From Diouf to Blanc – Five Signings who ‘did a Demichelis’
Martin Demichelis has done a damn fine job of sabotaging Manchester City’s season with a series of poor displays in the Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League – but he’s not the first.
Signed for £5m by old friend Manuel Pellegrini and inexplicably picked for a string of crucial games, the Argentine’s employers can currently be backed at 15/8 with Ladbrokes to win the league, second to 4/6 favourites Chelsea.
But for those undecided as to which shade of blue they should be backing to take top honours, keep in mind the presence of Demichelis and remember the rank displays and downright dismal efforts of the following five signings who seemingly sabotaged potentially great teams.
Laurent Blanc to Manchester United – 2001
Signed at the ripe age of 35 as a replacement for Jaap Stam, the knives were out for Blanc from the very beginning. He nevertheless deserves his place for a series of inept early displays, as the Red Devils handed the title to Arsenal via defeats to Newcastle, Bolton, Liverpool, Chelsea and the Gunners.
His crowning glory came against Middlesbrough in the FA Cup though, with Blanc gifting the opener to the Teesiders after ducking out of a header that allowed Noel Whelan to score. United exited the competition and though they won the league the following year, Blanc played a bit-part role.
Andrei Shevchenko to Chelsea – 2005
Chelsea were reigning Premier League champions, finishing eight points clear of Manchester United, when it was announced that they had secured the services of AC Milan ace Andrei Shevchenko for a whopping £30m.
But what seemed like a marriage made in heaven soon descended into hell, as an unconfident and unfit Sheva struggled to make an impact in his first season, scoring just four goals in 30 Premier League appearances as the Blues surrendered their title to United, scoring 64 goals all season compared to the Reds’ 83.
Heurelho Gomes to Tottenham – 2008
A highly-rated acquisition from PSV Eindhoven, Gomes soon set about establishing himself as the Brazilian David James with a series of howlers that started early on with the fumbling of a weak shot from Ashley Young during a 2-1 defeat to Villa.
Gomes struggled against London teams, as mistakes against Fulham and Chelsea attest. His error against the Cottagers cost Spurs’ goalkeeping coach Hans Leitert his job, while the latter ultimately cost the Brazilian his place in the Tottenham team.
Spurs fans will never forget his impact in the Champions League either – a red card against Inter Milan and a series of comical fumbles during their two-leg hammering at the hands of Real Madrid.
Pascal Cygan to Arsenal – 2002
Cygan came to Arsenal for £2m having won the France Football magazine’s Etoile d’Or award following an impressive season in France with Lille, however the Frenchman failed to find the same kind of consistency in England.
The Gunners had won the double the previous year but played second fiddle to Manchester United with Cygan in tow. Overall Arsenal lost a third of the games in which the Frenchman featured – including an abject defeat to Middlesbrough in which the defender was singled out for a series of diabolical errors.
El Hadji Diouf to Liverpool – 2002
Arriving at Liverpool for a hefty £10m after impressing for Senegal at the World Cup, it’s hard to believe that Diouf featured in Pele’s list of the 125 greatest ever players – particularly after his awful spell at Anfield.
A brace early into his time with the Merseysiders proved a false dawn as the forward added just one more league goal to his tally in a difficult debut season that also saw him court controversy following an altercation with a Celtic fan during a UEFA Cup match at Parkhead.
The following season was even worse as Diouf failed to find the net, picking up 13 yellow cards and a red before being packed off to Bolton.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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