Why did you choose to come to Cardiff City?
It’s been an interesting summer for me. I spoke to three or four clubs since the summer - two went with foreign managers, one went with an English manager, and one’s not got a clue what they’re doing. I got a call from the chairman and he said you’re our number one choice - that’s enough for me.
I’ve always got on well with fans here, that’s unusual for me. I always thought it’s a good challenge for me, they’re my kind of supporters. I wouldn’t be here if Cardiff weren’t where they were in the table. I’m looking for a job that can give me my eighth promotion. It’s not impossible here, but it’s difficult when you’re second from bottom. All the clubs i’ve missed out on, I’ve text them all this week to say “see you soon!”
Is it good to be back in the game?
I’ve really missed the dressing room banter, and the people! I like to involve everybody. At clubs i go to, I try to get know the cleaner, the cook. I met the chef and cook yesterday, and the stadium staff. I want to get everyone singing from the same hymn sheet. You’ve got to have ambition and challenges, and the last challenge for me is that 8th promotion, I hope to achieve that here.
Do you see Cardiff as a long-term challenge?
Do you know how old I am? You can’t doing anything long term now. You should only look to tomorrow, building a club as far as you can, go on the ride and go where you want to go. You’ve got to be good enough to do the job. I’ve been disappointed when I’ve seen the appointments this year. The fans, I know, will get behind me.
Have you seen much of the side this season?
I come in with an open book really. I know Paul Trollope, he played for me, I know he tried his hardest but I've not spoken to him yet. You need to wipe the slate clean and come in and do your own thing. Give everyone a clean bill of health.
What are you thoughts on facing Bristol City in your first match?
Couldn’t have asked for anything better for the first game. I’ve had a lot of time for Bristol City in the last few years, they’re on the right lines now. They’ve signed someone for free who gets 11 goals and sold someone for £14m. My lads will be ready for it after another week’s training. I want the stadium full and buzzing, not just for the Bristol City game. I want excitement to come back to Cardiff City, I want people excited for Saturday afternoon.
Are you still enjoying the game?
You’re not in this game as long as I am unless you enjoy it. I remember my first game as manager of Sheffield United, my boyhood dream, and winning the match. I sat in the changing room with a cup of tea and thought of all the happy fans going home, that’s how I look at the game.
I don’t like some aspects of the modern game. Players should get off the bus and sign autographs not walk straight off with headphones on. This is a cracking club and I’ve had some great games here. Danny Webber text me today to mention his goal to clinch promotion in Cardiff at Ninian Park. I took him for a slap up meal after, and went for a shish kebab. Not many managers get promoted and then go for a shish kebab!
What is your contract situation?
I spoke to the chairman and when he said I’m number one choice, I just said I’ll come, no discussion of finance, and that’s how we are. What are contracts anyway? I don’t understand them. When you’re younger you get a three-year contract because you know you’ll get sacked at some point and need the money. We’ll play it by ear. My wife used to say ‘why don’t you get sacked more often!’.
Are you looking to bring in any new players?
I haven’t been idle in 24 hours since I’ve been here. I’ve tried to bring faces in before the Bristol City game. I’m not committed for three or four years, you just don’t know at my age. If you ask me in April i can give you an answer, we might not win a game before Christmas.
Have you spoken to Vincent Tan?
Only every day, and we haven’t fallen out yet! He sounds excited on the phone, I judge people how I find them. With Mehmet, we just seem to gel together to be honest. You’ve got to strive to get to the top, and you do that better when you have a good working relationship. I’ve had good talks with Ken Choo, I understand him now - he talks so fast!
How will you get on Vincent Tan?
Simon Jordan, the chairman at Crystal Palace, asked me to go there, and people asked how two such characters would work together. He was the best chairman I ever had. You’ve got to give everybody an opportunity.
What style of play can Cardiff fans expect from your side?
Years ago I went to Norwich and there were eight blokes in boardroom interviewing me. A young bloke, about 75 he was, asked what style I would bring. I said I wanted to win games and I already knew I hadn’t got the job.
You need to fit the style and system to the players to win games. Go in with an open mind and look at the players you’ve got, and try to get results. I don’t think anyone at previous clubs will complain about my style. At Notts County I was called a long-ball merchant - but I had a back four that couldn’t pass water! What did they expect?
What have you learnt about the club in your first 24 hours?
The attitude is spot on from everyone. Good players can look average when the confidence is down. We’re trying to instill some confidence. Cardiff fans, I love their passion, I don’t see any point in 20 passes to get to the halfway line. But I’m not saying I want one pass either. You can get a diploma from Warwick Uni and people think that entitles you to be a manager - it doesn’t. There is no substitute for experience. Most of the teams I got promoted still have reunions now, you don’t see that these days. But I do see a togetherness here.
Why did you leave Rotherham?
I’ve retired seven times and I suppose it gets a little bit boring. I felt I could help Rotherham last season, it’s a fabulous club, the fans got behind it. We went 13 games without losing but I didn’t think it was right to stay on. It would have been for the wrong reasons. I’d done my job, I’d kept them up. I thought it was survival at Rotherham rather than push for promotion.
Are you excited for your first matches in charge?
I hadn’t looked at the fixture list before I came, and the next 10 are horrific, but that’s not a bad thing in the Championship. I don’t think money wins you leagues, the dressing room wins you league’s and the fans play a big part in that. We need to make our home territory very intimidating. A lot of points still left to play for this season, it’s a massive challenge here, the club suits me.
I feel very comfortable here, it’s like putting on my Hotter shoes. Managers in a comfortable position can work better and makes it easier to get results.