Regular visitors to the Tavern will know that my good friend Stuart Coleman, recently posted an article in which he discussed his 6 worst Tottenham players. If you haven’t seen it, it’s well worth a look, but wait until you’ve read this one first!
Stu’s article dealt with our good friends the cockney sparra’s but it’s important to remember that further North of the Watford Gap we’ve had our fair share of donkeys as well, especially at Newcastle where it seems for every Alan Shearer who becomes a hero, you get a Daniel Cordone who becomes a zero. I’ve been watching Newcastle for a while, and whilst I’ve seen some exceptionally talented players, I’ve also seen some dross. So without further ado, I present to you 6 of the worst Newcastle players that I have seen wear the shirt.
Marcelino – I’ve seen some pretty bad defenders in my time at St. James’. From the much-hyped but ultimately disappointing (David Rozenhal) to the almost comically woeful (Titus Bramble) to the players in between (Jean-Alain Boumsong, Cacapa, Oguchi Onyewu). But one player stands above the rest. Marcelino wasn’t a footballer, he was an accident waiting to happen. Signed by Ruud Gullit for £6 million in 1999, the Spaniard spent more time on the treatment table than on the pitch.
He made just 17 appearances in 4 seasons and was plagued by injury throughout his time with the Magpies. He famously broke his finger and was out of action for 2 months. In the end, it was Bobby Robson who lost patience with the centre back and he moved on to Polideportivo Ejido in the Spanish second division, where after 2 seasons he retired. He now makes his living as a media pundit. Presumably he just sits there looking glum whilst the other pundits talk over him.
Carl Cort – Bobby Robson worked with some of the world’s greatest strikers. Alan Shearer, Ronaldo, Ruud Van Nistelrooy and Gary Lineker, but he got it horribly wrong on Carl Cort. Bought from Wimbledon in 2000 for a whopping £7 million, alot was expected of the tall, leggy striker.
After just 22 appearances from 2000 to 2003, he’d managed only 7 goals. Cort was unlucky with injuries, mostly his hamstring but Newcastle still managed to mug Wolverhampton Wanderers for £2 million when he moved there at the start of the 2003/04 season. He managed marginally better in the Championship, scoring 31 goals in 94 appearances but his injuries just never went away.
Ignacio Gonzalez – The man who cost Kevin Keegan his job….again. Gonzalez was brought in on loan from Valencia at the start of the 2008 season. Keegan reportedly had seen him play only on Youtube, and didn’t consider him a good enough player. He later blamed Director of Football Dennis Wise and every Geordie’s favourite Mike Ashley for the deal.
In 2009 a Premier League tribunal found that Keegan had been stiched up by the Chairman and he was paid a hefty compensation bill. That aside, if Gonzalez had been any good it wouldn’t have been a complete disaster. Unfortunately he turned out to be a complete donkey making just 2 appearances, got injured and then sloped off back to Spain, leaving everyone involved in the debacle looking pretty stupid.
Albert Luque – Micheal Owen looked like he couldn’t be bothered. Mark Viduka really couldn’t be bothered. Obafemi Martins could sort of be bothered, but only when he could be bothered. Patrick Kluivert definitely couldn’t be bothered. But they were all beaten by one man, the Spanish centre forward Albert Luque who nobody could be bothered with.
Bought for £9.5 million, by Graeme Souness as a potential replacement for Shearer he spectacuarly failed to live up to anyone’s expectations. Again, unlucky with injuries which restricted him to just 6 (!) appearances. Newcastle fans do fondly recall his one and only league goal for the club, which was the final goal in a 4-1 drubbing of Sunderland at the Stadium of Light. As for the rest of his time on Tyneside…eh, probably best forgotten.
Xisco – The natural successor to Albert Luque, Francisco Jimenez Tejada was signed in 2008 by Kevin Keegan. He’s still on the books at Newcastle, though currently on loan at Deportivo La Coruna. And Newcastle fans still have another 2 years left on his contract to pay for! So far, he’s made 9 appearances for the Magpies and chipped in with a measly 1 goal.
Unlike everyone else on this list, Xisco has not really had to deal with severe injuries. He’s just really, really, hopeless. He’s played under 3 Newcastle managers, and looks more and more dejected everytime he lumbers off the bench. When Ameobi and Lovenkrands are keeping you out the side, perhaps it’s time to consider a career change.
Stephane Guivarc’h – I’ve worked really hard not make this list 6 defenders. I could have just written 800 words about Titus Bramble, but it would have been unfair to single him out when arguably the worst ever Newcastle player of all time is at the other end of the pitch. I also know, that I would have received alot of stick from Newcastle fans if I’d left out this French striker.
Not just the worst ever Newcastle player, but according to the Daily Mail the worst ever Premiership player Guivarc’h was actually a World Cup winner when he joined Newcastle in 1998. Liverpool fans take note, the Newcastle manager who signed him; ‘King’ Kenny Dalglish. Whilst he was part of the France team which won the World Cup, he was hardly Zinedine Zidane. In fact, he was hardly Slyvain Wiltord. He failed to score at the tournament. He did manage to score 1 goal for Newcastle. Shame he could only manage 4 appearances. He can now be found coaching amateur football in France and mouthing off to anyone who’ll listen that he’s NOT the worst player to ever play in England.
Dishonourable Mentions – Nikos Dabizas, Cacapa, Titus Bramble, Gavilan, Cordone, Fumaca.
Follow Peter Turner on Twitter @petermagpie