Thursday, March 27, 2014

The worst signings of the Premiership season - part 2

At last, the second part of the series, and the top ten.  I don't have anything against St. Mirren, honest!  It's just that they've made some absolutely brutal signings this season.

Who do you think should have been number one?  Criticism - constructive and destructive - is always welcomed either in the Comments section or on twitter...

Any former English Premier League player should know that it's time to call it a day when they've sunk to the point that they're a grossly inferior player to Jim Goodwin.  A fixture on any list of the worst signings ever made by Manchester United, the Cameroon midfielder, now 32, ended up at St. Mirren Park in January.  Thrown into the side for a Scottish Cup tie at Tannadice, it was remarkable to watch him play - in that his positional sense and movement were so poor that one would be forgiven for disputing whether he was a professional footballer at all.  Things only got worse when he gave away a penalty in the next match with Aberdeen, and in his third (and, up till now, most recent) appearance he got hooked at half-time against Ross County.  It is utterly mind-boggling that Danny Lennon thought that he was the answer to St. Mirren's midfield problems, and one assumes that the scouting videos he watched prior to sanctioning the move were from 2003, rather than 2013.

9. KEVIN LUCKASSEN (Ross County)
Anyone who saw the Dutch striker play will probably say that he should be higher on the list.  The 20 year old, signed from Alkmaar last summer, was a hit in pre-season, but looked woefully out of his depth in the Premiership.  Despite being of decent size, he was regularly bullied by defenders.  Whilst the quality of service he received was often poor, Luckassen's refusal to break into even a canter to chase the ball didn't help either.  He made fifteen appearances for the Staggies, and managed a grand total of zero goals.  Yet, remarkably, County managed to flog him to Slovan Liberec in January...and for £100,000 as well!  Given that he scored twice in his first three games in the Czech League, it may be that he has some talent after all - but County fans didn't get to see it.

8. DAVID CORNELL (St. Mirren)
This man has played for Wales under-21s, and has sat on the bench for Swansea City this season on occasion.  Yet Cornell appeared to leave his confidence, and his ability, behind in South Wales when he joined the Buddies on loan.  I thoroughly enjoyed his debut, which saw him clear a passback straight to ICT's Aaron Doran for a tap-in, and then react so slowly to a Billy Mckay header on goal that he actually appeared to be moving in slow-motion.  He didn't get any less shaky, and a feeble attempt to prevent a Queen of the South goal in a League Cup tie probably convinced Danny Lennon to pursue Marian Kello as a replacement.  Not that he stuck with Cornell till then - he was dumped in favour of teenager Christopher Dilo, signed from Blackburn's youth system, by mid-September, and it was no surprise when he was sent back to Swansea in December.

7. RORY FALLON (St. Johnstone)
The Perth Saints inexplicably thought that the New Zealand international signing was worth a wage even though the squad already contained Stevie May, Steven Maclean and Nigel Hasselbaink.  Given that Chris Iwelumo has subsequently joined, it appears that Fallon was a beneficiary of manager Tommy Wright's fetish for giant, lumbering, past-their-sell-by-date target men.  This was even though he managed only 9 goals in two seasons at Aberdeen.  He started only one game, in August, and scored only one goal, in a defeat at St. Mirren.  He will be best remembered for coming on as a sub against his former club...and heading down the tunnel within a minute, after being caught landing a cheeky one on Michael Hector.  Somehow, he's landed a contract with League One Crawley Town.

Within days of joining Celtic, Boerrigter told fans "don't call me Sicknote", insisting his reputation for being injury-prone at Ajax was unfounded.  Yet the Dutch winger has spent so much time on the treatment table that he must be at risk of developing bedsores.  Celtic spanked a whopping £3million on him - and so far he's managed just seven starts and a solitary goal.  In fact, he hasn't started a league game since September, and even when fit he has been used only as a substitute.  At that price, Boerrigter was presumably signed with the Champions League in mind, but, like most of his teammates, he completely failed to impress against continental opposition.  Given that he plays mostly on the left flank, it's unclear how Neil Lennon intended to use him, given that Georgios Samaras is usually deployed in that area.  Maybe he'll stay fit next season and be a huge success - or, more likely, he'll prove to be the Scottish Premiership's equivalent of Darren Anderton.

5. MARK STEWART (Kilmarnock)
And the award for the most pointless signing of the season certainly goes to Allan Johnston for this move, which made literally zero sense.  Stewart is a diminutive forward who often plays wide; Kilmarnock had plenty of players who could play through the middle or up front more effectively.  Oh, and he's not actually particularly good.  Stewart spent last season at Dundee, where he couldn't get into a side that were the worst in the top flight by miles.  Much like with Kyle Jacobs, Johnston thrust Stewart straight into the team - he came on as a sub against St. Mirren just hours after signing - and ditched him from first team contention after little more than a month.  Thankfully, he was on a short-term deal, which meant he could be punted in January.  He's now at Derry City.

4. DAVID GOODWILLIE (Dundee United)
I was tempted to place Goodwillie higher on the list than this, but to be honest he wasn't absolutely dreadful; it was just that United paid a significant proportion of his wages - claimed in some quarters to be £3,500/week - to bring their prodigal son back on loan.  His attitude wasn't bad, but he was absolutely bereft of confidence, and it has to be noted that United's season was kick-started when he was dropped - they won only two of the nine league games that he started.  He did manage six goals, but given the weight of expectation I'd have put him on the top ten unless he'd scored, oh, about fifty.  In one game.  Against Celtic.  On a serious note, one wonders how much that highly publicized rape accusation (he was acquitted) affected him.  United sensibly decided not to keep him after the new year and hopefully his current spell at Blackpool will bring him back to his scintillating form from a few years back.

3. GARY HARKINS (St. Mirren)
It is possible that Gary Harkins is only good when he plays for Dundee, given that his spell at Kilmarnock was a huge disappointment.  But his form at Dens Park in the last few months of last season persuaded St. Mirren to snap him up, and I must admit that my mouth watered at the prospect of him linking up with Paul McGowan.  In order for that to work, however, Harkins would have had to actually break sweat.  Lennon's persistence with him was admirable in some ways, but deplorable in others - McGowan was shunted into other positions where he was less effective just so Harkins could play in his preferred role, long after it became apparent that this wouldn't work either.  In the seven league games he started, the Buddies managed just a single point.  He was loaned to Oldham in January, after Lennon berated his lack of effort - "I would have liked to have seen him work a little bit harder out of possession. I thought when he came here we could have changed that."  Sadly for St. Mirren fans, he's under contract for next year, so you may not have seen the last of him.

2. ROWAN VINE (Hibernian)
Six years ago, Queens Park Rangers paid £1million for Rowan Vine.  No, I'm not joking.  To be fair on the Englishman, he was pretty decent for St. Johnstone last season, scoring seven goals even though he tended to play in a wide position.  He wasn't terribly complimentary about the Perth side when he left though, telling the Daily Record that he signed for Hibs because "I told my representatives that I had enjoyed it in Scotland but if I was to come back I would want to play for one of the proper clubs in the SPL."  Vine appeared out of shape when the season began, not helped by an outrageous beard that must have weighed him down further.  When Terry Butcher arrived, he was informed pretty sharpish that he was surplus to requirements, which isn't surprising since he'd failed to hit the target in fourteen appearances.  So he signed for Morton in January, which you'd think would be well above his level...but you'd be wrong.  He's managed only a couple of goals, but got himself sent off this week at Cowdenbeath for making a "get it right up you" gesture at opposing fans.  Oh dear.

Poor Stephane Bahoken is like a child given up for adoption, whose adoptive parents don't want him either.  The Frenchman actually made a few appearances in France's top flight last season for his parent club, Nice.  St. Mirren thought they were getting a pacey foil for Steven Thompson up front.  It didn't go well, with the player himself admitting his attitude was poor - "I was thinking like a child".  He was subbed at half-time on his debut after a hapless effort against Partick Thistle, and disappeared from view by the end of September.  So St. Mirren sent him back to Nice...who then discovered that they couldn't loan him to anyone else, and sent him back to Scotland.  Bahoken said all the right things about second chances, and his manager lauded his "positive attitude" and "great desire".  The fact that St. Mirren then went out and signed Adam Campbell and Josh Magennis suggests they didn't think much of his ability.  Still, have some sympathy for the bloke - I'd be petulant too if I had to swap the mediterranean coast for a year in bleeding Paisley.