TEAMtalk Soccers - Failure of the Season
It's day two of our end-of-season TEAMtalk Soccers ceremony, with Matty Briggs handing out the award for Failure of the Year. On Monday, Simon Wilkes presented the Story of the Season award, with John Terry's rollercoaster ride of a campaign taking top spot. Now we look at those players and teams that failed to live up to great expectations. The TEAMtalk mailbox has been in meltdown with the Towers inundated with nominations for the Failure of the Year, and there are no prizes for guessing who topped the charts. Here's the lowdown. 5 - Peterborough: After back-to-back promotions, which led the Posh into the Championship, I suppose their success had to come to an end, but not many people thought they would finish bottom of the pile. By November 2009 Posh were rooted to the foot of the division and Darren Ferguson, the man responsible for their success, was given the boot by impatient chairman Darragh MacAnthony and Mark Cooper introduced. However, Cooper lasted just 13 games and he was given the elbow before Jim Gannon arrived, and after relegation from the Championship was confirmed he in turn was replaced by Gary Johnson. Talk about a manager merry-go-round. It's been a disastrous season and the buck has to stop with the flamboyant Posh chief MacAnthony. 4 - Dimitar Berbatov: A player with unquestioned ability but after two seasons with Manchester United his efforts have been well below expectation. Sir Alex had high hopes for the Bulgarian this time around, but he simply has not delivered. His 12-goal return from 24 top-flight starts, on the face of it isn't too bad but he hasn't performed in the big games and Fergie has lost faith with him. Maybe United paid over the odds for the £30million frontman, but his form at Spurs suggested he would be a perfect fit for the Red Devils. But it has not worked out like that and he looks certain to move on this summer. 3 - Brian Laws: He must be the luckiest manager around. He got the chop at Sheffield Wednesday with the Owls in relegation trouble and was handed a job with Burnley in the Premier League. But with Wednesday eventually relegated and Burnley returning to the Championship Mr Laws' CV doesn't look too good. He effectively got two sides relegated in the same season and for that reason he makes it on to the short-list. 2 - Football Association: The FA, responsible for the Wembley pitch, which is fast becoming a white elephant, come a close second. The surface has been lambasted from all quarters this season and John Terry labelled it the worst pitch he'd played on all year after the cup final. It's a disaster for the FA because the £750million or £798million structure, depending which sources you read, has cost far too much to simply just host football there. And to make the 'Wembley Arch' financially viable every sport known to man has been played on the once hallowed turf. Touchdowns, tries and record lap times in the race of champions have all been witnessed at the 'home of football' and before the end of May, the venue will have hosted five more football matches. It would be no exaggeration to say the surface looked like a farmer's field for the FA Cup semi-finals - which shouldn't even by played there anyway - and the pitch has paid the price. Complaints from the managers involved in the semis forced the FA to relay the pitch for the 10th time in April, but it looked worse then ever for the final, which prompted Terry's comments. It has become a shambles and there looks to be no easy way out for the FA, who still have to replace chief executive Ian Watmore, who resigned in March - I wonder why? 1 - Liverpool FC: Step forward Liverpool FC. Whether it be Rafa Benitez, Tom Hicks and George Gillett, Alberto Aquilani or Steven Gerrard, we've pooled them all together to stop the Merseyside giants dominating the short-list - but Liverpool have taken the failure award hands down. It has been a season of woe for the Anfield men after they delivered a second-placed finish in 2008/09 and promised so much this time around. Benitez could only guide his men into seventh spot, despite an early season guarantee from the gaffer they would finish fourth - fact! It means no Champions League football next term and another season without top-level European competition will spell financial disaster for the Merseysiders. Their efforts this term have been poor with a Champions League exit in the group stage, while Gerrard's form has been bang average at best and Aquilani - a £20million recruit from Roma - has spent more time on the sidelines with ladders in his tights. The man earmarked to replace Xabi Alonso has not proved worthy of lacing the former's boots. Rafa's player judgement and tactics have been questioned frequently and Hicks and Gillett have got to be the most hated men in football alongside their American mate Malcolm Glazer.
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