Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers launched a strong defence of under-fire Cardiff City boss Malky Mackay ahead of Saturday’s Premier League clash at Anfield.
Mackay was publicly criticised by Cardiff’s Malaysian owner Vincent Tan this week after he stated he wanted to bring in new signings in January.
Tan told Mackay he would be given nothing to spend in January and it has left the Bluebirds manager in a precarious position even though he insists he will not resign.
Former Swansea City boss Rodgers, who worked with Mackay at Watford when he was manager in 2008, said: “I find it incredible, all the talk about Malky. I know Malky well from having worked with him at Watford and I am probably privy to things even more because I worked in South Wales for a couple of years.
“I find it astonishing what he has had to go through and that is just looking at it from a distance.
“Malky walked into a club that had given him 10 players, 10 players he had that summer in 2011 when he took over and he had to build a new team.
“They brought in someone who totally transformed the mentality and the culture at the club.
“He has started this season with great results and he is going to go on and become a big manager and at a top club and I find it astonishing that there is talk about him leaving there. Absolutely astonishing.
“My only conclusion when I look from the outside is that you have a business guy who is operating the club and knows absolutely nothing about football, who has obviously been a very successful businessman in his life and congratulations, but football is like no other business.
“To see Malky being questioned on what he has done is just remarkable, especially when I know a lot of the supporters there will look up to him and respect him for what he has done.”
Second-placed Liverpool, who have surprised many with their early-season form, could move top of the Premier League if they beat Cardiff as leaders Arsenal and third-placed Chelsea are not in action until their London derby clash on Monday.
But despite Cardiff’s off-field troubles, Rodgers is expecting a tough challenge at Anfield even with Luis Suarez, who has scored 17 goals in 11 Premier League games, in hot form.
“It is going to be a difficult game for us,” he said. “We are under no illusions, Malky’s team will work very, very hard and work tirelessly. For us our concentration will be key.”
Mackay is also confident his players will not have their focus on the game taken away by his position being under threat and the heated atmosphere at the club, which was rocked earlier in the season when Tan replaced head of recruitment Iain Moody with 23-year-old Alisher Apsalyamov.
Apsalyamov, a Kazhakh and close friend of Tan’s son, was at the club on work experience before his appointment, but has now been suspended in a query over his visa.
“I had a chat with the players a few months ago when we started making the headlines for the wrong reasons,” Mackay said.
“We sat down and I said, ‘Ask me any questions you want?’ There weren’t too many, but we spoke openly.
“Then I said, ‘Right, get your professional head on and get back to what you do well, which is come in every day and work really hard. Leave the rest to me’.”