The questions were originally set before Malky Mackay’s bizarre final bust-up with Cardiff’s unappealing owner Vincent Tan. The relevant question ended:’And is Mackay/Vincent Tan a marriage made in heaven or a mismatch doomed to an explosive end’? Cue hasty rewrite and lots of reflection by our Cardiff City interviewee, Mike Morris*, ahead of Saturday’s game. Mike, like Monsieur Salut, contributes regularly to ESPNFC.com’s club-by-club blog pages …
Salut! Sunderland: Malky Mackay seemed to be on his way earlier in the season, then he talked confidently about getting the money to strengthen in all areas in the transfer window. Now the whole sorry saga has exploded. Your assessment of what’s been going on? And have you all got over the change of colours which many took very badly, or is just a matter of having to lump it because the owner’s doesn’t give a hoot what you think?
In 2012, Cardiff City fans, myself included, tolerated the change of club colours from the traditional blue to red. At the time a story was painted that the club needed to be red, or it would be dead. However, it turns out that the trampling of the Bluebirds’ identity was just on the whim of Tan and his liking of the “lucky” colour red. The rebrand has caused divisions among the fans ever since, but promotion to the Premier League was seen as a victory for the change.
Yet all along there has been an underlying unease at the rebrand. Many fans walked away from Cardiff, to be replaced with “plastic” fans, who are just happy to see the Premier League. Many others have felt guilty that they didn’t do enough to stop Tan from imposing his wishes.
It’s taken until this week, and the ultimatum to Malky Mackay that he should resign or be sacked, for the fan base to finally rally together and make a statement against Tan. It should have been done when the colour change was announced, but the ominous threat of extinction and the lure of £100m saw the majority elect to swallow it despite the bitter taste.
All the while Mackay went about his job, and even those who questioned his acceptance of the change (some believe he should have quit when the club’s identity was destroyed) watched on as he took the club to the Premier League when others had failed.
For many, Tan overstepped the mark this week with his threat of sacking Mackay for apparent “overspending” and “poor tactics.” Tan’s naivety did not factor in that £35m on players does not guarantee a top-ten place in the Premier League, but it gives you a damn good chance of surviving.
Mackay has retained his dignity this past week and has overcome the humiliation heaped on him by his employers.
Now the fans have made their statement and Tan will finally be aware that his way is not always the best way. The supporters have stood up to the owner and made their objections known. Something the people advising Tan have failed to do, and something the supporters should have done in May 2012.
We’re feeling as you’d imagine we would about our first 17 games. Seven points ahead as I write, with fine home performances against both Manchesters, Cardiff will still be looking over their shoulders but are you broadly happy with the start to your Premier season?
It’s been a steady start. We picked up bonus points against Man City, Everton and United but gave away potential points with defeats against (at the time) a struggling Newcastle and Aston Villa. The defeat at Palace was also a poor result. From my own expectations we are doing OK to be aiming for 20 points come the midway point of the season.
Does anything about Sunderland’s predicament, or the abrupt end to Paolo Di Canio’s stormy reign, surprise you?
Di Canio’s appointment was always likely to end in a drama. As an existing Premier League club I’m surprised you are rock bottom of the table but not surprised it didn’t work out with Di Canio.
Tell us who the greatest players you’ve seen – or wish you’d seen – in any Cardiff colours. Are you too young to have seen John Charles?
Way too young to have seen John Charles. I thought I was going to see a legend play for Cardiff when Robbie Fowler signed. Sadly I was disappointed. To see Craig Bellamy sign for Cardiff was just incredible and he scored a screamer on his debut. With the 1927 FA Cup final the club’s biggest trophy to date it would have been nice to that side play with Fred Keenor as captain.
Who should have been allowed nowhere near a Cardiff shirt? And what did you make of Michael Chopra, who seems to relish his bete noire status with Sunderland supporters?
Would it be unfair to name Robbie Fowler again? Chopra was a good servant to Cardiff. He has his demons but in a City shirt he did bloody well.
What have been your own highs and lows watching Cardiff City?
In recent years Wembley has played a part. The joy of winning at Middlesbrough in 2008 to claim a place in the FA Cup semi final at Wembley and then beating Barnsley in that semi final was just incredible. The Stadium then saw Cardiff play there three more times in the following years and lose each time. An FA Cup final defeat, a play off final defeat and the cruelest loss on penalties against Liverpool in a Carling Cup final. This season I think beating Man City and a first ever Premier League away win at Fulham were pretty special.
Do you have good, bad or amusing memories of any past encounters between our clubs?
I can recall going to the Stadium of Light and being beaten 2 – 1 so that was not very good. And I recall a game at Ninian Park where Sunderland fans disrupted (I think it was a minute’s silence) and the club had to apologise.
What will be this season’s top four in order and, being as brutal as you must, who is going down?
If one or both of our clubs failed to appear in your top and bottom lists, where will they finish?
Cardiff will be 14th
Brazil 2014: excited, uninterested or just too concerned about club football to have given it much thought?
Looking forward to all the football that will be on TV and will have a chuckle if England hype themselves up to the point that they blow their chances and moan for the next two years about it.
What most inspires you, and what most appals, about the modern game?
Seeing your team score a goal, win a match and climb the table is like a drug. You never tire of it. On the other hand seeing some individuals use clubs for their own benefit and indulge themselves in the massive amounts of money makes some things obscene.
Will you be at our game and what will be the score?
I will. I think the fans’ support of Malky Mackay could urge Cardiff on to a 2 – 0 win.
* Mike Morris on himself: I have supported Cardiff since 1973 when I first went as a fresh faced seven-year-old. Now 40 years later, a lot more cynical, I still go despite being unhappy with the rebranding of the club. Since 1997 I have run www.cardiffcity.com , an unofficial website that joined up with FootyMad in 2002. I tolerate the changes happening at Cardiff City Stadium but hope one day the Blue returns and so do the many fans who feel they can’t go while the team plays in red.
** Mike’s ESPN articles can be found at http://espnfc.com/blog/_/name/cardiff-city?cc=5739
Interview: Colin Randall
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