MANAGER: Mark Hughes
Earlier this week, some Welsh bloke picked up a couple of awards, while the rest of our multi-millionaire footballers patted themselves on the back about another job well done. Enough is enough. It’s time for these overpaid, overhyped ball- kickers to take a reality check. This is the 11 we all really want to see: the most inadequate, underwhelming and downright awful footballers to grace the Premier League in the last 12 months. (N.B. This article would have been quicker to write by just listing the entire QPR side, but I was told this was a ‘cop out’. Bloody jour- nalistic standards.)
GOALKEEPER – Pepe Reina. The Liverpool stopper has had possibly his worst season since arriving on these shores. In February, stats gurus Opta said that Reina‘s mistakes had cost Liverpool 14 points this season. Without those faults, Liverpool would have been sitting in 3rd place. His error against Manchester City — allowing Sergio Aguero to equalise from an impossible angle — all but ended his side’s Champions League challenge.
RIGHT BACK – Bacary Sagna. It’s always been easy to malign Arsenal’s defence, but when you’ve been outshone by Carl Jenkinson, it really is time to have a long, hard look at yourself. Sa- gna’s inability to both attack and de- fend have caused Arsenal all sorts of problems this year, and the penalty which he managed to give away on Sunday summed up a fairly dread- ful season for the once dependable Frenchman.
CENTRE BACK – Clint Hill. So yes, QPR are easy targets, but when you have a glorified Sunday league player in your side almost every single week, going down is always going to be on the cards. Other than be- ing a bit ’ard and British, it’s quite challenging to see what one would put into Hill’s ‘pros’ column. Harry Redknapp might be seen as a tactical mastermind, but seeing Hill’s nameon the teamsheet must make Premier league strikers up and down the land explode with joy.
CENTRE BACK – Titus Bramble. Do I really need to expand? He’s horrendous. Sunderland have been horrendous. And I see a direct causal link between the two. In almost every respect, Titus Bramble is currently stealing a living. The Wearside outfit’s defence in general is a who’s who of Premier League mediocrity: Phil Bardsley anyone?
LEFT BACK – Andy Wilkinson. If there were any footballer I would not like to meet in a darkened alley, it would be him. Yes, he can kick people. Yes, he can kick the ball quite high and quite far. Yes, both the abilities I’ve just named are probably top of Tony Pulis’s ‘Qualities I need in a footballer’ list. But in reality, Andy Wilkinson can’t defend, pass, shoot, tackle or dribble. A bit like me.
RiIGHT MIDFIELD – Antonio Valencia. Last year, AV7 would have been in most people’s Top 11s, but he’s certainly suffered a dramatic fall from grace. His confidence seems to be shot, and as he’s no longer willing to take on his defender, his role in the United side is about as pointless as a Ryan Giggs super-injunction. All in all it’s been a barren season for United’s wingers.
CENTRE MIDFIELD– James Perch. I never thought I’d have to say a Premier League footballer was ‘like a crap Danny Guthrie’ but… Perch, the ultimate utility man, has shown himself to be a jack of all trades, but he is certainly a master of none. His first half of ineptitude against Liverpool was truly the icing on a season which one could kindly describe as ‘limited’, or cruelly describe as ‘an absolute horror show of truly epic proportions’.
CENTRE MIDFIELD – Park Ji-Sung ©. He was dropped from the QPR side. Must I elaborate? But seriously, this one is as surprising as it is upsetting. Always dependable for United, Park has failed to recreate his form in West London. Despite taking on the extra responsibility of captaincy, he couldn’t galvanise his team into the success he was used to. I’m still convinced he’s your man if you need a 0-0 away from home in Europe though…
LEFT MIDFIELD – Scott Sinclair. Okay fine, Gareth Bale had an alright season. Mr Sincliar on the other hand may be a new name to you all. He used to play for Swansea, remember? Tipped to play for England? One of the country’s finest young players? This season, however, he’s managed a grand total of 11appearances in all competitions, and he often fails to make the Man City bench. This is a lesson for you ‘E and M’ers: don’t just follow the money kids.
STRIKER – Nikica Jelav- ic. Like every player that comes to England from the SPL, I tipped Nikica to make a huge impact and in 2011/12 I was proved right. But despite Everton’s success this season, Jelavic has fallen off the rails, managing only seven league goals. Outshone by Victor Anichebe, there are rumours that Big Sam is now eyeing him up – I hope he’s been working on his flick ons.
STRIKER – Emmanuel Adebayor. Did you see that penalty? Deary me. Often playing second fiddle to an onsong Jermain Defoe, Adebayor has struggled for form and goals this season, and it seems that he won’t be in AVB’s plans much longer. With Benteke on the Spurs’ boss’s wishlist, the Togan international may soon be heading to foreign shores. How does a nice £100,000 pound a week contract in the MLS sound to cheer you up, Emmanuel?