Position: Central Defender
From: West Ham United – free transfer – August 2005
Career stats: Soccerbase
He is: An absolute credit to the game
Past Profiles: September 2005
In the comings and goings at the start of last season, the recruitment of Malky Mackay appeared to be something of an anomaly. The manager had already disposed of two central defenders of a similar vintage, and made frequent statements about wanting young hungry players, a policy clearly reflected in his acquisitions. As an old git myself, the arrival of a player with Malky’s experience was rather reassuring. Assessments of his abilities from fans of his recent clubs were consistent. Solid player, lacking pace, but he’ll do a job for you. The fact that his previous two seasons had resulted in his teams winning promotion to the Premiership could only be a good thing, although clearly that was beyond the scope of our ambitions.
The initial consequence of Malky’s arrival was the dropping of DeMerit to the bench, which seemed a little harsh, but you couldn’t help feeling at the time that Jay could only benefit from his presence. Malky started thirty-eight games last season and while there were times when he was caught for pace, there were plenty of occasions when his footballing nous got us out of trouble. My particular Mackay favourite move was appearing to wrestle an opposition player off the ball, only to win a free-kick. The first half of the season saw Mackay form an effective partnership with Carlisle. But, following Carlisle’s suspension for the booking at Luton, DeMerit was brought in to partner Malky and they developed into a formidable team in the centre of defence, with Jay’s pace and Malky’s experience complementing each other beautifully. Their crowning achievement being the play-off games where they combined to ensure we did not concede in any of the three games. A considerable achievement indeed.
In contrast to the Glaswegian hard-man image that his physique suggests, Mackay is also a refreshing change from your average footballer in the interview setting. Intelligent and thoughtful in his responses, he is a joy to listen to and provides insight that you don’t often get from players. His performance on Sky Sports News providing the studio commentary on Celtic’s championship winning game last season showed him to have a great future as a pundit, should that interest him.
After the play-offs, Malky was assured by the manager that he was in his plans for this season. However, with the arrival of extra competition for the central defensive berths in the form of Dan Shittu, it may well be that the manager’s preferred pairing does not include the Scot. So, having completed his UEFA ‘A’ license in the Summer, Mackay’s contributions this season could be primarily on the training field. And valuable as that contribution will be, you can’t help but hope that Malky’s desire to play in the Premiership is not frustrated for the third season running.
The final word goes, not for the first time, to Neil Warnock. In the Sky coverage after the play-off final, the lovely Colin remarked about Malky, ‘He’s been so influential this season for Aidy Boothroyd and I think he’s an absolute credit to the game.’ I couldn’t have put it better myself.
Last updated: August 2006