Mash up XI: The worst players to win the Premier League
How many times do you hear fans and pundits pedal out analysis along the lines of ‘yeah, but what has he won’? It’s true that when a player hangs up their boots a lot of their talents will be forgotten whilst medals last a lifetime. Don’t kid yourself that honours are everything though. This team are amongst the worst players to win the Premier League. Proof that trophies are far from everything.
GK – Costel Pantilimon
Let’s get one thing out there. Pantilimon was far from a disaster of a keeper, especially when you consider he was a £3m back up signing for a club like Man City. That said, every XI needs a keeper and, for us, he’s the worst of a pretty alright bunch. The Romanian stopper came in for a run of seven games in the middle of the 2013/14 triumph to cover the injured Joe Hart. He did alright. The fact his career since leaving City has been a downward spiral that now sees him playing in Turkey is proof enough that he’s not really title winning quality.
RB – Ritchie De Laet
You might be surprised to learn that De Laet has been part of two Premier League winning squads. One was Manchester United in 2009 – although his only appearance came on the final day – whilst the other was during that Leicester season in 2016. He made 12 appearances in the first half of that campaign before going out on loan. He was certainly no Gary Neville and his career has seen him represent no fewer than 10 clubs. None of them are likely to regard him as anything close to a legend. He’s now plying his trade in his native Belgium.
CB – Pascal Cygan
Cygan signed for Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal in a £3.5m deal from Lille and spent four seasons in North London where he made 98 appearances and won three trophies; two FA Cups and a Premier League title. More than that though, Cygan’s solitary league title win came in 2003/04 as he featured in 18 matches of the Gunners’ invincibles run. Quite remarkable when you consider the fact he spent most of his time in red being ridiculed before joining Villarreal in 2006.
CB – Eliaquim Mangala
When Man City forked out a record £42m for centre half Mangala it’s fair to say they were expecting more than they got from the French international. A League Cup triumph in 2016 was backed up with a league and cup double in 2018 when Mangala made 11 league appearances. Too often though his performances left City fans watching from behind their sofas. He struggled to adapt to the English game and after 79 appearances in four years he was off on a free. The fact he cites Shane Long as his toughest opponent during his spell in Manchester is perhaps proof that a title win was punching above his weight.
LB – Alex Buttner
Fergie might well be one of the greatest managers of all time but he has dropped a few transfer mistakes over the years. Buttner has to go down as one of them. He arrived at United for £4.5m after impressing in the Eredivisie for Vitesse. It was his first season – and Ferguson’s last – that Buttner formed part of the title winning side playing in five games and contributing two goals and an assist. It was rapidly downhill after that with neither David Moyes or his fellow Dutchman Louis Van Gaal fancying him. His career since has seen the now 31-year-old play in Russia, Belgium, back to Vitesse and now the US where he plays in the MLS. New England Revolution are the lucky side.
RM – Luke Chadwick
Chadwick was highly rated as a youngster before ultimately failing to make the grade at Old Trafford. He eventually spent the majority of his career in League One. Perfect evidence as to why the possession of a Premier League winners medal might surprise you. He won that in 2000/01 making 15 appearances and netting two goals as United romped the league.
CM – Darren Ferguson
Sorry but I’m questioning the mighty Sir Alex Ferguson again. Let’s be honest though, the fact Darren was his son is the only reason he has a winners medal to his name. Just ask Roy Keane if in doubt. Ferguson junior made 15 appearances, which was all bar three of his total games played at the top level, as United beat Aston Villa to the inaugural Premier League title. Less than 12 months later, Ferguson joined Wolves. A few other clubs followed but the lion’s share of his career was spent in League Two.
CM – Jack Rodwell
If football was based on talent alone then Rodwell wouldn’t be anywhere near our worst players to win the Premier League XI. Unfortunately, there is more to making it amongst the elite than ability and Rodwell let’s himself down there. Has he chased the money throughout his career? Only he knows. What I and everybody else know though is that a player that was hyped up like he was should have played more than the 13,614 minutes of competitive football that he’s managed in a 13 year career. For those unsure how that translates, it’s the equivalent of about 11 games per season.
LM – Yuri Zhirkov
Russian man Zhirkov was capable of playing in a left back or left midfield role. Most of his 49 appearances for Chelsea came in the defensive role where he deputised for Ashley Cole but he’s playing further forward in our XI. Zhirkov turned out 17 times as the Blues pipped Man United to the title in 2010. To be fair, he didn’t do much wrong but nor did he pull up any trees. Chelsea forked out near on £19m to bring their man to Stamford Bridge. He failed to deliver any real return on investment before being shipped back to Russia after just two seasons.
ST – Jeremie Aliadiere
Quite remarkably, here we are with another Arsenal invincible in our XI. Aliadiere turned out for the Gunners 10 times during the campaign and, although he only managed a total of 260 minutes, he failed to score or assist. In fact, he only chipped in with eight goals in a total of 93 Premier League games. A strike rate of one every 670 minutes. Woeful for a striker.
ST – Christopher Wreh
Yep, that’s right, finishing off our XI is George Weah’s cousin, Christopher Wreh. It is an odd one to end with though and here is why. Wreh had done little in France before heading to Highbury. He did next to nothing after leaving either whilst his spell in North London yielded just four goals in 40 appearances. Wreh is without question one of the worst players to win the Premier League but it just so happens that half of his Arsenal goals were critical to their title triumph in 1998. He hit the winner in games against Bolton and Wimbledon as Arsenal won the league by a solitary point. That said, I don’t think many will argue we’re being harsh to include him here.
There you have it, a XI of the worst players to win the Premier League.