A-CORN: CITY'S WORSE SIGNING EVER?

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A-CORN: CITY'S WORSE SIGNING EVER?

Postby Sven » Tue Mar 24, 2020 1:08 am

The story of one of Cardiff City's worst signings and what happened next
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Tuesday 24th March 2020


He was such an exciting prospect when he signed on the dotted line - what happened next saw an almighty fallout in South Wales


Andreas Cornelius’ tale is one of unfulfilled promise, poor timing and, thankfully, it had a happier ending once he left the Welsh capital.

It was the beginning of the Bluebirds’ striker crisis. Michael Chopra and Jay Bothroyd had both left two years before and City were desperately searching for a new marksman to carry the torch.

A series of hit-and-miss strikers followed the fabled Chopra-Bothroyd axis, but, having forked out a club-record £8million for Copenhagen prodigy Cornelius, City fans were ravenous with anticipation when the Dane signed on the dotted line in June 2013.

They were excited by the prospect of this talented youngster leading the line for Malky Mackay in the top flight. Alas, it wasn’t to be.

But he will forever be bundled into the list of strikers who never made the grade at Cardiff City.

Whether that is down to player, mismanagement or the weighty expectation borne from a lofty price tag, we will likely never know. But everyone will certainly have their own opinion.


The background

All signs pointed towards Cornelius becoming a hit in the Welsh capital, to be fair.

At 6ft 5ins, he looked more than well equipped to deal with the physicality of Premier League football.

He was young, too, only 20 years old, and there was a feeling that he would only get better with age, a school of thought rightly based on his stellar performances for Copenhagen as a teenager.

Big, physical and, having scored 18 goals in the Superliga that season, the league’s top scorer, had a keen eye for the back of the net.

On the face of it, it appeared Cornelius was signed as a prospect rather than a ready-made fix. No one in their right mind seriously thought he was the man to spearhead the line week in, week out in the Premier League.

But did he have the potential to do so in years to come? Undoubtedly.

And he wasn’t short of suitors that summer, with Everton, Stoke City and CSKA Moscow also said to have been interested, understandably given his rise to prominence that year in Denmark.

[i]“There were opportunities for me this summer and I had to think about what was the right thing to do, the correct step for me to take in terms of my career,” said Cornelius after signing.

“I was impressed by what the club is trying to do, the fact it has reached the Premier League and that it has a passionate fan base supporting it.

“It’s been a busy few days as I graduated from university back home over the weekend. Both school and football are very important to me, so I had to structure my plans in order to achieve in both.”


A grounded, talented, ambitious young man who wanted to further his career in football, improve and stamp his mark on the Danish national team.

It was Mackay’s first signing of the summer ahead of the club’s maiden Premier League visit and, as far as the fans’ view on Cornelius is concerned, all the signs were there: This guy could be a real player.


The reality

Cornelius’ dream move, quite rapidly, turned into a nightmare.

He accrued a little more than 100 minutes of football, shared across eight Premier League games, and failed to register a goal for the Bluebirds in a nightmare campaign which saw them relegated at the first opportunity.

While Cornelius was seen as tomorrow’s player, City needed answers today.

Fraizer Campbell led the line and was supplemented firstly by Peter Odemwingie and then Stoke City’s Kenwyne Jones, when the pair swapped clubs in the January.

They scored eight goals between them all season.

Of Cardiff’s first 11 games of the campaign, Cornelius was omitted from 10 match-day squads, playing just a solitary minute in that famous 3-2 victory over Manchester City.

That was largely down to a nasty ankle injury he sustained in a League Cup clash with Accrington Stanley, in which he was carried off on a stretcher.

It was a blow for him personally, too, with the three months of absence meaning he missed out on Denmark’s qualification matches for the 2014 World Cup.

Far from an ideal start to the player’s City career, to say the least.

When Ole Gunnar Solskjaer replaced Mackay midway through that season, head of recruitment Ian Moody was also sacked, and Cornelius had recovered from that ankle issue, the striker was afforded a number of opportunities, but failed to grab them with any real conviction.

After the new year, he played just 12 minutes of Premier League football against West Ham before sealing a move back to Copenhagen - six months after leaving the Danish capital.


Solskjaer said in that January: “Andreas had a tough time with injuries and there is always a transition period with the culture and tempo.

“I had a great first season at Man United, then I did my ankle and the whole second half I couldn’t get up to the pace of the Premier League.

“So that’s what we’re doing now with Andreas. We’re trying to get him going and working on his confidence.

“He’s not had any luck in front of goal, so we’ll work every day putting crosses in and getting him fit. He will make an impact at the club.”


Just two weeks later, though, Cornelius, who was reported to be on £45,000 a week at Cardiff City, sealed a return home back to his former club Copenhagen.

The Bluebirds were reported to have lost £5m on his exit, leaving owner Vincent Tan scarred for quite some time.

“Andreas is a young player who is going to have a good career,” Solskjaer said of Cornelius following his departure.

“He realised he was not going to get his chance here and it was better to restart his career. He had a tough time but that’s how football is sometimes.

“The player’s transfer fee and wages are not his fault.

“If you get offered £10 or £1, what will you take? Of course he is not going to say no I am not worth £10 I am going to take £1. You can’t blame him whatsoever.”



The ugly fallout

Many believe that the ill-judged signing of Cornelius was ultimately the reason Mackay lost his job.

Tan was furious with the outlay given how little he got in terms of the player in return and was seething with the millions of pounds the club lost when he returned back to Copenhagen six months later.

In an interview back in 2017, the Malaysian businessman launched an astonishing attack on former City boss Mackay, branding him an ‘idiot’ for Cornelius’ signing.

“It was unfortunate that we only stayed in the Premier League for one season,” said Tan.

“You know the main reason, I always say, and I have told Mehmet [Dalman, Cardiff’s chairman] the same, is that we spent a lot of money there - I think it was £50m.

“What did we get? We paid £10.5m for Cornelius who didn’t even play 45 minutes and then the manager said he was a project.

“I’m in the Premier League, I need to survive. What an idiot he [Mackay] is.”


Following the exit of Cornelius, Tan was correctly reticent to fork out such princely sums of money so readily in the years which followed.

It was a case of once bitten, twice shy for the Bluebirds owner.


A new start?

In the relative comfort of his home city, Cornelius picked up where left off for Copenhagen.

He hit the ground running in the back half of that campaign in 2014, scoring six goals, before helping the club two back-to-back league and cup doubles the following two seasons.

In the 2016/17 season, his final year at the club, he was back to his prolific best, hammering 21 goals in 47 games to earn another move to Serie A outfit Atalanta.

The towering striker managed only six goals in his first season in Italy, however, before being shipped out to French club Bordeaux on loan, where he scored only three goals in 29 games all season.

It looked like his once-promising career was grinding to an abrupt halt, but he sealed a move to Italian club Parma last summer and he has finally found somewhere outside of Copenhagen where he can thrive.

He has scored eight goals in 15 Serie A games before the league was stopped owing to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic and it finally looks as though, at 26, he is beginning to realise his potential.


What has he said about his time at Cardiff City?

At the time of his exit, it was all a little bit messy.

A source close to the controversial Bluebirds owner said shortly after Solskjaer had been appointed: “Mackay was instructed to go out and buy a Bentley.

“He got the funds to get some top quality international players but Mr Tan feels Mackay bought a Toyota instead.”


In response to those frank words, Cornelius said: “It just shows that he does not understand football, you can’t compare footballers with cars.

“You don’t know what you get in the same way as when you buy a car.

“There are many other factors that come into play, so you can’t just compare it that way.”


“I’ve never met him, so it must be for his own good.”


While he could be forgiven for looking back at his time in the Welsh capital with disdain, Cornelius, with the benefit of hindsight, is eloquent and measured in his assessment of his time with the Bluebirds.

“I remember Cardiff was a big experience for me,” said Cornelius in 2018.

“It was a good opportunity for me to go from Copenhagen to the Premier League and I was excited, but a lot of things happened and it didn’t work out.

“Maybe I went to Cardiff too early in my career, I don’t know. There were a lot of different things going on at the time with the manager and then the sports director (Moody) got sacked.

“When I look back on it all, maybe it’s right I was caught in the middle of something.”



When asked about how he felt when Tan revealed his sizeable wage packet, Cornelius, who was on loan at Bordeaux at the time, replied: “It was unusual, but it didn’t bother me. I have moved on with my career and I’m in a good place. I have been in Serie A and now I’m in the French League.

“I’m very happy so far and it’s all in the past. I’ve played in the Champions League with Copenhagen, I played at the World Cup this summer, and I’ve played in two big leagues after the Premier League.


“Maybe I’ll play in the Premier League again, but in my opinion it’s not the only place where football is good. The Premier League is not the only great league in the world, there are definitely other good leagues and maybe better leagues than the Premier League.”


Cardiff’s worst-ever signing?

Well, let’s first and foremost add the caveat that most of this is not the player’s fault.

He didn’t ask to be bought for £8m and he was just a kid when City waved £45,000 a week in front of his face.

It is always so hard to prove your worth when you cost that amount of money, carrying the burden of being the most expensive signing in the club’s long and rich history.

We have most recently seen Josh Murphy lumbered with the £11m price tag and it makes it all the more difficult for these players to live up to their billing.

In terms of worst signings, though, people will have their own in mind.

Many branded £6m striker Gary Madine the club’s worst ever business when he left in January, having failed to register a single goal in three years and 28 appearances.

One thing is for certain, if he appears near the top of fans’ lists it is not due to the quality of the player, because he has proved elsewhere he can cut it.

It will be down to the gross overpayment and ultimate mismanagement of a player who could quite conceivably have gone on to become a top player.

Instead he was shooed away at the first time of asking, without really being given a fair crack of the whip.
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"Never argue with an idiot; they'll drag you down to their gutter level and beat you with experience!"
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A-CORN: CITY'S WORSE SIGNING EVER?

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Re: A-CORN: CITY'S WORSE SIGNING EVER?

Postby Sven » Tue Mar 24, 2020 1:12 am

Not for me, as I thought he was a little hard done by after the ankle injury and never really got a fair crack of the whip

Although it would be easy to argue that Premier League survival was top of everyone's agenda, I felt the club (maybe Vincent Tan?) should have been a little more patient and maybe the following season back in The Championship might have seen him develop into the player Malky thought he was buying?

Doing well now, so it seems and I wish him nothing but success :ayatollah:
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Re: A-CORN: CITY'S WORSE SIGNING EVER?

Postby dogfound » Tue Mar 24, 2020 1:46 am

Sven wrote:Not for me, as I thought he was a little hard done by after the ankle injury and never really got a fair crack of the whip

Although it would be easy to argue that Premier League survival was top of everyone's agenda, I felt the club (maybe Vincent Tan?) should have been a little more patient and maybe the following season back in The Championship might have seen him develop into the player Malky thought he was buying?

Doing well now, so it seems and I wish him nothing but success :ayatollah:



sorry. but that transfer fee and 45k a week back then for someone who might develop into a championship player..
no mate, this was our first time in the top tier ,a lifetimes dream and we buy a gamble for ridiculous money. in all my years if there was ever a time to not have a record signing on the biggest wages ever paid for..one for the future...that was it..
he does seem to be scoring for Parma but nearly 5 years on and transfer fees having spiralled a club has yet to pay even half as much for him that we did..
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Re: A-CORN: CITY'S WORSE SIGNING EVER?

Postby Sven » Tue Mar 24, 2020 2:09 am

dogfound wrote:
Sven wrote:Not for me, as I thought he was a little hard done by after the ankle injury and never really got a fair crack of the whip

Although it would be easy to argue that Premier League survival was top of everyone's agenda, I felt the club (maybe Vincent Tan?) should have been a little more patient and maybe the following season back in The Championship might have seen him develop into the player Malky thought he was buying?

Doing well now, so it seems and I wish him nothing but success :ayatollah:



sorry. but that transfer fee and 45k a week back then for someone who might develop into a championship player..
no mate, this was our first time in the top tier ,a lifetimes dream and we buy a gamble for ridiculous money. in all my years if there was ever a time to not have a record signing on the biggest wages ever paid for..one for the future...that was it..
he does seem to be scoring for Parma but nearly 5 years on and transfer fees having spiralled a club has yet to pay even half as much for him that we did..

But was he City's worst signing ever...or maybe simply Malky's?

I'm not in either camp, as there have been far worse signings (another thread?) although I see your point :thumbup:
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Re: A-CORN: CITY'S WORSE SIGNING EVER?

Postby dogfound » Tue Mar 24, 2020 2:19 am

Sven wrote:
dogfound wrote:
Sven wrote:Not for me, as I thought he was a little hard done by after the ankle injury and never really got a fair crack of the whip

Although it would be easy to argue that Premier League survival was top of everyone's agenda, I felt the club (maybe Vincent Tan?) should have been a little more patient and maybe the following season back in The Championship might have seen him develop into the player Malky thought he was buying?

Doing well now, so it seems and I wish him nothing but success :ayatollah:



sorry. but that transfer fee and 45k a week back then for someone who might develop into a championship player..
no mate, this was our first time in the top tier ,a lifetimes dream and we buy a gamble for ridiculous money. in all my years if there was ever a time to not have a record signing on the biggest wages ever paid for..one for the future...that was it..
he does seem to be scoring for Parma but nearly 5 years on and transfer fees having spiralled a club has yet to pay even half as much for him that we did..

But was he City's worst signing ever...or maybe simply Malky's?

I'm not in either camp, as there have been far worse signings (another thread?) although I see your point :thumbup:



I think if he cost half as much on half or a third of those wages then fair enough... but having sat and watched the warm ups myself id be very angry if I was VT.. I was very angry being me and id only bought a ST..
the bit ive never understood was him going back....apparently they gave us some money back. but what happened to that 7 million pound contract { 45k over 3 years } ? I don't think I would just walk away from it and doubt Copenhagen had that sort of cash..
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Re: A-CORN: CITY'S WORSE SIGNING EVER?

Postby Tony Blue Williams » Tue Mar 24, 2020 9:19 am

dogfound wrote:

I think if he cost half as much on half or a third of those wages then fair enough... but having sat and watched the warm ups myself id be very angry if I was VT.. I was very angry being me and id only bought a ST..
the bit ive never understood was him going back....apparently they gave us some money back. but what happened to that 7 million pound contract { 45k over 3 years } ? I don't think I would just walk away from it and doubt Copenhagen had that sort of cash..


That is a very good question. Players don't walk away from £45kpw contracts and accept something less. We must have paid a substantial amount of money to A-Corn for him to have moved back to Copenhagen who couldn't possibly have afforded anything near that.

However, I do remember something about us receiving a few million of £'s as part of a sell on deal when he left Denmark for Italy.
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Re: A-CORN: CITY'S WORSE SIGNING EVER?

Postby Tony Blue Williams » Tue Mar 24, 2020 9:22 am

I don't know if anyone knows this but was there any link between MM and A-Corn's agent?

Recently it has emerged that a lot of our recent duff signings can be traced back to NW's sons player agency.
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Re: A-CORN: CITY'S WORSE SIGNING EVER?

Postby 7777 glt » Tue Mar 24, 2020 11:41 am

Tony Blue Williams wrote:I don't know if anyone knows this but was there any link between MM and A-Corn's agent?

Recently it has emerged that a lot of our recent duff signings can be traced back to NW's sons player agency.

An unproven 20-year-old player that was on 6 grand a week and given a 45 grand a week contract was a very dodgy deal in my view, he would have come to Cardiff for much less to play in the Premiership .... the whole package to bring him here was £10 million (Tan's words) ..... A woeful signing, signed off by a naive and badly advised owner who put his trust in people that took the piss
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Re: A-CORN: CITY'S WORSE SIGNING EVER?

Postby EastleighBlue » Tue Mar 24, 2020 7:03 pm

Gary Madine must run as a very close second. Terrible waste of money in fee and salary and look where he is now.
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Re: A-CORN: CITY'S WORSE SIGNING EVER?

Postby Foghorn65 » Tue Mar 24, 2020 7:16 pm

NW and his son. Dodgy. Very dodgy. MM and his dealings dodgy. Very dodgy. Gone on for years. Pretence. Pocket lining. No questions asked. Disgrace. Hard workers pay for this through our support.
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Re: A-CORN: CITY'S WORSE SIGNING EVER?

Postby 2blue2handle » Tue Mar 24, 2020 8:19 pm

For me by far the worst and by some distance. You have to remember at the time the 8m plus was a hell of a lot of money compared to now and even more importantly how we were craving out for a striker to lean the line in the premier league.

Without a doubt, a terrible signing and the worse in our history
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