Good On Paper: No Treat for Granny in this Selection Box

HOW about this for a starting eleven?

Gomes; Johnson, Squillaci, Stearman, Ilunga; Ireland, Cattermole, J Cole; Balotelli, Torres, Saha.

Stephen Ireland takes his place amongst a line-up of Premier League stars….except they’ve been voted the worst players in the division so far.

Based on match ratings assigned by readers, yesterday the Guardian compiled its best Premier League eleven, which had no room for any Irish player. Today, the paper turned its attention to the worst, and the bald-headed granny-slayer is counted among the flops of the season to date.

In a sign of trying times for the Irish in England’s top-flight, Richard Dunne and Jon Walters were also considered but, yet again, they failed to make it, even into this team.

They’ve been dumped on the bench again, though being relegated to the dugout for this outfit is perhaps one small mercy.

As Spud Watch has chronicled throughout the season, Stephen Ireland’s transfer to Aston Villa has not exactly proven to be the second coming of the Cobh Christ child.

The Guardian agrees.

“Stephen Ireland is much more than a useful player – or so he reckons – but Aston Villa fans have yet to see evidence of that and now it seems that the midfielder who proclaimed himself an upgrade on James Milner when he arrived at Villa Park is on his way out. He may – or may not – turn out to be a great signing for someone.”

In a forward line of Balotelli, Torres, and Saha, there has been as much chance of scoring so far this season as John Wayne Bobbit with brewer’s droop.

You wouldn’t know whether to laugh or cry when you consider that Ireland’s highest scorer in the Premier League, Jon Walters, was considered for inclusion among these mis-firing misfits.

Likewise, Richard Dunne, a multiple-time player of the season at Manchester City, and defensive rock under former manager Martin O’Neill at Aston Villa, has swung wildly in his performances from decent to awful.

“At centre-back, Richard Dunne has had some pungent performances this season – indeed, he could be included on the basis of his madcap display in Aston Villa’s 6-0 defeat at Newcastle alone. But the player with more red cards and own goals than any other in the history of the Premier League has always mixed the good with the comically bad and there have been times this term when he has been solid.”

We’ve lamented the lack of first-team action for our players all season.

With potential match appearances been handed out like Christmas presents in the coming days and the gift of a January transfer move up for grabs if they impress, it’s a crucial couple of weeks for the Irish.

When readers compile this squad again come the end of the season let’s hope our Premier League players reverse their current poor run of form, and paradoxically, stay nowhere near the first team.

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First posted, Dec 2010

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