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28 May 2012

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Author: michaelcalvin | Filed under: Blog

For some, the season couldn’t end quickly enough. It was a catalogue of disasters, a wince-inducing, stomach-churning ordeal. Reputations have been shredded and careers have been put on hold.

Fans with a nervous disposition should look away now, as we unveil the top 10 zeroes who once supposed they were heroes. To spread the misery, in outlining the worst players of 2011-12, we have restricted ourselves – no club deserves the shame of having more than one entry. Here they are, from 10 to one:

Wilson Palacios (Stoke City): Surely, an ideal Tony Pulis signing: a strong, combative, energetic, midfield player. Not so. He’s a £6million wardrobe whose wheels have come off. The signs of decline, subtle in his final months at Tottenham, have been emphasised by a long-term knee injury. Pulis is banking on an intensive pre-season fitness programme.

Kolo Toure (Manchester City): He can’t blame his wife’s diet pills for this one. At times, during a splintered season, he has appeared to play from memory. Lacks sharpness, awareness and gratitude for City’s support in trying times. He will not be missed if he shuffles off to enjoy one last pay-day elsewhere.

Charles N’Zogbia (Aston Villa): Money is too tight to mention at Villa Park, but Alex McLeish wasted £10million on this symbol of self-regard. Insomnia, as he was scornfully known at Newcastle, will no doubt have selective amnesia about how little he has given to a club in dire need of a clear-out.

David Goodwillie (Blackburn): Fought off strong competition, from the likes of Radosav Petrovic, Simon Vuckevic and Anthony Modeste, to take the Blackburn booby prize. The Scottish striker is sponsored by a company which makes doors; he’s unable to hit any of their products with a banjo.

Park Chu-Young (Arsenal): So Arsene knows, does he? Not on the evidence of this £5million panic buy from last summer’s transfer window. He’s gone missing after being dropped by South Korea for deferring his compulsory national service. Someone at Arsenal should be shot for suggesting he was worth stealing from under the noses of Lille.

Sébastien Bassong (Tottenham): QPR coveted him, but had a lucky escape. Harry Redknapp chose Wolves as mug punters, allowing the Cameroon defender to leave in the final minutes of the January transfer window. He was unremittingly awful, but, like any self-delusional footballer, chose to divert the blame by accusing temporary teammates of being unprofessional.

Romelu Lukaku (Chelsea): He blames AVB for his failure to make an impact at Chelsea, following his £18million move from Anderlecht. The Betrayed One, who left him out of his 25-man Champions League squad, got it spot on. I’ve seen League Two strikers with better touch and awareness than the supposed New Drogba.

Roger Johnson (Wolves): Where to start with Captain Clueless? The slack defending? The lack of moral courage and physical stamina? The lack of discipline, which resulted in a scuffle with his goalkeeper? Or simply the “refuelling” issues that surfaced at training? Answers to Mick McCarthy c/o the Wolverhampton Job Centre.

Stewart Downing (Liverpool): No goals. No assists. No credibility, confidence or courage, and certainly no value. £20million? You’d struggle to justify spending £20 on Liverpool’s most consistent under-achiever, despite the bewildering faith shown in him by Roy Hodgson. Selling Downing was Randy Lerner’s solitary consolation this season.

Joey Barton (QPR): A 12-game ban. A career at the crossroads. Oh dear. What a pity. Never mind. To use one of his favourite hashtags: #nugget.

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