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management now less of a vocation thanks to money

BACK when Malky Mackay appeared to be the innocent victim in another case of a 'foreign owner with buckets of cash but not much common sense', my heart went out to Cardiff City supporters.

Now I know that there was more than met the eye to that whole saga. From what I've read, Mackay and Iain Moody had good reason to drop their compensation claim and Vincent Tan was fully justified in showing them the door.

And now that I note that Iain Moody had become embedded in Crystal Palace, and Mackay had been widely tipped as the new manager there, my heart goes out to Tony Pulis.

After performing a management miracle, he walked out of Crystal Palace on principle and I gave a mental cheer when I heard that.


My heart still goes out to the Cardiff City hardcore. They've been getting it from both sides. Don't forget Tan has been messing with the club identity and traditions that have been around for a long, long time.

Unless you lived the life in England and been among football fans, you can never understand what it means in a community.

Imagine if a rich businessman from China was given the Dublin GAA franchise and decided to change the colours to green and gold because his father thought they were lucky. That's the impact of what Tan and others have tried to do.

He's no saint in all of this and a perfect example of the kind of opportunistic businessman who simply doesn't understand the nature of the product he has invested in and believes that he can do, essentially, what he likes.

In pure commercial terms, it's his club and he can do what he wants but the pursuit of power and profit has never been a good motivation to buy a football club.

Fans are not interested in profit and that's why they have stayed loyal and funded the whole operation for the 111 years before Mr Tan spotted an opening and decided he wanted a new play-thing.

The problem is obvious. Both the Premier League and later the Champions League were founded on greed and what is good for the top clubs is now the driving factor for smaller operations with owners like Mr Tan.

We have examples of it now across the game in England and the two bodies that could do something about if the Premier League and the League Managers Association - sit and watch football clubs battered and bruised by financial adventurers.

The managers would chew off each other's arms just to get their leg in the door at a Premier League club, never mind if a colleague has just been shafted.


And the stench of wrongness about the whole thing has never gone away. Management has always been edged with seediness and it doesn't surprise me that lads like Jamie Carragher and Gary Neville are sitting in television studies and not out on training grounds.

In my day, Carragher would have ended up at Tranmere playing out his days and not on Sky. He wouldn't have had enough money. Football was his job and he had to keep going.

Likely as not, he would have been given a chance to coach at Tranmere and over the course of time, might have fancied a manager's job. That was the process.

But now, lads like Carragher retire with enough money to live like kings. Management is a nasty business and why would they bother?

The massive salaries now available to players is now impacting on both ends of the cycle. Young players get paid too much and lose their hunger early and players who might have once been considered management potential now point the finger at a screen and talk.

It could well be that men like Pulis and indeed Martin O'Neill will be the last guardians of the gate when it comes to standards. Ireland's manager walked out of Villa Park on a point of principle.

O'Neill is getting down to the wire now in his new job. The clock is ticking now to Tbilisi.

Watching Anthony Stokes put in a good shift for Celtic in Maribor in midweek reminded me that O'Neill had a squad to name.

I thought Stokes did well and helped give them win a great position for the second-leg in Glasgow which could have been even better with a touch more adventure. But they are lucky to be in the competition and Celtic will be happy with their lot.

O'Neill has had a long run-in to Euro 2016 and plenty of time to make up his mind about the players he wants and talent at his disposal.


He will be using a process which he had honed and refined as a player and then in the lower leagues as a coach before his talent brought him to a bigger stage.

It takes time to build a management career and hunger to do it. It's almost a vocation, though anything but a virtuous one, and I believe that money has broken the chain.

The best candidates won't want to do it.