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Premiership’s Most Overrated XI?

With the Premiership season heading into the final few weeks, players have had plenty of time to enhance or tarnish their reputations. New COS writer Daniel gives us his most overrated XI.

But we want to hear yours, so if there’s a player somewhere (even at your own club) who you’ve always felt doesn’t deserve their 40K a week, let us know in the comments.

Goalkeeper: Paul Robinson (Tottenham) – A poor World Cup and the miss-kick against Croatia saw people bemoaning that Robinson was going through a bad patch. The fact is that he has always been dodgy. The statistics show that Robinson concedes far more goals from outside the penalty area than other Premiership keepers. And if you watch replays of shots that pass him you will notice how many don’t go into the corners of the net but are relatively central. We like to think of our English goalies as dependable and mock foreign keepers as flappers, but the best in the premiership are from overseas and England needs Ben Foster and Scott Carson to keep developing.

Right Back: Gary Neville (Manchester United) – Conspiracy theories abound over the great unsolved mysteries of history – aliens landing on earth, the assassination of JFK – yet nobody has probed into how the fuck Gary Neville has played more Champions League games then any other player and has 85 England caps. Neville’s game is still based on running backwards into his own penalty area as the opposition winger runs at him, lumping the ball forward aimlessly and believing that standing 10 yards behind the rest of the defensive line with his hand in the air constitutes playing the offside trap. He also proudly owns the most punchable face outside of Westlife. Yet rather than being the object of ridicule he used to be, he is now captain of the top team in the country and rated the best right back in the world. Is this because like Sting, Rod Stewart and Elton John his longevity has made people forget that he was always crap and now accept him as an international star and national treasure (the same generosity will be shown to Ronan Keating in time, mark my words) or is there something more sinister afoot. Does the Don of the Neville dynasty, Neville Neville himself, have photographs of Fergie and Sven in compromising situations and has he spent years blackmailing them to play his boy.

Left Back: Phil Neville (Everton) – See above. Except despite the compromising photos, Fergie got rid of him because he was that shit. He then moved to Everton and career disaster loomed. Yet Neville Neville has gained fresh material not only on David Moyes (Phil is now Everton’s ‘inspirational’ captain), but also Steve McClaren, who has welcomed Phil back to the England team.

Centre Back: Matthew Upson (West Ham) – He is not that bad, but he is not worth £7.5m either. Although you can understand how a manager could resort to such desperate measures when the alternative is…

Centre Back: Christian Dailly (West Ham) – Officially Dailly has played almost 300 games for premiership clubs, has 64 caps for Scotland and has made a world record 34 appearances at Under-21s level. Unofficially he also owns the world record for the number of times he has caused someone to shout, “I could do better than that. I swear, I could do a better than that.” And whether the claimants were young or old, rich or poor, black or white, born in a football nation or Scottish, they were all telling the truth.
Right Midfield: Alexander Hleb – Is it me or does he just run into people? The new Dennis Berkamp? No, but maybe the new Vladimir Smicer.

Left Midfield (sort of): Frank Lampard (Chelsea) – But he scores goals, I hear you cry. Let’s compare his role at Chelsea to those of his team-mates. Frank has arguably the world’s most valuable defence behind him, shielded in the Makelele role by the man himself. Essien competes like a man possessed for all the loose balls further upfield and does the work of two men. Cole and Robben provide the width, dribbling and service. Drogba holds the ball up and stretches and bludgeons the opposition’s defence. Which leaves Frank to hang around outside the penalty box and shoot a lot. He even gets to take penalties and close range free kicks. Given this role I reckon I could score a few too. Hell, even Shevchenko would fancy his chances. Poor old Sheva. The ₤30m signing has found himself having to drop off and play on the left to give shape to the side. Left midfield is meant to be Frank’s role, but why help the team when you can hang around outside the penalty box and shoot a lot.

Centre Midfield: Jermaine Jenas (Tottenham) – Once linked heavily with Man Utd and Arsenal, perennial England squad member, Jenas, is still hoodwinking people at the top level. Martin Jol likes to quote statistics on the distance Jenas runs in each game, which makes it all the more remarkable that he never seems to touch the ball. Paula Radcliffe for Spurs (and England friendlies).

Centre Midfield: Michael Carrick (Manchester United) – Phrases you have heard a lot recently: “I wish Graham Norton would piss off,” “There’s another picture of that Marks and Spencer woman in her bra and pants; I definitely would”, “Is Carrick playing?” Admit it, you’ve heard it and you’ve said it. It normally comes around the hour mark. You’re sure his name was mentioned in the line-ups at the start of the programme, but you haven’t noticed him since. Carrick is undoubtedly a fine passer of the ball, but before you can pass you first have to get the ball and the ₤18.6m man is not so good at that.

Striker: Teddy Sheringham (West Ham) – Like David Baddiel, Teddy has gained recognition through partnering with someone far more talented. With Spurs it was Klinsmann. With England it was Shearer. They say the first yard in his head. Well so must the other 20, because I have never seen Teddy run. Instead he gets the ball, fakes to kick it by swinging his arms out to the side and cocking his leg like a geriatric Karate Kid attempting ‘The Crane’, and then, when the opposition have got back and the momentum of the move has stalled, the wily old fox passes it backwards. Genius.

Striker: Dirk Kuyt (Liverpool)
– Whereas the other 10 players in this team make me howl at the TV in frustration, Kuyt produces a far worse response: a guilty feeling that he is not quite up to it. In a league spoiled by lazy, big-headed, self-centred cheats, Kuyt stands out for his great attitude. He runs his glam-metal hairdo off to make himself available to team-mates and close opponents down, and after a match walks to all corners of the ground to thank the Liverpool fans before giving an honest, unbiased interview; all of which has made him Liverpool’s Player of the Season so far in the eyes of many of the team’s supporters. But strikers should score goals or/and create them and ₤9m Kuyt doesn’t do enough of either. I hope he proves me wrong but that guilty feeling says he won’t.