|photo by johannal||via PhotoRee|
It seems as if virtually everyone else has used the Christmas break to come up with their Season-to-Date Recaps, or EPL Best XI list, but we don't work like that here at farlieonfootie. Instead, we're proposing to do something just a little bit different. Herewith the First Annual farlieonfootie Nominations for the Ballon du Merde, a new award we're trying to convince FIFA to grant to this year's worst players in the EPL:
Goalkeeper: Robert Green, West Ham United. His problems began back in the World Cup, allowing an inexplicable goal against the USA and promptly losing his starting spot, and have continued into the EPL season. By allowing 31 goals so far, Green's conceded more often than any other 'keeper in the EPL this year (he's actually tied for this dubious honor with Scott Carson of West Brom). Although Green's not always terrible, he's routinely bad enough to take home the prize this year.
Defender: Jonathan Spector, West Ham United. Dismiss the two goals he scored against Manchester United in the League Cup, and focus more on Spector's consistently poor defending, which sets an awful standard even for an American. He's been so bad in defense that the Hammers are now trying to hide him in midfield They'd be better off hiding him on the bench.
Defender: Richard Dunne, Aston Villa. Where did this guy's skills go? Like Rhett Butler, they're seemingly Gone With the Wind. Last year this guy was a joy to behold and a rock in the center of defense. This season he's arguing with management and his status is sinking like a rock. What a difference a year makes.
Defender: Jamie Carragher, Liverpool. I know, I know, he's injured his shoulder and won't be back until February. But Liverpool fans should rejoice at this bit of news. From a player who used to concede only approximately 20 goals a year, last season saw Carragher witness 32 goals against Liverpool while he was on the pitch. That figure may look good in retrospect, because before he got injured Carragher was on pace to see Pepe Reina picking the ball out of his own net even more often: 18 times in the season to date.
Defender: Kevin Foley, Wolves. He's the worst defender on a poor defensive team. That's saying a lot, as is this statistic: 30 goals in 18 games. Ouch.
Midfielder: Stephen Ireland, Aston Villa. In the 2008/2009 season, the appropriately-named Irish international was Manchester City's player of the year, and rumors abounded about how Sir Alex Ferguson was eager to gain his services across town at Manchester United. After his escape from Eastlands to Villa Park, though, Ireland can't even crack the youth-laden lineup that Gerard Houllier is experimenting with. Not good.
Midfielder: Miguel Arteta, Everton. Last season Arteta was a Spanish sensation in the EPL, and his on-field performance led Everton to offer him a five-year, £75,000 per week contract, making him the club's highest paid player. It looks as if the new contract relaxed Arteta a bit; maybe a bit too much, because he's playing terribly this season, with even his own coach mystified at what happened to his form.
Midfielder: James Milner, Manchester City. At least one of City's big summer signing has got to be a huge disappointment. Last season this guy was on everyone's All-Star list. This year, he appears to have fallen behind even Adam Johnson in Mancini's pecking order, and that's saying a lot. One goal and five assists in more than 1,200 minutes of pitch time is not a very good return on £26 million.
Midfielder: Joe Cole, Liverpool. Lionel Messi? Don't make me laugh again; I'm still in pain from the first time I saw Steven Gerrard's comparison of the little Argentine to this washed up has-been. Cole had a poor start to the season, shown the exit by the ref in his home debut, and his season's headed downhill from there.
Forward: Fernando Torres, Liverpool. Where El Nino's moves and skills went is anyone's guess. This guy went from being arguably the most dangerous player in the EPL to someone who looks like he's in need of a serious tuneup. Take away the performance against Chelsea, and what are you left with? Three goals in 15 games, not exactly setting the league on fire. Hell! Marlon Harewood has scored as many goals as Liverpool's one-time stud!
Forward: El-Hadji Diouf, Blackburn Rovers. Narrowly edging out Wolves's Kevin Doyle, Diouf has been a model of consistency this season: he hasn't cracked the net even once in almost 1,400 minutes of playing. Is this a problem? Only if you're a forward, which Diouf supposedly is.
Manager: Avram Grant, West Ham United. Can there be any other choice? As Martin Samuel wrote recently in The Daily Mail: "Avram Grant says he manages each game at West Ham as if it's his last. There's a reason for that: it should be."
Feel free to let me know your opinions, good or bad. This is farlieonfootie for December 28.