While football accomplishments and failures are usually measured season to season, the end of an year gives an opportunity to view a team’s (or a player’s) performance from a different perspective.
Here’s a look at the teams and people who deserve to be nominated as the worst performers in 2007, allowing for slumps in form and what not.
The England / FA / Steve McClaren
Arguably, one of the most under-prepared, over-rated and poorly-carved football teams of the year. England’s national football team is in tatters and was a perfect example of how a team should NOT be. Most of their matches were avoidable in a true footballing sense and Crotia’s remarkable victory at Wembley to eliminate them should not be considered an upset at all. It was well-deserved and well-earned. You’d bet Croatia to do a Greece in the upcoming European championships, purely on the basis of their heroics over the two legs. The FA and Steve McClaren were of course the other causes of England’s fall from grace. The former because of poor leadership and error-prone decision making, the latter because of pure lack of management abilities and tactical understanding at such a level. McClaren was one of the worst appointments in the history of the national team.
VERDICT: The football world isn’t too upset with the sinking of the egoistic English titanic in the seas and oceans of international football. Croatia deserved to finish group toppers. Russia did just enough for us to remark “England deserved it”…..
The Brazilian sorcerer’s shocking twist of fate saw him produce such mediocre form that Barcelona would have at least taken a peek at Middlesbrough’s bid for his services. Football’s prodigal son produced some of his all-time worst performances in the year gone by and people are beginning to lose hope that Ronaldinho will return to his best one fine day. That “one fine day”, however, is restricted to a diary of the past and it will take a miracle for Ronnie to return to his best. Add to that, expectations at Barcelona have seen Ronaldinho’s life take a U-turn. He is no longer worshipped or endeared by the Catalans nor do his No.10 shirts still sell like hot cakes.
VERDICT: On another day you’d pity him if the causes of his demise were recurring injuries or personal problems. But good old Ronnie has lost what is most essential in football – the happiness gained from playing the game. His attitude doesn’t speak for that and Ronaldinho’s good times may have already come to an end…..
The German giants were booted from being champions to huffing and puffing for a UEFA Cup spot in the Bundesliga. Like the England team, the in-team egos worked against each other and the Bayern hierarchy were shell-shocked at their horrendous position in last season’s table. Bayern have hope with the arrival of players like Franck Ribery, Luca Toni and Miroslav Klose. Not just hope, in fact. They should finish champions if the aforementioned trio quickly gel in with the rest of this hugely-talented outfit. A UEFA Cup triumph would make Bayern the I-most-look-forward-to-watching team of season 2008-09. The return of Ottmar Hitzfeld is also worth a mention as he has seen them through some of their most successful years in football.
VERDICT: Fourth place in Bundesliga was deserved. Few could argue against the fact. But Ribery, Toni and Klose combined with emerging prodigies like Toni Kroos could create a re-incarnation of Barcelona 2004-06…..
He might be comfortably seated on his heavily-expensive sofa, cozing alongside his wife and counting American currency using a 20-bit calculator(Is that enough even?) in Los Angeles, but David Beckham is arguably football’s greatest loser ever. And to top it off, his wife made it more worse than it was. Beckham was one of the most talented footballers to have ever played the game, with his inch-perfect passing and precise set-pieces becoming trademarks of his game. But at the age of just 31, he left Europe to play in a country that doesn’t even truly appreciate football on the whole. Both Milan and Bayern Munich were interested at some point, but the ferocious Posh Spice drove them away. How well Beckham would have done to be a part of Milan’s Champions League-winning squad or Bayern’s competitive outfit, you wonder.
VERDICT: Becks will be remembered only for the glitz and glamour he bought to football, which wasn’t even needed. It’s sad because he was a rare talent. After all, Sir Alex Ferguson hardly gets things wrong…..
One of the most feared teams in Europe is, ironically also, the most easily defeatable of the big ones in the continent. There has been a dramatic turn in Barca’s fortunes. The Catalans had their pocket picked when arch-rivals Real Madrid snatched away La Liga on the penultimate weekend of last season. An embarassing elimination in the Copa del Rey did no good to them. Ronaldinho is a dead man walking. Talents like Fran Merida and Dani Pacheco have been taken away by English teams. One of the world’s best players, who is lighting up North London, is a product of their famous La Masia academy. Frank Rijkaard has reportedly lost control of his players. And to top it off, Madrid are 7 points ahead in La Liga at the end of the year and have just beaten them at home for only the second time in 20 years. How worse can it get. Only one little man fuels hope in Catalunya – Lionel Messi. Although it’s a little unfair as Andres Iniesta has emerged as a world-class midfielder who is doing something that Barca have forgotten completely – playing consistently. Decisions need to be taken urgently.
VERDICT: Barcelona have “done” enough to be deemed the new Galacticos. They deserve to be where they are and need to re-build their team immediately. The biggest new year warning, hence, goes to the Blaugurana…..
Happy New Year folks, and let us know who you think were the worst of the worst in 2007.