Sport Soccer

Tuesday 24 October 2017

Derby delight gives Cardiff respite from off-field issues

CARDIFF CITY 1 SWANSEA CITY 0

Joe Lovejoy

The first Premier League match between Welsh clubs was no classic but Cardiff and their supporters, who have waited so long for their turn at the top table, cared not a jot after claiming local bragging rights with a goal from Steven Caulker, the centre-half who spent the 2011-12 season on loan at Swansea.

It was a result Cardiff needed – only their second win in eight league matches since that epic victory over Manchester City.

The goal, after 62 minutes, saw Caulker outjump Chico Flores at the near post to head home Craig Bellamy's corner.

It was a lift the club needed. In recent weeks Cardiff's supporters have been preoccupied with events off the field, notably the contretemps between manager Malky Mackay and the club's owner, Vincent Tan.

The schism first manifested itself in the sacking, against Mackay's wishes, of his head of recruitment, Iain Moody, and his replacement by Alisher Apsalyamov, a 23-year-old footballing novice from Kazakhstan, who had been painting the stadium as a work experience trainee at the start of the season.

Apsalyamov's appointment took on a farcical aspect on Thursday when the Home Office discovered he had no work permit and ordered him to stand down, temporarily at least.

REVELATION

Further disquiet among fans followed the revelation on Friday that Etien Velikonja, the Slovenian striker for whom Cardiff paid NK Maribor £1.7m, was signed by Tan, not by Mackay or Moody. Plainly not up to the standard required, Velikonja has made only three league appearances in 16 months and none since promotion to the Premier League.

Swansea, meanwhile, go from strength to strength, a model of how a club should be run. The board have hired a series of excellent managers whose teams have produced an attractive brand of football that continues to win new friends wherever they go.

And having put good men in charge, they let them manage, free from the boardroom interference that has reared its ugly head at Cardiff.

In a further contrast, the Swans showed a net profit of £15.3m on the year ending May 31, 2013. Meanwhile, their great rivals owe a potentially ruinous debt to Tan, who charges interest on it.

All that said, it was not Swansea's day. They huffed and puffed in search of equality and Wilfried Bony, on for Michu, prodded wide at close range and Jonathan de Guzman threatened with a free-kick that Marshall spilled before recovering. The Scotland goalkeeper was more impressive in repelling a piledriver from De Guzman before attention focused on the other 'keeper's rush of blood.

Irish Independent

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