Sunday, May 3, 2009

The 20 Worst Signings of the Premier League Season

During last summer and the January window, a promiscuous amount of dosh was lavished on some really dreadful footballers. Here, for your consideration are Ivor's Top Twenty Worst Premiership Signings of the Season:

1. Dimitar Berbatov: Manchester United’s £32m languid, lazy Bulgarian has only done one thing successfully since leaving White Hart Lane. He has broken up the neck-breaking high-speed diamond attacking machine that saw Rooney and Tevez do the awesome spade-work to supply Ronaldo's goal scoring exploits in 2007-2008. His tame old lady farting of a penalty kick at Tim Howard in the FA Cup semi-final against Everton may have been the last straw to United's fans, but it will only serve to make our stubborn Gaffer love him all the more. With Ronaldo and Tevez most likely gone this Summer, expect Ferguson to retool the forward line around Berbatov.

2. Robinho: At £31M, Robinho was expected to deliver upon his massive potential instantaneously when he joined Manchester Shitty. To be fair, the lad has delivered more than a few spectacular goals and his often breathtaking ball-handlings skills are splendid. The problem is that, when he's not in the mood to perform, which is most of the time, he is invisible on the field. To be sure, Robinho prefers playing off the right wing, coming in from behind the striker. Unfortunately, because the youth striker brigade of Evans, Calceido, Sturridge, and, formerly, Jo, didn't score and Craig Bellamy and Valery Boijnov are a sick-note, Robinho has often been expected to be the striker. Well protected by the referees in Spain, not to mention the goon squad antics on his behalf from Mohammadou Diarra and Gago at Real Madrid, Robinho has received no such special treatment in the E.P.L. I believe he's way too good to remain a flop, but he needs to stay out of the nightclubs and find a better club.

3. Ricardo Quaresma: The little Gypsy winger was expected to fare just as well as his Portugal nationalk team wing partner, Cristano Ronaldo, when they came up together in the Sporting Lisbon academy. Having failed three seasons ago at Barcelona, Quaresma returned to Portugal with F.C. Porto and was a huge success. This season, the self-styled 'Great One' Jose Mourinho decided to take another gamble on him at Inter Milan. For the £20M spent, Mourinho expected instantaneous brilliance. Quaresma, however, flopped spectacularly again. Thus the Tsigana wizard of the dribble so pissed off Mourinho that he loaned him out to Chelsea during the January transfer window. More of the same has followed at Chelsea, although no one professes to understand why. If you ask me, it's all about nurturing and personality. Quaresma thrives in the company of family-oriented coaches like Carlos Queiroz and Paolo Bento. I see no reason for him to flop in the bosom of Manny U or Spurs under the feel-good coaching of Sir Alex Ferguson or Harry Redknapp. Indeed, if Cristiano Ronaldo leaves for Real Madrid, Inter might happily dump their expensive mistake in the Gaffer's lap for cheap, especially if we sent Nani t'other way. Hint! Hint!

4. Jimmy Bullard: Poor Phil Brown is the Yorkshire version of Shakespeare's Coriolanus, "Oh, Boy of Tears." Hull City paid Fulham £6m for the brave, hard-working, but injury-prone midfielder with the idea that the ever-grafting ginger one would help stop the rot and end their slide down the table. Naturally, Bullard injured his knee only 37 minutes into his very first game and will now miss the rest of the season. Watch for him to recover next season, gag on the Championship Division, and return to the premiership in January.

5. Jo: The 'Fro-barneted Brazilian striker represented £19m down the toilet for Manchester Shitty. He couldn't buy a goal at the City of Manchester stadium, and, together with his fellow Brasilenhos, Elano and Robinho, had Sparky Hughes tearing his hair out. Never mind, Shitty's owners have oodles of oil dosh! They'll be okay. Surprisingly, having been loaned out into the more nurturing arms of Everton's Davie Moyes, Jo has performed well for the other Scousers. As the Toffees are unlikely to be able to afford to come up with the readies to make any move permanent, it will be interesting to see which club ends up taking on this erratic, yet sometimes brilliant lad.

6. Robbie Keane: Sure, Liverpool managed to recoup a fair chunk of the £20m they paid Spurs for the Irish forward. Still, despite the fact that Rafa Benitez keeps implying that the signing was somehow not at all his idea, this was a disastrous stinker of a deal for both clubs. A real grafter, a courageous player with physical presence—someone like Emil Heskey or the improving Bobby Zamora of Fulham—was what was needed as company up front for Fernando Torres. Either one of them could have been useful during the squeaky-bum title run-in, but, in signing Keane under false pretenses—he may be the least physical striker in the premiership—the Scousers sewed the seeds for one more season of beautiful loserdom. That is unless you think second place will do and that Yossi Benayoun can keep saving Liverpool for ever.

7. Deco: The £8m schemer, a great midfield general for two ECC Champions at Porto and Barcelona, was breathtakingly good in his first few performances for Chelsea. Unfortunately, between a spate of niggling injuries and some very lack luster games, the Deco of old has disappeared when put to work with Ballack, Lampard and Obi Mikel. One of the major factors in Felipe Scolari's firing, and an embarrassment to the club, I expect him to be flogged at a bargain price into the warm, tender clutches of his old boss, Jose Mourinho, at Inter this summer.

8. Huerelho Gomes: For £11.5 Spurs expected more from this erratic Brazilian keeper. Signed from PSV Eindhoven, where he'd burned all his bridges with two coaches, the Chairman and the fans, Gomes, at 6'4" with a huge hand span and scores of posted YouTube highlights, promised much. To be sure, Big Phil Scolari, his old coach at Cruzeiro, called him the most underrated goalie in the world and urged Juande Ramos to sign him. His first 10 games at Spurs were, however, a flapping nightmare. Yet in big games against the big four, Gomes has performed big. Go fig-ya! Anybody know a good Portuguese-speaking analyst?

9. Fabricio Coloccini: How much? £10.3m? Poor poor pathetic Newcastle!!! Another bust of a buy. Dennis Wise's purchases must have had Mike Ashley in tears. He's got a fine head of hair has the young man, but the Argentine stopper looks overmatched against the likes of Emile Heskey, Kevin Davies and Darren Bent. Enough said! Not to worry, he'll be dumped on the cheap and will look like a world-beater at Rangers or Paris St. Germain. Of course, it would be tantamount to putting the boot in if I also mention Xisco (£5.7M), or Guttierez (£8M)

10. David Bentley: Worse in the profligate stakes than even Newcastle and Keano's Sunderland when it comes to consistently crap signings, Spurs paid Blackburn £15 million for the ex-Arsenal and England midfielder, with up to an additional £2 million based upon “future performances.” Arsene Wenger may be many things, but he's not daft! One breathtaking goal against Les Gooners aside, Bentley has been dreadful. Perhaps he ought to head back up north where he's appreciated. Surely Sparky can remake and reboot the lad at Man Shitty? His sterling performances at Ewood against Manchester United and Liverpool for the Rovers seem like a fuzzy long-distance memory.

11. Paul Robinson: The ex-England goalkeeper was Paul Ince’s first signing for Blackburn. "Rubbish! You're rubbish!" the Blackburn fans chant when he gets near the ball. At £3.5m Robinson wasn't a bad gamble for the sarcastic, arrogant Ince; unfortunately, since Incey got fired, whatever confidence Robinson once had is long gone. He panics when faced with floating crosses and is more passive then ever when communicating with his defence. I gather that Hollywood is remaking the Three Stooges. How about casting Robinson, Scott Carson and Calamity James?

12. Anton Ferdinand: Sunderland paid West Ham £9M for Rio’s little bra'a. Anton is no Rio, that's for sure, unless you're talking about some of Rio's bad habits. To be sure, the lad has a lot of potential, but Sunderland need stopper help now. Why did a certain El Hadji-Diouf, heretofore only known for slapping his wife around, now at Blackburn Rovers, ignore the peaceful lamentations of the Q'ran toward his fellow man and try to beat Anton's head in? Something about this young man seems to get other folks' nose out of joint. It doesn't seem like he'll ever be able to live up to the hype caused by his big brother's long shadow, however. Returning to one of the London clubs might be an attitude changer, though.

13. Johan Elmander: Bolton’s £8.2m Swedish striker Johan Elmander looks he is running through a tub of custard out there. A devastating force in the French league, he seems lost and overmatched in England. 6'4", with the look of a Thor-like comic-book character, or maybe a lamer, limper version of Jan Vinegoor of Hesselinck or Jan K├Âller, Elmander has managed to make Gary Megson look pretty gormless. Although, he looks like a tank, Elmander performs like a jellyfish. The odd man out on a club full of hard cases, look for his imminent return to France.

14. Dave Kitson: For £5.5m, Stoke thought the rangy red-headed striker from Reading would be a perfect finisher for their tall, tough, well-shaped side. Melancholy and languid, even when things are going well, Kitson seems lost without Stevie Coppell's coaching. Unfortunately for Stoke, after 16 games and no goals, and being renamed 'Shitson' by all and sundry, he was a disaster. Loaned back to Reading, he still looks very tentative and depressed.

15. Scott Carson: Valued at £10M two seasons ago before botching up numerous opportunities for England, the Scotty Dogg was dumped by Liverpool on West Brom for £3.75m. Running neck and neck with Pauly Robinson, Carson has made so many cock-ups over Albion's long, miserable season that every Dummy Brummy out there winces when his name is mentioned. Rebuilding his confidence in the Championship may yet turn out to be a blessing. He'll certainly be the most expensive goalie in the Championship Division next season.

16. Borja Valero: West Brom paid a club record fee of £4.7m for Valero to Real Majorca. Formerly a midfielder in Spain's World Championship winning youth team, Valero has made 29 appearances this season, not one of which anyone has noticed him playing in. Valero seems very much intimidated when he has to go up against the likes of Mascharano and Marouane Fellaini. Still, the coach, Tony Mowbray, insists that Valero is his future team leader, despite the relentless chorus of booing from fans. Big plans: Let's hope Borja doesn't just disappear into thin air.

17. Tal Ben Haim: The ruthless Israeli stopper's £5m signing from Chelsea seemed like a fantastic idea at the time because he'd had so much success under Sparky Hughes at Blackburn Rovers. The year he spent at Chelsea sitting on the bench, being totally ignored by his coach, fellow Israeli Avram Grant, seems to have completely made his confidence disappear, however. Now on loan at Sunderland, he has a docile centre-back partnership with Anton Ferdinand. Both look like they would be much happier at home in bed. I wouldn't be surprised to see him happily returning into the clutches of Big Sam at Blackburn next season.

18. Nicky Shorey: An expensive buy for Aston Villa from Reading at £7.5m, he has been in and out of the team for the whole season because of a series of niggling injuries. A sometimes spectacular left back for Reading two seasons ago, he looks lost in the claret-and-blue. Caught out of position a lot, Shorey tends to often find himself stranded in a forward wing position when teams execute a quick breakaway. Schooled by Stevie Coppell in a Reading system that allowed him much more freedom and utilized his ball-handling skills, Shorey will need a lot of patient coaching from Martin O'Neill this Summer if he's to stay and succeed. Will he ever be able to work off the superb, high-speed skills of Ashley Young, though?

19. Kevin Nolan: The highly-regarded Nolan was once thought of us as 'the next Keano.' Tough-tackling, energetic and a fine, accurate passer of the ball, he was a kind of Captain/Prince for Sam Allardyce's rowdy set of Bolton Wanderers' bruisers. Sold for a surprisingly low £5.5M to Kevin Keegan's Newcastle United, many pundits thought he would be the ideal enforcer to put some steel into the spine of the Toon's anemic midfield. This has not been the case. The game of managerial musical chairs at St. James' seems to have stripped Nolan of all confidence. Perhaps if he could hook up again with Allardyce at Blackburn!?

20. Hugo Rodallega: Expectations were high for this large, yet lightning-quick Colombian striker. For thrifty Wigan Athletic, the investment in a £4.5M striker was a big gamble. The top scorer for Colombia in the South American qualification rounds for the FIFA Under-20 last year, Rodallega had every big club in Europe watching him and salivating. His purchase by Wigan was definitely a coup. His success in the last Mexican league season at Necaxa did not, however, prepare him for the speed and brawn of the EPL. Wigan's manager, Stevie Bruce, has been very successful at buying and selling on cheap South and Central American players because of the club's wise investment in some very good scouts. The jury is still out on Rodallega, however. If he doesn't work out, look for Brucey to return to the low budget players again.

Anyone I've missed out on? Any comments? Please be in touch.

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