10 Most Disappointing Premier League Players Of 2011/12

By Chris Wright

See-eth, laid out before thine eyes, Pies’ decuplet of players that have underachieved, fallen from grace, failed to deliver, bought shame upon their families and generally stunk up the Premier League like a pilchard in the air conditioning over the past ten or so months.

Here we go, from the top…

10. John-Arne Riise, Fulham: 35 appearances this season, with zilch 40-yard ‘RELEASE THE KRAKEN!!!’ blunderbuss goals to show for them. None. What a ruddy let down.

9. Roger Johnson, Wolves: A £5 million signing which was almost universally lauded by those in the know as being a bit of a bargain, Johnson was supposed to be the no-nonsense centre-half to coagulate Wolves’ shonky defence – indeed he was even installed as club captain upon arrival at Molineux such was Mick McCarthy’s optimism.

Instead, Rog mostly went missing as Wolves dissolved into mush over the course of the season, eventually being ousted from the starting line up and occasionally surfacing at training while still reeking of Kestrel Super.

8. Royston Drenthe, Everton: Our real problem with Ricky Royston is the terrible rapping that he’s very nearly a superb little player; one of those rare bunch who are capable of winning a game with a scintilla of inspiration, instinct, luck or combination of the three.

He could’ve been a real boon for Everton, whose diligent midfielders often tend to lack that veneer of spontaneity. Shame, really, that he apparently doesn’t want to know most of the time.

7. Owen Hargreaves, Man City: Given his previous, we don’t really know what we were expecting here, but after all the spandex-clad Youtube videos and defiant talk of ‘human guinea pigs’ we, for some reason (blame the Ribena), had envisioned a heroic resurgence at City for Señor Warm Camembert Knees.

A lovely goal on his debut against Birmingham in the Carling Cup had us all temporarily renewing our faith, but it proved to be little more than a mirage. Hargreaves is still the punchline.

We’re not overly sure how many appearances he’s made since, but Pies are fairly sure we could count them on the fingers of our right hand, and we lost two of ’em in ‘Nam.

Since January, he’s mainly been deployed as a human camera tripod (we’re not even joking) on the touchline at The Etihad and is almost certain to be released into the wild come the summer.

6. Aaron Ramsey, Arsenal: It’s been a year of ever-so-slight regression for the young Welsh midfielder, who has struggled to impress despite his main competition in the ‘future of Arsenal’s midfield’ stakes being crocked for the entire campaign.

We’re not saying Ramsey’s been awful by any stretch (the boos he began attracting from his own fans around April time were utterly pathetic), it’s just that he seems to have found it hard going this term for someone reason; looking ponderous and unsure of his role at times and putting in a few too many duff performances while not really progressing in any capacity.

5. Jordan Henderson, Liverpool: There have been brief pools of competency but the bottom line is that Henderson has just not been good enough in his debut campaign to warrant his groaning £16 million transfer fee.  You just want a bit more bang for that kind of buck.

Lather, rinse and repeat for Stewart Downing and, to a slightly lesser extent, Charlie Adam – who has at least contributed something to the cause this term.

4. Patrice Evra, Man Utd: The sad fact of the matter is that Paddy’s a fading force at left-back for United. He’s definitely still got a couple of years left in him, but Sir Alex Ferguson desperately needs to find an able deputy to ease the burden on the 30-year old Frenchman. Fabio da Silva and Richie De Laet are not the men who should be entrusted with the mantle.

Gone are the days when he could burn past Ronaldo on the overlap then get back in position to nullify his opposing winger in one fell swoop – though he doesn’t quite seem willing to accept it yet, repeatedly getting caught upfield without the requisite lungs or legs to get back and rectify the situation.

Much like Giggs has done since passing 30 what seems like eons ago, Evra really needs to start thinking about modifying his style as his physical attributes begin to diminish. Too often have United’s defensive breaches been traceable back to him this season.

3. Asamoah Gyan, Sunderland: After sporadically thrilling for Sunderland last season, Gyan succumbed to the will of his parasitic advisers and chose to chase the coin – quadrupling his salary with a loan move to the footballing backwaters of the UAE instead of continuing plugging away at the top, having to win his place back in the starting line-up of a club he quite clearly felt were beneath him to start with.

Opportunistic mercenary, at the beck and call of his agents or just ‘not stupid’?  Hell, it’s his career, he can do with it as he pleases – the man’s got a charity foundation in Ghana to fund after all. Those things don’t come cheap.

Truth be told, he was always destined to leave Sunderland sooner rather than later, though you would’ve thought that, given how hard he’d worked to earn a move to one of Europe’s elite leagues both with Rennes and at the World Cup, he wouldn’t have given it up quite so readily.

2. Luka Modric, Tottenham: As with several other of the ‘reliables’ that ‘Arry has run into the ground this season, the poor sod looks completely knackered and has done for several months now – never really acheiving the kind of golden form which he basked in last year. Modric has become a fixture in a midfield where he was once a fitting (that makes little-to-no sense and sounded so much better in our head).

At least he’ll have the summer months off to rest up and recouper…oh.

1. Mario Balotelli, Man City: You may well think that the City striker who pissed off to Buenos Aires on a five-month city break may be a more fitting candidate on a list of disappointments, but sadly it’s pretty much the kind of thing we expect from our Carlos.

Instead, City’s biggest disappointment has been ‘Mad Mario’, who is actually about as deranged and mercurial as a weekend playing Risk at William Hague’s house.

Balotelli just plainly hasn’t got the balance right yet. You can get away with the all the aloof posturing, the poker facing, the knowing conceit, the tempestuous ill-discipline and the ‘shoulder shrug’ goals if you’re still able to be a consistent asset to your side doing so. Only very fleetingly has our Mario been anywhere near this campaign.

Dishonourable mentions: Bobby Zamora (QPR), Connor Wickham (Sunderland), Stewart Downing, Charlie Adam (Liverpool), Gael Kakuta (bucked trend of Bolton loanees instantly becoming best player at club), Adam Johnson (Man City), Javier Hernandez (Man Utd), Louis Saha (Tottenham), etc, etc…

Any disappointing buggers we’ve missed? Feel free to sound off in the comments box…

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  1. Danny says:

    Excellent. Now we need this article’s counterpart – 10 Most (Surprisingly) Exciting Premier League Players of 2011/12.

    Some suggestions include Arteta, Dempsey, Pogrebnyak, (Papiss) Cisse, Ramires, the Ox, Moses, Cabaye, Sigurdsson, and Britton/Allen.

  2. Chris says:

    Ramsey’s dip in form seem to coincide with Gary Speed’s death. So there is that.

  3. Sunbeam says:

    if Mario is number 1, you clearly have been very kind or willfully overlooked Edin Dzeko. he was good for about 3 weeks at the beginning of the season and then nothing from him since.

    Michael Essien has lost his mojo. he used to be immense but he looks a shadow of the player he was.

    gareth barry has been anonymous at city. how anonymous?, well de jong looks better when he comes on for the last 15 minutes, thats how anonymous….and Yaya looks like he is from another planet.

    honourable mentions for james milner(has he retired?), terry (how can you have a go at mario when 30 year old england captain behaves and plays like that?), rio ferdinand (when johnny evans looks no worse you know you are struggling), theo walcott(same as last season and the season before and the one before that), Michael Owen (yes, fotballer is still officially his job)

  4. Patrick says:

    Good list. Not sure about this addition, but Gervinho? I expected more goals out of him.

    Man U’s midfield anyone? When you’ve got to bring back folks using walkers, you’re a bit in trouble.


  5. Johnny h says:

    Maybe you knew Adel Taarabt wouldn’t cut it back in the Premier League, but I was looking forward to seeing him reproduce some of his Championship form, which generally he hasn’t.
    I thought Romelu Lukaku would do better for Chelsea – he hasn’t had too many chances, but looked pretty poor whenever he has played. Hope he gets time though.

    • Chris says:

      @All: I haven’t got time to go into specifics, but please remember the key distinction between ‘disappointing’ and ‘total shitballs’.

  6. Anonymous says:

    fair play for resisting the lazy option of sticking Andy Carroll on there

  7. Anonymous says:

    I’d put Hernandez right at the top. He’s been dire all season.

  8. frank says:

    Fairly strong list but Modric and Mario i don’t agree with. Modric is still world class midfielder, i think others have been far more dissapointing than him.

    Did anyone really expect Bolotelli to grow up and be integral for city? probably no…so it cant really be dissapointing. He will forever be unreliable and a few flashes of his talent will be all we get so I don’t see him as a dissapointment, he has merely met my expectations of him. I never really get why so much is expected of him, we know he is talented but who thinks he will ever actually change his attitude?

    Yep Gervinho has been mince, off the top of my head nasri as well, they never seem to reach expectations. Maybe Walcott, shows flashes but maybe i just never noticed the fact he has no natural football brain whatsoever, sometimes he looks stupidly average.

  9. Pete says:

    How on earth is Andy Carroll not #1? Also Nani has had flashes of greatness, but has been more or less a non factor this year. Partially because Fergie never plays him, but still…

  10. frank says:

    Biggest dissapointment must be Frank Lampard actually. I used to think he was quality and a good pro as well but he is on the wane and i lost a lot of respect for him the way he came out and bitched about Villas Boas to the media and moaned about not being in the team. Didnt expect that from him, surely just do you best for the club, get ur head down and keep it within the club.

  11. Nuno says:

    @ Pete
    If it was 2011, Andy Carroll would be a certain #2 (only behind Torres), but after a not very good second half last season, I believe nobody expected much from him this year.
    And you’ve got to be the most hopeful person ever to still expect something good from Walcott (football related). He’s a 100m sprinter gone into the wrong sport. Is it too late to sign him up to the Olympics?
    Also agree Gervinho should be somewhere in that list and an “honourable mention” to Man Utd midfield…

  12. Johnny says:

    Javier Hernandez and Modric, really?

  13. MJ says:

    nando torres anyone?

  14. McTez says:

    Don’t know about anyone else but I was sure after 30 odd goals in the championship last season Adel Taarabt would do a bit of a Charlie Adam this season and take the Prem by storm.

  15. Chris says:

    Adel Taraabt for sure and SWP needs a mention. Gervinho’s only been disappointing due to RVP’s form, as the same happened with Chamakh last season, as he had to play to suit RVP rather than in his own way.

  16. BYUNGWON says:

    Obvious additions:

    Robin Van Persie: He scored only 35 Premier League goals 2011, one shy of Alan Shearer’s record haul of 36. The Dutchman quite couldn’t match Shearer’s genius, couldn’t he? He was a tremendous disappointment; he had a golden opportunity to snatch an amazing record, but failed when the chance beckoned. He shouldn’t even be considered for Holland’s Euro squad.

    Shrek Rooney: Still ugly with the hairplugs. Still very, very ugly.

    Sergio Aguero: I’m guessing that a man that can set pitches ablaze with his fearless finishing, no-frilled dribbling, and unrestrained pace and stamina could be as lethal in the bedroom. I have yet to see a leaked sex tape of our boy Kun and his lovely Ms. Maradona scoring some goals of their own. And he believes he is Real Madrid material – no concept of shame with this youngin’.

    John Terry: Still hasn’t initiated an affair with Anton Ferdinand’s girlfriend (or mother).

  17. syndex says:

    the mere mention of drenthe annoys me, he had moments when he was legitimately one of the best players in the world in between large stretches of being aimless and the ratio of the two seemed to be directly relational to whether he could be arsed to lower himself to our level. BTW can I put an honorable mention in for the Joey Barton who I have enjoyed being completely shemp this year for QPR.

  18. Foran44 says:

    Lukaku? Haven’t seen that guy do anything all season.

  19. Anonymous says:

    U have no clue Wht u r talking about if u think modric is a disappointment.. Unbelievable how on earth r u allow to post articles on the Internet?? U should b banned to even speak about football.. Seriously luka modric as number 2 disappointment?? Unreal watch some games before u speak idiot..

  20. dbm says:

    If Sir showed more faith and loyalty with his strikers not named Rooney then I think Hernandez would be having another fine year. Also I think you are being harsh on Modric. Playing one notch below world class still makes you better than a good majority of the league.

    Here are my thoughts:
    1. Kevin Davies-he hasnt even been his normal mediocre for Bolton this year.

    2. Paul Robinson-used to be Englands #1 now he shouldnt even be Blackburn’s #1

    3. Gabriel Agbonlahor-had his chance with Bent hurt and still only managed a few more goals than Robbie Keane who only did a short loan stint.

  21. Bobber says:


  22. atotaltoal says:

    DJ Campbell

  23. Anonymous says:

    riise? really? hes a left back for goodness sakes! left backs never score. to expect release the kraken golazos is being optimistic to say the least. the only reason he scored so much at liverpool was because he was played as a left wing and was allowed to take free kicks

  24. John Abarshi says:

    Foran44 says:
    May 9, 2012 at 6:50 pm
    Lukaku? Haven’t seen that guy do anything all season.

    How can he be disappointing then ? The only thing that is disappointing is that we saw so little of him.

  25. Peter says:

    John Terry?
    Scott Dann?
    Adel Taarabt who was the Championship Player of the Year?
    Should I go on?

  26. gabbo says:

    Phil Jones? and, painful as it is to admit, pepe reina’s been worryingly iffy, quite a bit.

  27. Patrick says:

    Oh yea, Carroll and Torres need to be on the list.

  28. Tom says:

    Riise is unfair – he’s been fantastic. Fair enough no screamers but he’s been a great full back. His tireless running has allowed Dempsey the freedom to drift in unmarked from the left. Bryan Ruiz should be in his place. £10+ million for a couple of lobs and some potential does not look a solid investment.

    Also don’t agree about Evra – he’s still world class. Pies said something similar about Cashley Cole a while back, also totally unjustified.

    I’m beginning to think that you have something against left backs…

  29. Vans says:

    HAHAHA, Lukaku????? An 18 year promising younster, you’ve got to be kidding me!

  30. Nuno says:

    Torres and Carroll were last year’s disappointments. Few people had high expectations for them after the miserable second half season they’ve done. Walcott is just not a football player, he’s a 100m sprinter who thought he could earn more playing football. For how many years has he been a promise?
    Pretty much agree with that list, although, as mentioned above, I’d also give a mention to Gervinho, the Man Utd midfield (pre-Scholes) and Lukaku (he was expensive, although he’s young and the first year in the Prem is always though…)

  31. brummie says:

    Charles ( whats wrong with Charlie )N’Zogbia what a waste of space he is, 9 million smackers down the drain

  32. Daniel says:

    I don’t see how Jordan Henderson gets on the list and Stewart Downing doesn’t. I will grant Henderson the excuse of learning, finding his way etc…but Downing is/was an English International. He is expected and paid to deliver and frankly he hasn’t done a thing.

  33. Fat Nakago says:

    Daniel Sturridge.

    He started the season strong, but it was all an illusion. He’s really a selfish little dink.

  34. rt5 says:

    Lukaku, Torres, and Carroll!

  35. PM says:

    Gareth Barry

  36. Anonymous says:

    no lukaku on your list?????????

  37. Michael says:

    Kenyne Jones – he’s been poorer than a homeless person this season.

  38. Anonymous says:

    Entirety of the Villa squad…bar Heskey, and Albrighton scoring the 20,000th PL goal

  39. Degs says:

    I’m pretty sure that #1 and #2 have had enough decent performances between them this season not to warrant being on this list.

    Perhaps ‘disappointing over the past few weeks’ would be more apt.

  40. lurker says:

    berbatov if only because he can’t get on the pitch.
    wilshire because he got our hopes up then got injured.
    mancini because he contradicted himself all term.
    and wigan, because they always wait until april to start playing.

  41. Tim says:

    The Modric inclusion is baffling, I’m certain he’s scored and assisted more goals this season than last and Spurs have performed better in the league so I’m struggling to understand that one.

    Downing has been as bad if not worse than Henderson, and Charlie Adam has also been poor.

    Nani has been pretty anonymous most of Utd’s season and it’s been the returning Valencia who’s been their star man.

    Good call on R Johnson though. Destined for failure, that move.

  42. Rohit says:

    To all those who r sayin el nino shud be on d list..
    Reasöns he shudnt-
    1) he was the disappointment of last seasn nd has done relatively well this year.
    2) he was arguably chelsea’s bst playa dis season.. (in my opinion) he has scrd ovr 10 goals nd created ovr 10
    3) yes he has nt been at his best for most of the seasn jst bcoz of dat bloody avb who has no man management skills….
    RDM came in nd torres was born again…
    4) scord a goal against barcelona

    To all Torres haters he will be back nd will be terrorizing defenders all over europe… His time izz comin. Just wait nd watch.
    Yy nt include suarez on d list??? A racist, a complete disgrace to football…

  43. Greg says:

    i dont know where to start with Rohit’s comments…

  44. Tom Jones says:

    @Rohit. Stop skipping school. It makes you stupid.

  45. Alex says:

    @Greg don’t even try.

  46. David Macbeth says:

    Very poor top 2. Modric has tailed off after Christmas but was excellent for half of the season, while Balotelli has produced moments of magic at times.

  47. rooooneeeez says:

    carol,adam,henderson,downing,carager,shelvey,maxi rodrigez,agger, & all liverpool players

  48. Nick Cook says:


  49. Anonymous says:

    Agree with David, Modric and Balotelli should not be on that list.
    And I think there have been more disappointing players than Ramsey, Evra and Riise, they’ve actually been pretty prolific this season in my books. N’Zogbia and Taraabt are probably the more deserving couple.

    As for Hargreaves, the term “disappointment” implies we had expectations in the first place, which I for one didnt.

  50. Del says:

    Agree with David, Modric and Balotelli should not be on that list.
    And I think there have been more disappointing players than Ramsey, Evra and Riise, they’ve actually been pretty prolific this season in my books. N’Zogbia and Taraabt are probably the more deserving couple.

    As for Hargreaves, the term “disappointment” implies we had expectations in the first place, which I for one didnt.

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