Report: Cardiff City owner tells manager to quit or be fired

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According to the BBC, the relationship between Cardiff City owner Vincent Tan and Bluebirds’ manager Malky Mackay appears to have hit a point of no return. In an email sent to the manager on Monday, Tan reportedly detailed a series of issues he has with the 41-year-old’s management, issuing Mackay an ultimatum: resign, or be fired.

A spokesman for Cardiff City told the BBC that the club “is not part to any letter sent from one person to another,” which could be seen as convenient wording (alluding to letters instead of emails). Regardless, the detail in the BBC’s report is convincing:

In a letter emailed to Mackay on Monday, it is understood Tan listed in depth his grievances with the Scot.

Tan criticised 41-year-old Mackay at length in a range of areas, such as signings, transfer budgets, results on the pitch and style of play.

The Malaysian businessman also questioned the former Watford manager’s record as a boss.

 

That transfer budget was supposed to be just over $57 million, though reports claim additional fees and commitments saw Cardiff commit over $81 million before the close of the summer window. The Bluebirds did purchase Gary Medel, Steven Caulker, and Andreas Cornelius, but Mackay and former head of recruitment Iain Moody deny they went over budget.

After their weekend win over West Bromwich Albion, Cardiff City sit four points clear of the Premier League’s relegation zone, having collected 17 points in 16 games. Their attack, however, ranks 18th in the league with only 12 goals, while the Bluebirds’ defense has conceded 22 times (14th in the league).

The tension over this summer’s spending recently resurfaced when Mackay claimed he would like to add three new players in the January window. Tan, however, said that the summer’s overspending leaves no room for new signings, a sentiment echoed in a Monday statement issued through club chief executive Simon Lim:

“Tan Sri Vincent Tan was extremely upset to read quotes from the manager concerning the possibility of new recruits, before he had been informed whether funds would be made available.

“He believes that doing so unfairly raises supporter expectations, placing unnecessary pressure on the club.

“His view is that due to the funds already committed, including the originally-authorised summer transfer budget of £35m that rose to £50m in total, including add-ons, the manager has been fully supported.

At this point, Mackay’s departure seems inevitable. Tan wants him to resign, but for financial reasons (and probably out of loyalty to a team he got promoted), Mackay’s going to try to avoid that.

Yet with Monday’s letter, the Scotsman moves closer to being able to make a case for constructive dismissal. If Mackay can assert Tan’s pressure is creating an unreasonable work experience, he can walk away from his deal while still being entitled to the money Cardiff owes him.

Between Monday’s public shaming and the private email, it’s clear Mackay’s employers are trying to make his professional life miserable. At this point, via constructive dismissal or “gardening leave,” this relationship needs to end, even if it’s unclear that would help the team on the field.

Defoe walks out Bradley Lowery, scores in England win

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Jermain Defoe’s friendship with terminally-ill Bradley Lowery has been special to watch unfold, and the Sunderland striker brought his little buddy to Wembley today.

Then he notched a match-winner.

Lowery walked Defoe out onto the field in a replica England kit before Sunday’s World Cup qualifier against Lithuania, and then Defoe scored his 20th goal for country.

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It was his first since 2013, the last year Defoe was called up for the Three Lions.

Here’s the goal, which was followed by a second-half Jamie Vardy tally as England stayed atop Group F with a 2-0 win over Lithuania.

Two Russian soccer fans stabbed in Serbia

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BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) Two Russian fans have been hospitalized with serious injuries after being stabbed following a friendly soccer match between Red Star Belgrade and Lokomotiv Moscow.

Serbian Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic said Sunday police were looking for the knife-wielding perpetrators who attacked a group of Lokomotiv fans in downtown Belgrade late Saturday.

Serbian media reports said the Russian fans were attacked by supporters of Red Star’s rival Partizan Belgrade.

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The match, which Red Star won 2-1, was meant to promote Serbia’s traditional friendship with Russia.

Stefanovic says “nobody should think they could hurt the Serbian-Russian friendship” with such attacks.

Serbia has seen a surge of fan violence inside and outside stadiums. In 2009, a French football fan was fatally beaten in Belgrade.

VIDEO: Gerrard’s juggle and finish leads Liverpool legends past Real Madrid

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Scoring at Anfield doesn’t get old, especially when your name is Steven Gerrard.

The English midfielder was playing in a friendly match between Liverpool and Real Madrid “legends” on Sunday, when he delivered this tasty goal (and assists to Michael Owen, Robbie Fowler, and John Aldridge).

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Gerrard redirects a cross over a lunging defender and into a place where he can lash a goal home to put the Reds up 4-0. He dedicated his Man of the Match performance to club legend Ronnie Moran, who died earlier this week.

Real’s comeback came up just short in a 4-3 final, with Fernando Morientes, Ruben de la Red, and Edwin Congo scoring for the visitors.

On a Sunday waiting for the international matches to begin, Gerrard supplies a nice highlight for the rest of us (Extended highlights free on Liverpool’s site).

Ozil bristles at talk of Arsenal selling him

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Mesut Ozil is on international break, and bristling at reports that Arsenal is going to sell him.

The midfielder’s absence from the lineup last week had plenty speculating on his future, even more than usual. His contract expires in 2018, and several reports claimed he’d join Alexis Sanchez as players destined for elsewhere.

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Ozil was not called up by Germany, and has missed four of his last nine Premier League matches. Three of those were for illness, and he missed last week’s loss to West Brom with a hamstring injury.

From Metro:

“And you think Wenger tells the journalist before he tells me? Then I know him differently,” Ozil told German outlet Welt.

“I have a contract until 2018 in London and I feel very comfortable there. We’ll talk soon and then make a decision.”

Metro notes that Ozil also said he wants to win the Champions League, something that can only happen with Arsenal remaining in the Top Four. We suppose you could make snarky inferences from his “comfortable in London” phrasing, but we’ll leave it there.