Buying Foreign Gone Wrong – Top Ten Worst Premiership Imports

There is no doubt the Premiership attracts the top players from overseas, rivalling Spain and Italy as the best place to play your football. So many of the superstars have come from abroad; Cristiano Ronaldo, Thierry Henry and Cesc Fabregas to name just a couple. However, there are plenty who come over and virtually steal a living, halting the progress of the top English youngsters. Surprisingly for such a good league, there are an astonishing number of candidates vying for places in this list. Here are ten of the worst imports to grace the Premiership:

  1. Jose Antonio Reyes – Technically, Reyes wasn’t the worst foreign player to feature in the Premier League, it’s more the spectacular failure to reach the hype surrounding his signing that earns him a place here. Signed for a fee that could have potentially reached £17million, Reyes did make a tremendous start to the 04/05 season after a difficult settling period, scoring in 6 successive games. Even Zidane compared his pace and skill to him “playing on an invisible motorcycle.” He got the invisible part right, Reyes did a disappearing man act for the rest of his Arsenal career, even getting sent off in the 2005 FA Cup final. Eventually he left for Real Madrid, a move no-one quite understood, and it all ended in vast disappointment for a man once competing with Cristiano Ronaldo for the Premiership’s youngest foreign star. The only thing he competes with Ronaldo for nowadays is who can get the most ‘wet look gel’ in their hair. Such wasted promise.
  1. Tomas Brolin – The infamous Mr Brolin was so bad, he features at the top of all terrible footballer articles, never mind the worst foreigners. It appears Leeds United set themselves well on the way to financial ruin before Peter Ridsdale’s time by buying turnips like Tomas. The Swede cost £4.5million after decent displays at Euro 1994, only to turn up at Elland Road wider than he was tall. Some feat given he was 5ft 10. Given that professional athletes body’s are supposed to be temples, Brolin’s was more like a bouncy castle. Perhaps Leeds should have rented him out to children’s parties to try to return some money on the worst investment the club has ever seen. Some effort considering Ken Bates’ new £7million restaurant built on the side on the East Stand.
  1. Winston Bogarde – When you sign a defender whose played for the Netherlands 20 times and costs absolutely nothing, fans nod and think, yep, good deal. Ah. Think again. Bogarde made just 4 appearances in 4 years for Chelsea, whilst picking up £40k a week, failing to get past Glen Johnson for the right back spot in his final season at the club, a man whose defensive ability is so bad, the five-year olds in the park fancy their chances of getting on the outside of him. The press finally picked up on the fact that Winston was still at Stamford Bridge, asking him to explain why he still trained with the Chelsea youth team rather than find a new club. His answer? “This world is about money, so when you are offered those millions you take them. Few people will ever earn so many. I am one of the few fortunates who do. I may be one of the worst buys in the history of the Premiership but I don’t care.” What fantastic morals. All I can say is Bogarde must have had some damn good hobbies to occupy himself during those barren 4 years, his garden must look spectacular!
  1. Ali Dia – Who, you ask? I’ve never heard that name before. What a shame Graeme Souness, then Southampton manager in 1996, didn’t ask the same question. Well as it turns this man is the greatest con artist since Arnold Schwarzenegger’s impression of being a politician. The story goes that Souness received a phone call off someone who claimed to be former Liberian legend, George Weah, suggesting Dia was his cousin and a Senegalese international that played for Paris Saint-Germain. None of which was true. The call was actually made by a university friend of Dia, possibly ranking as the greatest prank call ever made. Souness gave Dia a chance and picked him on the bench against Leeds United, where he came on after 32 minutes. Matt Le Tissier described his performance as such: “He ran around the pitch like Bambi on ice; it was very embarrassing to watch,” before Souness subbed him after 52 of the funniest minutes in football, 52 minutes that must have left Souness feeling like a right mug. Needless to say, he didn’t play again, last seen graduating with a business degree from Northumbria University where it is rumoured he failed to make the football team there. Dia-bolical.
  1. Massimo Taibi – The Sun recently published an article on David De Gea’s poor form for new club Manchester United, featuring an insert from one Massimo Taibi, offering him advice on how to cope with blundering in a United shirt. Well De Gea would do well to ignore that advice. In a string of poor United keepers that featured Mark Bosnich, Tim Howard and Roy Carroll, Taibi was the worst. Costing £4.5m from Venezia, he made just for 4 appearances for the Red Devils, 4 appearances that were so bad, they earned him the nickname ‘the Blind Venetian.’ Harsh, but unfortunately true. Two mistakes stand out clearly, Matt Le Tissier’s infamous daisy-cutter that rolled straight through his legs, and his collision with Dennis Irwin that led to Chelsea’s first goal in their 5-0 drubbing of Man United in 1999. Moved on quickly by Fergie, he did become only the second goalkeeper to score in Serie A from open play, but his career will be remembered only for being Sir Alex’s worst ever foreign import.
  1. Eric Djemba-Djemba – So good they named him twice. If only. Another mistake made by Fergie in the foreign transfer market, perhaps vindicating his decision to sign the best of British recently. Eric, a Cameroon international, appeared in the 2002 World Cup at the age of 21, and signed for £3.5million from Nantes, to try to fill the gap left by Roy Keane’s departure. His form however, turned out to be dodgier than Lady Gaga’s dress sense. He made little to no impact upon United’s midfield, before moving to Aston Villa, enjoying similar success, failing to oust the likes of Gavin McCann from the side.  If this was a column for the best double barreled names in football, Djemba-Djemba would win hands down, but it’s not. His surname remains the only impressive thing about the man, though mention it to Fergie and I’m not sure he’d be amused. Awful signing.
  1. Roque Junior – Track back to 2003, and Leeds United were fighting many battles, one against relegation on the pitch, and another against financial ruin off it. So it was a nice surprise when the club actually signed a player. This excitement increased ten-fold when fans heard it was Brazilian World Cup winning centre back, Roque Junior. Surely this would fix the leaky defence, providing Lucas Radebe with an adequate partner to keep out all opposition attacks. Erm, think again. 7 games later, and Leeds had conceded 24 goals, with Roque scoring an own goal and being sent off on his debut against Birmingham. He now goes down in Elland Road folklore as one of the worst players ever to pull on the white shirt, some mean feat given he played in the same era as a certain Paul Okon.
  1. Xisco – Ah Xisco. A prime example of the transfer policy that eventually landed Newcastle United in the Championship. He arrived at St James’ Park in 2008 for £5.7million, a fee that proved to be around £5.6million too much. He made 9 forgettable appearances and failed to break into a Newcastle strike force that contained Michael ‘one leg’ Owen, Shola ‘loyal but shite’ Ameobi and Peter ‘not good enough for Rangers’ Lovenkrands. It comes as no surprise to anyone involved in football that he was a Kevin Keegan signing, evidence of his rather gung-ho approach to transfers. By which I mean, he literally throws the cheque book at any player in the game, in the small hope they’ll turn into Alan Shearer. Xisco was undoubtedly, a terrible import, and had the tag of ‘worst Spaniard to play in the Premier League’ wrapped and sealed until Fernando Torres tried his damn hardest to rip it off him in recent weeks.
  1. Bosko Balaban – A Croatian who cost Aston Villa £5.8million in 2001, a fee that gave Chairman Doug Ellis a fair few nightmares. Bosko had the first touch of a wrecking ball, and the turning circle of a rather large oil tanker, resulting in just 9 appearances during his miserable stay at Villa Park. The move got even worse, as it turned out manager John Gregory was under investigation for his role in deal, perhaps offering an answer to why he was brought to Villa in the first place. Released on a free transfer, Balaban rubbed salt into the wounds of Villa fans as he proceeded to score goals-a-plenty around Europe since. A serious case of buying foreign gone wrong.
  1. Pascal Cygan – Arsenal have really struggled for defenders in recent years, with new signing Per Mertesacker doing his best to protect Arsene Wenger’s proud record of buying hopeless centre halves. Cygan was the one who set the ball running though. More clumsy than Mr Bean, Pascal struggling for pace, and lacked the positional sense to sustain himself in an Arsenal side during his 4 year stint. Looking remarkably like Patrick Stewart in Star Trek, it’s a shame the Frenchman had no star quality of his own, with the only intrepid voyage he made during his spell in England was to propel himself right into this list, as one of the foreign foreigners to play in our country.

The blunder boys – Football's top ten mistakes.

We all remember some of football’s fantastic moments, brilliant pieces of skill that stay in our minds forever. Take Thierry Henry’s flick and volley against Manchester United. Dennis Bergkamp’s wonder goal in the 1998 World Cup quarter-final. Or Rene Higuita’s incredible scorpion kick. As much as we appreciate these efforts, it is far funnier to see football’s greatest blunders, and I’m not talking about Wayne Rooney’s new hair transplant. Here are ten of the best mistakes on a football field:

  1. Fernando Torres – Last weekend Manchester United met Chelsea in the biggest clash of the season so far and Andre Villas-Boas stuck with his much maligned £50 million man. And in the 46th minute, you could hear a large crash all around the country. As everybody’s jaws fell open and hit the floor. Unbelievably it seemed, Torres had scored. Journalists scrambled around the stadium, checking to see if Chelsea had played an imposter instead, the supporters themselves were too stunned to even cheer. Torres himself couldn’t remember what a celebration was. However in the 83rd minute, normality was resumed. With one of the worst footballing blunders seen on a pitch for a long time. We get plenty of dreadful misses throughout a season, but nothing quite like this. Given the context of the situation, with Torres’ dreadful form and desperation to win back public sympathy, this was some miss. After being played through, he skilfully rounded De Gea, only to somehow fire wide with an open goal at his mercy. You couldn’t make this stuff up. Back to the drawing board Fernando. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6WkO07iuHyI
  1. Peter Enckelman – Backtrack to 2002, and Villa were taking on bitter rivals Birmingham in a passionate local derby. Villa were already 1-0 down thanks to a strike from Clinton Morrison and the game was approaching the last ten minutes. Olof Mellberg, deep in his own half, took a throw-in from the right hand touch-line, looking to give it back to his keeper to clear the lines. He propelled it innocuously back to Enckelman who went to control it. And missed completely. The ball rolled into the net, and Villa lost 3-0. Graham Taylor, the Villa manager,  fumed afterwards about the fact Enckelman claimed he never touched the ball, in which case, the goal shouldn’t have stood, as you cannot score directly from a throw-in. Well you would claim that if you’d just dropped one of the worst clangers seen in the Premiership. To make matters worse, Birmingham fans got on the pitch after the goal, goading Enckelman with rude gestures. Peter was praising for not reacting and not fighting back. Only because he was too busy fighting back something else. His own tears. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=18QsjFUquD8
  1. Fabian Barthez – United signed Barthez in 2000 for £7.8million after some astonishing performances for France in winning the World Cup and the European Championships. He didn’t exactly set the world alight. Some would call Fabian eccentric, passing off his antics with the old motto, ‘all goalies are crazy.’ Others would just call him plain rubbish. Barthez qualifies for this column not once but twice. First up was a game against Arsenal in 2001, where firstly, he picked out Thierry Henry with a goal kick allowing him to put Arsenal in front, before later on, spilling the ball from a simple cross, straight into Henry’s lap, who again converted the mistake. Shocker. His worst error came against West Ham in the fourth round of the FA Cup in the same year. Paulo Di Canio was played through, and advanced on Barthez who stood still in an arrogant manner only a Frenchman could pull off, with his arm up believing the Hammers’ front man to be offside. Ignoring him, Di Canio slotted the ball home, and claimed a famous victory for West Ham. Whether Barthez genuinely thought it was offside or he was just trying to psyche his opponent out, it was a dreadful mistake, as it looked rather like he was trying to hail down a cab than keep goal. Taxi for Barthez. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vwrhr4EFuuU
  1. Ben Thatcher – August the 23rd 2006. Manchester City vs.Portsmouth. The day we saw something missing from our game since Duncan Ferguson’s retirement. Common assault on a football field. Chasing a loose ball into the corner with Pedro Mendes, Thatcher decided a conventional slide tackle wasn’t exciting enough, clattering his opponent with an elbow smash. Mendes required oxygen at pitch side and suffered a seizure, something that earned Ben a fifteen game suspended ban and an investigation from the Greater Manchester Police. Slightly beyond the realms of your average ‘nasty challenge,’ Ben must have thought his footballing career was over, after all he was a less-than average left back. Hence why he decided to advertise his potential skills as a cage-fighter. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F_8b1pd3Mas
  1. Stuart Attwell/Nigel Bannister – According to Sir Alex, referees are barely human anyway, but during this 2008 Championship clash between Reading and Watford, there was something rather more supernatural than usual about the officiating. After a corner was whipped in, the ball was headed wide of the goal, where it was hooked back into play by Noel Hunt from the by-line. At which point linesman Nigel Bannister informed the ref the ball had crossed the line to the bemusement of everyone in the stadium. Stuart Attwell awarded the ‘ghost goal’ and the strangest goal of all time had just been witnessed. If only the same linesman had been on duty when Frank Lampard thundered his effort against the bar in last summer’s World Cup clash with Germany. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O0YiuSbBdaQ
  1. Rob Green – The whole England team could be classified as a mistake after their World Cup showing, but one stands out slightly more than others. England were looking fairly comfortable leading the USA 1-0 in their opening game, before Clint Dempsey struck from range in the 40th minute. Although keeper Rob Green had his critics before the tournament started, no-one expected Dempsey’s tame shot to find the net. Which it did. Green somehow let the ball slip through his grasp, thus following the path so many England keepers have trodden in the past, blundering on the biggest stage. It set the tone for England’s tournament, and left the fans with many questions for manager Fabio Capello. The question that remained most important however, was who was the worst World Cup selection, Rob Green or Emile Heskey? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OxspfInbLV8
  1. Peter Crouch – A slightly tongue-in-cheek entry, but when Crouchy bagged against Hungary in 2006, he pulled out one of the funnier celebrations we’ve seen in recent years. Funny, but horrendous to watch, I’d say Peter’s robot dance is sorer on the eyes than a Kerry Katona sex tape. To see a man that ungainly pull out moves that bad, it can only go down as one of football’s worst mistakes. It’s no wonder when Crouchy was asked ‘What would you be if you weren’t a footballer?’ he replied, ‘A virgin.’ Because I hardly think the robot dance is notoriously successful in attempted nightclub pursuits of females. Crouch no longer performs this celebration, apparently saving it for a big occasion, although he may have to rethink this decision, partly due to him losing his number one robot dancing spot to Neil from the Inbetweeners but mainly because of him signing for Stoke, a club rather short on the ‘big occasions’ front. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=96eSrFlUVh0
  1. Andres Escobar – During the 1994 World Cup, the highly rated Colombian side was fancied to progress further in the tournament. Unfortunately for them, they lost 2-1 to the hosts USA, thanks to an own goal by defender Andres Escobar, eliminating them in the first round. Tragically, Escobar was murdered on his return to his home country, with the murderer apparently connected to gambling syndicates who lost large amounts of money because of Colombia’s early tournament exit. The gunman shouted “Gracias por el gol en propia puerta,” Spanish for ‘Thanks for the own goal,’ with Escobar paying the highest price for his on-field mistake. The world was shocked that such incident could happen over football. No-one told Alan Hansen, who when commentating in a different match later in the tournament stated “the Argentine defender warrants shooting for a mistake like that.” After thousands of complaints, Hansen had to apologise to the general public. No wonder he’s so reserved on Match of the Day. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MUW8wFOytiY
  1. David Beckham – Old Goldenballs’ career was almost so different. Picked in the 1998 World Cup along with Michael Owen as the rising stars of English football, Beckham scored a terrific free kick against Colombia to get England out of their pool. It all came crashing down in the 2nd round. With England locked at 2-2 with Argentina, Beckham was fouled by Diego Simone. Whilst on the floor, he kicked out, causing Simone to produce a piece of acting worse than even the Eastenders cast manage, a feat many thought impossible. Despite the dive, Beckham was sent off and England were knocked out on penalties. Beckham became the traditional post-tournament scapegoat thanks to the media, with the Mirror’s headline reading ’10 HEROIC LIONS, 1 STUPID BOY,’ as the public lashed out fiercely, with 61% of listeners in a Manchester radio poll stating he should never play for his country again. The Daily Mirror printed a dartboard with his face on, whilst an effigy of Beckham was hung up in the centre of London. The most eye-catching display of public emotion (or lack of it) belonged to a church in Nottingham, who displayed a sign outside, saying ‘God even forgives David Beckham.’ Although Becks free kicked himself back into the public’s favour and became the most popular man on the planet, the message is clear. Don’t make a mistake in an England shirt.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_zTne4JzgBM
  2. John Terry – John Terry, Captain Fantastic, had a brilliant game in the 2008 Champions League final in Moscow as Chelsea drew 1-1 with Manchester United, sending the game to penalties. Like any good skipper should, Terry shouldered responsibility to take the decisive kick to win the game at 4-4. However he slipped, and ballooned the ball higher than even Roberto Baggio managed in that World Cup Final. It cost Chelsea the Champions League, Avram Grant his job and has thus left Roman Abramovitch still hunting for the European trophy he so badly desires. You could therefore blame Chelsea’s string of managers on Terry himself. John was inconsolable after the game, sobbing his eyes out unashamedly on the pitch. It couldn’t have happened to a nicer person, indeed this is karma at its most fantastic. Best regards, Wayne Bridge.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eErHVv3X6TE&feature=related

England – The tale of woe so far

What’s wrong with England? We’re told preparations for the tournament were superb, (despite the performances against Wales) morale is high and that we possess the calibre of players to the damage in the World Cup again. Yet so far, they’ve stuttered through their opening two games, conceding 23 penalties, 2 sin binnings and looking inept at the ruck. Even the AA gets to a breakdown quicker than the England pack. So the camp have come out and announced the squad have had the standard ‘clear the air’ talks that come around every World Cup time. That’s all very well but I thought this was one happy group of campers? What’s the issue then? Martin Johnson’s management? After all, the phrase ‘clear the air’ suspiciously reminds any England supporter of Brian Ashton and his hapless decision-making of 2007. But at least we haven’t been thumped 36-0 by South Africa this time round! James Haskell called for players to pull no punches and criticise those in the squad whose standards aren’t up to scratch. Seems rather extreme. This isn’t a London bank. We don’t want internal sniping amongst the playing staff. I’m sure none of them are deliberately trying to lose.

Englands form is frustrating

So what is wrong? Well, as mentioned before, the breakdown is proving a major issue. England lack a genuine open-side, a real ball scavenger like Mc Caw, Pocock or even Wales’ new golden boy, Sam Warburton. As much as Lewis Moody charges round the field with a reckless disregard for his own well-being, he doesn’t posses the skill set required at 7 to challenge with the elite. England don’t possess anyone in their ranks capable of snaffling ball. And they don’t exactly compensate by committing extra numbers to the ruck, hence the lack of quick ball available. The discipline is also a joke. They are professionals, yet they play with as much understanding of the laws of the game as a group of 12 year olds playing for the first time in P.E. How hard is it to stay onside? Or take your hands out of a ruck when the ref clearly shouts “No Hands!?” I know most forwards have an I.Q similar to that of a cabbage but even so. Concede that many penalties to say for instance, New Zealand and Dan Carter and you’re looking at one serious beating.

The backs also seem to lack fluidity. There were signs of it returning against Georgia when they actually got their hands on the ball, but that is the main problem, getting their hands on the ball. England’s distribution to the back 3 is pretty woeful, neither Wilkinson or Flood have shown any signs of possessing the ability to unleash what has to be said, is a dangerous back three. Foden, Ashton and Cueto/Armitage are all dangerous broken field runners and England need to provide them with time and space and the ball to pick out the gaps. Aside from his neatly taken try against Georgia, Manu Tuilagi has been quiet so far, not smashing quite as many holes in the opposition’s midfield as fans had hoped for. Tindall as always looks about as potent as a limp fish, both and Shontayne Hape lack the subtlety in attack at the highest level, after all, international centres don’t really fall for the wrecking ball in a straight line trick. England need a man with the maverick talents of Quade Cooper, and whilst one exists in Danny Cipriani, he seems content on drinking his career down the pan.

Loss of form is also a concern. The players who lit up the 6 Nations are shining about as brightly as the black kit they donned for the opening game. Dylan Hartley is probably the most worrying. The bullocking hooker really seemed to have nailed his position in the starting 15 during the spring, yet he can probably be held most accountable for the lack of discipline and has lost his place to Steve Thompson. Messrs Youngs and Flood are no longer providing the spark that seemed to be the great hope for English rugby in the autumn, and whilst Youngs has been injured, Flood seems to have taken a bash to those all-important confidence levels. On a lesser note, players like Dan Cole, Tom Croft and Ben Foden are struggling to reproduce the levels we have seen and therefore begun to expect from them in a white jersey. It is difficult where the problem lies here. Fitness shouldn’t be an issue, neither should match practise by now, yet the squad that finally brought back the 6 Nations title does seem a shadow of its former self. Is this the management’s fault? The question has to be asked.

One thing is for certain, the media certainly aren’t helping. Their hounding of Tindall, and the rest of the players in question after ‘dwarfgate’ is disgraceful, anyone would think they took genuine pleasure in the failure of their national team. After all, if the squad stayed in and watched the paint dry on their hotel room walls, as the football team did in last summer’s World Cup, then the management would face criticism for that too. Make your minds up. In my mind, a spot of bungee jumping, or a bit of rough and tumble on a Queenstown dance floor can only be good for team spirit, a quality England seem to be lacking at the moment. All is not lost however, in contrary to the negative press surrounding our boys, we have in fact, won the opening two games, and face a showdown with a Scotland side who have been even more disappointing themselves. Win that, and suddenly a route to the final has appeared, given Ireland’s shock win over Australia. The French, if as expected, lose to New Zealand, await in the quarters, and coach Lievremont seems content as ever to hamper his side as much as possible thanks to his bizarre selection policy. Win that one too, and a Celtic semi final opponent looks likely, with Wales or Ireland set to do battle in a tasty looking quarter-final. Challenging this may be, it still looks distinctly winnable, so if England can get their act together, there is the real possibility of making three World Cup Finals in a row, which has to be said, is some achievement.

Rugby League – do the playoffs devalue our great game?

That time of the year has come round again oh-so quickly. The Super League Playoffs. The drama. The excitement. And the sound of Stevo wetting his pants with excitement at the thought of Wigan retaining the trophy. But despite all this, does the system of the playoffs actually undermine our game? Does the possibility of having the best team in our competition not actually win the trophy devalue the Super League and our wonderful game as a whole? The RFL have changed the playoff system a number of times to try to introduce a structure that benefits the competition further, developing exciting new concepts to capture the imagination of the rugby loving public. The new Club-Call idea was introduced in 2009, to try to assist the side who finished first in the regular season in the playoffs, as during the 2nd round of games, the highest ranked side from the Super League Table gets to pick their opponent. Critics have drawn on the fact that this immediately hands the chosen team a strong motivational tool, but in my opinion, this can only be a bonus, as it makes for one-hell-of-a game. This revamped arrangement also includes 8 teams as opposed to previous years, where just 6 were involved, providing a pulsating climax to a season, generally producing a series of matches that are of the highest quality. Yet people are still uneasy with it. How, they question, can Rugby League hope be taken seriously as say, football’s Premiership or cricket’s County Championship, when the side who finishes 8th in the regular season can win the title. Shouldn’t Warrington, the side who lifted the League Leaders Shield be crowned Super League Champions? No, not in my opinion. After all, no-one has ever actually won it from 8th, with Bradford, who finished 3rd in 2005, the only side to win from outside the top 2.

The showpiece event, the Grand Final

I’m a great defender of the playoff system, believing it to be a unique concept that can attract new supporters to the game, whilst giving Rugby League an edge on other sports. After all, the game is struggling to tear away from its Northern roots, with its attempted expansion not proving overly successful, the Crusaders have failed in Wales and Harlequins are struggling badly down in London. Therefore, a showpiece event can only be good for the game, as the well-publicised Grand Final is played at a standard higher than Great Britain often achieve. I’d wager good money many non-Rugby League fans tune in for this event, if only to see what all the fuss is about, but nonetheless raising the profile of our beloved sport. Who can argue against the drama of those balmy October nights at Old Trafford? You can’t beat the tension as the two teams walk out side by side like caged up Gladiators, and then the of wall of noise as 70,000 spectators roar their troops on, hoping for eternal glory at the end of the 80 minutes. I love it. Give me the excitement of the playoffs over a dreary League system any day. Manchester United have practically sown up the title in the Premier League. And it’s only September. Where’s the fun in that?

I’d make just a couple of changes to make it even greater. Firstly, I’d let the league winners immediately qualify for a Grand Final eliminator, there needs to be greater reward for finishing first at the end of the day, whilst also appeasing the critics. And secondly, I’d consider moving the showpiece around the country every year or playing playoff games in different cities, like Bristol, Birmingham or Southampton, with free transport for the fans of the participating clubs. This would help spread Rugby League without ridiculous experiments like the Crusaders farce. That way, our sport can live up to its tag as ‘the greatest game on earth.’ And if the playoff system was so bad, then why did Rugby Union copy it…

The Whiny Little Bitch Top Ten

Footballers are notoriously hard to please. Whether it’s because they don’t get selected every week, or they don’t get the extra £30,000 a week on a new contract they want, everyday we hear how hard the life of the top stars are. This has increased with the players’ discovery of social media, who’d have thought Joey Barton knew how to read, let alone tweet intellectual thoughts on the likes of Brunel and George Orwell. Here are the top ten whiniest people in football:

  1. Nicholas Anelka – It is only appropriate to start with a man nicknamed ‘Le Sulk.’ He has whinged his way round 8 top clubs, complaining about anything and everything he can think of, whilst often sporting a brow so wrinkled; you could fit a deck of playing cards in it. In fact, he just announced his intention to leave Chelsea at the end of the season, after a perceived lack of game time. This only comes as a shock because Anelka has changed tack from the least 2 years, which he has spent moaning about being played out of position instead. Other famous Anelka strops include his penalty miss in the Champions Final of 2008, blaming Avram Grant, for not giving him enough time on the pitch, or a proper warm up before coming on as a late substitute. We all know Grant is a terrible manager, but even he can’t coach a player to fluff a penalty as bad as Anelka did. Then came the 18 match international ban after a clash with Raymond Domenech during the 2010 World Cup. When Anelka heard of the suspension, he said he ‘died with laughter.’ A pity no-one was there to see this, as it would be the first time in living memory ‘Le Sulk’ could be seen laughing.
  1. Neil Warnock – My disappointment at QPR’s promotion last season stemmed not from any personal vendetta towards the club, but more the fact that I’d have listen to Mr Warnock’s post match conferences on Match of the Day all season. During his spell in the Premiership with Sheffield United, he made as many complaints as the BBC receive every time Jeremy Clarkson opens his big, fat mouth on Top Gear. Indeed, if Sheffield United had been awarded as many penalties as Warnock demanded, then they’d have won every game by at least 10 goals. His whiniest moment came after the Blades’ relegation, when he demanded compensation from the FA after West Ham were adjudged to have illegally brought Javier Mascherano, (not such a good buy) and Carlos Tevez, (who, in fairness, practically single-handedly kept the Hammers up) to the Premier League. None was forthcoming, and Warnock pursued a vendetta against the striker for years, claiming he destabilised his career and cost him earnings. Get a grip. Just because Carlos decided London was a better place to play football than Sheffield. Hardly surprising. Warnock clashed with El Hadji Diouf last year after a bad challenge on Jamie Mackie, calling him a ‘sewer rat and a nasty little person.’ Pot, kettle, black.
  1. Chris Sutton – Not the first person you’d think of when dreaming up this list, but Sutton has had a fairer share of moans than most. Some were merely petty, such as accusing Dunfermline of ‘lying down’ in 2003 to prevent Celtic from winning the title. He didn’t exactly take Chelsea’s decision to test him at centre back after a £10million move lightly either, voicing his very loud opinion to anyone who decided to listen. His finest hour came when Glenn Hoddle selected him to play for England B against Chile B in 1998. His relationship with the England manager was already at breaking point, after Sutton criticised the decision to leave him out a World Cup qualifier with Moldova, and upon hearing the news he had been picked for the B team, Sutton pulled out, effectively ending his international career. Given that most people would have given their left arm for the chance to pull on the Three Lions, I can’t think of many printable words that describe my opinion of Chris Sutton.
  1. William Gallas – Another Frenchman to make the list, now there’s a surprise. Gallas made a decent impact on his initial move to the Premiership, helping Chelsea to back-to-back Premiership titles. However, John Terry and Ricardo Carvalho’s blossoming partnership in defense meant Gallas was pushed out to left back more often than not, something that upset him immensely, despite regular first team football. He refused to sign a new contract, and then didn’t return to training after the 2006 World Cup, threatening to score own goals if Chelsea did not let him leave. Instead Chelsea traded one scumbag for another, swapping him for Ashley Cole. In 2008 though, Gallas displayed the biggest sign of petulance on a football field ever. After Arsenal conceded an injury time penalty against Birmingham, Gallas walked into the opposition half in apparent protest, before being restrained after confronting the crowd in fury. He then performed his own sit down protest in the middle of the pitch after the game. Who does he think he is, Martin Luther King?
  1. Nicholas Bendtner – So full of waffle, he could fill not just one hot air balloon, but a whole fleet. After spending the last 4 years telling us just how good he is and that Arsene Wenger should play him every minute of every game, Nicholas has finally done what he’s been threatening to do for a long time. Leave Arsenal for regular football. But he hasn’t gone to one of Europe’s top clubs as he promised was going to happen. Nope, he’s joined Sunderland. Where I expect Frazier Campbell will keep him out of the first team. As Bendtner is next to terrible. Or worse than terrible. I can’t decide. He says he’s not going back to Arsenal ever, a revelation I’m guessing caused a bigger celebration at the Emirates than the last time Arsenal won a trophy (though admittedly, that was so long ago I can’t remember what the celebrations were like.) The Dane is so in love with himself, I’m surprised he hasn’t decided he’s the right man to lead the world out of the economic depression and quit football altogether. If there was a prize for the world’s most deluded human being, Nicholas Bendtner would undoubtedly be number one.
  1. Sir Alex Ferguson – What? Come on ref, how on earth can there be 7 minutes of stoppage time? None of our players have even been injured! Oh wait, we’re drawing 1-1 at Old Trafford and Fergie is fixing the 4th official with one of his famous stares, until he crumbles, giving Manchester United enough extra time to find a winner. Which they often get. Lets be honest, this is such a frequent happening in United games, it is now famously known as ‘Fergie Time.’ Just rewards then for Sir Alex, who has spent the best part of two decades complaining about the Premier League’s officials in order to intimidate them into United favouritism. Have you ever seen a penalty for the away team at Old Trafford? Indeed most of his whinges have been directed at referees, he has as about as much respect for them as the News of the World does for people’s privacy. Although referees get it in the neck more than most, there aren’t many subjects Sir Alex doesn’t complain about. In fact you could do a top ten of Sir Alex’s moaning topics. The fixture list, the F.A, the B.B.C, other managers, other teams, other players and even his own players are regular features Sir Alex criticises in public. Looking at this list, it won’t just be the opposition fans glad to see him retire, whenever that may be.
  1. Carlos Tevez – Is there anyone in football who, this summer, hasn’t wanted to give Carlos Tevez a slap across the face. For the love of God, please just shut up. Alright, we can sympathise about the fact you have to live in Manchester, but at least you get paid a six figure salary for it. Others have to do it for free. After a terrific debut season for City, where he became the darling of the blue half of the city, Tevez, the club captain, announces yet again he wants a transfer. Shock horror. He’s done this more times than he’s made career appearances. His reasons for leaving this time bordered on the ridiculous. Manchester is boring. Manchester is expensive. The weather is terrible (fair point.) He went as far to say “I’m never going back to Manchester, not even on holiday, not for anything,” after claiming he had no friends. I wonder why. Tevez then denied saying all of this, before claiming the real reason he wanted to leave City was to be closer to his family. Sympathy immediately rose for the Argentine from all you family loving souls out there, until Tevez stated this place so close to his family would be Milan, which is in fact, on paper, 23 miles further away from his hometown in Argentina. His reward for all this moaning and groaning? Not a dream move to Europe’s elite (no-one was willing to stump up the cash funnily enough) but instead a move to the Manchester Citybench after being stripped of the captaincy. Hero to Zero.
  1. Hossam Ghaly – One incident during his spell at Tottenham has given him a reputation for throwing almighty tantrums. After coming on as a substitute during a Premiership match with Blackburn in 2007, Ghaly himself was taken off, throwing an almighty strop in the process. A strop wasn’t the only thing he threw as he launched his shirt towards the bench in anger, a move that incensed Spurs’ fans so much, they repeatedly sang ‘You’re not fit to wear the shirt’ at the Egyptian when he next warmed on the Spurs sideline. After this incident, Ghaly was never to play for the club again, as finally some retribution was handed out to the players who think throwing their toys out of the pram is acceptable.
  1. Cristiano Ronaldo – The world’s most expensive footballer, but Crikey Moses, doesn’t he know it! I wouldn’t want to misplace a pass to Ronaldo, that’s for sure, as the death stare he gives anyone not up to his standards could turn you to stone. It’s no wonder Ronaldo has scored so many goals during his career, would anyone dare not give him the ball if he was anywhere near the opposition penalty box? Whilst his treatment of fellow players is poor, he doesn’t exactly give his managers an easy time either. Take his behavior in the 2009 Manchester derby after being substituted. He snatched his track suit from the kit man and threw it to the ground, prompting criticism from many former United players about his attitude. After all, it wasn’t exactly the first display of petulance from the Portuguese superstar. Luis Figo was quick to criticise him after Ronaldo was accused of spitting at a cameraman after last summer’s World Cup exit to Spain and slagging off coach Carlos Queiroz’s tactics. It appears his personality is as spiky as his over zealous barnet.
  2. Roy Keane – The feisty Irishman loves a good tantrum, and some of his rants have been legendary over the years. Whether it was tearing into his Manchester United team-mates, most famously on MUTV when he decided 7 players weren’t up to scratch, with his most fearsome criticism saved for Rio Ferdinand, when he ranted  “Just because you are paid £120,000-a-week and play well for 20 minutes against Tottenham, you think you are a superstar.” Nicely put Roy. Then he decided United’s support needed geeing up, branding them the ‘prawn sandwich’ brigade, stating “I don’t think some of the people who come to Old Trafford can spell ‘football’, never mind understand it.” His act of petulance in breaking Alfie Inge Haaland’s leg in revenge for an incident that took place five years early proved Keane was more mental than a night out with Charlie Sheen, but his greatest strop was reserved for the 2002 World Cup, when he stormed home from Ireland’s training camp. His stinging description of Mick McCarthy went like this: Mick, you’re a liar… you’re a fucking wanker. I didn’t rate you as a player, I don’t rate you as a manager, and I don’t rate you as a person. You’re a fucking wanker and you can stick your World Cup up your arse. The only reason I have any dealings with you is that somehow you are the manager of my country! You can stick it up your bollocks.” All because the training ground had a few potholes in. Combine a whiner with a nutcase, and Roy Keane is the result.

The Top Ten Players who made the Worst Managers

The most troubling thing on a footballer’s mind, (apart from which car to buy next) is what to do after they’ve finished their careers. After all, a footballer has a short shelf-life, with most players, unless you’re Edwin Van Der Sar, washed up and finished by 35. Some go into punditry, like Gary Neville. Some go into business, like Robbie Fowler’s property empire or some do much stranger things, like Belgium midfielder Jonathan de Falco, who entered the porn industry. For some bizarre reason, plenty of ex-pros try their hand at management with varying success. After all Sir Alex was a top striker in the Scottish Leagues. Some though, are just as bad with the boots off as they are with them on. Here are ten former players that transformed into awful managers:

  1. Glenn Hoddle – Talented footballer, baffling manager, weird bloke. Hoddle made a decent start to his managerial career, earning promotion with Swindon Town to the Premiership, before taking the Chelsea job and getting to the FA Cup Final. Glenn then took the England job, where in fact, he actually achieved a 60% win rate. However, a second round exit to Argentina on penalties in the 1998 World Cup raised questions over Hoddle’s ability, and he became a laughing-stock in the Press after introducing the faith healer Eileen Drewery into his coaching staff, a decision that certainly raised a few eyebrows amongst the England team. Hoddle produced his biggest faux pas after the tournament after revealing in an interview he believed the disabled and others were being punished for sins in a previous life, something that funnily enough, didn’t go down too well with the British public. Hoddle lost the England job, and subsequently managed just Southampton, Tottenham and Wolves since, hardly the benchmark for a quality manager. Having not coached a team since 2006, he now works on his Glenn Hoddle academy that gives youth players another chance after they’ve been released by their clubs. Shame Hoddle can’t attend one for managers…
  1. Paul Ince – The Guv’nor enjoyed an illustrious career at the top of the English game, making 53 appearances for his country in the centre of midfield. His managerial career hasn’t been met with quite as much success. In fact, there hasn’t been any success. His CV features Macclesfield Town, MK Dons and Notts County. Wow. From this list, it is clear Ince’s big time Charlie reputation as a player has hindered his ability to run a club, with many chairmen fearing Paul would just steal the show. Blackburn did give him a shot at Premiership management in 2008, though fired him after just 177 days in charge. More people liked Gordon Brown as Prime Minster for longer than that. There were even rumours Ince didn’t bother turning up to training. Leading figures in the game often bemoan the lack of black managers active in England. Why, people wonder? The answer is usually returned in just two words. Paul Ince.
  1. Gareth Southgate– Although Gareth’s career is tarred by his infamous penalty miss, he was a solid centre back, making 504 career appearances. His managerial career started and finished at Middlesbrough, who appointed him controversially since he didn’t have the correct coaching badges. How they must wish the FA had blocked his appointment. He took a side, whose Premiership status had been solid for a number of years, to relegation, before shortly into the new campaign; he somehow got fired by Steve Gibson, the most patient chairman in the history of football, making his managerial career as much of a joke as the Pizza Hut advert he once starred in. He has since featured regularly as an analyst for ITV, rivalling Lee Dixon for the most boring pundit on television.
  1. Stuart Pearce – Maybe there’s a connection with missing a penalty in the semi final of a major tournament and being a terrible manager. As Stuart ‘Psycho’ Pearce is certainly one of those. After all, anyone who relies on a small toy horse to help him win games (Pearce used to bring ‘Beanie’, a present from his daughter, into the dugout on match days for good luck) is struggling from the start. Inspiring terrible form at Manchester City was clearly one of the qualities the FA were looking for in a manager, as they appointed Pearce in 2007 as the boss of the under 21’s, before he became Capello’s assistant, when the FA realised they actually needed a man in the dressing room who could speak English. Either way, neither the under 21’s or the senior side have exactly excelled during Pearce’s tenure, indeed the under 21 European Championship ended in embarrassment for England after a talented squad was outclassed in the pool stage. Rumour has it Psycho is being groomed to put the ‘England’ back into England Manager after Capello’s contract runs out. Really? No, really? Do you fancy 4 more years Fabio?
  1. Paulo Di Canio – It may seem a little premature to include the volatile Italian in this list after just 11 games in management, but some things just aren’t meant to be from the word go. Hardly a stranger to controversy, Di Canio made the headlines more than most during his playing career, most famously for pushing over a referee playing for Sheffield Wednesday, as well his sympathy for Fascism, resulting in the Nazi salute he produced playing for Lazio, as well his declaring his love for Mussolini. It appears this trend has continued in management, I can’t log onto the BBC website without seeing a new video of Di Canio’s antics, the on-field altercation with Leon Clarke the other week proving he is just as hot-headed in management as during his playing days. Very entertaining, please continue Paulo.
  1. Alan Shearer – Enticed into management early when Newcastle faced the danger of relegation in 08/09, after Joe Kinnear couldn’t continue for health reasons. I can see why being employed by Mike Ashley would have that effect on you. On his appointment, Shearer stated, “It’s a club I love and I don’t want them to go down. I’ll do everything I can to stop that.” You could have fooled me. Newcastle weren’t even in the drop zone when he took over. Still, 8 hapless performances later and the Toon Army’s long Premiership stay, along with Shearer’s managerial career, was over. Although linked with Cardiff this summer, talks broke down as Shearer chose the cosy Match of the Day sofas over an actual challenge. At least his reputation won’t be harmed any further that way.
  1. Tony Adams – Oh deary me. How has it all gone so wrong for the former England captain? His first foray into management, at lowly Wycombe Wanderers was a disaster, resulted in their relegation in 2004. Yet Portsmouth offered him the chance to succeed Harry Redknapp in 2008, resulting in a 16 game spell that yielded just 10 points, leaving Adams looking more depressed than during his alcoholism days. In 2010, Adams took over at Gabala FC in Azerbaijan, a country more famous for its oil resources than its football teams. Adams justified this move as an opportunity to “start from zero to build a successful football club.” Well I’m fairly confident he can achieve the zero part.
  1. Roy Keane – Keano was an unpopular player, take his barely legal challenge on Alfie Inge-Haaland or his walk out on the Irish World Cup squad in 2002 for proof. However, he has proved to be an even more unpopular manager. Despite an early promotion with Sunderland, as his reign went on, his cluelessness became more obvious. The same cluelessness increased even more during Keane’s time at charge of Ipswich. Take his transfer activity. Keane spent a fortune at both clubs, with many signings proving more useless than a John Terry marriage counsellor. He’s also a miserable sod. I’d rather listen to the Wolves’ fans rendition of ‘Hi, Ho, Silver Lining’ than one of Roy’s press conferences. Next time a job comes up, please please stick to walking your dogs Roy.
  1. Paul Gascoigne – This was never going to happen was it. After picking up coaching tips in China, (no-one knows whether this was football or table-tennis) Gazza decided it was time to take on the English Leagues. The clubs on his CV, Boston United and Kettering Town, suggests Paul chose his first positions in a similar fashion to the ‘random’ team selection button on Fifa. Given that Gazza can’t even control himself, what chance did he had with a bunch of rank amateurs. Sure enough, his spell at Kettering ended after he turned up everyday for training drunk, but his time at Boston was cut short after just 11 games over Gascoigne’s disappointment that the club refused to let him compete in ‘I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here.’ Now that’s one reality TV show I would have watched!
  1. Bryan Robson – Captain Marvel, Coach Terrible. If ever there is an advertisement for not picking your manager on his playing pedigree Robson is it. His 90 caps has convinced no less than 4 chairmen to give him a shot at management, his most successful effort being 4 years at Middlesbrough, and even that involved his side swapping between the Premiership and the First Division more often than a schizophrenic changes personalities. After taking just 22 points from 27 games at Bradford, he then failed miserably at West Brom and Sheffield United too, as well as missing out on the England under 21’s job to Stuart Pearce. Nuff said. However, most recently, he has enjoyed a spell in charge of Thailand, failing to qualify, well, for any tournament, losing out to fellow Asian heavyweights Laos, Malaysia and Indonesia, results that have made him a less successful tourist in Bangkok than the protagonists of the Hangover 2.

Top Ten Overrated Footballers

The Premiership is full of world-class talent. Players like Nemanja Vidic, Wayne Rooney and Robin Van Persie makes our domestic league a really special arena to play football. However, there also those who really don’t cut the mustard. And yet still get a gig at the highest level. For some reason, someone, somewhere, must rate them, despite every man and his dog realising their grandmother could do a better job. Here are the Premiership’s Top Ten Over-rated players.

  1. Andy Carroll – A bold selection first up, and one I admit is based purely on his price tag from his move to Liverpool. I mean £35 million?! Come on, surely it wasn’t just me that thought Sky Sports News had made a giant blunder when they printed that. Was the full stop button broken on the computer, as surely they’d missed out the decimal point between 3 and 5. But no, on the back of just 80 appearances and 31 goals for Newcastle, a good proportion of which came in the Championship, Kenny Dalglish made him the most expensive British player ever. He’s hardly exploded onto the scene at Anfield either, as Carroll is able to down more jaegerbombs in a night than he’s made appearances in a Red shirt, whilst scoring just 3 goals, 2 against Manchester City and 1 against minnows Exeter City. In fairness, he’s only young and has already been struck by injuries, but Fabio Capello has already offered a warning against his lifestyle whilst the mutterings about his recent form are growing louder. It could well be Carroll turns out to be the expensive mistake in England since the Millennium Dome was built.
  1. John Arne Riise – He made 234 appearances for Liverpool under Gerard Houllier and Rafa Benitez, filling the left back spot for the best part of 7 years. So why then did no-one realise he wasn’t very good? To describe his defensive abilities as questionable would be rather kind, his 95th minute own goal in the Champions League semi-final against Chelsea had his former Liverpool mentor Phil Thompson going berserk, (look it up on YouTube) and this was just one of a number of high-profile errors. The only thing saving him from relegation to the reserves was his cannonball of a left foot, and once Liverpool found another of those, Fabio Aurelio, Riise was shipped out to Roma, where he spent a decidedly average 3 years as Roma went from European heavyweights to also-rans during his time at the club. This was enough to secure him back to England, to Fulham, who’s mid-table standard are probably more befitting to Riise’s ability.
  1. Michael Carrick – Carrick really is a special case, not many footballers have been clever enough to hoodwink Sir Alex Ferguson. Although Carrick has begun the new season amongst the United substitutes, he signed a new 3 year contract recently and has made 150 appearances for the club. Which is mystifying. Everyone talks about Carrick’s supposed passing ability, yet whenever I’ve watched him, the only passing ability he appears to possess is the one that goes straight to the opposition. It’s no wonder United’s midfield was so thoroughly outclassed by Barcelona, as whilst Xavi and Iniesta produced displays that were magnificent to watch, Carrick resembled a figure in the Terracotta Army, as he appeared to be glued to the Wembley pitch, in awe of the Spanish magicians. Not quite good enough for the Champions…
  1. Cameron Jerome – Jerome announced himself on the Premiership stage by scoring 7 goals in 33 appearances for Birmingham in the 07/08 season, their first year back in the top flight. Despite Birmingham’s relegation, this appeared a fairly decent return for a man who had never featured in England’s highest league. However, just 23 goals followed in the next three seasons, and a man who was once earmarked as a future England international became a scapegoat for Birmingham’s horror show last season. Fans couldn’t understand why Alex McLeish continued to pick him, despite Cameron’s obvious ineptness at the highest level. To put it frankly, he couldn’t hit a barn door. Bizarrely, this form then earned him a £4million to Stoke City, who needed him for Europa League reinforcements. Following in the footsteps of James Beattie, Ricardo Fuller and Jon Walters, Jerome is just adding weight to the fact Tony Pulis wouldn’t recognise a decent striker if they slapped him across the face (something James Beattie did attempt.)
  1. Emile Heskey – Finally I hear you all say. The one we’ve all been waiting for. Surely any list featuring hopeless, overrated footballers is bound to feature the much maligned Heskey at the top. After all, he’s tricked countless Premiership and England managers into picking him at the highest level for over a decade. I actually happen to be a Heskey sympathiser and recognise the value his work-rate can bring to a side, but you can’t defend someone who’s well publicised goal-scoring record for his country is lower than Rogerio Ceni, and Jose Luis Chilavert, both of whom are goalkeepers. Unfortunately for a man who tries so hard, his career can only be remembered as a full-time joke, one that certainly isn’t funny for England fans and his recent club form for Aston Villa isn’t doing anything to dispel this notion. To put it frankly, he’s been woeful.
  1. Fabricio Coloccini –Newcastle fans must have been delighted when they picked up a defender who’s won 34 caps for one of the best footballing nations in the world, Argentina, even if they paid £10million for him. Erm, think again. His arrival coincided with the shock relegation of the Toon Army in 2009, and a familiar sight that season was seeing Coloccini’s mop of hair look up from the floor in disappointment after he’d been beaten all ends up yet again. Coloccini is living proof that international caps for great countries don’t necessarily make you the bees knees, ranking himself alongside former Brazilian defender, Roque Junior, who was abysmal for Leeds on loan back in 2003, as one of the most disappointing Premiership signings. To prove my point that Coloccini is an overrated waste of space, you only have to see how many offers came in for the Argentine when Newcastle were selling off their squad following relegation. None.
  1. Phil Neville – This man has played consistently for two of the Premiership’s best clubs, under two of the best managers we have seen in recent times, making 650 club appearances and 59 for England. The question is, why? Do people really feel that sorry for him that he has Gary as a brother? He is literally hopeless. You could always identify the loud groan that went around the pub when England games were on as the fact that England had just announced the starting 11 and Phil Neville was in it. One moment in his England career can prove exactly why this happened. In the 89th minute against Romania in England’s crucial Euro 2000 group match, Viorel Moldovan broke into the area. Attacking from the by-line, the threat looked minimal as Moldovan ran out of space, only for super Phil to save the day with a tackle so ugly it wouldn’t have looked out-of-place on the Jeremy Kyle show. Penalty duly awarded and England crashed out early in another major tournament. Thanks Phil, thanks a bunch.
  1. Theo Walcott – Stormed onto the scene with a big money move to Arsenal and a place in the England World Cup squad in 2006 at the age of just 17. Theo appeared to have the world at his feet, especially after a hat-trick in Croatia, and fans were drooling over the potential of seeing him and Rooney lead England’s line for the next decade. Except it hasn’t quite happened like that. Whilst Rooney has gone from strength to strength, becoming a talisman for club and country, the only talisman Walcott has become is why not to spend so much money on young English players. Left out of the 2010 World Cup squad, Walcott is unbelievably frustrating to watch. So much pace, yet so little end product, essentially making him a clone of Shaun Wright-Phillips. Bafflingly both Wenger and Capello still rate him for club and country, and although Pep Guardiola once said “you would need a pistol to stop him,” in my opinion a by-line usually does just as good a job. After all, he fires 99% of his aimless crosses straight over it and out of play.
  1. Peter Crouch – I once heard a great joke that probably summarises why Crouchy makes this list. Here goes: ‘Fabio Capello walks into the England dressing room after a hard training session, only to find a great steaming turd on the floor. Thoroughly annoyed, Fabio shouts “who has shit on the floor” (well via his Italian translator of course.) There is silence, until Crouch finally stands up. “Me boss, but I’m not bad in the air.” To describe Crouch as ungainly would perhaps be kind, I’ve seen Bambi on ice move less awkwardly than he does. A man so thin, you’ll be seeing him in action as the pole for Pole Vaulters in next summers Olympics, people often say, ‘yeah but what about Crouchy’s England goal-scoring record? 22 in 42 is a cracking effort.’ Which would be true, if they hadn’t all come in meaningless friendlies against countries you didn’t even know existed…
  1. David Beckham – Before you ask, no I wasn’t on drugs when I came up with this choice, I genuinely did just write David Beckham. Because he is genuinely overrated. There was a time when yes, Goldenballs was the best thing since sliced bread and Bobby Moore that had happened to our country, but post 2002, quite frankly Beckham didn’t live up to the hype. Firstly there are his free kicks. Yes, I’ve seen a few beauties. But I’ve also watched the vast majority of England matches Beckham played and heard the excitement in the commentators’ voice when Beckham placed the ball for a free kick anywhere in-front of the halfway line. Which inevitably hit the wall. Admit it, you know its true. His penalties are so bad, he made the rest of England look good. He blazed two over the bar for crying out loud. Even the famous one against Argentina, he shut his eyes and smashed it. Fergie knew what he was doing when he shipped Becks out for a cool £23million, Capello knew what he was doing, dropping Beckham for his title-winning Real Madrid side and Steve McLaren knew what he was doing dropping Beckham for the start of his England regime. Or maybe not…Being the most famous man on the planet has contributed to his career success, as shirt sales pay his wages alone, but the fact Beckham is still playing in the U.S suggests he secretly knows the true level of his abilities. When a player is picked for his free kicks, corners and good looks, you know something has gone wrong. Which is why, as much as I love Beckham to pieces, he has to be included in the top 10 overrated footballers.
P.S – Fernando Torres is very close to joining this list, he’s making Andy Carroll look good value.