Posts Tagged ‘Joey Barton’

This season will be remembered for the emergence of Jack Wilshere, Gareth Bale and Javier Hernandez and quite rightly so, all three players were in inspired form the whole season and became pivotal to their respective teams achievements. However you can be forgiven for thinking these three players were the only three to play well last season, such was the media frenzy surrounding them. There were several players who finally proved their worth after a couple of poor seasons or finally lived up to their price tag or billing.

Here are my Top TEN most improved players

Rafael (Manchester United)

When Gary Neville announced his retirement there wasn’t a worrying look on United fans’ faces like there is now after Paul Scholes announced his retirement, and that is all due to the improved performances of Rafael. The Brazilian was always renowned for his energetic runs up and down the right hand side flank but his defending left a lot to be desired, but this season saw Rafael become a stronger tackler of the ball and just an all round more composed defender.

Joey Barton (Newcastle United)

Love him or hate him, there is no denying that the former Manchester City player has been instrumental in Newcastle’s successful first season back in the Premier League. The Englishman’s range of passing has been his one stand out improvement, with Barton displaying the ability to find that defence splitting pass either from the centre of midfield or on the right flank.

Ben Foster (Birmingham City)

We all (quite rightly) wrote Foster off after Paul Robinson’s goal kick goal against him in 2007, but the former Manchester United keeper has come back fighting. Foster has been named man of the match on several occasions this season, most notably the Carling Cup final, where he made several world class saves to help Birmingham win the trophy. With the burden of being Edwin Van Der Sar’s under study off his back, the Englishman looks to finally be the goalkeeper we were all promised back in 2005.

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Leighton Baines (Everton)

How Fabio Capello must be regretting the decision to take Stephen Warnock instead of Baines to South Africa last summer, after the Englishman’s inspired season for Everton. The former Wigan defended strongly and looked composed on the ball, however it is his attacking exploits that have caught the eye of Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City with the Englishman helping his team’s cause with 11 assists this season.

Samir Nasri (Arsenal)

Major transfer activity is expected at the Emirates this summer but maintaining Nasri’s services should be Wenger’s priority after the season the Frenchman has just had. Outshining captain Cesc Fabregas and making Arsenal fans realise there is life after the Spaniard, Nasri’s goals’, trickery and all round work ethic have made him a joy to behold this season, a different player from the previous two rather mundane and uneventful campaigns.

Dimitar Berbatov (Manchester United)

Two years of criticism, abuse and ridcule from the Red Devils faithful, the former Spurs front man has come up with the ‘goods’ without really altering his playing style. Leading the Premier League goal scoring charts for the majority of the season is no easy feat, especially when you rarely start games, but the Bulgarian managed it and despite this is still rumoured to be on the move (how’s that for gratitude).

Johan Elmander (Bolton Wanderers)

The £8.2 million spent by Bolton to acquire the Swede’s services looked better served being spent on Michael Ricketts after a rather bleak start to Elmander’s career. However the beginning of this season saw the former Toulouse striker in free scoring form, including a contender for goal of the season. The goals dried up in the second half of the season but Elmander’s influence continued with his fantastic work rate, as well as forming a successful understanding with striking partners Kevin Davies and Daniel Sturridge.

Matthew Etherington (Stoke City)

The former West Ham United player looked a broken man after admitting to a gambling addiction but Tony Pulis showed faith in the winger and is reaping the rewards this season. Etherington’s crosses were almost as valuable as Rory Delap’s throw ins, with his continual supply of pin point crosses to Stoke’s several aerial threats.

Lucas Leiva (Liverpool)

Funny old game football, the Brazilian was deemed useless and a laughing stock at the end of the 2010 season but 38 Premier League games later Lucas is now the midfield lynchpin. With Steven Gerrard out for a fair bit of the season, someone needed to step into the middle and fill the hole the Englishman left and Lucas duly obliged. With consistent and hard working performances throughout this campaign the former Gremio player has shown former manager Rafael Benitez why he was wrong to play him out of position for a large portion of his tenure.

Stewart Downing (Aston Villa)

The former Middlesbrough player looked to be drowning under the expectations that fans’ and pundits’ alike had for him after a poor debut season. However this season the England international has turned his game around, contributing the level of assists’ and goals’ an attacking winger should, as well as forming a fantastic partnership with fellow Englishmen Ashley Young and Darren Bent in the process.

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The Premier League has given us Cantona, Ginola and Beckham who ultimately we all love no matter who they kicked in World Cup ’98. It has also thrown up the likes of Kevin Davies, Duncan Ferguson and Vinnie Jones, not loathed as much as the ones who made my ‘Dirty XI’ but would certainly make another football fans.

I have ignored the ones with silly haircuts, poor fashion sense or the ones who wouldn’t look out of place in a boy band. What’s left is the not very good, the bad and the ugly.

Disagree with me? Follow me on Twitter and tell me who would make your ‘Most hated eleven’

Craig Bellamy

Dubbed ‘The Nutter with the Putter’ by the media, after allegedly beating up, then, Liverpool team-mate John Arne Riise with a golf club, is one of many reasons for Craig Bellamy being on the list. The Welsh international lack of popularity in the game stems from his confrontational style of play, which may be the reason that Bellamy finds himself at his 8th club in the last decade.

Jens Lehmann

Reminds me of that kid in the playground trying to be cool and ‘hard’;when you’re 6 years old it is cute but when your German, old and slightly eccentric its not. Lehmann had a comical run in with Didier Drogba that wouldn’t have looked out of place with the Benny Hill theme tune playing in the background. Lehmann always seemed to take offence to anyone who felt they could be in ‘his’ box and for that reason he just generally antagonised anyone that was brave enough to enter.

John Terry

Doesn’t he know the guy code? ‘Bro’s before Ho’s.’ Cheating on your wife with your friend’s ex girlfriend doesn’t exactly do a lot for team moral. Ignoring Terry’s off the field issues, don’t you just think the guy is *enter any word you feel appropriate.*

Emmanuel Adebayor

Enjoyed a successful beginning with the Arsenal faithful, with many believing the Togolese international was heir to Thierry Henry’s throne. However following pay-rise demands, ‘hit and miss performances’ and then joining ‘top four’ rivals Manchester City, it is safe to say that Arsenal fans now despise Adebayor but this wasn’t enough for the striker. To guarantee he wouldn’t receive a Christmas card from his former employers, the Togo captain stamped on Robin Van Persie and ran the entire length of the Eastlands pitch to celebrate his goal for new club Manchester City, in front of the Arsenal away fans. I think they call that excessive banter.

Gary Neville

Spent his entire career at Manchester United, a club fans love to hate and seeing as Neville captained the Red Devils it doesn’t help him stay out of lists like this, but his arrogance and strong opinions combined with running 40 yards across the Old Trafford pitch to celebrate a Manchester United winner against Liverpool right in front of the visiting fans probably has a lot to do with his appearance.

El Haji Diouf

El Hadji Diouf feeds off his reputation as the villain of the Premier League. Diouf constantly seems to rile up opposition fans for his own amusement. The Senegalese forward does have one absolutely disgusting habit that warrants his place on this list in its own right, sending phlegm bombs at whomever he sees fit, most notably Celtic fans.

Cristiano Ronaldo

The 2008 World and European Footballer of the Year but that doesn’t stop him being total ‘winker.’ Unanimously hated by the English faithful for his part in Rooney’s sending off in the 2006 World Cup. I feel however the reason he warrants such a high place on the list is because of his tendency for going to ground like a ‘fairy’ and his sarcastic clapping of referees when decisions don’t go his way, such behaviour easily warrants three yellow cards of Graham Poll.

Joey Barton

Cannot escape controversy no matter what team he moves to. A one-man controversy magnet who finds enemies in team-mates, opposition and fans alike. Barton’s style of play numerously over steps the mark, resulting in countless disciplinary issues but Barton’s standout discrepancy has to be the moment of pure madness when he lit a cigar in the eye of Manchester City youth player Jamie Tandy.

Lee Bowyer

The man who holds the title of most Premier League bookings was always going to be here but just in case Bowyer was worried he would miss out, he decided to fight a team-mate during a game. Ok Mr Bowyer your wish is granted, Number 3. Happy?

Robbie Savage

You all knew he would be here; you just kept waiting to see how high. No explanation needed.

Ashley Cole

Moved to Chelsea from Arsenal surrounded by a huge ‘tapping up’ scandal and although the England international doubled his bank account, his reputation took a battering. Cole didn’t help matters though was a now infamous excerpt from his autobiography, in which he admits he “almost crashed [his] car” after being told Arsenal would only be paying him £55,000 per week. This line of pure greed earnt Cole the nickname ‘Cashley.’ The man is a walking PR disaster and after cheating on the ‘national treasure’ that is Cheryl Tweedy, Cole well an truly deserves his place on the list.

Substitutes: Martin Keown (one of those faces), Roy Keane (the list is endless), Didier Drogba (has an A level in moaning), Dennis Wise (dirty little…) and William Gallas (cry baby)