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Premiership preview: Ten players who will not light up this season. August 11, 2010

Posted by Alex Tomchak Scott in English soccer.

There’s one in every team. His name appears on the team sheet and you ask yourself, “My my, does he really still play for us?” That youngish, English center half your club signed during a post-promotion transfer binge? (“He’s got promise and experience, and he was suspiciously cheap. And anyway we’re really just throwing darts blindfolded this summer, hoping desperately something will work.”) The ill-disciplined Nigerian shuttler the manager a couple of years ago snatched just before getting the sack? (“He adds that element of unpredictability.”) The Feyenoord reserve left-back signed to “add cover”? The 22-year-old Canadian striker Liverpool dug out of their C-team to sweeten the deal when they were chasing your club’s prized winger?

However he came to be, he’s in the scrapheap now, too overpaid or underwhelming or complacent for another club to come in for him. He’ll be there until a bout of measels strikes all of your other left-footed players. Or maybe he’ll just bide his time until his contract expires and he takes a short-term deal at Aldershot Town or his agent persuades Besiktas the Turkish league will bring out the best in him.

Here’s ten men who absolutely will not set the Premiership alight this year.

  • Nikola Kalinic (Croatian striker, Blackburn): Sam Allardyce signed him for his youthful promise. Those two phrases don’t look right together for a reason.
  • Andy O’Brien (Irish center-back, Bolton): A specialist at spending his first six-to-nine months at a club being identified as the only bright spot for his team, then being dropped forever, possibly soon after being given the captain’s armband. His namesake, Joey O’Brien, also of Bolton, similarly disappeared off the face of the Earth after a promising first season.
  • Stuart Parnaby (English defender, Birmingham): Maybe if Birmingham adds his father to the coaching staff, he’ll play as well as he did under those circumstances at Middlesbrough. Maybe he’s just very slow.
  • Daniel de Ridder (Dutch midfielder, Wigan): Wigan Athletic is the Premiership’s Jekyll and Hyde of the transfer market. One moment, Wigan managers are hauling up diamonds from Latin America’s most obscure footballing nations, or turning laughingstocks into keystones. But they’ve also loaded their squads with unsaleable garbage (Olivier Kapo, Rachid Bouaouzan), the most putrid piece of which is de Ridder, a playmaker who’s been around forever, but appeared fewer than 100 professional games. He’s got another year of overpaid benchwarming before the Latics are finally shot of him.
  • Moustapha Salifou (Togolese midfielder or forward, Aston Villa): Martin O’Neill is apparently completely incapable of spotting a decent player not playing in a British league. When he signed Salifou, it therefore seemed a bit strange.
  • Teemu Tainio (Finnish utility player, Sunderland): Dullest of the dull players. Valued as a warm body, then forgotten by managers who realize it would be very nice for their players to do something other than run around willingly.
  • Michael Tonge (English midfielder, Stoke City): Wasn’t he supposed to be good when he was at Sheffield United?
  • Xisco (Spanish forward, Newcastle): Legendary example of Mike Ashley’s folly


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