The start of a new football season is all about optimism and excitement and relishing the intangible possibilities that stretch out over the months to come. It’s that Bill Withers song that’s been used to advertise everything from orange juice to New York city breaks. “When I wake up in the morning love, and the green turf hurts my eyes”.
It’s delusions of grandeur and walking with a swagger because right now everything is pristine and perfect. Your new signings haven’t disappointed you. Your team haven’t yet lost away to Burnley. You’re going to win the bloody league.
This annual celebration of positivity is everywhere right now and if you want to bathe in yet another upbeat feature detailing all the delights that’s on our doorstep (Pep v Jose, Ibra in the Premier League, Leicester round two – to be fair the list is endless and there’s a LOT to be excited about) then go right ahead and close this to read one of them. Honestly, I won’t mind. Well, I will a bit but I’ll understand.
If you’re like me however; i.e., a real sourpuss in the midst of universal hippy happiness then please read on as we highlight the six players who – through lack of ability or flawed attitude – will be stealing a living in 2016/17 picking up Premier League wage-slips they simply don’t deserve.
It’s hard to shake off the feeling that ten years hence any articles relating to Berahino will still begin with the obligatory, “There is no questioning his abilty…”
It’s the accompanying ‘but’ that’s the nub of the problem with the young striker’s strop that followed his foiled attempt to leave the Hawthorns now stretching into its second year.
England’s next big thing is in danger of becoming a forgotten footnote by the age of just 23 and his decline is all the more dispiriting when you consider the Sliding Doors alternative that could have played out if his transfer to Tottenham had been successful.
City fans had their doubts over the steep £25m purchase of Bony in January 2015 yet dutifully fronted up on social media to their mocking rivals and pointed out the Ivorian’s presence and strike-rate at Swansea.
In the event neither Blues nor their gleeful adversaries could have predicted just how staggeringly awful Bony would prove to be, a striker who essentially marks himself by jogging listlessly around a small area of the pitch for the duration before miscontrolling or attempting a farcical flick should the ball inadvertently find him.
From being a powerful force to be reckoned with in south Wales the 27 year old chunkster now reminds anyone unfortunate enough to witness his buffoonery of that famous Eric Morecombe line – he plays all the right notes, just not necessarily in the right order.
Rumours of an imminent big-money switch to Arsenal is further proof that football is only a few months away from sticking a pencil up its nose, placing a pair of underpants on its head and saying ‘wibble’.
The Toffees’ third most expensive signing when he joined from Locomotiv Moscow for £13.5m last January Niasse’s unconvincing start swiftly descended to complete anonymity. Such was his inability to make any impact beyond turning up for training and signing a few autographs at the gate that the Senegalese international was omitted from the Blues’ FA Cup semi-final bench in April with Roberto Martinez instead preferring the inclusion of three full-backs.
The move, on the surface at least, made perfect sense with Romelu Lukaku in desperate need of quality back-up to take the weight of expectation off his shoulders. Instead of an impact sub however they got the invisible man.
Persistent links to a Palace loan move this summer has prompted a carnival of delight among Evertonians who are quite rightly tired of their squad strikers not cutting it.
Only John Stones made more individual errors last season that directly led to goals conceded and when you consider how much fuss was made of that you have to marvel at how the Japanese defender stayed under the radar. Especially as the former VVV-Venlo (no, me neither) centre-back/left-back started only ten games for the Saints.
In fact I take it all back. There is a place at the Premier League table for Yoshida because cocking up more times than Micah Richards or Joleon Lescott despite smelling up the place for only a quarter of their game-time is a quite outstanding and entertaining feat.
The second Baggies chancer to make the accused list and the most unfortunate to do so. There is nothing eye-catchingly bad about the 29 year old midfielder though his propensity to pick up reds in key games along with a poor 2015/16 (that saw his passing average dip from an already so-so 75.3% to a dismal 64.1%) certainly marks him down as an under-achiever.
What sees him here is the undeniable fact that Premier League engine rooms have progressed significantly since he first broke through in 2005, a quantum leap in class that makes the wholly unremarkable Gardner little more than a functioning pair of legs.
His gaffer Tony Pulis indirectly alluded to this last year praising his player’s ‘old school’ approach to the game. I choose to view it slightly differently in that he’s a man out of time who, under any other manager, would be scurrying around meaninglessly for a mid-table Championship side.
Do the crime, do the time. It’s an ethos embedded in all society, from the Old Bailey to a toddler sulking on the naughty step. Except in football. In football they have their own peculiar ways.
The American clanger-addict – who could easily pass for Nosferatu’s great-great-grandson – has been rubbish in nets for the Villa for quite some time and last season saw a season-long nadir rarely witnessed from any top flight keeper.
So how was he punished for his consistent ineptitude? With another stint in the Premier League that’s how. Granted he will rarely be afforded the opportunity to spill a straightforward cross having been signed primarily by Boro as back-up to fellow north-east newbie Victor Valdes but even so it stinks to high heaven.
Villa reportedly agreed to release Guzan on a free even before Boro requested such a deal so keen were they to rid themselves of their second class number one.