Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took up temporary residence in Cardiff this week, replacing the “dead man walking” that was Malky Mackay.
The treatment of Mackay is about as unpalatable as the way Claudio Ranieri was handled at Chelsea in 2004, but while the Anglo-Russian conglomerate went out and brought in one of the best in the business, Cardiff have brought in a relatively untried manager who has cut his teeth in the hurly-burly world of Norwegian football.
With the greatest respect to the likes of Viking, Odd and Start, the Norwegian Eliteserien is hardly a training ground for the demands of the Premier and its band of impatient and sometimes autocratic foreign owners.
Perhaps we’re being unkind here, but taking Molde to sixth place at the end of the 2013 season, admittedly coming after two titles, is not going to frighten the opposition, and neither is it any better than what Malky Mackay achieved for Cardiff by taking them into the top flight.
What exactly are Solskjaer’s credentials, apart from a career playing at Old Trafford for Sir Alex Ferguson? Good players don’t make good managers, just ask Bobby Charlton. And benefitting from association doesn’t mean you really have something special in your own locker. Make a call to Tottenham to find out more about that one!
Solskjaer seems like a nice guy and he had an excellent career with United. He was the “baby-faced assassin” and at 40, he still looks like a kid. He was also heavily involved in coaching youngsters at Manchester United, so a Premier League job is obviously attractive, despite the possibility that it will all end in tears – and soon.
According to some media reports, his old boss warned him against taking the Cardiff job on, but Solskjaer has since denied this. He’s been put on a “rolling one-year contract” by Vincent Tan, which has a distinctly temporary sound to it. Is this a “suck it and see” scenario?
But Solskjaer claims he has gone into the job with his eyes “wide open” and frankly, he will need to. If he fails to keep Cardiff City up, that contract may not roll-on for long.
Interestingly, one of the players who was not part of Mackay’s side this season has been rolled-out to talk-up the appointment. Cardiff have already shown their lack of savvy around PR, notably when they sent David Kerslake out to try and hoodwink the media when the writing was on the wall for Mackay. Now skipper Mark Hudson, who has yet to play in the Premier, insists that he “got on well” with Mackay and that he “does not feel any animosity” towards his old manager. The cynic would say if there were no issues, why make the point?
Ironically, it was after a 68-yard goal by Hudson last season that Tan suggested to Mackay that he might like to instruct his players to take more long shots.
Solskjaer has a major task on his hands to keep Cardiff in the Premier. Tan has put a lot of money into Cardiff and he’s shown that benefactors from abroad will do exactly what they wish – witness Rafa Benitez at Chelsea, Tigers rolling into Hull and a shirt-swap in the Welsh capital. And as Ole will find out, assassins are not just baby-faced…