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.
Jack Wilshere’s injury shows why Arsenal shouldn’t renew his contract
The 26-year-old has been struck down by yet another injury.
Jack Wilshere will be pleased with the progress that he has made since returning to Arsenal from his loan spell at Bournemouth.
He was initially nothing more than a squad player that was out in the cold at international level too, but the midfielder worked hard to gain more game-time in North London.
Across all competitions, he has played more than 30 matches and his form earned him a call-up to the England squad.
It looked like he was getting a once-promising career back on track, but almost like clockwork, he has suffered an injury to set him back once again.
Gareth Southgate confirmed that he wouldn’t be travelling to the Netherlands for Friday’s match and the quotes were reported by Sky Sports.
“It is not a specific injury and over time they flare up and they need to settle down over a couple of days.
“We are hopeful it will settle down pretty quickly. It’s an ongoing problem and it’s not something new for him. He’s very disappointed not to be involved in the game.
“He’s trained well though but if you think about the journey he’s had in the last two years and his big injuries then he’s progressing really well.”
Although it is encouraging that it isn’t a serious injury, it is a reminder that Jack Wilshere remains a risk for both club and country.
It is difficult to build a team around a player that is susceptible to miss matches and the quote from Southgate is a worry as he refers to an ongoing problem.
Arsenal have had a difficult campaign and they will be planning a rebuild over the next 48 months as they transition away from the Arsene Wenger era.
They will have to make tough decisions on many players at the club and Wilshere’s future will be brought into focus over the next few weeks as his contract expires at the end of the season.
There have been numerous reports regarding contract talks between the two parties and there is hesitancy on both sides.
This latest injury suffered by Wilshere and the comments from Southgate referring to an ongoing problem show why it is Arsenal who need to end this association.
Wilshere can’t be relied on to stay fit and to feature prominently in a busy schedule. Arsenal will have ambitions of challenging at the very top of the game and will likely be involved in European competition every season. They need to have a squad of players that are reliable and the 26-year-old isn’t that.
Aside from that, Wilshere represents what Arsenal have become over the last decade. He is a player that had a lot of potential, but he has failed to fulfil it and been very inconsistent at the highest level. Of course, he isn’t to blame for the club’s problems, but he is also unlikely to offer the solutions.
This season has been a nice farewell campaign for him. It would have been sad if his Gunners’ career had ended after being shipped out on loan to Bournemouth.
He has returned to earn some of his credibility back, but the club need to move on and progress if they are to get back to the top of the English game.
A lot of contentious decisions will need to be made and the first should be the release of Jack Wilshere this summer.
Why Jose Mourinho’s treatment of Luke Shaw has crossed the line
The Portuguese manager has been highly critical of Luke Shaw this season.
The fractious relationship between Jose Mourinho and Luke Shaw plumbed new depths when the left-back was substituted at half-time in Manchester United’s FA Cup victory over Brighton & Hove Albion. The 22-year-old had been handed a rare opportunity to impress at Old Trafford but lasted only 45 minutes.
Speaking about Shaw in his post-match interview, Mourinho said: “Luke, in the first half, every time they came in his corridor, the cross came in and a dangerous situation was coming. I was not happy with his performance.”
The differences between the pair now appear to be irreconcilable. Shaw, who was signed by Louis van Gaal in the summer of 2014, has been used sparingly by Mourinho. The former Southampton starlet has made just 18 Premier League appearances under the Portuguese in a career that has been blighted by injuries.
Being substituted at half-time is almost as embarrassing as it gets for a player and Shaw’s mood will not have improved after being publicly criticised by his manager. It’s certainly not the first time Mourinho has chosen to talk candidly to the media about his concerns with the 22-year-old.
Some players require an arm around the shoulder to perform at their peak, while for others it takes a kick up the backside. Mourinho, opting for the latter, does nothing without reason and has clearly tried to spark a reaction from Shaw, without success.
From being one of English football’s brightest prospects after making his World Cup debut aged just 18, Shaw, who has seven England caps to his name, is in danger of not fulfilling the potential that convinced United to spend what was then a world-record fee for a teenager.
Mourinho’s tactic of singling out individuals who have not met his standards is in stark contrast to Sir Alex Ferguson, who never blamed his players in public. It has divided opinion among pundits, with Southampton legend Matt Le Tissier claiming the United manager is ‘destroying’ Shaw.
Mourinho is an expert at using smokescreens to distract from his side’s unconvincing performances. And this latest controversy has moved the narrative on from United’s shock Champions League exit at the hands of Sevilla.
Tough love is one thing, but the sustained, public attack on Shaw is unacceptable. If Mourinho genuinely believes he is not good enough to represent United, then fair enough. But to continually vilify the youngster’s performances is a step too far and one that could irreparably damage Shaw’s confidence.
This is not to say that Shaw is a completely innocent bystander. Mourinho’s predecessor, Louis van Gaal, also questioned his desire and general conditioning when he joined United four years ago. Indeed, the Dutchman signed Shaw up to a tailored exercise regime in an effort to improve his fitness.
But while van Gaal’s treatment had the desired effect, Mourinho’s has done the opposite. Being publicly humiliated on a routine basis does neither party any favours.
In all likelihood, Shaw’s disappointing United career will come to an end this summer. A fresh start away from the toxicity under Mourinho is exactly what he needs.
Keanan Bennetts has perfect opportunity to impress Mauricio Pochettino this week
The left-sided star has a chance to impress in first-team training during the international break.
With the international week in full flow, plenty of teams in the Premier League have seen their squads diminished by call-ups to national teams.
Tottenham Hotspur are one such side. Nonetheless, with most of the first-team squad away with their respective nations, work continues at Hotspur Way.
In order for Spurs to have a full complement in training, plenty of young talent needs to be pulled in to the ranks.
Mauricio Pochettino will, therefore,e get a chance to see some of his young players training with regular first-team players such as Fernando Llorente, Erik Lamela and Lucas Moura.
One player who will be training with the first-team this week is talented wide-man Keanan Bennetts, according to London Live.
The 19-year-old left-winger has been catching the eye for the club’s youth team in recent weeks, making the news after scoring a fantastic goal for the under-19s against Monaco in the UEFA Youth League last month.
Bennetts has also been attracting interest for his positional dexterity. The wide-man has played at left-back in recent times and it could be that is his future best position.
This week he will be up against some excellent players such as Lamela and Moura, who did not receive selection to the Argentina and Brazil national teams, respectively.
If he can prove himself with this calibre of player, Pochettino will have to take notice.
It is coming to a point in his Tottenham career when Bennetts has to make such an impact. The teenager is out of contract at Spurs in the summer and needs to ensure he is kept on for at least one more season.
Tottenham fans who follow the youth teams are certain he is deserving of such a chance. If he can show Pochettino what he is capable of this week, then a new deal will surely be in the pipeline for the talented wide-man.
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