Malky Mackay gained a lot of goodwill during his time at Cardiff City, and especially near the end of it.
As the BBC reported at the time, meddling Bluebirds chairman Vincent Tan had made his former manager’s tenure well near unbearable, and in the middle of last December he presented Mackay with a resign-or-be-sacked ultimatum.
Mackay, with considerable backing from the club’s fans, carried on in his job despite the very public fallout until Tan, claiming in a statement published by the BBC that the Scotsman’s transfer spending had put Cardiff City in an “uncomfortable state of affairs,” relieved him of his duties.
Mackay departed Leckwith having won a Football League Championship and a place in the League Cup final.
Well-liked and seemingly comfortable in the top flight of English football, Mackay was never going to be out of work for long. So when Toni Pulis suddenly quit his post at Crystal Palace last week, the 42-year-old was always going to be among the contenders for the vacancy at Selhurst Park.
On Tuesday, reports surfaced that Mackay was set to agree to a three-year contract at the south-east London outfit, as per The Guardian.
His relationship with Iain Moody, the former Cardiff City sporting director and the current Crystal Palace one, no doubt helped his chances, especially considering that the two previously worked together at Watford as well.
Moody was brought in to help hire former Palace manager Ian Holloway’s replacement—which ended up being Pulis—and would seem to have the full backing of club co-chairman Steve Parish, with whom Pulis is said to have disagreed on recruitment strategy, according to the London Evening Standard.
Parish, however, has denied a transfer-related rift with Pulis and last weekend told Match of the Day there had been “no friction” between the two.
“There was a good transfer budget agreed,” he said. “There was a lack of targets [Pulis] felt were good enough in the window and it came to a point where he felt he could not carry on.”
He added: “I can’t have people at the football club who are not 100 percent committed to what we are trying to do.”
Mackay, one would expect, will have entered the Palace frame already knowing the recruitment strategy given his connection with Moody. But the two of them, incidentally, were shipped out of Cardiff following Tan’s accusations of over-spending in the 2013 summer transfer market, according to the BBC.
Moody and Mackay, for example, brought Andreas Cornelius, Steven Caulker and Gary Medel into the club for a combined £25 million, and none of the trio spent more than the one season in the Welsh capital.
It goes without saying that the purse strings will be rather tighter at Palace, where Parish and Stephen Browett operate under a considerably more sustainable approach than Tan.
But will it work?
As a man-manager, no one doubts Mackay’s ability. And in a broader sense it would seem he’s certainly cut out for the Premier League, although his body of work in that regard is limited.
What will almost certainly prove key to his latest posting, should it be finalised, is his relationship with Parish, and his willingness to work within the club’s restraints as they are gradually reduced.
Palace are being set up for long-term feasibility, and in that Mackay will find a considerably more refreshing environment than he experienced with Tan.
He just has to play by the rules.