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Who Would Be In Your All-Time Underachiever XI?

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After the success of last fortnight’s Bitchy XI article, here’s our latest ‘Favourite XI’s’ piece which today will be focusing on players whose careers (despite being good by all means) have not quite hit the heights due to a number of reasons (bad form, wrong club moves, injuries, etc) that they should have done.

Here’s my UnderachieverXI, which will be managed by Steve Coppell:

                                                Mark Bosnich

    Danny Mills, Jonathan Woodgate, Jean-Alain Boumsong, Michael Gray,

     Kieron Dyer, Jermaine Jenas, David Dunn, Morten Gamst Pedersen,

                                        James Beattie, Emile Heskey 

Now as you’re see there all 11 of those players have represented their country and had good careers in the Premier League.  But I can’t help but feel that every one of those players should have achieved more from their careers.

Pedersen at one stage was touted as a Ryan Giggs’s successor at Old Trafford and there’s no doubt that he bad blistering pace, a great shot and a great engine when he first joined Blackburn Rovers.  However after his fantastic 05/06 season, which saw him score 3 times against United he’s just become a steady player at Ewood Park, which is a shame to see.

The same appears to be the case for Jenas who looked an incredible talent when he broke through at Nottingham Forest. He impressed early on at Newcastle but after the late Sir Bobby Robson was sacked lost his form and he moved to Spurs. He should have left White Hart Lane 2 years ago really  when it became clear Harry Redknapp didn’t rate him ‘high enough’ to start him every week.

Both Dyer and Woodgate (two more ex-Newcastle players) of course have seen their careers ruined by injury. Dyer certainly had the ability to be a top-class player for club and country but after starting brightly at St James’s under Robson has barley played in the last 5-6 years.  Woodgate’s struggled too and but for injuries would have probably won 50 odd caps for England and would quite possibly still be playing for Real Madrid.

Up top you’re see that I’ve paired Heskey with Beattie. Now to be fair to the lad who scored England’s fifth in that historic 5-1 win in Munich, he hasn’t had a bad career winning 8 major honours to go along with his 62 England caps. However ask yourself ‘what is Heskey best known for’ and it’s sadly ‘missing chances and falling over.’ Case closed.

As for Beattie, for a while he flirted with the temptation that he was going to became a regular 15-20 goal a season striker in the Premier League. Sadly after a ‘breakthrough’ 2002/03 season, his form stagnated and his ‘big money’ move to Everton never worked out. He’s now currently a free agent after being released by Rangers.

Former Manchester United legend Coppell is the man I’ve chosen to manage my team. Despite doing well at Reading and Crystal Palace (first and second time round) he sadly is just another ‘great player’ who has never quite hit the heights in management. For Coppell that’s a real shame as he has been widely renowned for being a great coach and a great tactician of the game.

@TacheyDelBosque (a chap following on Twitter) in response to my #UnderachieverXI quickly gave his line-up which will be managed by Martin Jol:

                                Richard Wright,

    Wayne Bridge, Anton Ferdinand, Philip Senderos, Ian Harte,

David Bentley, Stephen Ireland, Kieran Richardson, Keith Gillespie,

                    Stan Collymore, Francis Jeffers

Now on first view the one player who I would like to single out there has to be Stan ‘The Man’ Collymore who in all purposes for the talent he had, should have become one of the best forwards of his generation. He had it all, pace, power, good heading ability, great finishing.

Sadly for Stan, his attitude stunk at times and he had off-field problems which were of course heavily publicised throughout this career, which would have been difficult for any person in his position to deal with.

It could though have been very different for Collymore had he joined United instead of Liverpool. Sir Alex Ferguson wanted to sign him mid-way through the 1994/95 season when he was banging in goals left, right and centre for Forest. Rumour has it that Forest’s manager at the time Frank Clark refused to get back to Ferguson’s enquiry into his player.

Sir Alex then turned his attention to Newcastle’s Andrew Cole and the rest is history. Collymore will go down as an ‘enigmatic enigma’ of English football. He did well at Liverpool though but his move to Aston Villa never worked out and it was a shame he retired in 2001 at the age of 30.

By Adam Dennehey @ADennehey87

2 thoughts on “Who Would Be In Your All-Time Underachiever XI?”

  1. How about a United underachieving XI of Massimo Taibi or Fabian Barthez,
    A back 4 of Paul Parker, David May, Laurent Blanc and Jimmy Nichol, midfield of Lee Sharpe, Veron, Djemba Djemba and Chris Eagles with Garry Birtles up top with Carlos Sartori.

    I'm sure I've missed some howlers.

  2. Steve, that's not a bad line-up there – feel free if you want to for a future article to write a piece about players you feel underachieved at United. To be honest the likes of Taibi and Djemba-Djemba were not that much cop anyway so I don't know if they underachieved, as in all honesty their level of performances were in all honesty not a shock.

    Barthez though isn't a bad shout and Veron and Sharpe definitely underachieved. Sharpe but for injury and the form of Ryan Giggs would've been a fantastic player for us and England long-term. He left United aged 26 I think and his career after one good season at Leeds simply faded away.

    Have to admit I think even crap defenders like Zat Knight would fancy dealing with Birtles and Sartori without even dropping the slightest drop of sweat. Both were not great forwards now were they?

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