Cardiff City owner Vincent Tan — a Malaysian businessman said to be worth $1.3 billion —- has proven somewhat meddlesome in the affairs of Bluebirds manager Malky Mackay, a situation the Observer’s Daniel Taylor likens to the undermining methods of such football cretins-with-cash as Flavio Briatore, Vladimir Romanov and former New England Patriots DB Terry Smith. “Back in the real world,” sneers Taylor, “nobody appears to have pointed out to Tan there has not been a football club owner yet who turned out to be an accomplished manager and talent-spotter all rolled into one.”
Cardiff’s fans are still waiting for a credible explanation for the decision to torpedo Iain Moody, Mackay’s director of recruitment. They will probably never get one, and the lingering sense of dissatisfaction is not particularly soothed by the fact that Alisher Apsalyamov, the 23-year-old Kazakh who was supposed to replace him, has now been paid a visit by the Home Office and warned off on visa issues.
The revelation that Tan went above his manager’s head to sign Etien Velikonja, a Slovenian forward, is even more alarming, especially when the player has managed a grand total of 73 minutes of league football in the 15 months since arriving, for £1.7m, from NK Maribor.
Velikonja’s one full match was the FA Cup third-round tie in January against Macclesfield, then 11th in the Conference. Cardiff lost in what was widely considered their worst performance last season and, looking at the various match reports, it tells its own story that he barely warrants a single mention anywhere. The South Wales Echo does, however, note that he “failed to impress” and “did nothing to put pressure on those above him in the pecking order”. Mackay tried him against Hull City on the final day of last season, substituted him at half-time, and the same newspaper awarded the striker five out of 10, the lowest mark in the team. Nobody can be surprised he has dropped completely off the radar since.