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The Premiership Hall Of Shame Gets Some New Members

Daniel throws his two pennies in about everyone’s favourite topic – absolutely shocking Premiership signings.

Aaah, the East End of London – jellied eels, violent nutters and the wheeler dealer, market stall trader who could sell ice to Eskimos and snap up a bargain quicker than you can say “Pete Beale”.

Unfortunately for West Ham fans, this last stereotype hasn’t been true for their club. In fact, West Ham are the worst buyers of players in the history of the Premiership. I was reminded of this at the weekend when watching Javier Mascherano put in another world class defensive midfield performance for Liverpool. Liverpool have picked up the 22 year old Argentina regular for ₤1.5m for 18 months, the same fee West Ham paid for his replacement, Nigel Quashie. Now buying a midfield enforcer called Nigel is a mistake in itself, but how Alan Curbishley could think that the man nicknamed ‘the relegator’ because he is the most relegated player in the history of the Premiership (QPR, Nottingham Forest, Southampton and West Brom) would be the solution to West Ham’s relegation scrap defies belief. In fact, what was going on under his sensible blonde side-parting when he shelled out a small fortune to bring Matthew Upson, Luca Neill, Luis Boa Morte and Calum Davenport in the same transfer window.

Curbishley still has a long way to go though, before trumping Harry Redknapp in this area. You know, old artful ‘Arry, duckin’ and divin’, bobbin’ and weavin’ and overseeing the most spectacularly shite series of transfers in the history of sport: Florin Raduciouiu was bought for ₤2.4m but left six months later having missed training for a Harvey Nichols shopping trip; Dani wasn’t such a big shopper but preferred nightclubbing to playing football and lasted five months; ₤2m Javier Margas didn’t like shopping or nightclubbing, in fact he didn’t like London at all and buggered off back to Chile without telling anyone. At least Margas came back. The same could not be said of ‘Mad’ Marco Boogers, an awe inspiring ₤1m signing by Redknapp. After being sent off in his second appearance for trying to break Gary Neville’s legs (he seems rational so far) Boogers then disappeared. Many weeks later he was found hiding in a mobile home in a Dutch caravan park amid rumours that he was suffering from mental problems. His claim of “I’m not mental” was dismissed by doctors on the grounds that he had chosen to stay in a mobile home in a Dutch caravan park.

Boogers would be my runner up in the worst ever Premiership buys along with Ned Zelic. Zelic was bought by QPR in 1995 for ₤1.3m at a time when spending ₤1.3m was a really big deal for QPR (and 12 years on, it still is) but within four months Zelic had left on the grounds that he did not settle in London. I do remember when he first joined, however, that he was not played because a dodgy ankle meant he could not be risked on firm ground. Hang on, Ned, this is football not the Grand National. Many QPR fans believe that selling Les Ferdinand was the key reason for their relegation from the top flight, but for me their problems started when they bought a player who could only enter the running when the going was good to soft.

The winner of the worst Premiership signing though, has to be Ali Dia. To understand why you need to play a little game called, ‘Who Wants to be a Southampton Manager?’

Question: If, as a manager of Southampton, you received a call from someone claiming to be George Weah asking you to sign his cousin who played for Paris St. Germain and Senegal would you say to yourself:

A) “Why is George Weah calling me?” and investigate (in which case you might have found out that it was not the former World Footballer of the Year on the phone, but actually Dia’s agent).
B) “Why have I never heard of Ali Dia?” and do some research on the player (in which case you would almost certainly have found out that Dia had never played for Paris St. Germain or Senegal, but the closest he had coming to the big time was failing a trial at Rotherham).
C) “Maybe I should watch him play first before giving him a contract” (in which you case you would have definitely found out that Dia was so pap it would make Phil Neville wince).
D) “Woohoo, the cousin of George Weah, I’ve heard of him, he was good once, which means his cousin must be great. Sign him up! Sign him up! Sign him up!”

If you are over the age of five and can make a clear distinction between your arse and your elbow you would have chose A, B, or C. Graeme Souness chose D and on November 21st 1996, Dia came on against Leeds as a substitute in the 32nd minute. And on November 21st 1996, Dia came off against Leeds having been substituted in the 53rd minute. Legend.

Of course, no clubs are immune to buying shit players. Even the richest and most successful spunk their money away: Chelsea paying ₤30m for Shevchenko, Manchester United splashing out on Veron, Forlan and Taibi, and Liverpool buying the giant Erik Meijer believing a beanpole would “give them another option” (sound familiar?).