Southampton-Cardiff City Preview
By CHRIS ALTRUDA
(AP) -- It's rare when a loss appears to actually strengthen a coach's position with a team fighting to stay in the top flight, but Malky Mackay seems to be the beneficiary of such circumstances heading into Cardiff City's home match against Southampton on Boxing Day.
Much was made of a seemingly growing rift between Mackay and Cardiff City owner Vincent Tan in the week leading up to the Bluebirds' match versus Liverpool, reaching a climax when Tan sent the Scot an email saying he would fire Mackay if he did not step down. This came after Tan rebuffed Mackay's public request for funds to use in the January transfer window after an aggressive summer of spending following promotion.
Despite a 3-1 loss to the Reds on Saturday as Luis Suarez continued his rampage through the Premier League, Mackay received a vote of confidence from Cardiff City chairman Mehmet Dalman as the club incurred the wrath of the fan base - which is firmly in Mackay's corner.
"As things stand Malky is in charge for the foreseeable future and will be until something else happens," Dalman said on Sunday on the club website. "I don't want to go game by game on this, with people asking if he will be in charge."
Dalman, however, did hint that Cardiff City (4-5-8) could easily replace him on the touch line, but management's preference is to keep Mackay and hopefully find a resolution that originated following the fall departure of Iain Moody, the team's head of recruitment.
"We managed to create space for everyone to work together back in October and we have to see if we can do that again in order to move forward," Dalman said. "At least we have a platform for dialogue, which gives us an opportunity to try to work our way through this.
"If we wish to work towards a reconciliation, Vincent Tan has offered us that opportunity to move towards that. If it works, it works. If it doesn't, it doesn't ... let's see if we can fix it. We can't keep having the club under a cloud."
The Bluebirds are four points above the drop in 15th place with 17 points but enter this match with only one win in their last seven matches (1-2-4).
Southampton (6-6-5) are out to stop the rot after their winless spell reached six matches (0-2-4) with a 3-2 home loss to Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday. Adam Lallana had a goal and assisted on Rickie Lambert's marker in the 59th minute to forge a 2-2 tie, but the Saints conceded the match-winner to Emmanuel Adebayor five minutes later and left manager Mauricio Pochettino lamenting that Christmas had come early on the south coast.
"I think - in the second half in particular - we got dressed up as Santa Claus and gifted them many chances," the Argentine said. "We made a lot of mistakes and in the Premier League if you make mistakes like that then you will get punished."
Despite the Saints' swoon that started before Thanksgiving, they are still comfortably in the top half of the table on 24 points and in ninth place. Goalkeeper Paulo Gazzaniga, filling in for the injured Artur Boric, has yet to record a clean sheet in the four matches he has started and has yielded 10 goals in five matches while making only six saves.
This is the first meeting between the sides in the Premier League, but Cardiff City took four points between the teams when they were in the League Championship in the 2011-12 season.
Updated December 24, 2013