Solskjaer top target as Tan axes Mackay for 'exposing dirty linen'
Cardiff City owner Vincent Tan ended one of the more bizarre chapters in Premier League history in aptly controversial fashion by claiming that it was Malky Mackay who was to blame for his dismissal for "exposing" "far too much dirty linen to the public gaze".
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is the clear favourite to replace Mackay as the Cardiff manager. Turkey manager Yilmaz Vural has also been linked with the post.
Mackay said last night: "I leave with my head held high. I thank the people of Cardiff who have stood behind me throughout my time here and especially in these recent turbulent months."
Mackay's assistant, David Kerslake, will be in charge for the visit of Sunderland today, which could see the Welsh club fall into the drop zone.
It should prove an uncomfortable day for Tan, a man rapidly becoming the Premier League's patron saint of unpredictable owners, having changed the club's shirt colour from blue to red, as well as their logo.
Tan is due to meet four members of the Cardiff City Supporters Trust at 1.0 and another protest is planned, which is expected to be much larger than the approximate 500-strong crowd who demonstrated outside the Cardiff City Stadium before the St Stephen's Day match against Southampton.
Despite that 3-0 reversal and the fact that Cardiff sit one point off the relegation places with three defeats in the past four games, the Malaysian's statement is not likely to appease the support.
Mackay became the first manager to lead Cardiff into the top division in more than half a century. In his two and a half years in charge, he also took Cardiff to the 2012 League Cup final, in which they were beaten on penalties by Liverpool.
All that seemed a long time ago when Tan revealed what had become grimly predictable at lunchtime yesterday.
"There has been a good deal of publicity generated by, and about, Mr Malky Mackay for the last few months," Tan's statement read. "I have deliberately not responded to this, hoping that the club can be judged on its football rather than personalised arguments. I have, however, regretfully concluded that it is no longer fair to the club, its players, its fans and the public for this uncomfortable state of affairs to continue. Cardiff City Football Club means far too much to us all for it to be distracted by this."
Tan's logic is hard to work out, although it is clearly based in his ignorance of the workings of professional football. The 61-year-old had no previous known interest in football before investing in the Welsh club in 2010.
Initially, he enjoyed a warm relationship with Mackay. After winning the Championship by eight points, whispers began to circle about Tan's wish for more influence in the playing side. Mackay believed he could handle Tan telling him to advise players to shoot more from long-distance after watching Mark Hudson score from 68 yards.
Yet soon the meddling took on a more sinister tone. Iain Moody was removed from his post as director of recruitments, replaced by the 23-year-old Kazakh Alisher Apsalamov, a friend of Tan's son, who had previously been seen painting fences at the stadium.
No official reason was given for the departure, but it was obvious that Tan felt Moody was responsible for what he perceived as overspend of £15m on the club's transfer budget. Tan claimed that the club had spent £50m on transfers after being given a budget of £35m. Moody and Mackay denied the claims.
As Cardiff held their own in the league, the furore died down. But when Mackay said he wanted to recruit three players in January after Cardiff's 1-0 win against West Brom three weeks ago, Tan reacted with an email which listed what he saw as Mackay's failings and told him he should "resign of be sacked".
Mackay declined but, with Tan promising "not a single penny" for transfers, he realised his time was all but up. The email was leaked to the media and so the end-game was set in motion.
Tan met Cardiff chairman Mehmet Dalman in London yesterday morning. Dalman had believed he had persuaded Tan to hold off, announcing on Sunday that Mackay's job was safe "in the forseeable future". But Tan insisted that Mackay leave immediately.
Mackay will expect to receive up to £3.5m in compensation. He was linked with the vacant role at West Brom, although should West Ham lose at home against the Baggies today then it is understood that Mackay would be high on the Hammers' wish-list, with their boss Sam Allardyce under mounting pressure. (©Daily Telegraph, London)