• Premier League

Premier League's most successful duds

Ismail Vedat
March 14, 2014
Martin Demichelis' red card for this foul on Lionel Messi turned Manchester City's tie with Barcelona © Getty Images

Should Manchester City end the season with nothing but the League Cup to their name, the search for a fall guy is likely to wind its way towards Martin Demichelis.

Frequently at fault in recent matches, it was Demichelis' foul on Lionel Messi in the first leg of City's Champions League tie with Barcelona that left Manuel Pellegrini's men with an uphill battle they could not - and did not - win.

That moment ultimately cost City one possible avenue to silverware and another was closed off by Championship side Wigan after Demichelis brought down Marc-Antoine Fortune for a penalty and the opening goal of a 2-1 FA Cup victory for the holders.

Add in an erratic display against Sunderland at Wembley in the League Cup final - including playing his part in the concession of another goal, the shock opener scored by Fabio Borini - and Demichelis should probably be grateful for two things: that his team-mates bailed him out in the second half of that League Cup final, and that Joleon Lescott performed so poorly as his replacement in the second leg against Barcelona this midweek.

Yet in spite of all of this, Demichelis could emerge from the season with two winner's medals, should City add the Premier League title to the League Cup trophy. He would not be the first figure of fun to take solace from his medal collection, either.

We present to you the Premier League's most successful duds...

Djimi Traore kisses the European Cup © Getty Images

Djimi Traore

When it comes to the worst players to have lifted the Champions League, Djimi Traore ranks very high (if not top) of most people's lists.

Better known for being 'Bambi on ice' rather than a defender, Traore was the architect of Liverpool's first-half meltdown against AC Milan in the 2005 final and the inspiration for the memorable comeback, despite being told at half-time by manager Rafa Benitez he was going to be substituted.

He was guilty of conceding the free-kick which led to the opening goal, as well as losing possession in the build-up. But he recovered to produce a goal-line clearance to help Liverpool come from 3-0 down to win in a penalty shootout. A night he, even more than most, will never forget.

Paolo Ferreira challenges Cristiano Ronaldo on his way to winning the FA Cup final with Chelsea in 2007 © Getty Images

Paulo Ferreira

Right-back. Left-back. Paulo Ferreira was available in almost every position for Chelsea. Unfortunately, whether he could play well in those places was another matter.

Ferreira followed Jose Mourinho to Stamford Bridge in 2004 after they won the league title and Champions League with Porto. While Mourinho would flourish as the club's greatest manager, Ferreira continued to play under his fellow Portuguese at a consistent level, albeit an average one.

The defender departed Chelsea only last year, by which time he had accumulated three Premier Leagues, four FA Cups, two League Cups, one Champions League, one Europa League and two Community Shields. An incredible and slightly bewildering achievement.

Pascal Cygan was seen as the replacement for Tony Adams © PA Photos

Pascal Cygan

The Arsenal 'Invincibles' of the 2003-04 season which went an entire Premier League campaign unbeaten somehow did so with Pascal Cygan.

The Frenchman was snapped up by Arsenal following impressive displays for Lille in the Champions League, and was voted as the best player in France by journalists before jetting off to north London.

Seen as the long-term replacement for club legend Tony Adams when he put pen to paper in 2002, Cygan quickly turned into the weak link in the Arsenal team, with manager Arsene Wenger insisting his new signing would eventually come good.

Sadly, this never happened, but Cygan did leave Arsenal with Premier League and FA Cup winner's medals. Who knows what else he would have won if he lived up to expectations?

Mikael Silvestre lifts the trophy after one of his five Premier League successes © PA Photos

Mikael Silvestre

The player that Sir Alex Ferguson probably thanked Wenger the most for signing. Silvestre played nine seasons at United, collecting 11 honours, including five Premier Leagues, but was indebted to the likes of Jaap Stam and Rio Ferdinand for that level of success.

At times, he did a job for Ferguson and was a go-to utility man on many occasions due to his versatility. Perhaps being a jack of all trades prevented Silvestre from mastering any of them.

Wenger paid £750,000 for the French defender in 2008. However, he failed to live up to even such a meagre price tag. Silvestre made 44 appearances during his two years at the club, with Arsenal conceding at a rate of more than a goal a game.

Lowlights included a 4-4 draw with Liverpool at Anfield that would have been a win but for Fernando Torres' tormenting of Silvestre and a 4-1 defeat by Barcelona in the Champions League when pitting Silvestre against Lionel Messi was just plain cruel. Messi scored a hat-trick within 42 minutes, Silvestre was substituted midway through the second half.

A flying Yuri Zhirkov scores his first and last goal for Chelsea © Getty Images

Yuri Zhirkov

One of the standout players for Russia at Euro 2008, Zhirkov became the most expensive Russian to join a Premier League side when signed for £18m in 2009, taking the accolade off Andrey Arshavin at Arsenal.

Zhirkov had a lot to live up to, but he didn't make his Premier League debut until December, and his first start didn't come until the end of that month. Money well spent, Mr Abramovich.

In the absence of Ashley Cole, Chelsea turned to Zhirkov to fill in at left-back. Though he didn't match the performances of one of the most consistent left-backs in Cole, Zhirkov ended the campaign by getting his hands on the Premier League trophy.

He made 16 Premier League starts for the club before leaving for Anzhi Makhachkala in 2011. If it's any consolation, his one goal for the club was a cracker - a volley in the Champions League away to Spartak Moscow. His Russian homeland was clearly where his heart was.

Even from this angle, we can tell that's crossed the line, Roy © Getty Images

Roy Carroll

United had struggled to fill the huge void left by Peter Schmeichel, but Carroll earned his chance to impress in his fourth season at the club in 2004-05.

They had fallen some way off the pace by the turn of the year, with Mourinho's Chelsea nine points clear of United in third, when Tottenham came to visit Old Trafford.

The match was heading towards a thoroughly forgettable 0-0 draw in stoppage time when the ball bounced around midfield. You can forgive Carroll's mind for wandering - what was he going to have for breakfast tomorrow? Had he left the cat out? Is that Pedro Mendes shooting from halfway? Ah, yes, that is Pedro Mendes shooting from halfway...

What followed was one of the great kidology moments in Premier League history. Carroll stumbled, bumbled and fumbled the ball over his own goal-line, then leaped backwards to scoop the ball out. It was clear to everyone that it should be a goal, especially Carroll, but assistant referee Rob Lewis bought the goalkeeper's act and did not award it.

It was not the only dubious moment of Carroll's tenure in the United goal, but it was by far the most famous. If you want to put that to the test, ask a football fan "do you remember Roy Carroll?" Still, any mocking supporters should bear in mind that Carroll has a Premier League and FA Cup medal in his locker and they don't.

If one manager had to be thrown into the mix, then Avram Grant is the man to get the nod.

"Like a son after the loss of his father? In our case, we found ourselves with a stepfather that we hadn't chosen." Those were the words of Didier Drogba after Grant had taken over at Chelsea after the shock departure of Jose Mourinho in September 2007.

With Drogba claiming the boss had no influence in the team's run to the showpiece finale, Grant came within one penalty kick of becoming the first manager to guide Chelsea to a Champions League triumph. The man nicknamed 'The Toad' was relieved of his duties towards the end of May, though might have been the first manager to win the Champions League for the club but for John Terry's infamous penalty slip and the sending off of a certain Didier Drogba.

Facing criticism from his players and with fans chanting "You don't know what you're doing", in the end Grant had won over the Chelsea supporters, and emerged as a likeable character after being chucked into the deep end at Stamford Bridge.

After Chelsea he moved onto Portsmouth, and took them to the FA Cup final in 2009, where they lost to, as luck would have it, Chelsea. His record in England saw him finish a runner-up in the Premier League, Champions League, and both League and FA Cups.

Not bad for a stepfather, Didier.

Didier Drogba believed Avram Grant could not take any credit for getting Chelsea to the Champions League final © Getty Images
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