Souness has bought more than his fair share of terrible players!
As we enter the 20th season of the Premier League we can look back on some sensational players and performances.
Unfortunately there are also a raft of players that should never have graced the Premier League. Players who lacked the talent, commitment and basic fitness and who in the end were an embarrassment to the managers who signed them—often for hefty fees!
There were hundreds to choose from, but this is my slightly lighthearted look at the 20 worst players in Premier League History—if your name is Graeme Souness you may want to look away now!!!
I feel bad about having Titus Bramble on the list as for long periods of time he can be a great player. Unfortunately his powers of concentration are distinctly lacking and when his mind wanders his ability to play football completely disappears. He also seems to scare easily when playing in front of big crowds—not a great trait for a Premier League player but it does explain why he thrived at Wigan!
Newcastle undoubtedly saw the worst of Titus Bramble's defending mishaps though he did also score some impressive and important goals while on Tyneside and also put in some Man of the Match performances.
In 2003/04 he was voted Worst Premier League Player of the Year in a poll by The Fiver, in contrast while at Wigan he was chosen as the club's Player of the Year and Players' Player of the Year for the 08/09 season. This sums Titus us perfectly, when he is good he is very, very good but when he is bad he is atrocious!
The story of Tiago Manuel Dias Correia or Bebe as he was somewhat unoriginally nicknamed by his older brother is an fascinating one.
Having been taken into care at the age of 12 he impressed in the 2009 Street Football Festival and joined C.F. Estrela da Amadora in the Portuguese second division. He emerged as their star player and when they hit financial diificulties he moved on to sign for Victoria de Guimarães in the Portuguese Primeira Liga. After five goals in six pre-season matches for Vitória and on the advice of former assistant Carlos Queiroz Manchester United paid £7.4 million for the youngster.
If this was a movie then Bebe would then go on to score the winning goal for Manchester United in the Champions' League Final. Unfortunately for Alex Ferguson this isn't a movie and speaking of movies Alex hadn't even seen Bebe play on DVD. The problem end to the fairy-tale story of Bebe is that he actually isn't very good at playing football!
John Jensen signed for Arsenal after starring for Denmark in the 1992 European Championships.
A solid and popular defensive midfielder, he unfortunately attained cult status mainly for his complete inability to score a goal. His lack of goals wasn't for lack of trying, in his own head Jensen had the ability to score from almost anywhere on the pitch, in reality his shots were often wide, high and less than handsome.
As his popularity with fans grew, the desperation for him to score spread and it wasn't uncommon to hear shouts of "shoot" whenever Jensen received the ball. He finally scored against QPR in 1994 and the goal was greeted by delirious celebrations by the Arsenal faithful.
When Gerard Houliier bought Bruno Cheyrou from Lille he dubbed him the "New Zidane".
Unfortunately it was far too much pressure for the young Frenchman who didn't possess anywhere near the ability to live up to the billing that Houllier had given him. In the end he mustered only 17 league starts for Liverpool in his three years there.
He disappeared back to France when Benitez took over and his career has never really recovered.
When Mido arrived at Tottenham on loan in early 2005 he announced his arrival with two goals on his debut against Portsmouth. That is the only time I have ever been impressed with Mido, miraculously he has played for 14 different clubs and he has 51 caps for Egypt.
Fortunes have been spent on him in wages, transfer fees and signing on fees. Based on recent sightings of him at West Ham and Middlesbrough a large percentage of his earnings appear to have been invested in food!
Norwegian defender Claus Lundekvam spent 12 years at Southampton form 1996 to 2008 managing 357 appearances. Claus is best summed up by comment made about him by Gordon Strachan in 2003 when he was stretchered off during a game with Leicester.
Strachan said he "didn't have a clue" whether Lundekvam was unconscious as "that's what he's always like".
Eric Djemba-Djemba was signed as a long-term replacement for the aging Roy Keane. The closest he came to emulating Roy Keane was a nasty tackle on Sol Campbell in the Charity Shield.
He was rubbish during his spell at Manchester United yet bizarrely Aston Villa decided to take him off Alex Ferguson's hands. Unable to dislodge the midfield superstar that was Gavin McCann, he only managed to get 11 games at Villa before being sent out to Burnley on loan.
He has since played in Qatar and Denmark and is still not very good at football!
Before he joined Spurs, Sergei Rebrov was one of Europe's finest forwards with an exceptional record for both Dynamo Kiev and the Ukraine.
After his 11 million pound move to Tottenham though, the goals dried up spectacularly. In his second season he managed only three goals in 39 games. Rebrov's only really useful contribution was making Steffen Iversen look like a world beater by comparison.
Rebrov had an equally successful time at West Ham where he smashed in two goals in 33 matches. His comments since seem to suggest he blames his performances on how unpleasant London was. This doesn't explain why he was also terrible at Fenerbahce!
Steve Marlet was Fulham's record signing when he joined from Lyon for 11.5 million pounds in 2001.
Marlet was so disappointing and over priced that Fulham owner Mohammed Al Fayed would later become suspicious that he had been defrauded by then manager Jean Tigana, although Al Fayed lost the resulting court case.
Marlet ultimately cost Fulham a lot of money, Tigana his job and reputation and the player himself never re-discovered the form he showed for Lyon.
Albert Luque must be the only player in Newcastle history to score against Sunderland but not be remembered fondly on Tyneside.
He joined Newcastle for 9.5 million pounds in 2005 under manager Graeme Souness and spent all of his time on Tyneside being either injured or terrible.
The Stevens Report in 2007 cast doubts about some of the payments involved in the transfer, whatever the situation Albert Luque proved a very expensive disaster and was eventually given away to Ajax for free.
Marcelino "played" for Newcastle United for four years, having been signed for 5.8 million pounds to boost their notoriously leaky defence. The previous season he had been one of Mallorca's star players and his arrival was greeted with excitement on Tyneside.
He managed a total of 20 appearances in those four years and is best remembered by Newcastle fans for spending two months out injured with what was rumoured to be a "hurty finger"!
Frank Sinclair was probably a better player than a lot of the defenders on this list but when you type his name into a Search Engine the suggestion at the top is usually "Frank Sinclair Own Goals".
While at Leicester he developed a terrible tendency for scoring in his own net, managing to do so in the last minute of two consecutive games in 1999 and also scoring a stunning 40 yard own-goal during a relegation six-pointer with Middlesbrough in 2002.
After impressing at Bristol City and Wolves, Ade Akinbiyi signed for Leicester as a replacement for Liverpool bound Emile Heskey.
His poor form for Leicester and his 5.5 million pound transfer fee saw him nicknamed "Ade Akin-bad-buy". He managed just 11 goals in 58 matches for the Foxes and his 2 year stint ended with Leicester's relegation from the Premier League.
Ade went on to have a successful career in the lower leagues but has never been a good enough player to perform at the highest level.
Tomas Brolin was one of the hottest talents in Europe before he joined Leeds United in 1995.
After starting well, his relationship with Howard Wilkinson became strained. Wilkinson felt that Brolin wasn't pulling his weight defensively. Something was clearly lost in translation as Brolin set about increasing his waist-line rather than his work rate and drew criticism from fans and media for his "chubby" appearance.
In reality the injury Brolin sustained while on international duty in 1994 seemed to have robbed Brolin of his fitness, pace and desire. He only managed 20 games for Leeds and having never re-found his form he retired from football at the age of just 28—somewhat fittingly he then opened a restaurant!
Carlton Palmer played in the Premier League for Sheffield Wednesday, Leeds, Southampton and Nottingham Forest and has 18 England caps! All of which is bizarre as he was a terrible, terrible footballer.
He is an abiding memory of Graham Taylor's disastrous England tenure-ship and is almost certainly the worst player ever to feature for England at an international tournament.
My lasting memory of Carlton is that he would run in pointlessly huge circles around the edge of the box to try and lose his marker when a corner was being taken. He would then arrive late and exhausted in the penalty area—usually after the ball had gone!
Nottingham Forest "star" Jason Lee's poor finishing and "pineapple" haircut saw him repeatedly derided on National TV by Frank Skinner and David Baddiel.
Becoming a countrywide joke and suffering taunts from opposition fans made him an even worse player and he rapidly slid down to the lower leagues. Gervinho must be thankful that Fantasy Football League is no longer being made by the BBC!
John Gregory spent 5.8 million pounds to bring Croatian goal machine Bosko Balaban to Aston Villa from Dinamo Zagreb in 2001.
Unfortunately when he turned up it became apparent that he was lazy, didn't like to train and wasn't really that good a finisher. He never started a Premier League game for Villa, made only 9 appearances in total and never scored a goal for them.
To be fair to Balaban (and Gregory) he was excellent at scoring goals everywhere he went—except Villa!
Ah, another Graeme Souness master-stroke!
Boumsong signed for Glasgow Rangers in the summer of 2004 on a free transfer, by January Graeme Souness decided to buy him for 8 million pounds! Not surprisingly Rangers jumped at the chance to make a vast profit and Boumsong was soon signing a five year contract on Tyneside.
Boumsong's main contribution on Tyneside was to prove that Titus Bramble wasn't the worst Central Defender in the world!
In the famous leaked Scouting report written by Andre Villa-Boas he states:
"Defence is highly inconsistent both due to individual mistakes (Boumsong mainly-exploit) or due to line uncordination" (sic).
The fact that a Newcastle team once contained Bramble, Boumsong & Luque who all make it onto this list is a testament to Souness' management ability and also explains why I have so little hair left!
Massimo Taibi must go down as one of Alex Ferguson's worst managerial mistakes.
He signed for Manchester United from Venezia in 1999 for 4.5 million pounds. He played in just four matches which included flapping at a cross allowing Liverpool's Sami Hyppia to score, letting a Matt LeTissier shot go through his arms and into the net against Southampton and conceding five goals against Chelsea.
Not surprisingly he was sent back to Italy on loan and never returned.
There was only one player who could possibly top this list! Ali Dia got a friend to phone Graeme Souness and pretend he was George Weah. "Weah" recommended his "cousin" Ali Dia as a future star and advised Souness to sign him up.
Dia was invited to train with Southampton and despite having apparently been terrible during a week's worth of training Dia found himself on the subs bench for a game against Leeds United in 1996.
Ali Dia was brought on after 32 minutes and was truly appalling for the following 21 minutes before being hauled off by Souness. He later tried his luck at Gateshead FC but was nowhere near good enough to play even at Conference level!