool.
There is only one outcome short of Tan being visited by three ghosts on Christmas Eve. The past evokes memories of Cardiff as choke artists that were found wanting in their desperate bid for promotion. Mackay changed that.
Present strained relations have soured those images of parading the Championship title through the streets of the Welsh capital, however. And the ghost of Christmas yet to come could paint a very bleak picture indeed for Bluebirds fans.
Cardiff’s worst fears that their top flight status, which they worked so hard for, could be briefly savoured and abruptly lost – all because Tan will not dip his hand in his pocket. Gambling the future on a change of coach without financial backing could easily lead to ruin.
You get out what you put into the Premier League. Just don’t expect Tan to buy Tiny Tim a goose on Christmas Day.
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