After lagging behind its European competitors in the late 1980s as a result of rampant hooliganism, a loss of revenue, and a FIFA-imposed five-year ban from continental competition following the Heysel Stadium disaster, top-flight football in England finally started to turn around in the early ‘90s.
In their quick return to European competition, Manchester United lifted the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup in 1991. Around the same time, stadium safety standards were prioritized in order to avoid the issues from Heysel and Hillsborough, resulting in all-seater stadiums. With the globalization of football came increased television sponsorships, often labeled as the “Sky sports money,” which ultimately led to the breakaway of the First Division from the rest of the Football League and the establishment of the Premier League.
Of course, the detailed explanations for why the separation occurred are far more extensive than simply a desire for unique corporate sponsorships and television revenue, but it could be simplified to that primary factor.
What is certain is that in 1992 the world witnessed the birth of arguably the most popular domestic football league in history, and since then the sport in England has never been the same.
In 20 years of competition, only five teams have ever won the league: Manchester United (12), Arsenal (3), Chelsea (3), Blackburn Rovers (1), and Manchester City (1). Liverpool and Everton have fallen from the heights of glory to top-half mediocrity and the introduction of foreign oil-rich owners has severely improved Chelsea and City.
Former European contenders and four-time League Cup winners Nottingham Forest were relegated in the inaugural campaign after 16 straight seasons in the top flight and have not returned in well over a decade, and Leeds United fell into oblivion after financial doping saw an implosion at the club in 2004.
So, a lot has changed since the inception of the EPL. Teams and players have come and gone. And there have been just as many bad as good.
In an ode to Everton’s recent push for Champions League football and their improvement under David Moyes, here is a list of their worst starting 11 from the Premier League era.
This ranking will take into account on-field performance, appearances, purchase and resale value, and the direction the players have taken since leaving the Merseyside club.
As lists such as a these are always debatable and subjective, feel free to leave your own opinion of the club’s worst players in the past twenty years.