It’s never easy being the new boy at a football club. Somewhere in between finding a place to live and getting your first wedgie from the club captain you actually have to focus on making a good impression on the pitch. Here’s five such individuals whose examples should never be followed.
James Perch (Newcastle United, 2010)
Whilst it’s true that all players need some time to settle into a new league and new team, James Perch perhaps holds the title of worst start to a Premier League career. Picking up five yellow cards in his first five games, committing two fouls in his own box (both of which went unpunished), scoring a decisive own-goal and being directly at fault for the vast majority of goals conceded he still retained his place in the side. Meanwhile, Ryan Taylor, a player with Premier League experience, started a friendly and two cup matches, scoring four goals and providing two assists from the same position. Perch was mercifully relieved of his duties by Danny Simpson eight games into the season.
Per Kroldrup (Everton, 2005)
The 6 foot 4 inch Danish centre-back was drafted in by David Moyes for the pricey sum of £5million to add a touch of quality to his already well organised defence. However, they quickly discovered that Per wasn’t in any way suited to the rigours of Premiership Football, by which I mean, he played one game and they got humped 0-4 by Aston Villa. After a string of injuries he packed his bags and headed over to Serie A for the old cliché of an “undisclosed fee”. He was later caught up in the Fiorentina match fixing allegations but, rumour has it, all charges were dropped following the officials being shown the highlights of his Everton career.
Somewhere in between finding a place to live and getting your first wedgie from the club captain you actually have to focus on making a good impression on the pitch.
Roque Junior (Leeds United, 2003)
José Vítor Roque Jr, which actually rhymes if you say it just right, was part of the ill-fated Leeds United relegation side that saw himself and fellow defensive maestro Raul Bravo drafted in on loan to replace the likes of Rio Ferdinand and Jonathan Woodgate. Staggeringly, it was a plan that didn’t work and saw Leeds drop out of the top flight, despite the 7 games Roque Junior was able to contribute. That’s 7 games, by the way, in which they conceded 24 goals and saw old RJ taking an early bath on his debut against Birmingham City. Read what you like into the fact that he amassed almost 50 caps for Brazil as well…
Massimo Taibi (Manchester United, 1999)
No list of shockingly bad footballers is complete without the “Blind Venetian” getting some sort of a mention. Before I hash out the old cliches about him falling over Matt Le Tissier‘s tame shot or Alex Ferguson still waking up in the middle of the night shouting “Come back Bosnich! All is forgiven!”, it’s worth mentioning that Taibi actually stole the man of the match award on his debut against Liverpool, making an outstanding one-on-one save to secure all three points. However, let’s not let that detract from his overall record for Man United which reads; played 4, conceded 11, cost £4.5 million.
Ali Dia (Southampton, 1996)
In chapter one of a book that tells you how to be a Premier League footballer it (should) read; 1, have your agent phone a manager and tell him you’re the cousin of George Weah. 2, tell people that you’ve got 12 caps for Senegal and have spent the last few years banging them in for Paris St. Germain. 3, make sure it’s Graeme Souness you’re telling all this to. Coming on as a substitute for Matt Le Tissier after half an hour, Ali Dia’s top-flight career lasted the exact length of time it took Souness to realise he’d been conned, which was around 50 minutes or so. Needless to say, he never dirtied his boots on professional turf again, but he did graduate from Northumbria University with a degree in Business in 2001. A good lesson for all aspiring young players, don’t sacrifice your education.
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