THE BLOG

Cornelius: Just a Pawn in a Game to Discredit Mackay?

14/02/2014 13:47 GMT | Updated 16/04/2014 10:59 BST

Cardiff City are a troubled club.

For fans of a certain vintage that, in itself, is not really too big a surprise. The club has never been a stranger to hard times and controversy. Its current troubles centre predominantly around a hugely divisive owner, a splintered fanbase and a relegation fight that they show little sign of winning. Indeed, a number of long standing supporters are now openly suggesting that relegation will be a palatable option if it hastens the departure of Malaysian owner Vincent Tan.

The latest controversy to surface at Cardiff City has come in the shape of a pretty classless public statement issued by the club's Chief Executive Simon Lim. In it, Lim is highly critical of Cardiff's previous management team of Malky Mackay and Iain Moody, describing them as "imprudent" and "careless," as well as taking thinly veiled swipes at the pair suggesting that they were less than transparent in their recruitment of players last summer.

A sizable chunk of the statement focuses on the signing last June of young Danish striker Andreas Cornelius for a reported fee in the region of £8m. The Dane had made a huge impact in his first full season at FC Copenhagen, scoring 18 goals in 32 appearances and played a pivotal role in the club winning the Danish Superliga title. He also managed to break into his national team. Cornelius looked to be very hot property and Mackay and Moody wasted no time in adding him to their squad at newly promoted Cardiff City. Unfortunately, Cornelius sustained an ankle injury in pre-season that kept him out intermittently for the next few months. When he did finally start to get some game time, it seemed that both his form and confidence had deserted him.

Following the acrimonious departure from the club of Moody and Mackay, Cardiff City rather bizarrely sold Cornelius back to his former club for a cut price fee in the January transfer window. One can only speculate as to whether the decision to offload the young Dane was made by current manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer or whether Vincent Tan, himself, insisted on the sale as part of the pre courtroom posturing - Mackay is believed to be taking legal action against Tan following his sacking at the tail end of 2013.

Frankly, Lim's statement looks like another clumsy attempt to discredit Malky Mackay's time at the club in advance of what looks likely to a bitter and public legal battle between his employer and the Scotsman.

It does have to be said that Mackay's forays into the summer transfer market yielded mixed results in terms of playing contributions and one can certainly question the wisdom of both the transfer fees paid and wage levels of the incumbents at Cardiff City during the pre/early season transfer window. Having said that, Mackay in response to Lim's comments, has reiterated, via the League Managers Association, that every transfer was signed off by the board and Lim himself.

Like many others who fear for the long term financial stability of the club (current debt is well in excess of £100m) I rather hoped that Cardiff City would have used the bulk of the enormous premier league TV bounty to address these debts and leave themselves less beholden to Tan, rather than gamble heavily in the transfer market. The same can be said of the significant stadium expansion currently underway at the South Wales club. Most football club's establish themselves in the top division and use the TV money to build their infrastructure over time. Unfortunately, high risk strategies and erratic behaviour have typified Tan's tenure.

The facts, as far as many Cardiff City fans and onlookers are concerned, are that Mackay did a pretty remarkable job in his time at the club. On a shoestring budget there was a League Cup final and the play-off's in his first season. Promotion in his second against the backdrop of fan unrest following Tan's mindless decision to bastardise Cardiff City's long established identity. Season three saw Cardiff make a very stable start to life in the premier league and even after stories broke of behind the scenes discord, Mackay still kept City out of the bottom three.

Sadly, over the coming months it seems as though the story of a misfiring Dane will continue to be wheeled out by the revisionists keen to rewrite the story of Mackay's time at the club.