The Ole Gunnar Solskjaer period of Cardiff City feels like an abject horror show. He took over a team in red who were out of the relegation zone and proceeded to get us relegated. The football was rubbish, the guy was an absolute wet blanket, and he left with his tail between his legs just eight months after joining. He was replaced, quite publicly, by Russell Slade, who proved to be relatively successful in comparison.
Ole was afforded ample opportunity to spend when he was at the club. January saw several player join and the summer was a veritable spending spree as Cardiff looked to bounce back at the first opportunity. And while his reign was, largely, a failure some of his signings weren’t so bad. So lets take a look at five of the best from the Ole era:
5. Sean Morrison – £3m from Reading
Coming in from Reading for a reported £3m, Morrison didn’t really set the world on fire when he first signed. Perhaps more known for his cereal eating and his toilet habits, he blew hot and cold that first season before being made captain in his second season. Becoming captain really gave Morrison a new lease of life and since then, he’s become a key player for Cardiff. It’s hard to imagine Cardiff City without Moz in the lineup. Player of the year during our promotion season, who can forget his goal against Hull that all but confirmed promotion for the club? He’s been in and out of the side this season but it’s hard to disagree that we look more solid in recent weeks for his inclusion. Six years later, Moz feels like a player who could be in our team for another six years.
4. Bruno Ecuele Manga – £5m from Lorient
A deadline day signing in 2014, coming for a hefty fee of around 5m Euros. Not much was known about our Bruno. He signed from Lorient and had previously been linked with Premiership clubs such as Arsenal. Similar to Moz, that first season saw glimpses of a classy defender but the team was often unsettled. It always felt like Bruno was a summer away from leaving but he stuck around and under Warnock, he thrived. He became our best defender, playing at right back in the Premier League and looking as adept there as he did at centre back. It was a real shame when he left this summer. He was a bright and buoyant footballer who was a cut above at times. We were lucky to have him and we miss him a lot.
3. Anthony Pilkington – £875,000 from Norwich
Signed for £875k, Pilks was a bit of a bargain. He’d had two good seasons in the Premiership with Norwich and then a slightly poorer one before decamping to Cardiff. But it was a bit of a coup to get him to sign and while he didn’t set the world on fire that first season, he was a consistent performer across the latter two. Scorer of important goals, he was an angry winger who later got deployed as a striker. There will always be a question of what if around Pilks. He was marginalised in the promotion season under Warnock but was still involved in some pivotal moments; that late equaliser against Sheffield United, a penalty win against Wolves. Many fans will wonder why he wasn’t played more and why he wasn’t included in our Premier League squad when we needed someone who knew where the goal was…
2. Kenwyne Jones – Free transfer from Stoke
Coming in that January window, he only managed one goal as Cardiff toiled against relegation. But back in the Championship, he was an important player. In one and a half seasons in the Championship with Cardiff, he scored 16 goals in around 50 games. Which is good going for a Cardiff striker and something we’d take with glee now. It’s hard to pick out any memorable moments but he scored goals and any striker who can do that for Cardiff deserves praise. He helped Bournemouth get promoted on loan during his third season with us before moving off for spells in the Middle East and the MLS.
1. Fabio – Free transfer from Manchester United
Ole made something like 20 signings across two windows and beyond this five and Mats Moller Daehli, it’s hard to remember the impact of any of the others. Fabio gets in purely because he was a footballer all Cardiff fans could enjoy. Slightly unhinged, a real 100% player who gave it all every game and had a great rapport with the fans. Highlights included an absolute worldy away at Middlesborough, a beautiful looped volley into the top corner. It’s a shame he didn’t get to stay during the good times because he was a good footballer and one of the players to come out with good credit during an awful period. Remains the only Brazilian international to ever play for Cardiff.