Here’s a team line-up with a difference: one man’s view of the worst players in the Premier League. One Sunderland regular, and one old boy, get nominations. The compiler gets an earful …
When a journalist runs out of things to say, he can always come up with a list. After all, Nick Hornby did it, over and again in High Fidelity, and made a fortune. So why not?
Justin Mottershead is a mature student in his final year of a journalism degree at City University London. He says he’s from Manchester and “obviously” loves United – the “obviously” is a little baffling to those of us who find the correlation not at all obvious – and his list is of the players he’d select for the Premier team from hell.
“I’ve tried not to use more than one player from each team,” says Jonathan at the Football Fancast site. “Otherwise it would be a bit unfair on Portsmouth, but on the whole it is 11 players who throughout the year have stood out for being that little bit less good at football than those around them.”
I’ll give Jonathan’s full choice, but – since this is a Sunderland site – concentrate on one member of his squad: Kieran Richardson, pictured by old friend Peadar O’Sullivan.
Now, Salut! Sunderland has not been slow to criticise any of Sunderland’s players who, rather too often, have performed below our expectations, the manager’s valuation or their own track records. But two players who have shone during our mini-revival have been Kieran Richardson and Fraizer Campbell, both targets of much derision earlier in the season.
Since this is about Richardson, I will say no more of Campbell than that his run of recent performances must make him one of the most improved players in the Premier League.
But this is what Jonathan said to justify his inclusion of Richardson in his team of horrors:
“There have been occasional flashes of, let’s not say brilliance, but at least ability from one of those footballers who seems to be disliked by nearly everyone for no discernible reason. Earlier on in the season Steve Bruce claimed that Richardson could make the England left back spot his own, presumably if every left footed English player simultaneously retired. Richardson’s ‘flashes of ability’ are becoming rarer and rarer. Another player that is often moved around- with equal results of mediocrity- it’s as a left-sided midfielder that he’s best known. A single goal and an assist all season show just how ineffective Richardson has been. Funny how a man who scored two goals on his England debut has fallen so far so quickly- although for some reason not entirely saddening. “
Football thrives on opinions. So Jonathan is not only entitled to his but to be credited for getting others thinking. Among responses to his choice were these:
Which clown wrote this? Keiran Richardson has been at Sunderland for nearly 3 years and only played left midfield about 5 times??? Am guessing you’re a member of the southern press who hasn’t been noth of watford!
– Paul Grey
Kieran Richardson? If he’s been one of the worst players in the Premier this season …(!!) He’s played all over the middle, left back and has been outstanding on occasions, including last Saturday. What a poorly researched, c**p article.
I would add to this that one report of Sunderland vs Tottenham actually made Richardson the man of the match. In a first-rate team performance that is an admirable achievement, not just a rare “flash of ability”. And he did well in the ratings of other practised observers (our own Pete Sixsmith, as astute a reader of the game as most football writers, gave him eight out of 10).
This is Jonathan’s team in full:
Goalkeeper: Ben Foster (Man Utd)
Back four: Jonathan Spector (West Ham); Andre Bikey (Burnley); Ricardo Rocha (Portsmouth); Emilio Insua (Liverpool)
Midfield: Rory Delap (Stoke City – “actually not a very good footballer” despite the throw-ins); Steve Sidwell (Aston Villa); Jermaine Jenas (Tottenham Hotspur); Kieran Richardson (Sunderland)
Strikers: Craig Fagan (Hull City); Johan Elmander (Bolton Wanderers).
What do others think?
* Justin Mottershead’s own blog, Name on the Trophy, can be found here.