Khamis, 22 Mac 2012

Top Ten: Unworthy Premier League Winners

While some players give everything to the cause in a Premier League-winning season, others are happy to crash the celebrations after doing sod all. Here's the top ten...

 10. Martin Keown (Arsenal)

In his first two title-winning seasons at Arsenal, Keown made only 19 and 22 league appearances respectively - quite a bit less than one would've assumed. Despite this, the centre-back was still a key part of the Gunners' success, forging a solid partnership first with Tony Adams and then Sol Campbell. There's no escaping the fact that Keown's third Premier League medal flattered his contribution, though. More of an invisible than an invincible, the gnarly defender made just ten appearances in 2003/04 as Arsenal finished the season unbeaten. In his final five appearances for the club, Keown played a whopping nine minutes in total, with Arsene Wenger bringing him on as a last-minute sub on four occasions in order to reach the magic number - 10 - required to pick up a medal.

9. Park Ji-Sung (Manchester United)

Park's stock is on the slide at Old Trafford, and looking at the numbers, Sir Alex Ferguson has never relied on him in the title race. The South Korean midfielder has four Premier League winner's medals, averaging less than 17 games for each. Indeed, Park has made more than 15 league appearances just once - in 2008/09 - when United have won the league. Either this highlights that he's been pretty average, or, perhaps less likely, he was so incredible in the few appearances he did make that it inspired the team's success. With only nine starts and seven sub appearances so far this season, Park looks set to continue the trend.

8. Mike Newell (Blackburn Rovers)
Only 14 players received a winner's medal when Blackburn topped the Premier League in 1994/95 and while Tony Gale made just 15 appearances, Newell's part-time contribution stands out the most. The striker had been a regular in the preceding season, but a return of just six goals in 28 matches prompted Rovers to splash out on Chris Sutton in the summer of 1994. As a result the 'SAS' was formed and Newell was left sitting in the corner muttering about how women should get back in the kitchen. With just two starts and nine games as a sub, Newell just about managed to get his hands on a medal, along with Gale and Robbie Slater.

7. Geremi (Chelsea)

When Geremi joined Middlesbrough on loan from Real Madrid in 2002, he looked a real talent. After seven goals and a handful of assists in 33 Premier League games, it wasn't a surprise to see Chelsea stump up £7million to sign him the following summer. Geremi's first season with the Blues was disappointing, however, and the arrival of Jose Mourinho saw the Cameroon international further marginalised. In back-to-back Premier League-winning seasons he made just 15 starts with a further 14 appearances coming from the subs' bench - hardly the contribution you'd expect from a player of Geremi's ability.

6. Jeremie Aliadiere (Arsenal)

Let's begin by dispelling the myth that Aliadiere was actually quite good. Arsene Wenger's persistence with the striker points more to the manager's stubbornness (Wenger, stubborn?) rather than any evidence of ephemeral genius. He made a few nice runs, that was about it. With just 14 goals in 128 league appearances in English football, it's fair to say Aliadiere didn't fulfill whatever potential Wenger saw in him. Injury played a part in hampering the forward's development, but he still played enough games in 2003/04 to be considered a Premier League winner - putting him on a par with Ruud Van Nistelrooy.

5. Jiri Jarosik (Chelsea)

Jarosik was brought in midway through the 2005/06 season to give Chelsea an extra boost in the title race. The only problem was that he wasn't very good. One of those strange signings that only Roman Abramovich was keen on (wave your hands, Alexey Smertin and Yury Zhirkov), Jose Mourinho soon realised that the Czech didn't cut the mustard. Somehow Jarosik clawed himself to 14 appearances - 11 as sub - before being packed off on loan to Birmingham, where his introduction as a Premier League winner was met with raucous laughter from his new teammates.

4. Mateja Kezman (Chelsea)

Generally, strikers are brought in to score goals - especially ones that bag 105 strikes in 122 matches for their last club. Kezman, however, seemed to think that goals were overrated during his brief spell at Stamford Bridge, notching just four in 25 league matches as Chelsea won the league in spite of his pitiful efforts. The striker was sold to Atletico Madrid after a single season with the Blues, but not before he picked up the biggest trophy of his career as well as the League Cup. After his departure, there were rumours that Kezman's brass neck was the reason why he struggled to get his head to crosses.

3. Ronnie Wallwork (Manchester United)

Despite Alex Ferguson referring to Wallwork as the best Bosman of 2002 (quite the accolade, I'm sure you'll agree), the defensive midfielder was distinctly average - as his career after leaving Old Trafford suggests. A spell at West Brom offered a brief stay in the Premier League, but as is often the case with mediocre midfielders, Wallwork became something of a journeyman, drifting around the lower leagues on loan. Wallwork still has one notable memory from his career, though - in 2000/01 he made enough appearances for United to pick up a Premier League winner's medal. And people claim Sir's current team is his worst in living memory.

2. David May (Manchester United)

May made only 85 league appearances in nine years at Old Trafford, with the Champions League victory in 1999 proving to be his biggest moment in the spotlight. Although he didn't play in the final - in fact, May hadn't played a single minute in the competition all season - he saw the celebrations as an opportunity to take a leading role. One can only imagine what Roy Keane thought of May lifting the trophy. United won six Premier League titles during the defender's spell at the club, but May only played enough matches to claim a medal on two occasions. Surprisingly, in 1996/97, the centre-back started 28 games as United pipped Newcastle to top spot. But the 1995/96 season was more like the May we know - the one who p*ssed down his teammate's legs in the showers - as the defender made just 16 appearances before basking in the glory of undeserved success.

1. Luke Chadwick (Manchester United)

Surely the worst player ever to win the Premier League, Chadwick was another member of United's class of 2001. What on earth were Arsenal and Liverpool doing that season? Chadwick was a poor man's Jesper Blomqvist, which goes some way to illustrating just how bad he was. With ten substitute appearances allowing him to pick up a medal, Ferguson was probably hoping to give the winger an incentive to kick on in subsequent years. Chadwick's fall through the leagues, however, was a fair representation of his ability and he eventually settled at MK Dons, where he and Alan Smith chat about being Premier League winners.


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