2008-09 Flops of the Year
Whilst the football writers are busy casting their votes for player of the year and the erstwhile pros cast their votes for PFA Team of the Year, unfortunately esteemed writers and players are not asked to vote for their dunces of the year. Well I have no such professional integrity to compromise, so I am going to set out my flops of the year. Just to be clear, these are players of whom bigthings were expected or who have been built up under false reputation, players universally acknowledged to be limited won't be included (ahem, Darren Bent). So without further ado, these are this season's ten biggest wastrels.
10.Morten Gamst PEDERSEN (Blackburn Rovers)-Two seasons ago, Pedersen went to Old Trafford and produced a virtuoso two goal performance that gave Rovers a shock victory over United. His seemingly endless cavalcade of wonder goals and peerless set piece delivery made him one of the hottest properties outside of the Premiership quadropoly. Now a distant shadow of the player whose left foot gave right full backs nightmares, rarely looks interested and has developed a nasty, cynical Hyde side opposed to his boyband Jekyll persona. (Pedersen actually is in a Norwegian boyband too- that should and does count against him) neatly encapsulated by his laughable swan dive at chez Gooner.
9.AFONSO ALVES (Middlesbrough)- Since the dawn of Southgate's tenure, Boro have been a side that have struggled to score. So in the January window in 2008, Southgate spent £12.6m on Afonso Alves- who had been tearing up Holland's Eridivisie by all accounts. Whilst his dog with two dicks impression was attributed to acclimatisation last season, this year has seen it look not so much impersonation as apt sobriquet as Alves has troubled the twat with the drum in the North Stand more than he ruffles the goalnet. Alves has become the byword for money burning on Teeside and Southgate has been so underwhelmed that he plays Aliadiere as a lone striker nowadays.
8.Andrea DOSSENA (Liverpool)- Every club's fans has its pantomime villain and the Kop End's current bete noir is summer signing Andrea Dossena. With Finnan, Josemi and Kromkamp having all fallen by the wayside under Rafa's revolving door reign, the fat Spanish waiter thought he had cracked this problem position by signing Italy's first choice sweetheart for £7.2m. Seven months on, Carragher, Skrtel and even Mascherano have kept Dossena's splinter ridden backside firmly planted on the bench. The massive misnomer here is that he has registered goals against Manchester United and Real Madrid this season.
7.Michael BALLACK (Chelsea)- At the business end of last season, with Chelsea's dual pursuit of honours at full tilt, Ballack finally began to demonstrate his obvious quality and experience to carry Chelsea through with some decisive goals and incisive displays. Cut to this season and, in the final year of his contract, aware that Abramovic is more frugal these days, Ballack has looked disinterested, lazy and barely in shape. He appears to have sold the conundrum of how to accomodate himself and Lampard into the same team by simply allowing Lampard to do all of the donkey work. Come to think of it, Abramovic's sole extravagance nowadays appears to be settlements, so maybe Ballack
is trying to get himself sacked?
6.Fabricio COLOCCINI (Newcastle United)- The Magpies really should have seen the warning signs when Spurs took Coloccini on loan in 2005 and did not play him. A commandering performance at Old Trafford on the opening day and a curriculum vitae which includes A.C. Milan and Deportivo La Coruna in their salad days had praise ringing euphoniously in Coloccini's ears. Several dozen awful displays later, that particular dawn has been exposed as counterfeit. Note to all footballers, if you're calamitously bad, do NOT grow a massive curly afro. You only draw the sort of attention that is going to see you included in lists such as this.
5.ROBINHO (Manchester City)- After scoring against not so secret admirers Chelsea on his debut and generally running ragged in the late summer with Citeh- culminating in him masterminding a 6-0 crushing of Pompey- Robinho has not so much gone off the boil since his last goal in November (against Arsenal-naturally) as emptied the contents of the kettle into the sink in a fit if pique. Disinterested away from home, already having had several alleged bust ups with his manager, City's marquee signing has done little to shift his reputation as a cry baby.
4.DECO (Chelsea)- After a masterful home debut against Portsmouth, followed by a beautiful winning goalin the following game against Wigan, Deco had thouhgtful, philosophical and in no way reactionary pundit Jamie Redknapp musing whether he was the finest signing in Premiership history. (This of course after Jamie articulated a thought provoking sermon on the Suez Crisis). Seven months later and Deco has seen more bench than a High Court Judge and has generally been written off as the answer to the question Chelsea were never asking.
3.Nicky SHOREY (Aston Villa)- A few England call ups during an impressive spell at Reading were SOS enough to catch the attention of Martin O'Neill, who airlifted him from the Royals' relegation liner. Shorey was considered one of England's bright young things and was given his chance when Wilfred Bouma obtained a nasty injury in pre season. Now O'Neill opts for Luke Young at left back with either Cuellar or Reo Coker at right back whilst Shorey plays 'this little piggy went to market' in the Villa Park dugout. Also suffered the ignonimy of actually being picked to play for Villa in Moscow in O'Neill's ill fated waifs and strays experiment.
2.Robbie KEANE (Liverpool)- If you are signed for £20m in July and sold for three quarters that amount six months later, you cannot be construed as anything other than a spectacular failure. Keane may have been the unfortunate piggy in the middle of a Parry Benitez squabble, but he also showed that the expectations of a big club are a cut above. His early attempts to prosletyze himself with the Kop by affirming his life long affiliation with the club were instantly exposed when an article appeared from 206 in which he claimed to be a lifelong Celtic fan. His malleable affection was marred only by his wayward finishing which, when put directly adjacent to that of Fernando Torres, was not up to much. Has now accepted his lot and swanned back off to Spurs with his tail firmly between his legs and his gross dissent towards officials still as unsavoury as ever.
1.David BENTLEY (Tottenham Hotpsur)- This time last year, Bentley was trumpeted as the nation's successor to David Beckham- it was all there, the initials, the rubbis hairstyles, the shit eating grin. Only trouble was Tottenham did not scout vigiliantly enough to realise that his cross success rate is about one decent cross to every fifteen cloud botherers. His flash Freddie persona has found him few friends at Tottenham, even though he managed to lob an Arsenal goalie from forty yards! Bottom of his Christmas card list is Harry Redknapp who does not appear to rate him at all, even taking him off at half time in a recent game and unapologetically informing the press, 'David was ill, apparently.' With Aaron Lennon starting to look like he has grasped the precise definition of 'end product', Bentley's self important grin has been replaced with a moonfaced mope, as modelled most effortlessly after missing the crucial spot kick in the Carling Cup Final shootout. N5 has been quick to airmail its sympathy in the shape of several thousand hand gesticulations.LD.
P.S. I am well aware of the irony of the fact that three of my top five have scored against Arsenal this season, so please don't feel you need to point that out.