IT’S six years to the day that we signed Christian Poulsen (remember him?), widely regarded as one of the worst to wear the Red. But who else gives you nightmares? We’ve picked out 13 of the worst Liverpool signings of the Premier League era.
Ah, Paul Stewart. What a let down you were lad. The two biggest disappointments of my life: discovering that I was mortal at about aged eight, and Paul Stewart’s Liverpool career. Stewart was a striker converted to a hard-tackling hard-running box to box midfielder. He’d done well at Manchester City (26 goals in 51 games) and become a really tidy midfield player for Spurs (28 goals in 131 apps) and had earned caps for England. He signed for Liverpool in July 1992 for £2.3million. A big fee then. Probably equivalent to something between £20-30m now.
I recall so very little of his playing time with us, except that his home debut was against Sheffield United, and he once scored two goals against some crappy team in the early rounds in a European competition that definitely wasn’t the European Cup. He’d arrived with such fanfare, and was all set to be the midfield dynamo we were clearly lacking with the fading of Steve McMahon and Ronnie Whelan, and the expanding of Jan Molby’s waistline. I remember Bryan Robson of Manchester United, doing some punditry in some big televised game and hailing Stewart as possibly the best midfielder in the country. We never saw that player. Not even once.
To be fair to the curly barneted Stewart, his brief spell at Anfield was an injury fest. It was over before it started, if truth be told. After 32 games in three years the Reds gave up on him and farmed him out on a series of loans. I don’t think any of us noticed him leaving. He left no mark on the club, the supporters or the city. A Liverpool player that never was.
Nigel Clough. I have spent the last five or 10 years of my life feeling increasingly sorry for Nigel Clough. There are a list of reasons why. In his last season at Nottingham Forest – the team he had been at his entire career under the tutelage of his father – he had been forced into playing centre back at times and was part of the side that were relegated. That led to his father retiring a broken man. Forest and Brian had been his life, and suddenly he had to go and play his football somewhere else.
That somewhere else was Graeme Souness’s Liverpool.
Graeme Souness’s Liverpool.
What Nigel probably needed was something stable. Instead he is moved just as he is coming out of his prime to a Liverpool on the verge of crisis. It’s OK though – Liverpool’s greatest young prospect is about to come through. He plays in the same position. As does the captain and biggest goalscoring legend.
It didn’t work. Of course it didn’t work. It nearly worked – he scored four of his seven Liverpool goals in his first month at his club. He later scores two against United, his last two goals for the club.
He just wasn’t very good and became a player without a position. It never happened for him.
After the Reds he goes to Manchester City. And then they get relegated.
There’s a point here where surely you just think, give him a break. Instead he then, at the age of 32, retires from league football and goes to Burton Albion where he is player manager and amasses over 200 appearances.
This bit is important, I think, when doing this slightly differently – he must have been happy at Burton. He plays until he approaches 40. And he manages. He must have felt good there. We’re going to see him soon. Hope he’s well…
We didn’t get to see that much of Sean Dundee (or ‘Mick’ as me and my mates crowned him). On reflection, that was probably for the best.
I can’t remember where it came from, but before the £2m signing (a not insignificant sum in 1998) from Karlsruhe FC had pulled on the red for the first time someone somewhere put it out there that ‘Mick’ was as “fast as Michael Owen”.
Everyone took that as read but on reflection it can only be assumed this comparison was made when Owen was laid up with one of his many injuries.
Mick made just five substitute appearances for the first team, and during one of those games I distinctly remember a ball being played to him that required a bit of chasing.
Being polite, it looked like old crocodile was running in a swimming pool compared to the defender he was having a foot race with.
“Well he’s fast,” came the shout from behind me at the game, quickly followed by a wave of laughter from everyone watching.
Sean Dundee claimed to be faster than Michael Owen when arriving at Liverpool. Must of meant in queing for a pie. pic.twitter.com/n1zuuLIRwW
— Faded Footballers (@FadedFootballer) June 12, 2015
Mick has popped up on social media in the past to defend himself over his spell at Liverpool, and had a bit of a moan when he left.
Like the ball when it was played to him at Liverpool, it didn’t really stick.
Roy Evans once said of Dundee: “One player I do regret signing was Sean Dundee, he was terrible on and off the pitch. He didn’t take any notice of me, did what he wanted and lacked discipline. He certainly shouldn’t have joined Liverpool.”
Labelled by Gerard Houllier as the “next Zidane”, he was about as far from that as you could imagine. He was signed for £3.7m from Lille in the summer of 2002, and always looked right out of place in the Premier League.
The small run of games he did get, he never looked a Liverpool player, while Houllier made the comparison between Cheyrou and Robert Pires, in terms of adapting to the English game, suggestions which once again were well wide of the mark.
He did have a couple of highlights. Two to be precise. He scored a good goal against Chelsea, and got a double in a 2-1 win over Newcastle in the FA Cup fourth round. But neither could make up for the fact that the Frenchman never lived up to his billing.
He went on two loans back to his native France, before making a permanent move to Stade Rennais in 2006, although at that point he’d been long forgotten about by Liverpool fans.
El Hadji Diouf
Potentially one of the most hated men in football. I hate him. Loads of people hate him. The Senegalese striker was signed just prior to starring for Senegal at the 2002 World Cup unfortunately this said nothing about how he would perform for the Reds.
The striker – subtle emphasis there – failed to score a single goal in his second season at the club, despite making 33 appearances. A number nine. Scoring no goals. Something not right there.
His worst moment in a Liverpool shirt – of which there were many – was during a UEFA Cup game against Celtic, in which he spat on a fan and had to be interviewed by the police. His attitude stunk and that would never sit well with our fans, and it didn’t in this case.
He now spends his days being a professional tit, which mainly involves jealous rants about Liverpool legends Jamie Carragher and Steven Gerrard.
He once said about Carra: “The difference between Jamie and me is that I am a world-class player and he is a shit. The type of shit that writes a book and mentions me all the time. Me, in my book, he does not warrant one phrase: he’s a fucking loser.”
Hard to believe he ever played for our club.
Another star of the 2002 Senegalese World Cup side, but this time a nicer bloke. Despite being a nicer bloke than Diouf – what an achievement – he wasn’t a particularly good player. Was never a player with the ability to play for Liverpool.
He was a hard worker, credit where it’s due, but his general footballing ability left a lot to be desired. It could be argued that he was occasionally used out of position, either at right back or centre back, but this overlooks the fact that when he did play in his favoured position he never looked up to it.
Gerrard said in his autobiography: “With Salif, I knew after a week of training that he wasn’t going to be good enough.” This all but told the story of another unsuccessful buy. Worth noting that Cheyrou, Diouf and Diao all arrived at the club in the same summer. Sake, Houllier.
You know it’s bad as a professional football player when people know more about the mad stories from your personal life than they do about your footballing ability – points at Mario Balotelli. Jermaine Pennant was never good enough, and was pretty much signed on the basis of one good season.
Pennant is the only footballer to wear an electronic ankle bracelet while playing in a Premier League match for Birmingham, and he once left his Porsche at a train station in Zaragoza, forgetting that he even owned the car. So there’s that.
What did he do good? Not much. He did score a belter against Chelsea and played well in the Champions League final when we lost to AC Milan. Besides that his general attitude let him down, and made him the wrong fit for a club with the expectations of Liverpool. The £6.7m paid to sign him looks pricey considering his ultimate contribution.
Should have been the perfect partner for Fernando Torres. A regular goalscorer. Premier League pedigree. Boyhood Red (as well as a few other clubs it seems). It just never quite happened for the Irishman. His career at Anfield lasted just six months at the club, with Rafa keen to cut his losses on a player he quickly realised was a mistake.
It took him until October to score his first goal for the Reds, and he only scored five goals in his time at the club. Given more time it could be argued that Keane would be able to vindicate the fee paid, but for several reasons the manager had seen enough.
Keane had helped get the best out of Dimitar Berbatov when the two combined in the Spurs attack, but the same effect was not to be had with Fernando Torres, their attributes never complemented each other and it never looked like a partnership that would work in the Reds’ favour.
Signed for £19m with add ons that weren’t triggered in his short time at the club, and eventually sold on for £12m again with add ons, Liverpool didn’t lose as much as they might have done.
So much wrong with this transfer. His injury record was atrocious (he was signed with an injury). He was slow and lightweight. He was signed to replace Xabi Alonso, a player so far ahead in terms of ability. Alberto Aquilani absolutely has to go down as one of the worst signings of the Premier League era.
The Italian always had big boots to fill, given how much the fans admired his Spanish predecessor, and he never came close, despite getting six assists in his first season at the club. His best contribution was an aggregate equaliser against Atletico Madrid in the Europa League semi-final second leg, in which the Reds were knocked out on away goals.
He was sold for a significant loss in 2012, having been bought for £17.1m, but in truth his number had been up for a while and it was only a matter of time before his dour career on Merseyside was brought to an end.
Good lord. What is there to say. He spent one very unhappy year on Merseyside, and it was hard to believe what Rafa ever saw in him. At least, for once, Roy Hodgson was cleaning up somebody else’s mess and not the other way around.
He wasn’t quick, he never looked particularly good on the ball, he didn’t score goals – I’m actually finding it pretty hard to find something he did well, to be honest.
One season, 18 appearances in all competitions, two measly goals – one when we lost to Northampton on penalties (you probably tried to forget that happened) and one when we drew with Steaua Bucharest (me neither).
He did leave us with one great memory though. All the best in whatever is you do now, Milan.
I thought this might actually turn out to be a good signing for us. Anybody else? No? Well you were right and I was wrong. He was on a lot of money, and gave very *very* little in return.
He got sent off on his league debut against Arsenal. In his next game he missed a penalty against Trabzonspor. Awful. Very expensive and awful.
Twenty three starts and five goals, all things told, before he was shipped out on loan to Lille. He wasn’t overly keen on moving but most fans were very happy to see him go, which made it worse when he returned for a short spell during the 2012-2013 season, before he was released from his contract to join West Ham in January 2013.
There was apparently a £3m pay off, but all that mattered was the nightmare was over, really.
My word. Roy’s mate Paul Konchesky was bad at football wasn’t he? He started 18 games under Hodgson – a whole 18 – and it was instantly clear that he wasn’t anything like a Liverpool player. He was crap.
His mum once tried to defend him on Facebook by writing: “To all you Liverpool scouse scum out there, never mind the cockney cunt, take a real look at your team, stop living off the past. The team are shit, if anyone’s made a mistake it’s the cockney cunt, never should have left Fulham.”
It’s hard to disagree with his mum – he really never should’ve left Fulham. I’m still convinced he was part of Hodge’s masterplan – starring as little minion – to tear down this once great club. Yes, that’s how bad he was at football.
He lasted till January, at which point Kenny was in charge and had seen sense enough to send him out on loan to Nottingham Forest, before he was eventually sold to Leicester for £1.5m. He cost us £3.5 m by the way. Kinell.
One that will always haunt me. That corner. That bloody corner. He didn’t score a goal in the league, he never even looked like scoring. Except once. Against Oldham. Boss.
In fact, I’m fairly sure defenders were glad to see him feature on the team sheet. He was lightweight, he wasn’t quick considering his slight frame and he didn’t appear to be anything close to a natural finisher.
His reported fiery temperament prior to his transfer was non-evident at Liverpool – he could’ve at least gave us something mad to remember him by. But there was nothing. Nothing good. Just lots and lots of bad.
You know what’s coming.