Middlesbrough boss Neil Warnock speaks out on signing sacked Cardiff City player Nathaniel Mendez-Laing, who left the Bluebirds under a cloud.
He states that he is happy to be giving him a ‘second chance’ at Middlesbrough – and is confident the deadline-day signing will make the most of his opportunity in the North-East.
Mendez-Laing joined Boro as a free agent on deadline day, after being released from his previous contract at the Welsh outfit shortly before the start of the 2020/21 season.
The reason as to why the 28-year-old departed Cardiff is a mystery and details have never been disclosed, however Cardiff’s manager at the time, Neil Harris, confirmed the winger had been sacked because of a “serious breach of contract”.
The statement read: “Cardiff City Football Club has, with immediate effect, terminated the contract of Nathaniel Mendez-Laing.
“The club will not be making any further comment on the matter.”
Many had spotted Mendez-Laing take down his social media pages weeks before the announcement.
Some thought that, after he and his partner had just celebrated the birth of their first child, the player was seeking privacy in the off-season.
Mendez-Laing unblocked his social media, choosing to re-engage his Instagram page.
The only post he uploaded was a screenshot of a statement, issued on Thursday by his management.
It read: “Following on from [Wednesday’s] announcement that I have left Cardiff City FC, I would like to place on record my thanks to the fans for the support they have shown me over the past three years”.
“I will be making no further comment at this time.”
Fans are unable to leave comments on the post as the function has been disabled.
It was back in late June that he had his car smashed up and broken into on the night prior to the Bluebirds’ Championship return against Leeds United.
Before the game, he was staying at the Mercure Hotel on Newport Road in Cardiff because he lives away from the Cardiff area.
He posted the photos on Instagram and wrote: “Somebody broke into my car outside Mercure Hotel, Newport Road, Cardiff, if anybody hears anything lemme know.”
This meant that,Mendez-Laing had no choice but to order a taxi to Cardiff City Stadium ahead of the match.
Warnock is aware of what’s happened regarding Mendez-Laing, and despite the forward previously being transfer-listed by Peterborough United because of a “breach of club discipline”, he is confident his experience of working with him in the past will help ensure there are no such issues at Boro.
“I think we all make mistakes,” said Warnock. “I’ve known him for a long time – I brought him up from Rochdale – and I’ve spent a lot of time with him, three years or so.
“I haven’t got a problem with all of that, although there were one or two other clubs after him, and I told both him and his man (agent) that he was better off coming with me because of his circumstances. He hasn’t played for a while, so he’s not match fit, and he has to get his career back on line, really.
“I know the boy, I’ve had him three years, and there were ups and downs during that time. Sometimes, you get in a situation like Mendez has got in. To be on a few hundred pounds a week, and then suddenly become a Premier League player on thousands and thousands in the space of 18 months, it’s a big step up.
“I think the PFA have to pay attention to these type of lads, because they need help. Managers can’t look after every player, and I think sometimes players need a bit of help. All of sudden, they’re on riches they couldn’t have dreamed of, and you have to look at the company they keep.”
It will be a little while before Mendez-Laing gets up to match speed again, though, he there is another newcomer he spoke of in, Neeskens Kebano on loan from Fulham.
“I thought I would only be signing Mendez and Yannick because I was told the Neeskens thing had been put to bed by Fulham,” said the Boro boss. “That was a half past nine decision by myself when I was able to speak to Alistair (Mackintosh, CEO) down there and Tony Khan (owner) in America.
“I asked him to help us out and told him I’d try to repay him. That’s how it came about in the space of one-and-a-half hours, and we got a really good deal out of the situation. When I spoke to Tony, he trusted what I said. We’ve already got (Marcus) Bettinelli here and maybe that helped.”