In recent times I have often pondered about the bottom of the barrel when it comes to Premier League talent. For every Le Tissier and Henry, there is a Boogers and Dundee and for every Ferdinand and Adams, there is a Stepanovs and Nsereko (Google them at your own risk). So what is the Premier League’s Worst XI?
Well, to decide, I have scoured the web for opinions and trawled through my mind to relieve the horrors of some of those players to try and draw up a list. This is by no means a definitive team and will certainly be open to debate therefore I encourage you to leave your thoughts on the worst players or a whole team in the comments section below. Lining up in a basic 4-4-2, here is your eleven:
Massimo Taibi (Manchester United, 4 appearances)
Who else but Taibi? There is only ever one goalkeeper brought to this discussion and it’s always the hapless Italian. The reasons are very simple. Firstly, he was brought in to be the replacement for the legendary Peter Schmeichel after the Dane had left United following their Champions League win. Sadly for the Old Trafford faithful, Taibi was less Peter Schmeichel and more Schmeichel the dog as he flapped and spilled his way through four games at one of the world’s biggest clubs. But the biggest reason that Taibi is in this team is his defining moment in the Premier League, the moment that everyone remembers. Matt Le Tissier hit the world’s weakest shot at goal and Taibi inexplicably managed to let the ball roll through his hands and legs and into the back of the net. What made it worse is that he tried to blame his studs. Unsurprisingly he never played for United again and after just one miserable year he was sent packing back to Italy, his memory lingering like a bad smell.
Jan Kromkamp (Liverpool, 14 appearances)
Rafa Benitez wanted competition for Steve Finnan at right back and his first attempt at that in Josemi was a colossal failure (in fact, Josemi was considered for this list) so as 2006 rolled around, Benitez managed to cut a deal with Spanish side Villarreal where they took Josemi in exchange for their own faltering full back in Jan Kromkamp. The Dutchman was hoping for some kind of renaissance in the Premier League but to say he was out of his depth was an understatement as he struggled with the pace and physicality of the league. Lanky, slightly sluggish and blessed with the innate ability to be incapable of everything, Kromkamp was gone after just seven horrendous months.
Roque Junior (Leeds United, 5 appearances)
The fact that financially strick Leeds United were able to sign World Cup winning centre back Roque Junior on loan was considered a massive coup. Then he played. Then it was considered a coup that AC Milan were able offload him at all. Junior played seven times in total for Leeds (five of those in the league) and had a hand in helping Leeds to concede 24 goals in those seven games. Unsurprisingly, Leeds were relegated and Junior never played in the Premier League ever again.
Pascal Cygan (Arsenal, 63 appearances, 3 goals)
A member of the Invincibles side of 2003-04, Cygan is not remembered with the fondness of the likes of Vieira, Henry and Pires. Perhaps it was his ability to look completely out of place in a side full of classy and technically superb players. Or maybe it was his heart attack inducing style of defending. Whatever it was, one thing was for certain Cygan was a second away from a catastrophic error but despite his clumsiness and seeming lack of knowledge about the art of defending, Arsene Wenger stuck by him. Want to scare an Arsenal fan? Mention Pascal Cygan and watch them squirm in fear.
Djimi Traore (Liverpool/Charlton/Portsmouth, 112 appearances)
Gangly, clumsy, a little bit slow, a little bit reckless and a lot like Bambi on ice, Djimi Traore might just be the most fortunate winner of the Champions League in history. That aside, it says a lot about early-mid 2000s Liverpool that most of Traore’s appearances in the Premier League were at Anfield because they quite simply didn’t have enough depth with John Arne Riise either injured or moved further forward. Traore bumbled and stumbled through his 112 Premier League games and was so bad that he wasn’t good enough for Charlton and was sold six months after joining (Charlton would go on to be relegated). An incredible sight to behold at left back, Traore was always one for an error with none more famous than the own goal at Burnley. Watch it and you’ll know everything you need to about Djimi Traore
Thomas Brolin (Leeds United/Crystal Palace, 32 appearances, 4 goals)
A star for both the excellent Swedish national team of the early-mid 90s and Parma, Leeds fans were excited about Brolin’s arrival for £4.5 million. The thought of Brolin and a certain Tony Yeboah playing together set mouths around Elland Road watering. Sadly for them the only mouth left watering was Brolin’s at the thought of food. Brolin’s time in England is punctuated by weight problems, mysterious absences and lots of arguing with the club. To sum it up, Brolin once deliberately played badly in a game for Leeds in protest at being played out wide. Numerous loan spells away were sought and eventually Leeds had enough and paid up his contract. Struggling Crystal Palace took a chance on Brolin but he was way overweight and nowhere near his best as Palace went down.
Istvan Kozma (Liverpool, 1 appearance)
Graeme Souness’ time in charge of Liverpool is not remembered with much fondness and Hungarian midfielder Istvan Kozma sums up why. From stars like Hansen and Dalglish and Beardsley to players like Kozma in less than 2 years. Kozma was a solid player for Dunfermline and many were scratching their heads as to how he was signed by Liverpool. Poor Istvan was an average player at best but looked completely lost at Anfield. He was so bad that he only played once in the Premier League for Liverpool as a sub and was still named the fourth worst player to play in the Premier League by The Times in 2007.
Eric Djemba-Djemba (Manchester United/Aston Villa, 31 appearances)
Alex Ferguson had a period in the early 2000s where everything he touched turned to something brown and smelly (take a guess) and the signing of Djemba-Djemba was one of those disasters. United fans sang about how he was named twice because he was so good but he honestly could have been named fifteen times and he still would have been a very poor midfielder. Signed as Roy Keane’s replacement, Djemba-Djemba was not very competent and way out of his depth at United. He left United after just 18 months (funnily enough around the same time Keane also left United) for Aston Villa where incredibly he played fewer times than he did for United showing just how poor he really was.
Bruno Cheyrou (Liverpool, 31 appearances, 2 goals)
When Gerard Houllier called Cheyrou “the new Zidane”, many hoped he wasn’t comparing him to Zinedine but some other footballer named Zidane that was incapable of kicking a ball. Sadly, it was Zinedine and poor Bruno had ridiculous expectations to live up to. He got nowhere even remotely close. Often played out wide, Cheyrou lacked the pace to beat his man, the skill to beat his man, the awareness to be effective there or the ability to do anything useful. There was a period where he scored a couple of crucial goals but that fizzled out quicker than it happened and Houllier left, Cheyrou never even played again for the club.
Marco Boogers (West Ham United, 4 appearances)
The man who invented the English theory that if you score in Holland then you won’t necessarily score in England (see Alves, Afonso and Altidore, Jozy), Marco Boogers was not only crazily named but also did some crazy things. Sent off in just his second game for an appalling tackle on Gary Neville, Boogers returned to Holland because of the media glare on him. Poor communication with the press from the club meant that the papers ran with the story that Boogers was living in a caravan (sadly false) but Harry Redknapp must have wished he had stayed somewhere that wasn’t Upton Park. Completely useless up front then got a knee injury and was sold back to Holland quicker than you can call Harry a wheeler-dealer.
Ali Dia (Southampton, 1 appearance)
(* denote Ali Dia lies)
The man. The myth. The chancer. The cousin of George Weah*. Senegalese international*. The captain of this side. Ali Dia will go down in Premier League history as the worst player of all time and the biggest chancer of all time. Getting his agent to call Graeme Souness pretending to be World Player of the Year Weah, Dia managed to get a week trial with Southampton. Souness watched him play, saw he was awful, named him on the bench then gave him 43 minutes. In fairness to Dia, he did get a shot on target but he was so comically bad that he was hooked despite being brought on (for Matt Le Tissier of all people). In reality a failed non-league player, Dia is the worst of the worst.
That is the starting eleven – managed by none other than Wolves’ winless wonder Terry Connor – while seven other players managed to make the bench:
- Salif Diao – supposedly like Patrick Vieira and he was: in exactly zero ways
- Ulrich van Gobbel – incredible name, appalling defender for Southampton
- Ade Akinbiyi – Emile Heskey’s replacement at Leicester made Emile look like Gerd Muller
- Christian Negouai – Manchester City’s utility man only because he was rubbish at everything
- Andrea Silenzi – Italian striker that couldn’t hit water if he fell off a boat at Nottingham Forest
- Lee Dong-Gook – Striker is a hero in South Korea, struggled horribly at Middlesbrough
- Savio Nsereko – £9 million of nothingness for West Ham
Feel free to leave your worst XIs in the comments section below or let me know what you think of this team down there too.