Ian Rush on this weekend's Swansea City and Cardiff clash and the sackings of Malky Mackay and Michael Laudrup
IT has been a strange season for Wales’ two leading football clubs.
Swansea City began the campaign in optimistic mood on the back of their League Cup success and a summer which saw them break the club’s transfer record to bring in Wilfried Bony.
Newly promoted Cardiff meanwhile, began by riding a crest of a wave as they defeated Manchester City in their second game of the season to install true belief amongst supporters that their stay with the elite would not be a short one.
Fast forward six months, and both sides head into tomorrow’s South Wales derby having recently sacked their respective managers in acrimonious circumstances, knowing a defeat would leave them in a critical position.
Former Wales’ striker Ian Rush, who scored 283 goals in a decorated career at club and international level, said both clubs have made bold yet potentially dangerous decisions.
“The sackings of both Malky Mackay and Michael Laudrup were very big calls,” Rush told Telegraph Sport.
“I thought it was a brave move by Cardiff to get rid of Malky, but an even braver one by Swansea to sack Michael this week when you consider there is such a big game on Saturday.”
Rush played alongside Laudrup at Juventus during the 1987/88 season, and said he was surprised at the treatment of his former teammate:
“From the outside he looks to have been very unlucky.
“Swansea enjoyed a fantastic season last year in which they won a trophy and got into Europe.
“In this campaign he’s had to contend with extra games and been unlucky with injuries, and I would question the decision to get rid of him. Surely the recent poor form is down to the players as well as him?
“But ultimately, as was the case with Malky, the final decision rested with the owner (Huw Jenkins). These (club owners) are the people whose money runs clubs so they have the power to make their own choices and decisions.
“But I have no doubt Michael will be back at a top level club soon.”
Rush, 52, said it would now be intriguing to see how the home side approached the derby at the Liberty Stadium: “Cardiff have the momentum after that win against Norwich but it will be interesting to see how Swansea play against them now.
“They have always been a footballing side, but they seem to have installed Garry Monk to add some fight and grit and that could see them adopt a more direct style.
“But either way, whoever loses the game is in big trouble.”
Rush added that irrespective of the outcome, he hoped both sides would retain their Premier League status.
“Undoubtedly, the main aim of both teams now will be to stay up and I like to think both will.”