Palace would do well to avoid Mackay appointment

Reports today suggest former Cardiff City boss Malky Mackay has been chosen by Crystal Palace chairman Steve Parish to be the man to follow in the footsteps of LMA Premier League Manager of the Year Tony Pulis. Mackay himself won the LMA Championship Manager of the Year in 2013 as Cardiff were promoted into the Premier League for the first time and has a win percentage of 39% out of the 229 first team games of which he has taken charge. He is seen as a promising young manager, but is he the right fit for Palace?

Despite a steady win percentage overall, Mackay has won only four of the 18 games he has managed in England’s top flight, a Premier League win percentage of only 22%. Granted, you could argue that these statistics are warped by the lack of games from which to assess the data, but maybe that’s the point. Tony Pulis rescued the Eagles last year, having steered Stoke City from the second tier and turning them into a solid mid-table outfit, and used the experience gained over the course of his time at the Britannia Stadium to map out a strategy for survival using a tried and tested approach. Malky Mackay does not have this experience or more importantly, a defensive record built upon solidity like Pulis had.

At Cardiff, the Scot was backed heavily in the transfer market by Vincent Tan, bringing in Steven Caulker, Gary Medel and Andreas Cornelius for a combined £27m, and even then that did little to change his fortunes. At Palace, it is unlikely Parish will be able to offer his new manager even half that amount, so Mackay is going to have to learn to be pretty resourceful, and pretty quickly, with the summer transfer deadline looming, more experience he has yet to demonstrate.

Also, the current Palace squad has spent the last season working on a solid defensive platform under Pulis, while looking to spring counter attacks on their opponents, while also making use of their physicality, pace and prowess from set pieces, a signature of Pulis from his Stoke Days. Conversely, the ex-Bluebirds man has conceded 28 goals in his short Premier League career, while managing only 13 up front, so it begs the question whether Mackay has the ability to bring the best out of this squad in all areas of the pitch. His approach has more of a focus on attacking play, so these next few days of the transfer window are set to be crucial if Mackay is going to be able to recruit players more suited to his style of play. He is reunited with Frazier Campbell, however, so this may prove to be a small positive.

The last point worth making is that although Malky Mackay’s win ratio was a large reason he was shown the door at the Cardiff City Stadium, his difficult working relationship with a hands-on owner in Vincent Tan was relatively public. It remains to be seen whether he can integrate any better under Steve Parish, whose relationship with Pulis became strained after failings in the transfer market, but the chairman appears from the outside to be a man of principle, who can seemingly afford a Manager of the Year to go in order to preserve this. Mackay’s relationship with Palace’s controversial Director of Football Iain Moody may help his quest for appropriate bargains, however tactically he is on his own.

There remains a significant question as to whether more could’ve been done to keep Tony Pulis at the club in the first instance, given his heroics last season which saved definite relegation. But given that they recruited the former-Potters man due to his proven Premier League record and that was a successful move, it does feel odd that they would not appoint a man with similar criteria. If Mackay’s appointment goes ahead, only time will tell if Parish has made the right call. We at HRZ remain sceptical.

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