Sunday afternoon was supposed to be the highlight of the weekend, Chelsea, Liverpool, Torres, it was all set up to be thrilling, and in the end it was immensely dull.
I suppose after the ridiculous afternoon on Saturday it was never going to live upto expectations, and was always going to disappoint. The main let down on Sunday was the £50million signing Fernando Torres who did not have the impact that many of us expected. Chelsea never got going and Torres struggled to adapt to his new team right away, his only real chance ironically being supplied by one of his former team mates.
Whilst Torres was patchy at best on Sunday some players make such a catastrophic start to a career at a club it stays with them for years, here is my run through of some of those performers:
5 – Rio Ferdinand (Leeds – Leicester 2000)
It cost Leeds United £18million to bring Ferdinand from West Ham United and much was expected of the youngster who was already an England international, the fee made him the most expensive defender in the world. In the long term Ferdinand went on to be one of England’s best defenders, and a rock at the heart of the Manchester United defence, but his debut for Leeds was a day Ferdinand will forever want to forget. He received a lot of stick from the Leicester faithful due to the size of his transfer tag, and after 29 minutes with Leeds 3-0 down Rio did not look like a player who would go on to lead his country!
4 – Garry Flitcroft (Blackburn – Everton 1996)
It cost £3million to bring the Manchester City academy graduate from Maine Road too Ewood Park and his debut against Everton effectively cost his new club £1million a minute as he was sent off 3mins in. The altercation with fiery Everton striker Duncan Ferguson however did not cut short the Lancastrians stay in Blackburn, he went on to captain the side and made over 250 appearances for the club over a 10 year period. He is currently managing Chorley FC and persuing a career in management, lets hope he is calmer on the touchline than he was on the pitch.
3 – Glenn Keeley (Everton – Liverpool 1982)
Keeley had a long career playing for Blackburn Rovers and made over 350 appearences for the club that he spent 11 years with, but in the middle of that spell he made a loan move to Everton. Sadly for Keeley he would only make one appearence for the toffee’s, to make matters worse that one game would only last 30mins, and to make things worse still it happened in a Merseyside derby that Everton lost 5-0.
He never played for the club again and was sent back to his parent club, Keeley still remains known today mostly by fans of Liverpool who still sing about the hapless defender.
2 – Jonathan Woodgate (Real Madrid – Athletic Bilbao 2005)
Real are not shy when it comes to spending money and Woodgate is a prime example of this. The already barely mobile defender cost £13.4million and his injury problems were already well known, in fact upon signing he was carrying an injury.
Woodgate didn’t make a single appearance in his first season at the club, but when it finally came it was an unforgettable day. The unfortunate defender had a bit of a shocker, in the first half he scored an own goal and got himself booked and then in the 65th minute he picked up a second yellow and was sent off.
After becoming a bit of an ironic hero in Madrid, Woodgate actually went on too put in some good performances and became a key player for them, however it wasn’t long before the injury curse struck again and finally in 2007 he sealed a loan deal to his home club Middlesbrough.
1 – Jason Crowe (Arsenal – Birmingham City 1997)
Crowe was a trainee at Arsenal and ultimately went on to have a pretty succesful career mostly in the lower leagues, however he is probably best known because of a statistic that he would most likely prefer to not be associated with.
Crowe never made a league appearance for the Gunners, the dominance of Lee Dixon meant that Crowe was limited to cup games when Arsene Wenger would rotate his squad. His debut came in the league cup against Birmingham City, that debut lasted 33 seconds!
He was sent off by referee Uriah Rennie for fouling Martin O’ Connor, it was the fastest debut sending off in the history of English football, and would be the fastest all round if it weren’t for Kevin Pressman receiving his marching orders after just 13 seconds when playing for Sheffield Wednesday. Crowe has to make number one in this list purely for the fact that his debut lasted less than a minute!
Honourable mentions should also go to Wayne Bridge making his debut for West Ham, Manchester City legend Christian Negouai, and the sham that was Ali Dia of Southampton.
In the grand scheme of things, Torres’ performance on Sunday was perfectly acceptable, he may not have lit up the Bridge but he wasn’t sent off and he didn’t score an own goal, so in some ways he can be pretty pleased with the performance he turned in. If you have other suggestions of other shocking debuts let me know on twitter @soccercityjoe
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