Blog: Steve Morison was Cardiff City’s Brexit manager but what happens with the next appointment is anyone’s guess – Wales Online

Promoted from within, tasked with overhauling a sluggish playing style, struggles with striking a balance between idealism and pragmatism, then sacked at the first international break. But enough about Paul Trollope, let’s instead talk about the dismissal of Steve Morison.

Cardiff have sacked so many managers in recent years that you can draw parallels with each of them. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Neil Harris were the nice guys, but neither quite managed to apply their vision. Mick McCarthy was Neil Warnock without the charm and Russell Slade was an even less popular appointment than Harris.

Morison was probably the most complicated of the lot. He was Cardiff’s Brexit manager, in that he pretty much divided the room in half. The split was between those that like their manager to take no prisoners and tell it like it is, versus others that think the manager should show a little tenderness on occasion and represent the club in a positive, inclusive manner.

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Having worked wonders in the Academy, Morison was elevated to the first team because McCarthy’s tenure took a sudden, drastic turn for the worst and the club were unprepared for it. Morison represented a quick, cheap, in-house solution, despite chairman Mehmet Dalman declaring that he represented too great a risk.

Taking charge on an interim basis, Morison impressed while the club surveyed the other runners and riders. In the end, Morison had built up enough support that not hiring him would have been the unpopular choice and who an alternative candidate would have been measured against.

He set about the role in a manner comparable to his playing days; strong, uncompromising and intent on maximising his opportunity. His approach to the press followed suit and he created a dynamic from his very first press conference where he referred to the assembled journalists present as “you lot.” That divide and distrust on his part only grew, despite his coverage almost always being positive.

Like McCarthy before him, it felt like Morison was always looking for a slight in every question and over time, he began to share the McCarthy trait of sighing before belittling certain questions.

He inherited a situation where most of the squad were heading out of contract, but he had very little say on the future because he had a temporary contract. Yet he was still often asked about this and his own future because they were such pressing matters.

His handling of some of the younger players caused concern, substituting Isaak Davies on and off again in one game, while doubling down on his actions in the press conference that followed. He also routinely hooked Max Watters early and in one game during the first half, which resulted in the clearly devastated player sat on his own on the bench during the half-time break.

There are those that appreciated Morison’s combative approach, but there were also others who thought better bedside manner would go a long way. It felt like he was punching down at times because he never extended that treatment to his underperforming senior players, who were instead quietly ushered to one side. As Harris proved, goodwill will buy you more time, but as McCarthy can attest, if you’re not well liked, it will only accelerate your demise.

This aspect of Morison’s time in charge is unfortunate because it sometimes overshadowed some of the great work he was doing. Turning over the squad with such a limited budget was a daunting task and Morison relished the challenge. He made bold claims as last season drew to a close and he managed to exceed expectations, bringing in 17 signings and fashioning a competitive, cohesive squad. His January transfer dealings were just as impressive, so maybe a director of football role is his real calling.

Morison set about overhauling Cardiff’s style of play, which is a monumental undertaking because The Cardiff Way is deep-seated. Traditionally, the more Cardiff see of the ball, the worse they perform, but there Cardiff were on the opening day of the season, with a brand-new set of players, playing in a progressive way and beating one of the favourites for the title.

To bring this full circle, I remember a previous game against Huddersfield under Solskjaer at the very start of the season where Cardiff won 3-1 and played their opponents off the park. David Marshall was in goal, Fabio and John Brayford were tearing up the flanks and Adam Le Fondre was twinned with Kenwyne Jones, who scored twice. It was a performance that promised so much, yet Solskjaer had been sacked a month later.

Fast forward eight years and a very different contest with Huddersfield has resulted in Morison losing his job. An awful lot of people seem to think that this was a hasty move by the club. I know this international break is a window where clubs often decide to arrest a slide and that the South Wales derby was looming large, but what now? Mark Hudson will get the chance to impress, but this is once again not by design.

Will Cardiff continue the cycle of following an inexperienced appointment with an experienced one? Will they hire a pragmatic or progressive coach?

At some point the club need to ask themselves whether they are hiring the wrong managers or if it is simply that the project is doomed to fail. Managers seem to take over Cardiff in about 18th place and leave them back where they found them a year later.

Sometimes a manager is afforded too much patience and sometimes too little. Round and round we go though and where it all stops, nobody knows.

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