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Cardiff City's recruitment process as a botched attempt to kill James Bond



Myself, m'colleague Graham and our mutual friend Martyn are big James Bond fans. Being of a certain age the Bond of our generation, is Sir Roger Moore.

It should be said that many (all) of his films were somewhat flawed. This was a period in the Bond canon where the producers got a bit carried away with the set piece action sequences. From Roger's stuntman skiing off a cliff face and unfurling a parachute adorned with the Union Flag in Spy Who Loved Me to Grace Jones' stunt er person hurling themselves off the top of the Eiffel Tower in A View To A Kill to three guys getting chucked out of an aeroplane and fighting over the two remaining parachutes in mid air in Moonraker, this was the stuff of Bond in the seventies and eighties. Extravagant, expensive and highly dangerous. Insurance costs and CGI graphics have pretty much consigned this sort of reckless stunt work to the archives and in truth that's probably a good thing.

One of the more barmy action scenes was in the aforementioned Moonraker when the script writer, one Christopher Wood, contrived a situation where Bond was travelling through Venice in a gondola. While our man surveys the beautiful Venetian architecture, his gondolier Franco, respectfully removes his hat as a slow moving hearse-boat carrying a coffin, passes by. But wait...

While Franco's head is bowed the coffin opens to reveal an array of throwing knives and a henchman that rises up, grabs one of the knives and, with deadly accuracy, slays Franco with a single throw of the arm. With the gondola now deprived of its driver the assassin turns his attention to his real target, James Bond. But Her Majesty's finest is too quick for him. He grabs the wayward second knife and throws it right back at its owner. In a moment of ham fisted irony, the killer is returned to his coffin for good.

At that point a gangster housed within the hearse-boat opens fire on Bond with a sub machine gun. He proves to be a useless shot and allows our hero to activate the gondola's speedboat conversion function. Bond speeds away from danger. However, the killers have a Plan B in the shape of their own speedboat hidden away, just in case the guy with the knife misses. This contains another gunman with another sub machine gun. A high speed chase ensues which ends with the speed-gondola converting into a hovercraft. To the bafflement of the baddies, the gawking tourists and delight of an eleven year old me watching in the cinema, Bond makes his escape through St Marks Square.

The flaw in this nefarious plan to cut down the World's Greatest Secret Agent is obvious: the knife thrower in the coffin was pointless. They should have gone straight to Plan B, the guys with guns, in the speedboat.

We've often tried to imagine the strategy meeting prior to the operation and wondered if, at some point, one of the junior bad guys at the back quietly piped up and said, "But surely, if we already have the speedboat and guns, we should just use them. Why use the knife thrower in the coffin? Seems a bit elaborate, to me... not to mention, expensive." If such a suggestion was ever mooted it was obviously dismissed, possibly with the suggester finding himself on the wrong end of a throwing knife. I have always thought that it was this scenario that among so many other elements of James Bond films, separates them from the real world. No one would do anything that daft in real life. That was until Cardiff City tried to hire Alan Shearer first and Malky Mackay second as the new manager of their club.

In Shearer, we have the knife thrower. A deadly marksman in his own right but a completely inappropriate choice for a club trying to get out of the Championship, a division that Shearer has never played or managed in. In fact, as a manager, his only experience is presiding over Newcastle's inevitable descent into that division, two years ago.

Mackay, on the other hand is the gunman speedboat. Simple, reliable, proven to work well in the past if somewhat inelegant. The Watford manager may not necessarily be the number one choice for an ambitious club like Cardiff, just as speedboats are not the best way to kill 007. However, he has demonstrated admirable poise in working with a club, in Watford that seems constantly on the brink of disaster yet each year, ably preserves their Championship status. While there are almost certainly more appropriate coaches for Mackay to be second choice to, he absolutely, positively, should not have be lower on a shortlist than the knife thrower, Shearer.

So there we have it: Football finally imitating Bond. Next week, Dimitar Berbatov apes Happy Days and tries to ski jump over a man eating shark. All being well, Mackay will have seen Moonraker, learned the life lesson held therein, got in his converted hover-gondola and speeded off to employers with more common sense like, oh I don’t know, Watford perhaps. As for Cardiff City, well if in a few days from now, you see stolen space shuttles launching from a retractable pitch within their stadium, just hope that James Bond is on one of them.

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