Premier League flops of the season – part one

Posted by - May 18, 2011 - Lists, Premier League, Ranting and Raving

I’m not angry, i’m disappointed

With the best will in the world, I aimed to make this a top ten feature. However, with a shortlist of about 35 names, I simply had to break it down into two parts. So it is ten today, and ten tomorrow, and very few people spared my wrath.

20. Winston Reid
There is a general rule against signing players based on a couple of decent performances at a World Cup, especially when the country they represent massively overachieved. West Ham did not heed this advice when they shelled out a ridiculous £4million to Danish club FC Midtjylland for the New Zealand defender.

Reid has been trusted with three starts in the Premier League, at over a million pounds a pop, and will probably be allowed to leave this summer after relegation.

19. Joe Cole
Joe would be a lot higher up this list if he hadn’t been free.

There were a few eyebrows raised when the England midfielder was allowed to leave Chelsea, and the Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard was suitably impressed:

“Messi can do some amazing things, but anything he can do Joe can do as well, if not better. He used to shock us in training by doing footy tricks with a golf ball that most players can’t even do with a football. I really fancy Joe for the Player of the Season award this season”

How did that turn out?

18. Nikola Zigic
It’s not just that Zigic has been a little bit rubbish, it’s the logic of spending £6million on a striker that was 30 a month after you bought him and had scored just 18 league goals in four seasons.

Zigic has scored five goals in 25 league games, but just doesn’t quite look the part, with only three goals since October. When the going has got tough for Birmingham, Zigic has gone noticeably quiet.

17. Arsene Wenger
A season of ‘what might have been’ for Wenger and Arsenal. But with the club getting so close only to bottle it at the final hurdle time and time again, serious questions have been asked of Wenger’s philosophy.

Why has he not invested in leaders? Why has he made poor defensive signings? And why do Arsenal seemingly lack a plan B when their Barcelona-lite football does not pay off?

He may answer these queries this summer, but it’s a year too late.

16. Stephen Ireland
It was not outrageous to suggest last summer that Aston Villa got the best out of the James Milner deal, bringing Ireland to Villa Park. But it has been an annus horriblis for the Irish midfielder. Whether through injury, lack of desire or dreadful home furnishing judgment, Ireland has gone from international class to run-of-the-mill Premier League player in 8 months.

Started just five games for Villa (none of which they won) before being allowed to move to Newcastle on loan in January, where he has since played 49 minutes of Premier League football. Remarkably, Ireland has featured in just one Premier League win this season.

15. Paul Konchesky
It seems crazy that it was only a year ago that Konchesky was playing in a Europa League final and was possibly England’s second choice left back. The dream move came to Liverpool, where he could show that he was ready for the big time….oh.

In fairness was involved in 16 Premier League games at Anfield, but only won four league games under Roy Hodgson and did not make a single appearance under King Kenny. Then loaned to Nottingham Forest, where I can reveal that he was steady without touching outstanding. It was almost as if he had found his true level.

14. Matthew Upson
Whilst this is only the third highest of the West Ham entrants, it would be fair to say that Matthew Upson’s reputation has been ravaged this season.

His club was in the mire, and it needed leaders. Scott Parker could not do it alone. Instead, Upson simply meandered through the season, part of a defence that has been, at times, non-existent. Such a let down from a player when it mattered most, and may have put paid to his international career.

13. Edin Dzeko
Has shown glimpses of his talent, but would have finished far higher up this list but for his important winner at Blackburn last month. I am a firm believer in giving foreign players (particularly young ones) the time to settle into a new club in a new country with a new language, but for £27million, City fans must have expected more.

Has often displayed a first touch that means he is constantly battling to protect the ball, and that is fairly unreasonable for a striker that came for such a fee.

12. Christian Poulsen
Roy Hodgson’s Liverpool tenure wasn’t all bad when you consider the impression that Raul Meireles has made. But then there were the results. And Konchesky. And Cole. And then Christian Poulsen. Signed for £4.5million, it is one of modern football’s greatest mysteries as to how the Danish midfielder held down a regular place at Juventus, Sevilla and Schalke.

Is neither an enforcer or an attacker, and displays no apparent urgency to rush forwards or back. Has played twelve times in the Premier League (but not since February), and last started a game in January. It would appear that Liverpool have learnt their mistake, and the Dane will head for pastures new this summer.

11. Bebe
Don’t get me wrong, United have had an unbelievable season, and Fergie’s input has been instrumental. But what was he thinking? I wrote a piece in January labelling the worst signings of the season at that point, and was criticised for not giving Bebe time.

Has played 75 minutes of football all season, which includes being brought on after ten minutes and then being subbed off himself after 75.

Has the potential to drift off into the unknown, which for a £7.4million striker is fairly impressive.

The final ten follows tomorrow…

  • Stuart Otterson

    Dzeko gets a lot of stick, though I’m not too worried myself. I reckon with a fresh season he’ll come good and it’ll be one of those moments where everyone is showering praise on a previously faltering player. Worse aspect would be putting up with this cliché narrative in the football news commentary.

  • Boohoo

    Bit harsh on Reid with only 3 starts. Not his fault if the gaffer won’t let him settle into the team with game time. The way WHU shipped goals last season perhaps he should have been given more of a chance.

  • Boohoo

    Also Zigic. He’s a crash and bang striker. He’s there to shake things loose, create distractions, bring the ball down for the nimble ones to thrash into the net, draw the pain, etc. He’s never going to get you 20 a season. With the right team tactics, structure and support players he could yet be very effective in the Prem. I’d probably rather him than Emile Heskey. Maybe I just like megafauna.

  • Boohoo

    Konchesky was a perfect symbol of why Hodgson was wrong for Liverpool. Modest player, honest (as they say), totally lacking in nous and that intangible kind of naive but stirring surpass-myself-courage that has been the Liverpool brand over the years. Hoddo played too safe with a hack and it all ended up in tears.

  • Boohoo

    Cole. Agreed, certainly disappointing. I think players who get to the ‘big time’ early – 17 or so – have trouble going the distance. They seem to burn out either physically or mentally before they are 30, whereas players who arrive a bit later are better able to manage the various career pressures. Norman Whiteside. Frank Stapleton. Michael Owen. Rooney looked like a grumpy old man last season but he’s just 25. He’s not ready for Dubai yet but it’s worrying. I hope there’s more life in Cole as he’s given much joy over the years. Maybe one of the promoted clubs and a licence to be his impish self? Grasping here.
    Thanks Daniel for a thought-provoking piece. Look forward to the rest!