THE BLOG
04/11/2013 08:01 GMT | Updated 23/01/2014 18:58 GMT

Caulker Hands Tan a 'Get Out of Jail' Card

When Steven Caulker rose high above Swansea City defender Chico Flores to head home the only goal of the first ever premier league south Wales derby, his winner signalled rather more than just the allocation of local bragging rights.

When Steven Caulker rose high above Swansea City defender Chico Flores to head home the only goal of the first ever premier league south Wales derby, his winner signalled rather more than just the allocation of local bragging rights.

Unless you've been sleeping under a rock for the past month or so, the chances are you will have heard that all is not well behind the scenes at Cardiff City Football Club.

The recent dismissal of Cardiff manager Malky Mackay's trusted head of recruitment, Iain Moody and subsequent allegations of interference in playing affairs by the man who called time on Moody's stint at City, have led to a press feeding frenzy at the south east Wales club.

Not for the first time, the man at the centre of the controversy is the club's controlling shareholder Vincent Tan. Most followers of the game will recall that eighteen months ago, Tan took the unpopular decision to ditch the club's historic blue home colours for a new red home strip. A move that caused considerable division within the fanbase. Following Cardiff City's promotion to the top division for the first time in over half a century, it's fair to say that most supporters of the club accepted (reluctantly or otherwise) the radical identity overhaul.

Until a few weeks ago, much of the turbulence surrounding the club had begun to abate. Following considerable pre-season spending, results on the pitch were promising and under the meticulous management of Malky Mackay, Cardiff City looked set for a season of relative comfort. Off the pitch - aside from a small but persistent band of supporters determined not to let the club's rebranding go unchallenged - things were looking positive too. A new training ground and stadium expansion were in the pipeline. More importantly, Tan was making encouraging noises about converting the bluebirds considerable debt into equity.

They say a week is a long time in politics, well, the same can be said of football...

Initially, stories began to emerge of a row over players bonuses and that as a result Vincent Tan was no longer welcome by the players in the dressing room ahead of games. Shortly afterwards, the experienced head of recruitment Iain Moody was sacked (for reasons still unknown) and replaced by 23 year old Kazakh, Alisher Apsalyamov - a work experience trainee - who until recently had been painting the walls at the club's stadium. In the last few days it's emerged that Apsalyamov has temporarily stepped aside, whilst immigration officials investigate issues around his work permit.

If the above has the whiff of farce about it, matters have been compounded by intense media speculation that Vincent Tan has taken to interfering in playing matters too. It seems that the working relationship between Tan and Mackay is strained to say the least. Regular followers of events at The Cardiff City Stadium have even suggested that Tan, envious of Mackay's huge popularity in the Welsh capital, has deliberately undermined his manager in order to make his position untenable.

Unsurprisingly, this has led to many Cardiff City supporters swiftly re-evaluating their opinions of a man, who until recently, was regarded by many as nothing more than an eccentric, yet largely benign benefactor. The furore over the rebranding has been re-ignited and Tan's increasingly autocratic behaviour has led to organised protests by fan's groups.

Back to Caulker's derby winning goal...

For most under fire club owners, a victory as significant as the one over their local rivals presents an opportunity to build bridges and capitalise on the 'feel good factor.'

In Tan's case that should, logically, present favourable circumstances with which to defuse matters. A great opportunity to publicly back his manager and to privately leave playing matters solely in the hands of the experienced professionals that he originally entrusted to deliver success to the club.

Caulker's goal has dealt Tan the 'Get Out of Jail' card. Whether he'll take it or not is another matter entirely.