With a quarter of the season now passed, it is as good a time as any to reflect on the players and teams who have excelled and disappointed. First up are the transfers that have not met with expectations or values this season.
In evaluating a players performance after 10 games it is important to remember that not everyone will hit the ground running. Daniel Storey has extolled the virtues of patience in evaluating transfers and points to the examples of Johan Elmander, Javier Mascherano and even the great oranje Dennis Bergkamp as players who failed to set the league on fire in their first few months but who have grown into good and great players. In my opinion it would be unfair to include on this list any player who has not been active due to injury, whilst Tomas Hitzelsperger may be raking in a fortune for not playing it is unfair to evaluate a transfer based on unforeseeable circumstances. The same applies to City’s transfers as they start to slide from the win over Chelsea it would be unfair to select Kolarov, Boateng or Balotelli for this list when they haven’t strung two games together.
Also, when drawing this list up on those criteria I was surprised to find a relative parcity in terms of poor transfers, the flip side of this article will be hotly contested and probably far more contentious but I digress. The top 5 transfer flops (so far) this season:
5. James Perch: One of the few players Newcastle United actually paid money for this summer Perch was a bright young prospect that came through at Nottingham Forest. Having spent his entire playing career at the City Ground a move to St. James was seen as a step up for the 25 year old. However, if his performances are taken as a whole then it has been a step up too far. Perch became a statistic as he kept racking up Yellow cards. From what I can remember they were never malicious, usually cynical or clumsy which can be useful but given his position on the pitch giving free-kicks away –consistently- is an issue. Perch has since been replaced by Danny Simpson who has performed admirably so far and with Dan Gosling recovering from an injury Perch may drop to third choice right back and 6th choice midfielder. Not really what a promoted team should be pursuing in one of their only paid transfers of the summer.
4. Raul Meireles: The Portuguese midfielder was one of the more expensive (excluding Man City) transfers of the summer. Bought with the proceeds of Javier Mascherano’s forced sale, Meireles was to replace the defensive nature of the Argentinean with some creativity and dynamism, so far all Meireles has accomplished has been to make Lucas look better by comparison. This is (of course) not to write him off completely, he has never been a prolific goal-scorer and is more a box-to-box player who very rarely misses a game, however so far he has shown very little quality to go with his effort. His passing has seemed limited (this may be a tactical instruction) and his shooting has been woeful, in a Liverpool team that has been all accounts terrible it would be hard to stand out or even excel but for 12 million more has been expected.
3. Mauro Boselli: A personal disappointment this player, I had tipped Boselli to do well having come from Argentina with a fearsome goal-scoring record and a playing style which I felt would adapt well to the Premier League, in fact none of this came to pass. As Wigan started the season woefully only Hugo Rodellga performed well, Boselli was limited to a few headers but never posed a concerted threat to any back-line. Since demoted to Carling Cup duty (where he DID score) he has not had a starting berth for several weeks, he may yet turn into a Carlos Tevez but for now Boselli is 6.5 million that Wigan would rather have back.
2. Stephen Ireland: Ireland was frozen out at Manchester City and a move to Aston Villa was seen as the spark which could improve their midfield. Ireland had been sensational in patches over the previous two years with his partnership with Elano a particular highlight. However since his demotion to bit-part player at Manchester City, Ireland did not have the platform to continue his good form. A move to Aston Villa was seen as the right move at the right time, he would replace James Milner and add some flair to a stodgy midfield. However the opposite has been true, Ireland has been lethargic and actually drawn public ire from his manager. Aston Villa picked up a fine but troubled player in Ireland but his lack of form and the rumours that it was his inclusion in the Milner deal that broke Martin O’Neill’s back. If his inclusion was the reason for a disrupted start of the season and his form poor Stephen Ireland has been of no benefit to Aston Villa.
1. Joe Cole: Cole has been a microcosm of Liverpool’s season. Having made changes over the summer both entered the season with expectations relatively low, coming off a down year they were expected to return to their level of form if not better. These modest expectations have not been met. Joe Cole continues to frustrate, a bright pre-season was marred by a lapse in judgement as he ruled himself out for 3 matches. On his return he was placed on the left wing, despite his preference to play in the middle of the pitch where he feels he is best, as a left winger he has been poor. His crossing is not of the standard required and as he drifts inside he clutters the middle of the pitch alongside Lucas, Gerrard, Meireles and Maxi who also tends to drift inside. Not to labour the point but this would be effective if Liverpool’s full-backs were allowed to overlap. No, Joe Cole has shown the same level of performance for Liverpool as he did for Chelsea, alot was made of the youngster coming through at West Ham, now 28 (29 in a week) Cole has fulfilled none of that promise. At Stamford Bridge last year as Inter knocked out Chelsea Cole was introduced to a large cheer from the fans but he flattered to deceive as usual and was inconsequential for 20 minutes. At Liverpool he continues this poor form. In a position that doesn’t suit him, taking playing time away from players who could be more useful on the wing Joe Cole’s tenure at Liverpool has been as bad as their season. (So far)
If you feel I’ve missed an obvious candidate out, leave a comment below.