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Erol in Peril as Cardiff City Owner Vincent Tan Grows Impatient Again

By Graham Thomas

Welsh football fans digesting the news of Mauricio Pochettino’s departure from Chelsea must be wondering: How did they do that?

Not “why did they do that?” but how? How could they possibly have decided on their manager’s future over one expensive restaurant meal, a mere two days after the end of the season?

After all, it’s taken Cardiff City 25 days and they apparently still haven’t lit up the post-dinner cigars after breaking bread with Erol Bulut.

After the final game of the Championship season, Bulut was joined by Cardiff’s chairman Mehmet Dalman and chief executive Ken Choo for the last press conference of the campaign.

The same scenario was outlined – the three wise men would thrash out the future over a meal (they love an expensive restaurant, football’s wheelers and dealers) and there would soon be an announcement.

But since then, nothing. Not a peep. Bulut has gone home to Istanbul and the rumour is both sides have been unable to agree on the length on contract or the budget at his disposal – or, perhaps both.

You can get 12/1 with DragonBet on Cheslea winning the Premier League title next season – they are fourth favourites after Manchester City (4/5), Arsenal (9/4) and Liverpool (15/2) – and 1,000/1 on another team in blue, Leicester City, to prove lightening can strike twice in the same place.

But Cardiff seem to be as far away from the Premier League as ever, despite Bulut’s best efforts to build some positive feeling into last season’s campaign.

Back in Turkey, Bulut is said to be considering other offers, as you might expect for a man who managed Turkish giants Fenerbahce, not long before he was enticed to Cardiff.

Chelsea is most certainly a basket case when it comes to the chaotic nature of their recent managerial comings and goings, to say nothing about their player recruitment.

Their co-owner, Todd Boehly, is understood to have watched the recent Champions League semi-finals and wondered aloud why Chelsea were not involved, as if money alone should guarantee instant success.

But at least Boehly has appointed sporting directors who presumably helped form the judgement on Pochettino.

At Cardiff, owner Vicent Tan likes to call all the shots and doesn’t let anything complicated – like people with expertise – get in the way.

When it comes to running the Bluebirds, Tan values loyalty and obedience above expertise – so Dalman and Choo assist only in carrying out the owner’s wishes.

In Bulut’s case, it appears taking the team from a close shave with relegation to holding an interest in the play-offs for most of the season, is not sufficient reason to give him more than another 12-month deal.

“I don’t want to be a guest again for one more year, I want to be part of the family for the future,” said Bulut in the days leading into Cardiff’s final game of the season.

In other words, show some faith in me and I will commit. 

But in Tan’s world – which appears to be a black and white – Bulut is just like every other Cardiff manager since Neil Warnock. Their names may change, but to the Malaysian they are just another salaried middle-manager under the employ of his corporation who has failed to hit performance targets.

This is not the best way to run a football club and if Cardiff are looking for their seventh manager in the five years since Warnock left, then it is hardly the stable base from which to build a promotion surge.

Ipswich Town will be in the Premier League next season, along with Leicester, having stuck with Kieran McKenna after a modest impact in his first season.

McKenna’s first half-season at the helm halted an Ipswich slide and they eventually finished 11th in League One in 2021-22, one place higher than Cardiff’s 12th this season.

That wouldn’t have cut much ice with Tan, no doubt, who might have offered another 12-month deal.

But McKenna had the security and backing of a three-and-a-half year contract and the following season he took Ipswich to second place and automatic promotion to the Championship.

This season just finished, he repeated the trick in the Championship as Ipswich became the first club for a dozen years in that tier to achieve back-to-back promotions.

Something for Tan to consider, perhaps, as he ponders his next move and the possibility of a 12th Cardiff manager in his 14 seasons of ownership

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