It would be quite easy for us to simply list the ten most booked players in Premier League history, but that doesn’t necessarily provide much analysis.
Therefore on a glum late Tuesday evening (Arsenal out, Forest losing, Leeds winning) we sat down with an Excel spreadsheet and worked out who are the worst culprits in terms of the regularity of their cautions. I understand that may seem dreary to some, but it’s foreplay to a football obsessive.
So, who gets or got booked the most often according to their number of PL starts? Forty yellow cards to qualify…
10. Robbie Savage – booked every 3.88 starts
Ahhh, starting off with my old and trusty friend. To be honest, given the stick he gets for being dirty, Robbie is probably happy to be so low on this list. Word of warning however: Savage has spent the twilight of his career below Premier League level, and this is notoriously when bookings are most often picked up. For further information, see Scholes, Paul and Giggs, Ryan.
9. Kieran Richardson – booked every 3.88 starts
One of a couple of players on this list that you wouldn’t have guessed if asked to write down 100 dirty players, but the reason for his inclusion is three-fold (and two folds of these are at least insightful): 1. He has played all of his career at a time when bookings are chucked about like hookers on a pre-season tour to La Manga. 2. He is an attacking player converted into a left-back, therefore tackling is possibly not a strongest suit. 3. He has something of whining, conniving little rat about him.
8. Scott Parker – booked every 3.74 starts
His inclusion on this list is clearly due to the fact that he has had to be the lynchpin in two teams in his career (Charlton and West Ham), a driving force often relied upon to cover a potentially flimsy defence (although it must be mentioned Charlton’s defenders were infinitely less culpable than those of the ‘Ammers).
7. Patrick Vieira – booked every 3.73 starts
The first of the big pretenders, shall we say. But in a list in which Bowyer, Keane and Thatcher are missing, one of the bad boys is certainly present.
Vieira was the hard man in a hard Arsenal team, but it would be a salient point to remark that despite his disciplinary record, his impetus and leadership is sadly missing from today’s Arsenal. It cannot be a coincidence that his last kick for the club won them their last trophy.
6. Ivan Campo – booked every 3.65 starts
Again, for me personally this is a surprise inclusion. In arriving from Spain, perhaps the pace of the English game came as a surprise to Campo the Trampo, but he was immense in his days at the Reebok. However delicately you make the point, perhaps the real reason for his presence was the style of football instigated by Fat Sam.
It does rather lend itself to bookings, shall we say.
5. Danny Mills – booked every 3.57 starts
A genuine home banker (and there are more to follow). It would not be unfair to describe Mills as a hard nut, principally during his time at Charlton, Leeds and Manchester City.
His tackling from right-back was sturdy and Mills seemingly liked to relive the ‘good old days’ by making his first challenge on a winger ‘one to remember’.
As a definition of the ‘judging a book by its cover’ lesson however, Mills has become patron of spinal charity ASBAH, and even completed the Brighton marathon using a wheelchair.
4. John Moncur – booked every 3.54 starts
Come on, who outside of the East End had this one as a contender?
A quick delve into the statistics makes it clear however. For four consecutive seasons from 1999, Moncur was booked at least 8 times despite never making more than 27 starts per campaign. In fact, over this period he received 33 cautions in 83 starts, an incredible record.
So was Moncur just a defensive midfielder out of his depth? Make your own call on that one.
3. David Thompson – booked every 3.53 starts
Throughout his time at six different Premier League clubs, Thompson amassed 47 yellows and three red cards. Part of this figure may be due to the fact that many of Thompson’s appearances were as a substitute, but the fact remains that Thompson could best be described as a ‘nuisance’.
As an epitome of this, Thompson became embroiled in a heated argument with Gerard Houllier during a Blackburn – Liverpool game, shortly after being seen to punch John Arne Riise. Nice.
After being phased out at Blackburn, Thompson was forced to retire in 2007 due to a cartilage problem.
2. Joey Barton – booked every 3.49 starts
Just had to make an appearance didn’t he. Joey may claim that he is the victim of reputation, but his appetite for collecting bookings has certainly not ceased.
It is not necessary to embark on an appraisal of Barton’s misdemeanours, but what is significant is that Barton has only damaged himself: he would surely have been awarded more England caps had his repute not been so drastically tarnished.
1. Lee Cattermole – booked every 3.13 starts
The gap between Cattermole and Barton in second place is larger that between Barton and 8th place. Surely that says something.
The Sunderland midfielder would certainly point to the defence that yellow cards are easier to pick up in the days of feigning injuries and fancy-dan footballers (and I didn’t just say foreigners). But Lee, you have 45 bookings in just 141 starts. And you have 5 red cards on top of this.
At this rate, if Cattermole starts as many games as Gary Speed did, he would be booked 171 times and have 19 early baths. Jesus, calm down man!
So, any conclusions? Well only two of the players on this list are from outside our shores. Does this indicate a fondness in this country for the utilisation of the worker-type, the football grafter that gives his all? It certainly means that they pick up the most bookings. And if you are a British football that plays in centre midfield, the future doesn’t look rosy, it looks yellow.