Malky Mackay sacked: Revenge is a dish best served cold for Vincent Tan as proud Mackay bows to the inevitable

To the fans Mackay remains a messianic figure, viewed as the best manager the club has ever had

Malky Mackay ushered Cardiff City’s autocratic owner out of the dressing room door during a dispute over players’ bonuses at the beginning of October, and from that moment Vincent Tan was determined to reciprocate in spades.

A team man to the core, Mackay brooked no interference from the boardroom and told Tan he was not welcome in the players’ inner sanctum, whether he owned it or not. The manager also laughed at the Malaysian’s suggestion that the players should shoot from the halfway line to get more goals.

The multi-millionaire businessman is accustomed to a more subservient attitude from his employees and was bent on revenge for these perceived slights.

It was finally exacted yesterday, less than 24 hours after a grim 3-0 defeat at home to Southampton left Cardiff with one win and five losses in their last eight matches, and just a single point above the relegation places.

To the fans Mackay remains a messianic figure, viewed as the best manager the club has ever had after delivering the Holy Grail that is the Premier League after so many near misses under his predecessor, Dave Jones. Apart from winning the Championship and overseeing promotion to elite level for the first time in over half a century, the 41-year-old Scot also took a homespun team to Wembley for a League Cup Final in which they took Liverpool to penalties.

It is against this background that Mackay’s dismissal after two-and-a-half years in charge outraged supporters who have been singing “Don’t Sack Mackay, Malky Mackay” to the tune of “Achy Breaky Heart” since it first became apparent that Tan wanted him out.

He was never the money man’s first choice for the job. At midnight on June 14 2011 Alan Shearer told Cardiff he would not be joining them as manager and it was as Plan B that Mackay was appointed two days later. The then directors had also spoken to Chris Hughton and Roberto Di Matteo, but Mackay became the choice of Gethin Jenkins, who was the club’s chief executive at the time. The reaction of Jenkins’ Malaysian masters was “Malky Who?”

After finishing his playing career at Watford, Mackay had become first team coach at Vicarage Road, caretaker manager then assistant to Brendan Rodgers before taking charge in his own right when Rodgers left for Swansea in the summer of 2009. His start in management was unremarkable, Watford finishing 16th in the Championship in 2009-10 and improving only two places the following season so, after their dalliance with Shearer, Cardiff’s appointment of Mackay was a punt and one hardly greeted with unbridled enthusiasm in south Wales when they made their move.  They soon learned to love him.

The man himself was disappointed when both the men who sold the club to him, Jenkins and Alan Whiteley, moved on, leaving him to deal with Tan and his Malaysian cohorts.

In an interview last season for a forthcoming book, Mackay told me: “Gethin is someone I worked with closely during my first few months. He was open to the structure I wanted to put in place and was a driving force behind that. Alan sat shoulder to shoulder with Gethin. They were the two men who interviewed me and, looking into their eyes, I could see they were passionate about Cardiff City. Men I could trust.” 

The Malaysian cabal proved to be another kettle of satay.Mackay was under contract until June 2016 and, realising he was on borrowed time after receiving an infamous “resign or be sacked” email from Tan on December 15, he recently engaged a barrister who specialises in employment law to pursue a claim for the £3m he would have been paid had he served his full term.

He often says he is possessed of a “steely determination”, and it is with this that he will seek compensation for losing a job he loved and that he regarded as only half done. 

What sort of a man is he? It says a lot that his mentors are Sir Alex Ferguson and David Moyes. Like those two fellow Glaswegians he does not suffer fools and has a ruthless streak, but he is fiercely loyal to those who deserve it and never criticises his players in public. Omerta is his dressing room code and his popularity, as an essentially fair boss, was such that none of his charges ever said a word against him, not even “off the record”, which is rare indeed in an increasingly egocentric sport.  

He is well liked by his peers, too, a host of managers including Moyes, Brendan Rodgers, Roberto Martinez and Steve Bruce speaking up for him these past few troubled weeks. Well before that, I remember covering Watford’s Championship fixture at home to Nottingham Forest on August 25 when Gianfranco Zola’s first words in his post-match press conference were: “How did Malky get on?” I was able to tell him that Malky had done rather well. It was the day Cardiff beat Manchester City 3-2.

Mackay could have had the Norwich job earlier this season but rejected their overtures to finish what he had started in the Welsh capital. Like so many others he will now be reflecting that in football these days, with very few exceptions, loyalty is what they screw you with.

With promotion to the Premier League on his CV and the likes of Ferguson to supply him with a glowing reference, he will not be short of alternative employment, but he is a proud man and getting the sack for the first time will hurt.  He deserved more time, but don’t they all?

Arts & Entertainment
The Honesty Policy is a group of anonymous Muslims who believe that the community needs a space to express itself without shame or judgement
music
News
Waitrose will be bringing in more manned tills
newsOverheard in Waitrose: documenting the chatter in 'Britain's poshest supermarket'
Life & Style
life
Arts & Entertainment
Back in the suit: There are only so many variations you can spin on the lives or adventures of Peter Parker
filmReview: Almost every sequence and set-up in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 seems familiar from some earlier superhero film
VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Arts & Entertainment
Jack Gleeson as Joffrey Baratheon in Game of Thrones
tv
Life & Style
Father and son: Michael Williams with son Edmund
lifeAs his son’s bar mitzvah approaches, CofE-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys he’s experienced in learning about his family’s other faith
Arts & Entertainment
Ian Anderson, the leader of British rock band Jethro Tull, (right) and British guitar player Martin Barre (left) perform on stage
musicJethro Tull frontman leads ‘prog rock’ revival
Sport
Gareth Bale dribbled from inside his own half and finished calmly late in the final to hand Real a 2-1 win at the Mestalla in Valencia
sport
Arts & Entertainment
Who laughs lass: Jenny Collier on stage
comedy... writes Jenny Collier, the comedian whose recent show was cancelled because there were 'too many women' on the bill
News
House proud: keeping up with the Joneses now extends to children's playhouses
newsLuxury playhouses now on the market for as much as £800
News
news
Life & Style
Stir it up: the writer gets a lichen masterclass from executive chef Vivek Singh of the Cinnamon restaurants
food + drinkLichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines
Extras
indybest
Arts & Entertainment
Ken Loach (left) and Mike Leigh who will be going head to head for one of cinema's most coveted prizes at this year's Cannes Film Festival
filmKen Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
News
The academic, Annamaria Testa, has set out on her website a list of 300 English words that she says Italians ought to stop using
newsAcademic speaks out against 'Italianglo' - the use of English words in Italian language
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

Cannes Film Festival

Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

The concept album makes surprise top ten return

Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
10 best baking books

10 best baking books

Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

Jury still out on Pellegrini

Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players
Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

The all-rounder has been hailed as future star after Ashes debut but incident in Caribbean added to doubts about discipline. Jon Culley meets a man looking to control his emotions
Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

The most prize money ever at an All-Weather race day is up for grabs at Lingfield on Friday, and the record-breaking trainer tells Jon Freeman how times have changed
Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit