It’s been a rough week for Cardiff City supporters, the club, manager and players — all because of the inane actions by club owner Vincent Tan. While Cardiff are trying to set up talks between Tan and Malky Mackay to settle their differences, it’s important that Tan sticks with Mackay for the following six reasons:
1. Points total. Cardiff are four points clear of the relegation zone and have a +4 goal difference on the “best” club in the relegation zone – Fulham. As there are two games left in the first half of the season, this is quite an accomplishment considering they have not played consistently. Additionally, their final two games in the first half of the season are at home and very winnable fixtures.
2. Results. Cardiff have not had easy home fixtures – the “easiest” being West Brom/ They have already faced Manchester City, Manchester United, Arsenal, Tottenham, Everton, Newcastle and Swansea. Somehow they have managed 11 points with this grueling home schedule. What does this mean? It means the remainder of the first half and the whole of the second half sees the likes of Southampton (on bad form currently), Sunderland, West Ham, Norwich City, Aston Villa, Hull City, Crystal Palace, Stoke City and Fulham visiting Cardiff City Stadium. Call me crazy, but if Cardiff can take points against those they have faced at home already, those nine fixtures I just mentioned will surely produce an abundance of points – enough to certainly keep Cardiff up this season.
3. Favorable schedule. Cardiff has a favorable schedule late in the season. If you view the second half of the 2013/14 schedule, Cardiff were not gifted a friendly January – at Arsenal, home West Ham, at Manchester City and at Manchester United. However, they were given two stretches of point grabbing fixtures. First, the month of February is home to Norwich, at Swansea, home to Aston Villa and home to Hull City. Second, from the end of March through April, Cardiff are away to West Brom, home to Crystal Palace, at Southampton, home to Stoke and at Sunderland. They finish the season away to Newcastle and home to Chelsea. However, those final two games could be a formality if points are grabbed where they need to be. Having a five game stretch where wins are feasible in every game is crucial. But that is even more the case when those fixtures fall at season’s end.
4. Transition. January’s treacherous schedule gives reason to be optimistic of any team transition – via transfer or simply testing lineups/formations. Knowing that Cardiff will have the ability to be rid of three awful fixtures in January rather than March or April provides a bit of a relief should any loan players or new signings arrive or if players like Andreas Cornelius are finally able to attempt to integrate into the starting 11. Additionally, this provides Cardiff with a benchmark: be out of the relegation zone by the end of January and it is almost certain they will stay up.
5. Respect. You do not find managers as respected as Malky Mackay this often. I started with some of the outlooks for the rest of the season because that seems to be the focus. But in the end, it all comes down to how the club, the players, the fans and those around the league view the manager. Mackay is not a rebel without a cause. He could have left this offseason for jobs elsewhere (most likely Sunderland as he was one of their top choices). However, he believed that Cardiff fans and the club deserved to finish the goal of getting to and staying in the Premier League. With a club with the makeup of Cardiff having so few players with Premier League experience, staying up would certainly provide a grounding whereby next season might come much easier for such young talent like Mutch, Kim, Noone, etc.
6. Don’t rock the boat. We must be wary of the dangers faced by clubs that are not in imminent danger and what major changes might cause. Crystal Palace received a small boost from a managerial change, West Brom appear lost, Fulham are calling Clint Dempsey back to pull a Landon Donovan loan boost, Sunderland have fought and still look hopeless while Tottenham are still suffering from a major identity crisis. Consider what happens when you do not make the shotgun change: Newcastle is the prime example. Earlier this season, Pardew was a certain sacking. Now, his club is on the edge of a European spot. I am not saying Cardiff will challenge for Europe – certainly not this season. But, given that the squad is still coming together, change will only equal disaster especially with so many winnable fixtures looming in the season’s second half.