Chelsea's Asier Del Horno and Paulo Ferreira both feature in our worst ever XI to have won the Premier League.
Fending off stiff competition from Alex Manninger, Tomasz Kuszczak and Raymond Van Der Gouw for this prestigious honour, Stuart Taylor picked up a Premier League winner’s medal by the skin of his teeth, making nine league starts and a cameo off the bench for Arsenal in the 01-02 season to just gain eligibility for by making ten appearances. In a career spanning well over a decade, Taylor has made just 61 competitive first team appearances, and is unlikely to ever go on and become a number one ‘keeper anywhere unless he drops down a division or two.
He is by no means the worst player on the list, but Ferreira has picked up three winner’s medals during his time at Stamford Bridge despite only really being a regular in the side apart in his debut season. I honestly didn’t realise he was still under contract at Chelsea, or that he’s been there for eight seasons, and he’s seemingly happy just training and picking up his wages; the Portuguese Winston Bogarde, if you will. Chelsea have had such a high turnover of right-backs over the past decade, and Ferreira has had ample opportunity to make the position his own. At least John O’Shea and Wes Brown actually played!
Whenever I put this question to someone, nine times out of ten their first answer is David May, which speaks volumes for the man’s footballing legacy. May left Ewood Park for Manchester United the summer before Kenny Dalglish won the league won with Blackburn, but then won two successive Premier League titles with United in the following seasons, but was only really a regular for one. He is fondly remembered amongst Man United fans for his celebrations in the treble season, particularly in the Champions League where he was at the forefront of all celebrations despite not playing a single minute in the competition that season.
“He’s bald, he’s sh*t, he plays when no one’s fit” may not be the words etched on Cygan’s tombstone, but they accurately summate the towering Frenchman’s time in England. Deputising for Kolo Toure and Sol Campbell, he picked up a winner’s medal during Arsenal’s invincibles 03/04 season, but that was as good as it got for Gunners fans. In his final season he did an admirable job as a makeshift left-back due to injuries to both Ashley Cole and Gael Clichy. He was sold to Villareal in 2006, somehow for £2m, which is what Arsene Wenger paid to sign him from Lille four years earlier.
Asier Del Horno
Signed for £8m to try and solve Chelsea’s left-back woes, Del Horno featured regularly in the 05-06 season as they won the league under Mourinho, but was unceremoniously shipped out at the end of the season, and Abramovich pushed the boat out to sign Ashley Cole. His lasting impression at Stamford Bridge will be getting sent off against Barca as they knocked Chelsea out of the Champions League. After enjoying a brief spell in the Spanish national team around the time he moved to England, Del Horno was never the same player once he returned to Spain, largely due to injuries. Disappointing spells at Valencia, Valladolid, Levante and Bilbao followed, and he’s now a free agent despite still only being 31. A medium sized fish in a small pond, as they say.
That there are so many Manchester United players in this eleven is testament to Ferguson’s ability to still win the league with some utter dross. It is often the case that players who come up through their youth system but fail to establish themselves at Old Trafford go and get the chance to play regularly in the Premier League at a smaller club, but Chadwick wasn’t good enough and had to settle for life in the lower leagues. Now a regular for MK Dons in League One, the Premier League winner’s medal from 2000-01 is the only thing Chadwick has ever won – apart from countless beauty pageants, of course – and he’ll never come close to achieving anything like that again.
They did claim that Ranieri was losing the plot a little, and he must have been mentally ill when he decided to spend some of Abramovich’s oil money on his compatriot Alexey Smertin. Granted, at £3.5m he wasn’t particularly expensive, but he loaned the Russian straight out to Charlton after he signed for Chelsea, and then never got the chance to play him as he lost his job the following summer. He did well during his loan spell at The Valley, but was on the periphery of the first-team once Mourinho took over, but did play enough times to pick up a winner’s medal in the 04-05 season. Smertin is now enjoying a career in politics back in Russia, as an MP in Altai.
The Brazilian is still only 24, has never started more than 16 league games in a single season, yet already has three Premier League winner’s medals. A talented player though he may be, he cost Manchester United €30m, and has never looked like a player who would fulfil that price tag. Overweight and unfit – which gives me hope that I could one day win the league – that he has an enviable medal collection at such a young age despite contributing to winning any of them is a travesty, and it’s a shame to see so many players with all the ability and a fantastic attitude not win anything whilst players like this have it all.
If ever someone benefitted from the family name it was Jordi, son of Johan. He was only handed his debut at Barca because his dad was manager, and once he was sacked Jordi was shipped out; he somehow made it in to the Holland squad for Euro 96, and then signed for Manchester United after that. 16 appearances in his debut season as United won the league were as good as it got for Cruyff, and 26 appearances over the next three underwhelming seasons saw him shipped out. He enjoyed a brief comeback in Spain with Alaves, who got to the UEFA Cup final in 2001 where they lost 5-4 to Liverpool, but to say he failed to live up to the Cruyff name would be putting it kindly.
I really, really, really wanted to put Michael Owen in this as he contributed practically nothing to United winning the title, but there is no doubt that he was a phenomenal player in his heyday. Instead I’ll go for Mike Newell, who made two starts and nine sub appearances the season Blackburn won the league. He ended up being fourth choice behind Alan Shearer, Chris Sutton and Kevin Gallagher, although he did score the 1000th goal of the Premier League era against Nottingham Forest in 1993. He also held the record for the fastest hat-trick in Champions League history after scoring three goals in nine minutes, but Bafatemi Gomis broke that record last season.
He may have one of the best songs in football (woooooah we’re half way there, wooooooah Alliadiere – I shouldn’t have to tell you what it’s to the tune of) but Alliadiere is arguably the most unproductive forward to have ever won the Premier League, lifting the trophy for Arsenal in 2004. Still just 29, he’s never scored more than 5 goals in a season wherever he’s been – although he’s already on 5 this season at Lorient so here’s hoping for double figures. Another player who just about made enough appearances to earn a winner’s medal, this time in the 03-04 season, he’ll always have something to tell his grandkids about, as any videos he shows them of his playing career are going to be pretty dull.