Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Worst Signings of the 2017/18 Premiership season (part 1)

So this is the sixth season we've done this. Time flies when you're having fun, and all that.

Last season was the first time I've actually had a player object to being on the list - Dapo Kayode presumably Googled his own name and found that I'd ranked him 21st last year. I stand by it...

For the record, here are the previous five 'winners':
2012/13 - Rory Boulding (Kilmarnock)
2013/14 - Stephane Bahoken (St. Mirren)
2014/15 - Jim Fenlon (Ross County)
2015/16 - Rodney Sneijder (Dundee United)
2016/17 - Joey Barton (Rangers)

Filling this out to 25 names was much harder than in previous years. Maybe that means that recruiting has improved. Or maybe it's just that Kilmarnock have stopped signing dozens of unknown youngsters from down south, and Dundee United aren't in the Premiership anymore.

So here's the countdown from 25 to 11...

Image result for faycal rherras hibernian

Signed ostensibly for depth purposes, but the Moroccan full-back has made just a single substitute appearance since signing from Mechelen on loan in January. The main reason for having him around seems to be to troll Hearts, who let him go at the end of last season.

Nemane's arrival at Rangers on loan from Manchester City was greeted by a Daily Record article showing a video of his skills. A midget of a winger, he never got to show them off much in half a dozen cameo appearances off the bench; Rangers never actually scored a goal when Nemane was on the park. He left in January and spent the second half of the season on loan in the Dutch second tier, which is probably more his level.

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Who? Exactly. Spencer is so inconsequential that he doesn't even have his own Wikipedia page. The 21 year old had failed to make the grade in the USA but was signed by Lee McCulloch for Killie, where he has managed to be an unused sub. The only obvious explanation for his arrival at Rugby Park is that McCulloch was doing his former Motherwell teammate John Spencer - Brad's father - a favour.

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As a teenager, Biabi played in a Scottish Cup Final for Falkirk and was then signed for a six-figure fee by Swansea City. Loaned to Hamilton Accies in August, he made a grand total of five appearances, including three consecutive starts. Accies didn't win any of them, and he went back to Wales in January after Martin Canning brought in about a million other strikers.

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It seems harsh to include a player who broke his leg during the season, but the problem is that Plummer seems to have been injured his entire career, including during a loan spell at St. Mirren in 2014. Since then he's managed nine appearances in three years for Manchester City's youth teams and then sixteen minutes of first team action for Motherwell. He had missed most of the first half of the season with other injuries before his unfortunate fracture. One hopes they had the sense to sign him on a pay-as-you-play deal.

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Again, I'm perhaps being cruel here given McMillan has been held back by injury rather than poor performances. But he lasted all of 21 minutes of his debut in January before wrecking his hamstring and we haven't seen him since. And with St Johnstone desperately in need of a goalscorer (their top league scorers have five goals, and only Dundee and Partick Thistle have scored fewer goals this season), and having pushed the boat out a bit to land one of Irish football's most prolific strikers, this was a bit of a disaster for them. (edit: St Johnstone fans are miffed, to say the least, with this pick. File this one under 'most likely to come back and bite me on the backside spectacularly')

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It's never a good sign when various media outlets can't decide how to spell a player's first name, with 'Mikel' and 'Mickael' suggested in various quarters, nor is it a good sign when there isn't even a photo of you on your new club's website. What is clear is that Martin Canning only sees him as a fourth choice striker, despite cash-strapped Accies actually paying a small fee to snap him up from the eighth tier of English football where he wasn't exactly a goal machine.

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Having played a League Cup tie for parent club Rotherham before joining the Dons on loan, Ball ultimately stayed at Pittodrie beyond January because he had even less chance of getting a game for his parent club. Ball has managed only five starts, with Aberdeen unsure whether he is best used at centre-back or in front of the back four and the player unable to get a run of games to get himself up to speed. The former Spurs youth players seems very unlikely to remain beyond the summer.

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On the whole, a return of five goals in fifteen games isn't all that bad. But Pena was the marquee signing of Rangers' summer at an alleged £3.5m, yet he was unfit and overweight when he arrived and couldn't have been less mobile if a wheel clamp had been attached to one ankle. The epitomy of the farcial Caixinha era for most Rangers fans, he returned to Mexico on loan in January - with Rangers still paying half his wages - and endeared himself further to the Ibrox faithful by appearing to wipe his nose on a pair of Rangers shorts as he headed for his medical at new club Cruz Azul.

Image result for chidi nwakali aberdeen
Despite belonging to Manchester City, Nigerian Nwakali can't play in England because he doesn't qualify for a work permit there. However. the rules are different here and so Aberdeen successfully argued in favour of an Exceptional Talent Visa for him, which means that the SFA agreed he would 'contribute significantly to the development of the game at the top level in Scotland'. He had a shocker in his first two starts, against Hibs and Celtic, as the Dons lost both games, and has spent most of his time on the bench. 'Exceptional talent', aye?

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Still only 32 but with lots of experience in England's top two divisions, the signing of Eagles in November looked like a coup for Ross County as well as a fix for their problems in wide areas. However, Eagles will mostly be remembered up north for his claim on arrival that in training County's players "were all good on the ball, it was like Barcelona". No, I'm not making that up. He made only nine appearances and wasn't on the winning team in any of them before leaving at the start of April, not long after Owen Coyle.

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I considered listing Tansey twice, given that his loan spell at Ross County - one sub appearance, one start, one groin operation - has been a catastrophe in its own right as he was exactly the sort of player Owen Coyle needed in midfield to play the style of football he wanted. Before that, his travails at Aberdeen were probably due to a combination of that groin problem (which also required surgery in September and December), poor form and Derek McInnes' inability to know how to get the best out of him. In his last appearance for the Dons he gave away a penalty after seven minutes at Ibrox and was subbed before half-time.

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The latest player to be struck by the Curse Of The Hearts Left-Back, the Manchester City loanee managed all of three appearances for the Jambos in an injury-ravaged spell. Putting up an Instagram picture of himself in January hailing his imminent return to fitness - in a Man City top whilst still technically a Hearts player - did him no favours.

Image result for marvin compper celtic
The German defender might be 32, but that didn't put Brendan Rodgers off paying £1m to sign him in the winter transfer window. Compper would add experience to the backline ahead of their Europa League campaign...except he got a calf injury pretty much straight away. At the time of writing his only appearance was in a cuptie against Morton. Recent comments by Rodgers seem to suggest that Compper is fit, yet he's been nowhere near the squad in recent weeks.

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Six years ago, Derek McInnes sold Maynard to West Ham for £1.2m when he was Bristol City boss. Since then he has scored just sixteen goals, none of which have come in Scotland. So far he has failed to hit the net in twenty appearances, most of which have been as a sub. And odds are he will leave Aberdeen in the summer with a big fat zero in his 'goals' column.

The top ten will be with you later this week...if I can get WiFi on holiday...

Lawrie Spence has ranted and spouted his ill-informed opinions on Narey's Toepoker since September 2007.  He has a life outside this blog.  Honestly.

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