Earnshaw the latest victim of Malky's hard-line approach
Malky Mackay's 'treat them mean, keep them keen' approach has been working wonders, but there have been casualties along the way. As Robert Earnshaw slips out of the back door, overshadowed by the name change controversy, he is the latest victim of the Glaswegian's hard-line approach.
I recently interviewed Anthony Gerrard with regards to his time at Cardiff. He is still disappointed at missing out on two Wembley finals, but he was more aggrieved at the treatment he received from Mackay. I was asked by Huddersfield to omit his comments, ahead of the two sides meeting a few days later, a request I reluctantly agreed to. The following day, the Huddersfield Examiner ran similar comments which were widely circulated and resulted in Mackay denying Gerrard's claims.
In this section of the interview, Gerrard claimed: "I was treated like a joey to be honest. The way he spoke to me on the training ground, being put down, I don't think you should speak to people like that. A few of us were treated unfairly in my eyes to be honest." The other players in question presumably being the likes of Dekel Keinan, Paul Quinn and Jon Parkin, frozen out of the first team set up at the time. After the indulgences of the Dave Jones era, Mackay's drive and ambition was always likely to ruffle a few feathers.
Earlier in the season, Craig Conway felt the need to hand in a transfer request, due to a lack of playing time. The request was rejected and Conway soon returned to the side, but the incident should have been avoided and alluded to a break down in communication.
Recent visitors to the training ground have also reported that Earnshaw, Etien Velinkonja and Filip Kiss were training with the youth side, which can only be demoralising for such high-profile players. Mackay's treatment of Earnshaw seemed particularly harsh, considering he would have known exactly what he was getting, having previously played with and against him. Incompatible with Kenny Miller, he hardly featured last season and was a complete outcast this term. As a club legend, he deserved far better.
Kiss was with the club for a year on loan before signing permanently in the summer, which makes his exclusion also rather strange. Velikonja is adapting to a new league and it has been claimed that he needs to bulk up to withstand the rigours of Championship football, but has been prolific for the development side and has not been afforded the same opportunities as Kim Bo-Kyung. We are not privy to the daily exertions on the training ground, but this still appears to be an odd situation from the outside.
Mackay was evidently the right man at the right time for Cardiff City, he picked them off the floor and whipped them in to shape. He has benefitted from substantial investment, but that does not guarantee success and he has managed the situation perfectly. He has developed a tremendous rapport with the fans and is a very good politician, he would never be short of offers were he back on the market. A fierce competitor as a player, he has transferred this persona to management and players that fail to meet his exacting standards are cast aside and banished.
He is fortunate that he is at a club where he is able to write of significant investments at a stroke, but you do wonder if this ruthless approach is unnecessarily harsh. It may work with a winning side, but may prove to be more of hindrance than a strength in the Premier League, when points and morale may be more scarce.
With promotion on the horizon, we may soon find out whether the club can match Mackay's ambition and also whether he will need to adapt his current approach to ensure his side is able punch above their weight amongst the elite.