By Jamie Smith
Cardiff City owner Vincent Tan has leapt to the defence of under-pressure manager Russell Slade during a brief visit to the Welsh capital.
Tan was speaking at a rare Q&A session with sections of Bluebirds supporters and the media at the Cardiff City Stadium.
Cardiff are unbeaten in four games but draws to lowly-placed Rotherham United and MK Dons have generated further frustration amongst supporters, who are increasingly voting with their feet.
With the 2012 League Cup finalists slipping five points adrift of the play-off places, pressure has been mounting on Slade, with many calling for his departure.
However, Tan insists that the former Leyton Orient manager is the right man for the job and has surpassed his predecessors.
“Russell has been excellent, a lot better than the last two managers who I paid seven or eight times a higher salary to,” Tan commented.
“Did they do a seven to eight times better job? No, they did much worse, lost me tons of money.
“If I listen to the so called ‘experts’ in Wales, and I deliberately use apostrophes there, then I just hear Russell is terrible, Russell is this and that.
“They forget he came in at a time when I told him to clean up the mess. We’d just had two very well-paid managers who spent an awful lot of money, but in my opinion didn’t do very well.”
Many thought Tan was taking a huge risk by appointing a manager who had not really proven himself at this level of football.
But the Malaysian is so far pleased with the decision he made.
“Everybody seemed to condemn me when I brought in Russell, saying ‘Oh he’s only from the lower leagues’. But if you always adopted that view, nobody would be given a chance. I gave him a chance and I’m glad I have done,” the 63-year-old asserted.
“He is totally trustworthy and I believe he’s done very well. When Cardiff City got promoted I put £20m in to buy players that season for that ‘great manager’ (Malky Mackay).
“One of them was a £10 million striker from Denmark who didn’t even play 90 minutes for us and never scored a single goal. Andreas Cornelius was on £45,000 per week. Jordan Rhodes has just joined Middlesbrough for less than £10m. And I bet he’s not on £45,000 a week.
“The fans love the previous manager (Mackay), but sometimes football fans get emotional, not logical.”
Tan also pleaded with supporters to offer more support for Slade and to be more rational when voicing their judgements.
He said: “Please be reasonable, don’t always hammer the man. Okay, he’s not Tony Pulis, who would have cost us an awful lot of money.
“Okay, he’s not one of these big brand name managers. Well, they get sacked too. Who would have thought Jose Mourinho would be out of a job this season?
“Sometimes you need to be given a chance and I’ve given Russell one.”
Meanwhile, the businessman has announced that he will convert £68m owed to him into equity, promising that in five years’ time the club will have no remaining debts.
Tan, who also owns FK Sarajevo, confirmed that he has agreed to write-off a further £10m, whilst last season he wrote-off £13m and transformed £3m of debt into equity.
In order to fulfil his promise, Tan, left with an overall debt of £40m after the aforementioned actions, will convert £8m of that from debt into equity every year without delay.