Mackay no-show increases speculation
Malky Mackay's position as Cardiff City manager appears to be even more uncertain after he did not attend his prematch news conference on Friday, with West Bromwich Albion monitoring the situation.
The escalating row between Mackay and Vincent Tan came to a head on Thursday amid reports that the Cardiff owner has issued an ultimatum for the boss to either "resign or be sacked."
Cardiff assistant manager David Kerslake replaced Mackay at the news conference ahead of Saturday's trip to Liverpool.
Kerslake and the club's media officer refused to answer questions on Mackay's situation, although it was confirmed that the Scottish manager was in the building at that time.
"The players have prepared in the normal way -- nothing different," Kerslake said. "The manager prepares his team the same way every match.
"This will not affect the players at all. They are looking forward to a match at a fantastic stadium."
Mark Denham, the club's media officer, added: "Malky Mackay is still in charge. I have talked to him this morning."
West Brom chairman Jeremy Peace, meanwhile, is prepared to wait on developments in Wales before appointing a new man at The Hawthorns.
ESPN sources claim that Mackay is highly regarded by influential figures at Albion and the 41-year-old would be a serious candidate to replace Steve Clarke, despite reports Albion are ready to open negotiations with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Former Manchester United striker Solskjaer is under consideration by Peace and the club's sporting and technical director Richard Garlick, but suggestions that Solskjaer is ready to take the post are premature.
Albion have no immediate plans to speak with the Molde manager and are not expected to advance their search until next week, when many close observers in Wales believe Mackay will be out of work.
It is believed that Mackay, who has no intention of resigning and losing a pay-out on his three million pound contract, will take charge of his final game against Liverpool this weekend and Tan is expected to sack the 41-year-old.
Several bookmakers have already installed Mackay as the favourite to replace Clarke, but Albion would have to work hard to convince the ambitious Scot to move to The Hawthorns, with sources close to Mackay suggesting the Cardiff manager is prepared to wait for a higher profile job.
Solskjaer remains under consideration, but Albion could face competition from Spurs for the Norwegian who has been a huge success since taking over at Molde. His club have confirmed an approach from a European club, but that is not thought to be Albion at this stage.
Caretaker Keith Downing will take charge of the side for Saturday's game against Hull City and may well remain in charge for the next two fixtures against Spurs and West Ham United, while Peace carries out his search for a replacement.
Downing believes it will be an attractive post for many people, but has warned the players they are in a battle to retain their Premier League status, saying: "The club is established and has a lot of strengths.
"We need a bit of realism, no one has said we will achieve eighth again but the players want to push themselves. I think we’re aware we’re in a relegation fight, no one has visions of grandeur.
"The decision’s been made and we need to be respectful. There are a load of people out there who want this job. The calendar year has not been good. But we finished eighth last season and tried things which were experimental.
"This is a big job, it’s a Premier League club, I’ve been support staff and I believe that is my role. We all have ambitions but ultimately here is about supporting it. That’s how I see it.
"We have two away games in London and will stay down there. We have the plans in place and myself and Dean will continue to do the job until told otherwise. I’m aware it needs to be done quickly. But equally it needs to be done with support and time. If it takes an extra week or two, myself and Dean are there to support."