Cardiff City’s Problem Is Not That Mick McCarthy Was A Dinosaur . . . It’s That The Club Is Jurassic Park

Of all the strange revelations given to Cardiff City supporters groups last weekend in a meeting with chairman Mehmet Dalman, surely the least surprising was that owner Vincent Tan has a preference for “a direct style of football.”

Of course, he does. This is a man, lest we forget, who told the players when he met them back in 2016 to “shoot more”.

Providing secretly mined data previously unknown to club coaches and analysts throughout European football, the Malaysian billionaire said: “If you shoot 30 times you’ll get three goals, 40 times will be four goals, 50 times and you’ll get five goals.

“Have you seen ugly men walking around with a very beautiful wife? Well, that’s because they’ve asked 30, 40, 50 times before getting a yes.”

Presumably, Mick McCarthy must have got his wires crossed at some point because his last eight losing matches in charge of Cardiff City produced exactly one goal.

Have you ever seen an ugly football team walking around with five centre-backs looking for beautiful football? That’ll be the one managed by McCarthy.

With McCarthy’s bags packed by Tan after a brief phone call to his chairman post-match on Saturday, the Bluebirds are now looking for another manager.

He will be the eighth full-time appointment in the 10 years since Tan decided to get rid of Dave Jones in 2011.

What seems obvious to anyone who casts a glance at most of the successful Championship clubs during this decade is not that McCarthy was a footballing dinosaur. It is that Cardiff City is Jurassic Park.

Cardiff City manager Mick McCarthy. Pic: Getty Images.

The club are a throwback to pre-historic times when managers with forceful personalities roamed the footballing landscape, owing their status purely to the whims of individual owners or chairmen.

Big Ron. Big Jack. Big Mick. Appoint a manager. Let him dictate style, tactics, recruitment, everything. When it goes wrong sack him and bring in someone else.

Let the new man reverse the style, change the tactics, switch recruitment and generally move the giant tanker that is a modern football club in a completely different direction.

Cardiff have specialised in this approach, with a twist. They also add in a generational lurch for good measure.

So, Tan gets rid of old-school, experienced managers and replaces them with young thrusters. When they fail, he reverts to the old-timers.

Old school Scot Malky Mackay was replaced by wet-behind-the ears Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. He made way for safe-pair-of-hands Russell Slade. When those hands dropped it, in came another newbie in Paul Trollope.

That didn’t work, so the call went out to the grand-daddy of the old guard, Neil Warnock. Then, another rookie in Neil Harris. Then another greybeard in Big Mick. Old, new. In, out. Old, new. In, out.

There appears to be only one lever on Tan’s desk. It goes up or down. Forward or back. It does not move sideways.

This is not the way Tan runs his Berjaya Corporation with its myriad of businesses, each managed by specialists who run their companies in line with the overall corporate strategy.

No-one comes in, rips things up, and sets their own course out of personal preference. If you headed the Kenny Rogers Roasters franchise in Kuala Lumpur and woke up one morning with an idea to replace the chicken with tofu, you’d be dragged back to the corporate plan.

 

Former Cardiff players, coaches, media pundits, fans and anyone else with a passing interest in the club have been pointing out for years the lack of structure between the manager and the overseas owner.

Those clubs that have won promotion to the Premier League and managed to sustain success for some years – the likes of Brighton, Norwich, Wolves, Burnley and Swansea City – all have either a director of football or someone else in the club who maintains consistency and identity.

Managerial appointments, player recruitment, the playing style – it is all subject to a visible and identifiable plan.

At Cardiff, Tan is the plan. With some advice and input from investment banker Dalman or businessman and chief executive Ken Choo.

It’s a retro world, harking back to the days when the most successful businessman in town ran the local football club, as chairman, and the fans were meant to be grateful for his “expertise”.

It’s made worse by the fact that Tan’s own interest in the club appears to be waning. Even before the travel restrictions imposed by the pandemic, his visits to Wales had become infrequent and the financial taps that once ran freely appear to be drying up.

Relegation to League One would be a disaster for Cardiff, for the fans and for the city. It would also seriously further devalue Tan’s investment in the club at a stroke.

But Sunderland, Sheffield Wednesday and Bolton – big clubs in previous years – have all found that living in the past offers no entitlement to the future.

 

 

One thought on “Cardiff City’s Problem Is Not That Mick McCarthy Was A Dinosaur . . . It’s That The Club Is Jurassic Park

  1. Yes, interesting take on matters CCFC. Trouble is, doesn’t suggest a way out of this mess we are in. Except that it implies ejecting Tan and co and bringing in new owners is the answer.
    Do u know what, never in my 50 years of support has there ever been a boardroom and managerial set up that works at the City. Clemo was your archetypal local businessman who owned his local football club. He got banged up. Kenton Utilities managed the club from Newcastle with no money and they dragged us down. Then Mr Bojangles Rick Wright , who said he’d make us good and then sell- he did exactly that and cashed in on Blakey. In two years we got promoted and relegated. Then the Kumars, who thought Lee Jarman was the new Rio Ferdinand and Jason Fowler was the new Steven Gerrard. Then Sam- bit of a rollercoaster but who connected with the fans , the players and the media but not the Council and now Tan who got us to Wembley and twice to the Premiership.
    Few points. We are not the only club with a rich tapestry of success and failure. Look around you. The Jacks- From Struell to Doug Sharp ( two local businessmen) and The Wretch to the Yanks via some catastrophic managerial appointments, The County, Bristol City, Bristol Rovers, Wrexham and further afield, just about every club in British football. Stability and instability , success and failure, acclamation and condemnation, it is the DNA of football. Nobody seems to get it right forever.
    Meanwhile back at the ranch, we need to find a good manager who can help us fulfill our potential. They are out there and we have to trust the Board to get it right this time. That said, they did well with Malky and Moody until they misbehaved- I reckon we would have stayed up that year, and from then on who knows. So, get over it. The scenario of moving from one crisis to another is why we love football, and, as frustrating as it is , it is why we love the City. The successes obliterate the failures and a stock of new slates to wipe clean are lying in the storeroom of every football club. Lest we forget.
    Jurassic Park, yes , I accept that, but there are about 92 of them dotted around England and Wales so CCFC is far from unique.
    Be careful what we wish for. Discard Tan and we could well end up in free fall . Rather we support him and hope our new managerial set up works this time. Truth is, we have no choice

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