Hero to zero - our team of flops for this season
Footballers across England will soon cast their votes in this season’s Player of the Year award and they will do so with a whole list of fresh names to select from.
In fact, there is a reasonable argument to suggest that seven of the eleven names picked by their fellow professionals as the best in their position in English football a year ago (below) would justify inclusion in a top flight team of flops this season.
There may still be 12 rounds of Premier League games left to play, but here is your Sunday World flops line-up for this campaign, with many of the names on our list falling from heroes to zero on double quick time.
Tim Howard (Everton)
Howard became an all-American hero with his displays at the 2014 World Cup finals, but this former Man Utd stopped needed to be dropped long before he was finally sidelined by Everton boss Roberto Martinez.
Accident prone and devoid of confidence, Howard’s status as Everton’s undisputed No.1 at the start of this season has been shattered beyond repair and he now finds himself warming the bench.
Verdict: Time is up for the veteran USA stopper.
Branislav Ivanovic (Chelsea)
One of the players singled out by Chelsea fans for failing to give his all in the final weeks of the Jose Mourinho era at the club, Ivanovic has returned to form since his manager was sacked.
The defender who was a natural pick for team of the season in 2015 looks vulnerable against speedy attacking rivals and his may face a fight to be part of the next Chelsea manager’s plans.
Verdict: Only starting to find his feet again now.
Eliaquim Mangala (Man City)
Man City handed over £32m to sign this defensive calamity…..which is around £30m too much on the evidence of Mangala’s lamentable performances since his arrival.
Mangala has been a walking disaster since he stumbled into the Premier League and Pep Guardiola’s first job when he takes over at City should be to off-load the French liability he is inheriting.
Verdict: Not good enough for top level football.
Gary Cahill (Chelsea)
Another PFA Team of the Year star from a year back who has slipped from the limelight in alarming fashion amid Chelsea’s collapse.
Cahill looked set to spend the rest of his season warming the bench until Kurt Zouma picked up an injury and now he gets another chance to confirm his best days are not behind him.
Verdict: Needs to prove himself all over again.
Dejan Lovren (Liverpool)
Lovren looked like the real deal when Brendan Rodgers signed him from Southampton at the start of the 2014/15 season, but he has not been up to the job of becoming Liverpool’s leader at the back.
Lacking a vocal presence and prone to regular lapses in concentration, Lovren may be one of the players heading to the Anfield exit door when Jurgen Klopp starts signing players in earnest next summer.
Verdict: An accident waiting to happen.
Nemanja Matic (Chelsea)
An automatic pick for last season’s PFA Team of the Year, Matic has been one of the symbol’s of Chelsea’s horrible demise.
Clearly out-of-favour when Jose Mourinho was his manager, Matic suffered the indignity of being substituted shortly after he was brought onto the field in a home defeat against Southampton in October. The incident said everything about his horrible fall from grace.
Verdict: Would the real Matic please stand up?
Memphis Depay (Man Utd)
Man Utd shirts with the name Memphis emblazoned on the back were the third biggest sellers in European football last year, but owners of those red jerseys must be tempted to peel off the No.7 and reassign their loyalties elsewhere.
United’s big signing of last summer is barely up to the task of making an impact from the bench and it remains to be seen whether a player who shone in the Dutch top flight has what it takes to make his mark in English football.
Verdict: Maybe Memphis is not good enough for the Premier League.
Raheem Sterling (Man City)
It may be harsh to condemn a 21-year-old as a flop after a few months at Man City, but they had a right to expect more from a near £50m investment.
Sterling does not fit into the faltering team Manuel Pellegrini is working with and his successor Pep Guardiola will have to decide whether his City team can wait for his potential to flourish.
Verdict: Failed to live up to his £49m price-tag.
Eden Hazard (Chelsea)
Last season’s PFA Player of the Year has been a pathetic shadow of himself over the last few months.
Hazard has failed to score in his last 26 Premier League appearances and still had the audacity to talk up his hopes of a summer transfer to Paris Saint-Germain before Chelsea’s game against the French champions on Tuesday.
Verdict: His overflowing ego is an ugly character trait. Hazard is not as good as he thinks he is.
Marouane Fellaini (Man Utd)
A last minute panic buy in the final hours of the summer transfer window of 2013, Fellaini has never looked like a United player and that impression will not change.
Out of his depth in central midfield, this leggy clown has been used by boss Louis van Gaal as an emergency forward when he needs to launch balls forward quickly. Fellaini would be better suited to playing lower league football.
Verdict: How is this guy still a Man Utd player?
Liverpool goal scoring great John Aldridge was among those convinced Benteke would provide the Reds a potent focal point to their attack, but the big Belgian is looking increasingly like a misfit at Anfield.
Jurgen Klopp must wonder why Liverpool wasted so much of their transfer cash on a player who does not fit into the system used before and since his arrival as the club’s manager. It’s a problem that may only be solved with Benteke’s exit.
Verdict: Looks like a £32m misfit.
WHO MAKES THIS SEASON’S TEAM OF THE YEAR?
Leicester striker Jamie Vardy is the bookies favourite to crown his fairy tale season with the honour of being named as PFA Player of the Year.
Vardy’s Leicester team-mate Riyad Mahrez is also in the mix for the most prestigious individual honour in English football, while last season’s PFA Young Player of the Year Harry Kane is also in the mix for the top prize this time.
Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil, Everton striker Romelu Lukaku, West Ham’s Dimitri Payet and Spurs midfielder Dele Alli are also in the mix and here is our team of the season so far.
Petr Cech (Arsenal)
Jan Vertonghen (Tottenham)
Toby Alderweireld (Tottenham)
Laurent Koscielny (Arsenal)
N’Golo Kante (Leicester)
Dimitri Payet (West Ham)
Dele Alli (Tottenham)
Mesut Ozil (Arsenal)
Riyad Mahrez (Leicester)
Harry Kane (Tottenham)
Jamie Vardy (Leicester)