This summer has featured many interesting story lines in the world of football. From World Cup qualifying to the UEFA European Football Championship to the chaotic transfer season, many top-level footballers have made names for themselves.
A new season of football will start next August to the dismay of Chelsea and Spanish fans who will want to continue celebrating their recent championships. However, there are several footballers who will want to put this summer behind them as soon as possible.
Whether they have suffered from shoddy play or controversies off the pitch, let's take a look at the top 10 players who cannot wait for the new season.
To say that the back line of the U.S. men's national team struggled this summer would be an understatement. No player struggled more than Sporting Lisbon defender Oguchi Onyewu.
His worst performance came during the much-hyped matchup against Brazil on May 30. Onyewu first conceded a penalty by means of a handball in the U.S. box, which Neymar converted. He followed this up by not communicating with midfielder Jermaine Jones during a corner, leaving Brazil’s Thiago Silva unmarked. Silva scored off a header.
Onyewu finished the night by missing a header of his own that banged off Brazil’s crossbar.
Despite his struggles, Jurgen Klinsmann used Onyewu as a substitute in the 57th minute of the national team’s opening World Cup qualifying match against Antigua and Barbuda. Onyewu promptly gave up a goal in the 65th minute by positioning himself horribly and overcommitting to Antigua and Barbuda’s Peter Byers.
Onyewu didn’t see the pitch in the next qualifier against Guatemala, and one has to wonder, at the age of 30, whether or not Onyewu has seen the last of his days in a U.S. jersey.
Speaking of footballers who haven’t seen a pitch for their national team, Rio Ferdinand has to be eager for this summer to be over.
It got off to a bad start on May 13 by having a Premier League title snatched away by Manchester City in the dying minutes of the season. This was followed by not being selected for England’s Euro 2012 roster by Roy Hodgson because he was "too good to be a substitute," according to the Daily Mail.
Sky News suggested Rio wasn’t picked because of Hodgson's selection of John Terry, who racially abused his brother, Anton. Rio was furious and made his feelings known tweeting:
Absolutely loved playing for england....to say I'm gutted is an understatement of the highest order...— Rio Ferdinand (@rioferdy5) May 16, 2012
He was forced to watch England fail to make it out of the quarterfinals against Italy, losing in a shootout.
At the old age of 33, it seems that Rio’s days of playing for the Three Lions is over with almost no chance that he'll play in another major tournament. Cheer up, Rio. It could be worse: you could have actually been a player on the English side who performed badly like…
The midfielder's tournament ended with a poor showing in England’s loss against Italy, nearly giving up possession every time he touched the ball. It seemed that the English side was much more competitive when Milner was subbed out and Theo Walcott was in (especially during England’s win against Sweden).
Milner can now look forward to fighting for playing time in Manchester City’s loaded midfield with the likes of superstars Yaya Toure, Gareth Barry, Nigel de Jong and David Silva to name a few.
Good thing Manchester City’s other players had a good showing at the Euro Cup.
Oh wait! There’s also…
Samir Nasri made headlines for the wrong reason in France’s opening match against England. The Mirror reported that after scoring a brilliant goal for Les Bleus, Nasri celebrated by running around yelling, “Shut your face” to reporters in the stadium, earning him a stern talking to by his father.
Nasri did not play in France’s quarterfinal match against Spain until the 65th minute. France lost 2-0 to Spain, who dominated possession and gave up few chances. According to Brooks Peck of Yahoo! Sports, following the loss, Nasri verbally berated an AFP journalist whom he claims is always writing negative stories about the French side.
This act earned Nasri a disciplinary hearing on July 27 that could result in banishment from playing for Les Bleus for a significant amount of time. The sooner this summer is over, the better for the Manchester City midfielder.
You have to feel sorry for Shay Given. The most capped footballer in the history of Ireland’s national team must not have expected much of Ireland’s chances in Euro 2012. But he was forced to watch as his net was ravaged by far superior Croatian, Spanish and Italian sides.
Many of the goals against Ireland were not Given’s fault, but rather the fault of brilliant play by the opposing sides' attacking players and a poor showing by the Irish defenders. However, Given let in a few softies like this goal from Mario Mandžukić and this goal from Fernando Torres.
Following Ireland’s loss to Spain, Given even had to defend himself from criticism from former captain Roy Keane. By the end of Ireland’s dreadful group stage, Given saw nine goals get by him in only three games.
Now Given is left to mull over the decision to stay or leave Aston Villa, which narrowly escaped relegation last year and is under the new management of Paul Lambert.
David Beckham is angry and he wants everyone to know about it. Could it be the fact that the Los Angeles Galaxy are 6-9-2 in the MLS and in the bottom half of the Western Conference despite winning the league last year?
Or could it be that he was left off the Great Britain Olympic team that is playing in his home country for the likes of the 38-year-old Welsh midfielder Ryan Giggs and 32-year-old Welsh forward Craig Bellamy?
Either way, Beckham let his emotions get the best of him on June 30 when he kicked a ball at a referee and San Jose’s Sam Cronin for what ESPN.com reported Beckham considered wasting time. He received a one-match ban for his actions. This all occurred after the Galaxy blew a lead against the Earthquakes in the second half for the second time this season.
He does not have a lot to look forward to for the rest of the summer, but at least we can be thankful for those Burger King commercials he gave us.
While we’re on the subject of suspensions, QPR’s Joey Barton sure made a name for himself this summer despite not playing at all.
After elbowing Carlos Tévez, kicking Sergio Agüero, trying to head-butt Vincent Kompany and jawing at Mario Balotelli all in the final game of the season against Manchester City, Barton received a 12-game suspension and was fined £75,000 by the Football Association on May 23.
Trying to stay out of further trouble, Barton was beaten up at a nightclub in Liverpool on June 4. To add further insult to injury, QPR removed him as captain of the team and fined him six weeks' pay. Barton has responded positively, tweeting:
...12 games, is what really hurts. I was stupid and that what happens when u do dumb things. I am confident ill bounce back. Cannot wait.— Joseph Barton (@Joey7Barton) June 25, 2012
Too bad he’ll have to wait a very long time for his extended summer break to end.
Arjen Robben’s summer could not have gotten off to a worse start after his extra-time penalty in the Champions League final was saved by Petr Cech. That missed opportunity cost his club, Bayern Munich, as they went on to lose to Chelsea on penalty kicks.
Robben’s poor play continued into the Netherlands' Euro 2012 campaign. Not only did Robben fail to score for his national side, but he blew several chances for his team, including hitting the post against Denmark after being gifted a chance from Danish goalkeeper Stephan Andersen.
Despite being in what should be the prime of his career, it seems that Robben’s form is starting to fade at only 28. One has to wonder, if this continues, whether or not he will be wearing orange for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, as he was just one of the big egos that contributed to…
No one expected such a poor performance from such a formidable side as the Oranje.
Only two years removed from their loss in the World Cup finale, the Dutch were expected to advance from the "Group of Death" and make a serious run for the title. However, they crashed and burned, leaving Euro 2012 without a single point and even upsetting national hero Edwin van der Sar.
A large share of the blame has to go to their shaky defense that let in five goals over three matches. What is most puzzling, though, is how an attacking side that featured Robin van Persie, Ibrahim Afellay, Wesley Sneijder, Rafael van der Vaart and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar could only score two goals.
The Netherlands' European Championship performance will go down as one of the worst in recent history. They have a lot to figure out before they begin World Cup qualification in September.
As bad as it seems for the rest of the footballers on this list, none of them could be haunted by this summer more than Zenit Saint Petersburg defender Domenico Criscito. He is the latest Italian caught up in the match-fixing scandal going on in Italy.
Criscito’s trouble began on May 28 when The Guardian reported that he was dropped from the Italian Euro 2012 squad despite initially being called up. Criscito was upset with the decision to be left out of the final roster, but that figures to be the least of his problems now.
The Associated Press reported that Criscito will be questioned by the Italian soccer federation on July 16. If it turns out Criscito had a role in the match-fixing scandal, it could possibly ruin his career in football.
Over 50 Italian football players have already been brought into this scandal. Many have been arrested and banned from playing football for years.
Depending on the outcome of his July 16 questioning, Criscito may have a horrible summer that he will never forget.