The top 20 worst Cardiff signings of the century, part one

Yes, I know it’s a bit mean, but we’ve already covered Cardiff City’s best 20 signings!

Look, if you’re getting it right 50% of the time, you’re doing OK. It’s inevitable that you will get it wrong in the transfer market, sometimes horribly so and one day you might even sign a player that the owner will never forgive you for. Such is life.

Also, it is important to acknowledge that sometimes unforeseen circumstances result in a player failing, it’s not always because they’re shite or don’t care. The manager that signed you may leave, injuries may ravage your time at a club, or maybe you’re just shite and don’t care. Here goes.

20 – Eddie Johnson on loan from Fulham, 2008

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Look, I’m not trying to kill Bambi here, I know you all love him, but he wasn’t very good, was he? No one wants to be a cult hero for being a bit crap, but Eddie arrived on loan during the final season at Ninian Park with that American can-do spirit and just couldn’t. He was a trier though, in his application but also of patience.

To be fair, he was competing for a place against Ross McCormack, Jay Bothroyd and Michael Chopra, maybe Cardiff’s best pool of strikers this century, so Eddie (it’s always Eddie, never Johnson) had an unenviable task. He got his happy ending though and fans have been able to, rather condescendingly, claim that they were there when Eddie scored ever since.

19 – Kagisho Dikgacoi from Crystal Palace, 2014

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When Cardiff signed Kagisho Dikgacoi from Crystal Palace, their then manager Tony Pulis said the following: “Cardiff have made him a fantastic offer. Cardiff is a good football club. There’s obviously tremendous potential there and he’ll be desperate to get back into the Premiership. Physically he’s a powerhouse and he’s got all the attributes to do very well for them. If they get him fit and keep him fit he’ll be a good player.”

Suffice to say, the writing was on the wall. Dikgacoi was overpaid and rarely fit during a period when Cardiff wasted massive amounts of money. Signed as part of an Ole Gunnar Solskjaer post-relegation spree, he barely featured in his first year, played a bit more in his second year under Russell Slade and saw his third year cancelled. He went on to play one more season in his native South Africa and then called it a day.

18 – Jason Byrne from Shelbourne, 2007

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Not to be mistaken with the more successful stand-up comedian, this Jason Byrne was Robbie Keane’s cousin and looked like a potato that looked like Robbie Keane. He moved to Cardiff because his old team in Ireland had been broken up due to tax irregularities and cost about as much as Robbie Keane’s weekly wage.

Byrne came off the bench to score the winner on his debut at Wolves and that was about it really. A goal machine in Ireland, the arrivals of Robbie Fowler and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink saw him off at Cardiff, so he returned to Ireland and continued to plunder more goals. 222 in the end! Feck.

17 – Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, 2007

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Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink was not actually a terrible signing. If anything, he proved to be better than expected. Cardiff clearly did not expect ‘cash in the bank,’ as Jimmy Floyd was suitably nicknamed, to feature in 36 league games because that would activate an additional year. Bearing in mind that he was on £15,000-a-week at the time and the club were on their uppers.

They claimed that they had a verbal agreement to waive the clause, while Hasselbaink appeared to claim that it was not worth the paper it wasn’t written on. He returned to pre-season training and was not allowed in. An agreement was eventually reached, presumably to Cardiff’s detriment.

16 – Kevin Campbell, 2006

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Cardiff have signed a fair few players over the years, seemingly without a clue of how best to use them. Kevin Campbell was the first in many respects. A technically gifted striker coming towards the end of his career, Campbell’s strength was his hold up play, so naturally Cardiff made him work the channels and wasted him. See also, in many respects, Gary Madine. Campbell lasted a year, retired and is now a bow tie-wearing pundit.

15 – Jo Inge Berget from Molde, 2014

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Speaking of waste, in the aftermath of Cardiff’s first spell in the Premier League, players were being signed and released all over the place. Jo Inge Berget probably epitomises that period like no other. One of three Norwegian players brought in by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, I cannot comment on if he was any good or not because I blinked and missed him.

Berget played 12 minutes of Premier League football and an hour in the FA Cup before departing for Celtic on loan. His contract was subsequently terminated when Russell Slade was brought in to take out the trash and he headed for Sweden, where he shot back the following barbed comment: “Malmo is a team that plays and does not want to hit long balls.” Ouch. He now plays with David Villa at New York City FC in MLS.

14 – Javi Guerra, 2014

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One place ahead of Berget is Javi Guerra, another casualty of this period, who clocked up even less minutes than Berget (41), but looked a player. Cardiff are currently benefitting from the more refined talents of Victor Camarasa and in flashes, Guerra looked like he would be a real asset, but he never got more than a few brief cameos.

It probably wasn’t the smartest of moves to bring in an untested 31-year-old to an expensive, three-year deal and they probably wouldn’t do that now, but such was life at the time. Signed as a free agent, off the back of an impressive 15 La Liga goals in 37 games for Valladolid, Guerra lasted six months before he was sent back to Spain on loan to Malaga. A real dish and a real waste.

13 – Fan Zhiyi, 2002

On the subject of old fogies, Fan Zhiyi has to go down as one of the stranger signings Cardiff has made in their modern era. The Chinese great, 32 at the time, arrived mid-season in 2002 and only played half a dozen games. He was Man of the Match in his first game and had already peaked. As largely pointless as his move proved to be, I do recall him spanking in an absolute stunner for Cardiff reserves once, so there is that.

12 – Andrea Ferretti, 2005

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Andrea Ferretti was an Alex Ferguson recommendation. He helped himself to future Italy international Giuseppe Rossi and palmed off Ferretti on Cardiff. With friends like these, who needs enemies. After 13 appearances for the Bluebirds and an unsuccessful loan spell with Scunthorpe United, Dave Jones shipped him out claiming he was too “lightweight” for the hustle and bustle of the Championship. Ferretti, who will soon celebrate his 32nd birthday, is currently plying his trade back home in Serie C with FeralpiSalo.

11 – Etien Velikonja from Maribor, 2012

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Etien Velikonja is essentially the modern Andrea Ferretti, but no less successful. The Slovenian arrived in July 2012 for reportedly close to £2m, a record sale for the country at the time, as part of a lavish post-rebrand spree. Vincent Tan wanted him and Malky Mackay didn’t, or so the story goes, so Malky just didn’t play him.

Velikonja started the final game of the season, which was effectively a dead rubber, and was hooked at half time. Who knows if that was a power play from Mackay, but it’s hard to not feel a bit sorry for Velikonja. Suffice to say, if this caused a mere ripple, another striker would soon arrive and cause a nuclear fallout. More about that in part two though, coming next week!