Regular readers of Commentary Box Sports’ football coverage will no doubt be aware that last season we commented quite frequently on the madcap antics at Cardiff City. We were in disbelief as we watched Malky Mackay being publicly humiliated by owner Vincent Tan, who essentially told him to resign or be sacked (for clarification, this was all played out in the public arena).
Once Mackay was gone, it really was intriguing trying to figure out who Tan would get in to replace him. Mackay was doing a fine job at the Cardiff City stadium, and looked to have more than a reasonable chance of avoiding relegation, so we were keenly awaiting the announcement of the manager that Tan had enlisted to try and continue Mackay’s work and stay afloat.
Then the news came in – the new Cardiff boss is Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
I commented at the time that this was nothing but a PR move, and so it has proved, with the Norwegian leaving his post this week.
Don’t get me wrong, I like Ole. I loved him as a player, and I have always found his enthusiasm and positivity infectious and – more to the point – refreshing.
But no genuine football fan could ever have possibly thought that there was any part of Ole that had earned that shot at managing a Premier League team. The plain facts were, this was a man who had never managed an English top-flight club; in fact, a man who had never even managed a Championship club. Okay, so he’d won the league in Norway, but since when has performance in Norwegian football ever been the barometer for anything?
As Solskjaer signed on the dotted line, I was 100 per cent positive it was a move that would end in disaster; and so it has proved, with the ‘Baby Faced Assassin’ presiding over a relegation and an abysmal start to the Championship season that has seen Cardiff pick up only eight points from their first seven games despite having one of the more expensive squads in the division.
Let me clarify: I don’t blame Ole for taking the job. It was offered to him, and he took it. Good luck to him – I’d do the same in similar circumstances. What I do blame are chairmen and owners who think that PR is more important than performance. Men who don’t understand football, who think that if they hire someone who is popular among the fans, everything will somehow be fine.
Football really isn’t like that.
Look at Newcastle, and the short tenure that Magpies legend Alan Shearer had there. Shearer was the man tasked with saving them from relegation, and what happened? He took them down.
Shearer was even more unqualified than Solsjkaer, but the situations are similar – desperate owners vainly hoping that if they hire a legend everyone will love them again and forget about the fact that they’re essentially responsible for the club’s demise in the first place.
My heart goes out to Solskjaer, who departs with his reputation in tatters, and leaves a reminder to other owners of what happens when you hire someone to make your fans like you – as opposed to hiring them because they happen to be a good football manager.
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