x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Mackay in the running for West Ham job

While Chris Hughton has emerged as an early front-runner, it could be another former Hammers player who tops the shortlist

West Ham owners have said they would like a British manager.
West Ham owners have said they would like a British manager.

West Ham United could charge Malky Mackay with the task of masterminding their rebuilding operation in the second tier of English football next season.

After firing Avram Grant in the aftermath of the defeat to Wigan Athletic, which confirmed their relegation from the Premier League, the West Ham owners have stated that their new manager will be British.

While Chris Hughton has emerged as an early front-runner, it could be another former Hammers player who tops the shortlist compiled by vice chairman Karren Brady and owners David Sullivan and David Gold.

Mackay played for the Hammers in the 2004/05 and after retiring from the game three years later, he has carved out a promising career as a manager.

In successive seasons, he has transformed Watford from relegation favourites to an established Championship side who flirted with the play-offs this season.

The fact that he achieved that with the second smallest budget in the league is commendable and will surely endear him to the executive management at West Ham who are looking to significantly cut costs and reduce their spiralling debt following relegation.

Mackay received a glowing recommendation from Sir Alex Ferguson, the record-breaking Manchester United, when he applied for the Watford job and given the fact he still receives encouraging text messages from Ferguson, the former Scotland international can probably count on a similar ringing endorsement for the position at West Ham.

Mackay already has an admirer at the club in Andy Rolls, the head of sports medicine at Upton Park, as the pair worked together at Watford. Should he be asked and providing he is not made the scapegoat for West Ham's lamentable injury record this season, Rolls would back Mackay's application.

English football, and particularly the top tier, features a plethora of Scottish managers and Gold and Sullivan have already demonstrated their penchant for a manager born north of the English border when they appointed Alex McLeish at Birmingham City in 2007.

As well as being unlikely to command the same sort of inflated salary as the other candidates, Mackay's teams also play the brand of smooth-passing football which fits neatly into the West Ham tradition.

He is also trusted by Ferguson and Arsene Wenger, the Arsenal manager, with their young players, who he takes on loan, and West Ham are likely to need to exploit that market as there will be limited money to spend on wages or transfer fees in recruiting players to fill the gaps created by the likely mass exodus at Upton Park.

The production line of players from the club's famed Academy, which has produced the likes of Rio Ferdinand, Frank Lampard and Michael Carrick, will be particularly important during a transitional couple of seasons and Mackay has demonstrated his ability to blood young players at Watford, handing five Academy players their debut this season.

Mackay also won promotion from the Championship to the Premier League with three different clubs as a player and West Ham may feel he has the ability to translate that success on the pitch to the dug out.

 

kaffleck@thenational.ae