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Between The Lines

Who will be Cardiff City’s next manager?

Cardiff City didn’t dismiss Dave Jones as amateurishly as West Ham and Chelsea dispensed with their managers recently. They’ve done it after a careful week-long review of the club’s season, not with a flippant Apprentice-style gesture in a back room.

There are plenty of options for Cardiff when it comes to a successor. Here are a few of the candidates being mentioned in the national and local press (and some we made up), with their positives and negatives and one or two tricky interview questions they might be asked.

The one question that each man would need to answer is what they would do with the current squad. You’d like a new manager to have at least a passing familiarity with the players who would be available to him, hopefully with a reasonable idea of who has left and which areas need strengthening.

So in no particular order:

Chris Hughton:

Upside: Took Newcastle back up to the Premier League despite huge pressure and expectation.

Downside: Only has a year and a half of managerial experience and had a massive advantage over the rest of the Championship with the Newcastle squad he was given. The £50m wage bill was about four times more than anyone else in the division spent.

Interview question: “We admired the way you handled the egos at Newcastle and got them back into the Premier League under so much pressure. You might need lose skills here too. We thought you deserved better than being sacked at the first sign of trouble, but what can you say to convince us that you’ll be just as effective in this division on a smaller budget?”

Roberto Di Matteo:

Upside: Has demonstrated that he can get a team out of this division. Should have a very good knowledge of the competition. Also played attractive football.

Downside: The attractive football that West Brom played in the Premier League didn’t work and Roy Hodgson was able to get much more out of the squad he inherited, eventually putting them in mid-table by the end of the season.

Interview question: “What did you learn about getting out of the Championship that could be applied here and what would you do differently next time you’re in the Premier League?”

Alan Curbishley:

Upside: More experience of managing in the top division than almost anyone else in the running.

Downside: Has been out of management since September 2008. Left his last job as West Ham manager because he didn’t have control over player transfers. Like Dave Jones, he looks more old-school with each passing year. What’s he done lately other than share a studio with Ray Stubbs and Kevin Keegan?

Interview question: “You’ve had a chance to take a step back from management and reflect on the game from a broader perspective. What have you done to make yourself a better manager during your time off and have you changed any of your beliefs about how the game should be played?”

Malky Mackay:

Upside: Another good young manager who has got much more than expected out of his squad at Watford this season, particularly from the players coming out of the club’s renowned academy. At times they looked capable of beating anyone in the division.

Downside: Looks a little more risky than someone like Di Matteo because he hasn’t managed a club challenging at the top of the Championship, let alone in the Premier League.

Interview question: “Watford have played really good attractive football over the last two seasons, but a lack of depth has arguably cost you a higher league position. How would you apply what you did at Watford if you were manager of Cardiff City?


Less plausible candidates:

Nigel Adkins

Worked a near miracle keeping Scunthorpe up on a tiny budget before moving to Southampton last season. His knowledge of medicine and psychology might make him unique among managers in this country. Clearly able to maximise results from meagre resources, but could he do the same with a bigger budget and bigger expectations? Would he even want to leave Southampton?

Craig Bellamy

Despite The Guardian installing Bellamy as the favourite, this would be a major surprise. It doesn’t make much sense financially or practically. As passionate as Craig Bellamy is about his hometown club, it would be risky to ask anyone to deliver promotion in their first season of managing in this division. Also still has a year left on his Manchester City contract.

Martin O’Neill

Rumoured to have made two trips to Malaysia to speak with the club’s owners – a suggestion denied by Cardiff chief executive Gethin Jenkins – O’Neill would be a popular but probably quite expensive option. Hasn’t managed in this division for more than a decade. Has also fallen out with more than one previous club chairman over transfers. Ask any Liverpool fan about O’Neill and they’ll tell you about the annual rumours of him being spotted house-hunting on the Wirrall during the waining years of Gerard Houllier’s reign. That turned out to be fiction and any links to Cardiff City are probably just that too.


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