Premier League Anti XI 2008-09

by Patrick Curry

Friday, May 8th, 2009

With the Premier League drawing to a close it’s time for a look back at the season. Ryan Giggs has somehow already picked up the PFA player of the season, despite playing a mere 1313 of a possible 3150 Premier League minutes. The title was all but decided by Howard Webb’s errant whistle and a meek Spurs capitulation at Old Trafford a few weeks back. The FA Cup offers Everton the chance of gloriously dull failure against Chelsea on a dodgy Wembley pitch. The Champions League still has genuine excitement to offer as this week showed. However, where the real glory lies is in the Duds XI for 2008-09.

Criteria for selection was as wide ranging as the line-up itself. To qualify some kind of disappointment or a let down was needed. Not exactly an X-factor, more of a ‘Why?’ factor. Calamitous mistakes, thuggish brutality, unfulfilled promise, piles of wasted cash and plain bad luck have all played a part in the following players’ seasons. The only rigid judgment was that the events had to have taken place during the past 9 months.

GK – Craig Gordon


The tag of Britain’s most expensive goalkeeper is tough enough to live up to on the pitch. Doing it from the bench is nigh on impossible. After a satisfactory first season with the Black Cats, Gordon has played just 11 times this campaign, only 4 of them since October 18th. He has suffered from a knee injury but his form has been patchy when he has played. Ricky Sbragia simply seems to have more faith in Martin Fulop. As expensive flops go, the Scotland international has some way to go to convince supporters that chairman Niall Quinn did not waste an awful lot of cash.

LB – Nicky Shorey

Aston Villa

When Wilfred Bouma’s ankle twisted beneath him in an Intertoto Cup against Odense back in July, Villa manager Martin O’Neill knew he would need to get long term cover for the injured left back. Unfortunately his judgment was slightly out when he plumped for Shorey. The ex-Reading full back had shown promise in his two seasons in the Premier League under Steve Coppell. However, so bad has he been since arriving in the Midlands that O’Neill has preferred to use the right footed Luke Young at left back rather than risk playing Shorey. A truly dreadful season that will surely see him shipped out in the summer.

CB – Richard Dunne

Man City

Season on season Richard Dunne commits the kind of defensive errors that would makes Titus Bramble blush and this year he has not disappointed. While Titus has (by his standards at least) had a revelation of a season at Wigan alongside Mario Melchiot, Dunne has been amusing MOTD viewers with shockers on a regular basis. Own goals against both Bolton and Newcastle plus a red card against Tottenham have had the City faithful disgruntled and the Irish international’s form, coupled with terrible dip in form from Micah Richards have turned City’s pre-season dreams of champagne football and Champions League prospects in to mid-table mediocrity once again.

CB – Fabrizio Coloccini


As if Newcastle weren’t enough of a comedy club already, the signing of the wild haired Argentine from Deportivo last summer raised the bar to an altogether new level. Arriving with a solid reputation as a rugged stopper it has taken a mere 9 months to reduce that viewpoint to dust. Coloccini has shown himself to be woefully unable to adapt to the pace of the Premiership. Positionally he has been caught out time and time again and his ineptitude in controlling a back line alongside Steve Taylor has led to a mammoth 54 goals being shipped when he has played, the third worst record in the Premiership. It wouldn’t be so bad if he hadn’t been so feted but with big reputations come big falls and Coloccini’s looks like taking his through the Premier League trapdoor.

RB – Paul McShane

Hull City

Just pipping Micah Richards to the right-back slot is Dunne’s fellow countryman and Manchester United youth graduate ‘Big’ Paul McShane. A combative player with all the instincts of a Sunday league slogger, McShane has benefitted massively from the Fergie Midas touch and the misguided belief amongst football’s inner circle that a stint at United, however short, blesses a player eternally (see Danny Higgenbotham and Phil Bardsley). Starting the season Sunderland, McShane was loaned to Hull at the end of August and even went as far as scoring a goal at Anfield. Tragically that only served to paper over the cracks of a player who is simply punching above his weight and who when faced with genuine class and pace is cruelly exposed.

LM – Damien Duff


Epitomising all that is wrong with the modern footballer is Newcastle’s third entry, left sided midfielder Damien Duff. In a team of players who have not performed anywhere near the level expected of them, he stands out. Possessing of great natural balance and fantastic pace he also has a searing laziness that only comes from knowing you will pocket 70k at the end of the week regardless of how you perform. He has not been the only culprit amongst the Newcastle playing staff this year but his season has typified a team who have miserably failed to add up to the sum of their parts. If Newcastle get relegated he will be one of the first to jump ship. However, his contribution to their downfall should not be forgotten amongst the Geordie faithful who’d do well to look at tapes of his Blackburn days and wonder just who the imposter on their left wing has been this season.

CM – Geovanni

Hull City

An odd choice at first glance as Geovanni has undoubtedly been responsible for some sublime moments in Hull’s inaugural Premier League season. Winners at the Emirates and White Hart Lane sent Tigers fans in to raptures as nine games in Hull sat joint top of the Premier League. However, seasons run over 9 months not 9 games and dips in form can be as costly as a great run of performances can be beneficial. In hindsight Phil Brown’s on pitch halftime team-talk on Boxing Day at Eastlands ultimately looks like it could be a deciding factor in shaping City’s season. Just as crucially though you need star players to come to the fore and maintain form and it is here where Geovanni has let Hull down.

CM – Joey Barton


No introduction needed for the Premier League’s Mickey Knox. The raw aggression of his tackling sadly masks the genuine footballing talents of a player who at Man City was once looked upon as a future England prospect. If it weren’t for the idiotic lunges and the frequent descents into red mist territory he could well have helped Newcastle avoid their current predicament. As it is the man signed for Newcastle by (who else but) Sam Allardyce ended his season and that of Xavi Alonso with another crude assault and a red card at Anfield.

RM – David Bentley


Bad seasons often seem so bad because of what went before. Bentley stood out at Blackburn alongside Roque Santa Cruz as one of the premier performers in England’s top league in 2007-08. Those performances coupled with a pricey move to Tottenham raised expectations but unfortunately any pre-season promise failed to materialize once the serious business got underway. An absolute screamer at the Emirates aside, it has been a hugely disappointing campaign for the former Arsenal man. However, Bentley certainly hasn’t become a bad footballer overnight and two crackers in a reserve game against Arsenal recently showed that where form is temporary, hopefully for Bentley and Tottenham, class is permanent.

F – Dimitar Berbatov

Man Utd

Big money moves breed big expectation which fans demand be met. Berbatov’s laidback style was never really going to hide the fact that he doesn’t enjoy the grafting part of the game but for 30 million you expect a bit more. Flashes of genius against West Ham and a nonchalantly flicked poach against Bolton let everyone know his mercurial brilliance remains but when Fergie feels the need to start defending you a la Veron, you know you haven’t lived up to the hype. Could end up with Premier League and Champions League medals but that would not disguise the fact that to all intents and purposes his sulk induced big money move has so far been a failure.

F – Robinho

Man City

Thought he would be playing alongside Ronaldo and Rooney until he realized it was City and not United he had signed for, Robinho has undoubtedly shown moments of excellence during a turbulent first season with City’s oil rich slickers. The fact is though that he has also gone missing for entire games, spent altogether too much time out partying, engaged in rumblings of discontent with his fellow Brazilian contingent and locked horns with his manager throughout the season. Inklings of partnerships with Stephen Ireland and Daniel Sturridge have shown potential but frustrations at other teammates’ inabilities and a lack of effort have culminated in an overall disappointing campaign. It’s not a lack of talent that qualifies him for this XI it is having the talent and not fulfilling it.


Ricardo Quaresma


Style over substance in its ultimate form here with the one player who could rightly be described as a bigger show pony than Cristiano Ronaldo.

Giovani Dos Santos

Spurs on loan at Ipswich

17th May 2008, hat-trick for Barca alongside Messi, Eto’o and Ronahldinho. 3rd May 2009, solitary goal for Ipswich alongside Jon Stead, Kevin Lisbie and Alex Bruce.

Gareth Bale


21 starts for Spurs in the League, 0 wins. Some Tottenham fans are beginning to believe the curse of the Bale.

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  • Darren

    some very interesting selections there, I agree with most of them in particular Damien Duff, Bentley & Berbatov. The other center midfielder doesn’t even deserve a mention as he’s a total twat.

    But Geovanni and Robinho, are you sure? They’ve been in most peoples teams this season. see Dexys alternative team

  • Joel

    I am surprised there is no Theo Whalnut in there… or any goon ‘kids’ that have still won nothing.

  • Tef1on

    Giovani Dos Santos… What a joke! Left what would be a 1st team Barcelona starting place to come play for the mighty Spuds, stating “It is a dream for me to come to a big club like Spurs”.

    I wonder if his dream extended to Ipswich? What a muppet! Also is Quaresma still at Chavski? Not heard about him for a long time now.

    Odds on Bentley to leave spurs at end of the season?

  • Patrick

    Walnutt is not a bad shout. He’s so overhyped it is ridiculous. Was utterly anonymous against United. I was not far from putting Bendtner is there either as he is gash. However, Dos Santos was an obvious shout. Apparently he has a bad attitude. Geovanni would in my first 9 games of the season team. After that he disappeared totally.

  • Ash

    Bentley, class? The bloke is quite possibly the most over rated player in the PL.

  • Darren

    Whalnut is so quick the oppositions defence have to defend deeper, that’s why he is rated so highly.
    He’s been injured for most of season anyway, since his return Arsenal have turned draws into wins, a coincidence somewhat!

    When the Spuds signed Da Santos Matt ‘Barcelona’ Quinn told me he was shite, one hatrick in an end of season playing for nothing game doesn’t make a player world class, someone should of told Ramos that, who incidentally looks like he will be sacked at the end of the season!

  • Patrick

    No argument about Dos Santos. He’s been gash. Bentley isn’t a terrible player though. He had a class season at Blackburn last year and though he has struggled badly this year I reckon he’ll bounce back (with Alan Partridge). Whether he does that at Spurs or not remains to be seen.

  • Darren

    funny you should say that, I watched that episode last night! Bounce Back with Alan Partridge. Boob Olympics is a great seller!

  • Finn

    You didn’t do a manager. Well I nominate Tony Adams – he relegated Wycombe and would surely have done the same to a (talented) Portsmouth team. He is utter rubbish as a manager – I would imagine he’ll go back to being a number 2 (fnar fnar!).

  • Tef1on

    Good Call Finn, Either him or Juande Ramos. Or Mark Hughes… God I hate that guy with a passion.

  • Matt Quinn

    I agree that Walcott is overrated. Didnt Arsenal go on their long unbeaten run once him and Fabregas got injured?

    I still stand by Robinho… 3rd top scorer in the league in his debut season is a good return. He has gone missing at times but he is playing in a relatively poor team. Imagine the goals he might have scored for a top 4 team?

  • Patrick

    Adams would definitely be my manager for this team. He just doesn’t have what it takes to manage. For jumping ship, however, it could’ve been Royston Maurice Keane. Hardly turned up for training and then got pissed off when the hierarchy tried to suggest he might want to get a bit more involved. Also dropped proven performers like Malbranque for next to nothing. He’ll probably do well at Ipswich but i’m not sure if ruling through fear rather than respect is the right way to do things.

  • Darren

    this is true Matt but we couldn’t unlock defences, hence 4 0-0’s on the spin and Villa going 8 points clear and challenging for 4th spot. Since he has come back into the side we’ve been scoring for fun. (Well in the league anyway)

  • Tef1on

    I feel sorry for Theo. Never gets 90 minutes… He has come on so much since the middle of last season! Croatia Hatrick, Setting up ade vs Liverpool and AC Milan with 2 superb runs against 2 of the best defenses in the world at times. Then goals such as the ones at Birmingham last season, his Champions league goals vs Slavia Prague and Villareal were quality. Theo is no where near a finished product.

  • Patrick

    when did this blog become a therapy session for walnutt lovers?

  • Dean

    i think you’re wrong about shorey son. He’s a firm fixture at the back now after o’neil made him work on his game. I’ll give you he had a shocking 3/4s of a season though.

  • Patrick

    was just chatting to a mate in the pub about this topic and he brought up samir nasri. not sure what i make about that – 11 mil for what he’s brought to the team seems a bit pricey, but then he does offer pontential. as an arsenal fan what do you reckon darren?

  • Kenny Shankly-Paisley

    Swap Robinho for Keane. Any forward who misses either open goals or the actual ball more often than he hits the target gets my vote.

    Bit harsh on Geovanni too. Deco (past it), Lucas (shite) or Bullard (greedy/stupid) would be better shouts.

    As for manager, Sam Allardyce for his constant moaning, Fergie-bumming and stupid fucking face.

  • Tef1on

    Nasri is quality. I dont know why everyone gets on his back. Plays like Hleb, Except Nasri shoots (and scores) and provides assists. He is very versatile too.

  • Darren

    Nasri is class, like Teflon has mentioned, he actually shoots and scores goals, I don’t know why everyone keeps saying selling Pleb was a mistake, he’s so good that he can’t even get a game at Barca when half their midfield are out injured, same can be said for Flaminni, although I’d have him back in a shot!

  • dexylongshot

    I saw him at the Emirates earlier in the season and he was the best player on the pitch by a mile.

  • Patrick

    Keane is a great shout. The amount of airshots he had a Liverpool was comical. He had an initial burst of form when he came back to Spurs but now he’s back to his pointy shouty normal self. Worst thing is that he’s captain which in ‘Arry’s mind makes him unsubbable and undroppable.

    And how bad was Drogba yesterday? A quick dive followed by total anonymity for the rest of the match. Clearly Guus had told him to keep his nose clean. Gotta say that Walcott’s finishing was utter shite yesterday. Pace is a lot less scary when you know he’ll shank it 15 yards wide at the end of his run.

  • Darren

    gotta agree, Walcott was shocking as was the whole of the midfield, Nasri was an exception. Fabregas gave the ball away so many times it was embarrassing.
    I’ve already said that Diaby is a waste of space. Song is a championship player at best, he has been found out against the big boys.

    New good needed, but quality blood!

  • Tef1on

    Arsenal need to buy the following 2 players in the summer

    Yaya Toure (Vieira mark2)
    Brende Hangeland (Wont cost more than 5 million)

    Then all they need is a striker who can Finish, Head, Hold up, and has pace… Only person who i think would be available… Henry?

  • Darren

    Why would Yaya Toure come to Arsenal when he plays for the best footballing side on the planet? He could end up doing the treble with Barca

    Hangeland is a definite possibility unless Liverpool or Man City come in for him.

    Henry coming back? No chance, same reasons as Yaya. Won’t happen.

    In reality we’ll sign a few kids with brilliant potential. Surely now Wenger has to realise our kids are can only take us so far…

  • Tef1on,19528,11670_5305055,00.html

    “And if we buy, it certainly won’t be players who lack experience. We have enough of those.”

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