Today's post is courtesy of Sam from Anfield Asylum.
Once again my cheerful nature leads me to tackle a wonderful subject, this time about just which player wasted the most time and money we’ll never get back. The fact that there are so many contenders for this award on Liverpool alone this season lets you know just how bad it was at times.
There can be something enraging about a bad footballer. In every other sport he would at least return to the bench at some point. Baseball players only get a four at-bats a game and maybe a couple hit to them in the field. American football players are only out there half the game at most and how often do they get the ball? Basketball players rotate in and out. Hockey players take shifts that last less than a minute. But football? They’re out there the whole time. You get to watch them break down moves or make defensive mistakes the entire game. You go queasy whenever the ball even moves to their side of the field. You know they’re going to get involved. Sometimes you’re pretty sure that if you could reach through the screen and murder them, you would. And with some of these cases, who would convict you?
These are the worthy nominees for Flop of the Season:
Like many, I actually had high hopes for Joe. He didn’t cost a transfer fee (but is on exorbitant wages and received a large signing-on fee), he seemingly had something to prove after being a spot-starter for Chelsea, and he was going to be deployed more centrally, a role he had been crying out for for over a decade. Here was a genuine in-the-hole player. Then he got sent off in the first game against Arsenal and hasn't made an impact since. As Roy Hodgson panicked, becoming less and less likely to give chances to an off-form player of questionable fitness, Cole became
restricted more and more to the bench. That is when something wasn’t falling off of him and landing him on the treatment table. By the time Kenny took over, Cole was a ghost—or perhaps just out back having a smoke. A rarely used substitute, Cole has only been around to provide goals late in games already decided that we’re all kind of embarrassed by. In the end, then, this season was just another sad chapter in perhaps the greatest case of unfulfilled promise English football has ever produced, because there was a time when Cole looked like he was going to be truly special. If there's even the remotest chance of that still happening, it's hard to believe it will be with Liverpool.
Rafa's final attempt in a long series of efforts to discover a difference maker on the cheap didn't turn out a whole lot better than those who had come before, Jovanovic had it tough as the guy who brought him to Anfield wasn’t the manager when he finally arrived. Some ropey performances in South Africa didn’t exactly fill anybody with hope that he could be more than a serviceable squad player, and when he did get on the pitch he kind of just ran around a lot. He didn't pass or shoot much, and he usually wasn't particularly good at it when he did, while he usually ended up getting dispossessed at the first challenge. Though he did add to Liverpool's ever burgeoning bald guy contingent. He may have been cheap, and at least he did try to run around a bit, but that he hasn’t been seen in ages is probably a good thing.
It would be easy to laugh about Konchesky's case if it wasn't easier to cry about it. A curious buy, as everybody seemed to agree that the absolute best Konchesky could manage would be average, what should have been a squad player for a club like Liverpool was thrust into a more prominent role when it was discovered for the thirty-seventh time that Fabio Aurelio was indeed only made of fairy dust and dreams. In the end, though, Konchesky couldn't even manage average, becoming the only Liverpool player I've seen booed by the Anfield faithful and cheered when he was substituted—and I lived through the Titi Camara and Erik Meijer era. Though his mother calling Scousers scum on Facebook probably had something to do with those jeers, it was Konchesky himself who was single-handedly responsible for points lost at White Hart Lane and St. James Park, points that could have had Liverpool chasing a Champions League spot instead of on the fringes of Europa League qualification. He was slow, not especially skillful, and at times showed the footballing brain of a small cantaloupe. The day he was sent off to Forest will rank up there with first kiss in happiest days of my life.
Need a midfield stopper? Why not spend £5M on an aging Dane who was deemed too slow for Serie A? Nobody actually knows if Poulsen can tackle because he can never quite get there in time to show us. As for passing the ball, half the time his attempts to do so ended up looking like a painting by Peter North. Compared to Javier Mascherano, the man he was nominally replacing, it was a drop in talent a bit like stepping down from the Champions League to the Championship. His was a signing that should have been a fireable offense on the spot, but with Paul Konchesky coming along soon afterwards it certainly wouldn't be the only such offense made in the Transfer market by Roy Hodgson and Christian Purslow.
To those of you who may be stopping by to vote for the first time, or for those who just need a reminder, don't forget about all the other season ending polls that are still running:
* Young Player of the Season
* Signing of the Season
* Best Win
* Worst Loss
* Goal of the Season
* Performance of the Season
Vote early. Vote often. And we'll see you again tomorrow.