Tan and Eriksson: the perfect match

SvenGoranErikssonIn a week where Daniel Levy came under fire for the seventh sacking of his 12-year reign as Tottenham chairman, Vincent Tan was to steal the headlines.

Remarkably, that was despite the fact that he had not yet pulled the trigger or, indeed, had never sacked a manager as Cardiff City owner.

But, for once in modern day football, the fine print or statistics were not the issue: Tan’s crassness in publicising his plans to remove Malky Mackay heralded a nadir in the era of modern football club owners in English football.

The lines were drawn and, clearly, any sane football person – Ole Gunner Solksjaer, Neil Lennon and Roberto Di Matteo among them – will stay well away from Tan’s clutches if Mackay is to resign.

Given how Cardiff had one of the league’s brightest up and coming managers – and are well placed to survive this season – this is incredibly tragic.

The club, after all, have already been robbed of its history and identity with Tan’s rebranding and this is the latest step in the Malaysian customising his toy.

After all, the closest comparison to this situation was Nicola Cortese’s harsh dismissal of Nigel Adkins for Mauricio Pochettino last January, but, in hindsight, that was an upgrade.

Sure, Southampton finished just one place higher than their final standing under Adkins last season, 14th, but their progression and groundbreaking philosophy under the Argentine has been staggering.

The idea of Cardiff following suit, with an imaginative managerial appointment that will provide long-term gains, seems unimaginable.

Even Craig Bellamy, who has long dreamed of one day coaching his hometown club, refused an interim role in respect of Mackay before the match against Liverpool on 21 December.

Instead, a mercenary manager is likely to take the reins: if not Yilmaz Vural, then Sven-Göran Eriksson.

Yural, who has managed 27 clubs in 27 years spent exclusively in Turkey, would be a dangerous appointment to say the least.

Eriksson – despite long being found out for his supposed professor qualities and having not performed competently since his sole season at Manchester City in 2007-08 – would therefore seem a less risky move.

The Swede is exactly what Tan is after: a placid, stoic coach who was worked under some high-profile owners to the say the least.

Yet, even the volatile Sergio Cragnotti and Thaksin Shinawatra do not appear to be in the same league as Tan.

The morals of working under Tan is of little concern for Eriksson, who is desperate for the opportunity to return to England and who recently lost millions of pounds in botched investments.

In return, the Malaysian has overlooked the six disasters Eriksson has overseen since 2008 – with the Swede spending just 32 months in his previous four managerial roles.

Then, there have been the ill-advised technical roles at Notts County, BEC Tero and Al Nasr, where Eriksson has brought little to the table.

Yet, on paper, it is still a CV to rival the world’s best: five titles, five cups, and a UEFA Cup triumph.

Then, there is the fact that Eriksson led Benfica to the European Cup final, and managed England between 2001 and 2006.

Yet there is an irony in the fact that Tan’s ‘interest’ in football only dates back to 2010, which coincided with Eriksson’s fall from grace.

However, this is all secondary information and has to be measured against one crucial piece of context: Mackay should never have been in danger of losing his job.

The Author

Ciaran Kelly

Sports writer and author of José Mourinho: The Rise of the Translator, featuring exclusive interviews with key figures not synonymous with the traditional Mourinho narrative and Johan Cruyff: The Total Voetballer, an ebook which peaked in the Top 40 of Amazon's top 100 Sports Books' chart. I have also written for Britain best selling football magazine, FourFourTwo and other British publications. I am a fully qualified reporter with an NCTJ Diploma in Journalism and a Masters degree in Sports Journalism from St. Mary's University, London.

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