Trouble at Cardiff / Tavern Kickaround

Before we get to the headline, the big result is in and…it’s a 2-0 KNT home loss to Brazil… if there is such thing as a respectable loss, perhaps this is it.  Especially if you compare the 3-0 beatings inflicted by Brazil on Japan and an even greater 6-0 result handed to the Socceroos of Australia recently. How Modern Seoul briefly put it:

Jae will be getting a post match analysis of this international friendly as humanly as possible. KNT players that impressed: quite a few liked Han Kook-Young‘s game on Saturday, but I thought Kim Bo-Kyung rocked it in Seoul.  The best chance Korea had to break the deadlock in the first half came when ‘Kimbo’ picked Marcelo’s pockets clean in defense, then drove towards Brazil’s half, deftly maneuvering around several Brazilian defenders before passing the ball off to Ji Dong-Won – his pass back to Kim gave Korea it’s first chance at a goal. Take a look:

Which segues to the headline – if you’ve been following the Tavern twitter feed, you know there is massive trouble afoot in Wales. Kim Bo-Kyung’s club, Cardiff City, has been reeling with owner Vincent Tan again causing havoc and dissension at Cardiff.  Bluebird supporters are in an uproar – and that might be putting it mildly.

Here’s what is known: Iain Moody, the head of scouting for Mackay since 2011 has been instrumental in several successful signings (in particular as far as the Tavern is concerned – steering Kim Bo-Kyung away from Borussia Dortmund to sign instead with CC in 2012). He’s been placed on leave -and last Friday has walked away entirely from the club. In his place is a 23 year old Kazahk, Alisher Apsalyamov who has such footballing credentials as… assistant painter tasked with maintanence outside Cardiff City stadium walls. Apparently he is a friend of Vincent Tan’s son. This kid is supposed to have the responsibility of bringing in talent in the highly charged January transfer window to help keep City afloat in the Premiership.

I talked to our man on the ground in Cardiff, CJay, aka Chris Harris, whose contributions in the Tavern kept readers in the loop with Kim and the club’s efforts to gain promotion to the Premiership last season – he was given a list of questions surrounding this. Troubling additions to Moody’s departure – the possibility that manager Malky Mackay is on the outs with the owner.

Tavern: Can you tell me what the atmosphere is in Cardiff about all this?
Cjay: Do you remember in one of our first conversations about Cardiff City, what I said? You may recall it was something along the lines of ‘At Cardiff City, normal things never happen. There is always something crazy, stupid, exciting or disappointing going on. Crazy is the norm at Cardiff City…’
There were rumors on the night of the 8th October that the Head of Recruitment, Iain Moody had been sacked/suspended. The morning after it turns out he had been placed on gardening leave, with 23 year old Ashlier Apsalyamov being placed in charge as Acting Head of Recruitment. My initial thoughts were: Well if he is being placed as Acting Head of Recruitment at 23 with no experience, I will send my CV in for the managerial position being as I have some experience in football, am 23 and know about Cardiff City. I’m still awaiting the response from Mr Tan.In all seriousness though, the atmosphere is firstly of huge shock. Iain Moody is a very well thought of in the UK, and like you have said, has brought in a wealth of players up to and including the likes of Kim Bo-Kyung, Steven Caulker and Gary Medel. As time goes on, there is talk that Vincent Tan asked Malky Mackay to resign. The atmosphere starts turning more angry, similar to kit-gate (see article in the NYT for more about this). Most fans are obviously worried that because of this, Cardiff City will implode and be a laughing stock due to Eastern politics of running a business and Mr Tan’s “Emperor” rule over things and that one of the best young managers in football will be forced out of the club because of the whim of the same man who decided to change kit colour.
Tavern: It looks to be a classic case of cronyism –  but the way in which this was demonstrated is simply breathtaking. In the US, many remember Michael Brown, George W Bush’s appointee to head FEMA. His experience as a equestrian trainer didn’t make him qualified to head federal emergencies but his friendship and $ to Bush’s campaign served him well for the appointment. Hurricane Katrina brought his lack of experience into sharp focus. George Bush’s bizarro praise for Brown’s epic fail: “Heckva job Brownie!”
—  Is this indeed a “Brownie” moment at CC?  Is there a mechanism for CC supporters or anyone of influence in the board to reverse this decision?
Cjay: This could well be a case of cronyism, a university friend of his son gets a job over the summer painting the walls of the Cardiff City Stadium, then starts shadowing Iain Moody in transfer dealings. A few weeks after the transfer window shuts, Moody is kicked out of the club and replaced by a guy who probably made tea or coffee for him whilst watching his back over the summer. Even in a parallel fantasy universe, this type of thing would never happen. Vincent Tan owns the majority share of the club and as such the fans, board members have no way of reversing the decision. This Brownie moment may be so that Vincent Tan has a man on the inside of the club, right next to Mackay, and learning and feeding back information for Emperor Tan himself. This sounds not too dissimilar to a mole in a spy film, except he hasn’t long left the playground. I don’t know what to think anymore. Tan promised fans the club would be well run with things more transparent and nothing shady taking place. But after this incident, it seems things are just as crazy as before.
Tavern: Is there any credibility with Tan’s assertions that Moody hasn’t brought in the right talent over the past summer?  Is he right to expect CC to be in the top 4 in the Premiership based on the amount of money spent recently – or is that the ravings of a madman – (a very rich madman at that)? According to media sources and people who seem in the know, Vincent Tan was angry over a £15m overspend in the transfer window. Apparently, either the Agents fees or bonuses were not included in the initial transfer budget and therefore Tan is angry that the extra expenditure occurred has come right from his pocket and into the players/agents back pocket. Now understandably from Tan’s point of view I would be extremely angry at this. It’s just not a good business model, but that is football. Next obviously Tan would want the head of the person that has cost him a few extra million in the transfer window, so he would go after the guy agreeing and negotiating transfer fees/bonuses/etc, i.e. Iain Moody. This is when Tan sacked Moody. However, the lawyers at the club told Tan that there is no justification for the sacking because a Mr Simon Lim, CE of CCFC must sign off on every transfer before the deal is concluded and therefore its NOT Moody’s final say as to agreeing a transfer or not, he only negotiates. So Moody is placed on gardening leave until the end of the season, where conveniently his contract ends. So next part in the tale, Simon Lim is sent out on vacation, missing the board meeting next monday. Only for the Chairman, Mr Dalman to order Lim back to the country for the meeting. Mackay is obviously very angry that one of his most trusted men at the club has been sacked, but will not walk away from the club because he has been asked to reign. I see no reason why a manager who has done such a good job; 1 cup final, winning the championship by 8 points, getting premier league football for the first time in 51 years and all the riches that come with that should leave the club because of a £15m overspend that the Chief Executive should have prevented if there had been a problem with funds.The whole situation just shows how out of touch Mr Tan is with regards to British football. He appointed his friend Lim to check over financial proceedings for him, yet Lim has let him down and as such, Moody gets the sack. This could be a catalyst for when a larger job is offered to Mackay, he finally leaves us for it.
It took Manchester City 4 years and over £500m to win the Premier League. And that’s for an established Premier League team. The expectancy for a Championship team of 10 years, who have never played in the Premier League until 2013 and spend £30m on players to be at 4th by this stage, is ludicrous. 17 other teams played in the Premier league the season before us who are playing in this season and have therefore got an advantage over us when it comes to experience and financial power. Tottenham spent over £90m on players this off season. But they are expected to finish in the top 5. Tan needs to get perspective on our situation and how we have been playing catchup since the moment we were promoted last season.
Tavern: In the same breath that supporters are absolutely incenced at Tan (and rightly so), they all acknowledge that ‘deal with the devil’ – his money propelled CC into the top flight -first time in 52 years. But how to reconcile with this owner who   A. helped the club compete financially and yet  B. is acting like a petulant owner (or at worst irrational despot) in destabalizing the club with the shocking suspension of Moody – who has the experience and know how to bring in top talent at good prices – and replace him with Apsalyamov?

CJay: I have always been grateful of the role Tan has had in the club. He has saved us from extinction. However, I think Mr Tan needs to have some perspective on the Premier League. As far as I can see, there is no one of Moody’s caliber and experience who can replace him, especially someone who Malky can trust as well as Moody. Tan needs to resolve this situation in the best possible way, by bringing back Moody (too late) but making sure there are some fail-safes before a transfer can be completed so as to not cause the same incident we have today.

This could well be the final straw for many fans, or it could be a turning point for a more financially rigid club. I think that £9-11m on Medel is one of the best buys in the world. Xavi said Barcelona should have bought him. £9m on Caulker is another steal, future England Captain in the making. £2m on Odemwingie is very reasonable, a experienced Premier League striker. The only problem may be that striker Andreas Cornelius who was bought for £8.5m and has yet to play in the EPL may have upsetted Tan because of lack of return and wasted money. And yes, I can see this point of view. I would hate it if that happened to me, however transfer prices in the EPL are overinflated at the best of times and we have been very very lucky to buy who we have bought in the last two seasons. Like I have said, I think it’s very unrealistic to think after spending £30m on players, to expect to be 4th now.

(If Mackay resigns) I can honestly say without a doubt, Cardiff would be relegated and the future we have, would disappear in an instant.

Chilling words. Our thanks to CJay for this impromtu interview and the perspective from Cardiff. Going back to my Michael Brown analogy, Tan’s Hurricane Katrina moment could very well be just around the January transfer window corner…

UPDATE: Wales online is reporting that Malky Mackay is having a meeting with Cardiff administrators on Monday Oct 14th. Mackay is not a happy camper going into this – and who can blame him?  I’ve been told the meeting is going on as I type…

The Guardian’s Barry Glendening had speculated this move by Tan may also be retaliatory to Tan’s banishment from the player’s locker room (by nixing the end of the season bonuses that traditional for clubs that perform well, the players acted in unison, barring Tan from their premises as a sign of displeasure). Tan’s anger zeroed in on Mackay -so to get at him – remove Moody for a maintanence boy.  Glendening theorized that Tan was incorporating a strategy illustrated to humorous effect in a Seinfeld episode where George Costanza’s employers were trying to flush him out of his office barricade; Tan was similarly trying to make life so uncomfortable for Mackay, that he would simply resign.

Tavern Kickaround

Speaking of clubs, drama, etc., Sunderland has a new manager, the ex-Argentinian international Gus Poyet – who quietly took the job during the international break. Last season at the helm of Brighton & Hove Albion, he nearly took them to promotion to the Premiership, only falling to Crystal Palace in last season’s playoff.  He left on controversial terms, but clearly was considered an effective manager – having led Brighton up out of the lower League 1 division. Not having managed in the Premiership, can the ex-Chelsea man deliver the Blackcats out of relegation danger?  With only a point from a draw and several losses, Sunderland finds themselves 7 points deep at the bottom of the table. We’re not sure how Gus will assess Ji Dong-Won, but given caretaker Kevin Ball’s willingness to use Ji in the last outing with Manchester United, he may get to see more playing time under new management.  Ki Sung-Yeung (on loan from Swansea) will continue to be a needed asset in central midfield -but Swansea may require his services and absorb him back in January when his loan will be reassessed.

Meanwhile, Park Chu-Young remains a strong candidate to go on an emergency loan to Wigan. It’s not been finalized -there’s still details to be worked out financially.  Nevertheless  it is (at this juncture) widely expected that Arsenal will release Park to go to Wigan, possibly until January.  Despite being relegated, Wigan strangely enough are in the Europa League. Wigan earned that distinction having won the FA Cup trophy against Manchester City last season, right before losing their relegation battle.  If the loan goes through, Park may or may not qualify to join the roster for the Europa league ties -there’s some questions as to the rules and exceptions to it regarding new players on the roster.

Lee Keun-Ho‘s outing as a sub yesterday for the Brazil match left a bit to be desired. Less than a year ago he was awarded the AFC Asian Player of the Year along with Shinji Kagawa. Due to military conscription rules, Lee has to serve close to 2 years in the military – but can still play football -but the twist:  it’s a lower tiered 2nd division K-League Sangju Sammu, an army team made up of other conscripted footballers who have to serve time.  Consequently he isn’t playing top flight football – and with the 2nd division K-League only in it’s inaugural year, Lee’ form isn’t where it could be or should be.

Before Jae gets in his post match analysis -who was there in the flesh at Seoul World Cup Stadium (very jealous!), I had some brief thoughts -and no I’m not contemplating wearing the tidy whiteys -it’s about yesterday’s game, thank you. Hong Myong-Bo’s team is showing form VASTLY improved from the Choi Kang-Hee era. The best moments from the KNT, they looked (for lack of a better term) ‘Brazilian-esque’ – including counters where they moved the ball with swagger. Of course not throughout the entire match, but enough to give the Brazilians a decent amount of trouble. Some of the counter attacks from the Taeguk Warriors looked solid and fluid -but they just couldn’t figure out how to get past David Luiz and company. Thus, there were few shots generated.  So they didn’t win the match, but could they have drawn with Brazil?  The goals conceded looked preventable. Neymar no doubt had a stellar free kick – but Jung Sung-ryong could have been done better to block it. The second conceded was a backline error, but give credit where credit due, Oscar did brilliantly to maneuver around Jung for the goal. And yet, overall the back four did relatively well to contain Brazil’s scoring machine to just 2 goals – better than Spain in last summer’s Confederates tourney – a 3-0 result, and as we mentioned before, better than the 3-0 shutout against Japan, and 6-0 against Australia. Defensive improvements – check.  Forward goal scoring improvements- to be determined.  Park Chu-Young time?

Extra observations via twitter:

Rumor mill has it Guus might be taking over the Socceroos?  Let’s hope that isn’t true. And some are still angry at Ki over his Facebook dissing of Choi Kang-hee? Please. Consider Ki Sung-Yeung not in the KNT squad at the World Cup for a moment. Can’t even go there, can you? The man apologized already – what more do they want? The few who had a problem with Ki can express their love of Choi by re-watching the epic failures of the KNT during his tenure.  Tavern out.


UPDATE: A Facebook Tavern reader alerted me to the fact that the spam filter was catching EVERYTHING and no one’s comments have been going up the past several days. I just manually corrected that and threw all comments public just now. Not sure what’s going on – I’ll be doing some web maintanence.


About Roy Ghim 454 Articles
The old Tavern Owner


  1. Comparing Brazil vs. Korea in Seoul to the Confederations Cup games vs. Japan and Spain is a big mistake. Brazil were at home, and they were desperately trying to win the big competition. And they destroyed. Let’s be honest- Brazil wasn’t trying to win heavily in Seoul; it was just a friendly for them, and they weren’t giving 100%. Korea, on the other hand, looked like they were giving 100%. They seemed to be doing everything they could to win. As always, I love that they tried 100%, but.. they lost 2-0 at home. Our guys looked exhausted, and the Brazilians looked like they were just there to practice.

    It might be more appropriate to compare the game to the one against Australia, but even then it was still an away game for Australia.

    I hate to be negative, but this game didn’t give me much hope. There were a few moments of goodness as you mentioned, but it doesn’t matter much if we don’t win. If we play against Brazil next year in the World Cup at this rate, we’re gonna get smoked.

    This was certainly good experience, but I hope the players don’t lie to themselves about the progress needed to be made.

    Also, Brazil beat Japan 3-0, not 4-0.

    • Good point – Brazil at home / Confederates cup on the line is different then a friendly. Nevertheless – glass half full notion is that Scolari is trying to solidify team chemistry to get their goal scoring machine at full steam in prep for the WC. This is, with some exceptions, a good idea of Brazil’s starting XI. For the KNT, still patching shit together from the fucktastrophe of the Choi Kang-hee era, I still argue this is a HUGE improvement. But it would be a disservice to neglect the deficits – I didn’t get to the negatives in this post, but I was disappointed in a number of items. Koo Ja-Cheol in particular needs to step it up. His passes were really sub par. Ji also had an off night. We need everybody solid- like Olympics solid for the KNT not to get embarrassed at the WC. Obviously the KNT is not going to win the whole damn thing -but a goal would be a solid showing, perhaps go deeper than the round of 16 – something to continue to build on for the future.

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