Theresa May’s Brexit agreement is the worst deal in history.
— Nigel Farage (@Nigel_Farage) November 13, 2018
To be fair, Conservative prime ministers have a proud history of bad deals. Neville Chamberlain and the Munich Agreement, anyone? That worked out well.
Leaving politics aside, football also has a remarkable track-record when it comes to awful, awful deals. And it’s a phenomenon not just limited to transfers either: Scottish crooners Wet Wet Wet spent a season sponsoring Clydebank FC back in the 1990s, while David Beckham once launched a range of Omega3-rich fish fingers.
But, hey, we’d be here until the protein-rich cows came home if we were to try and whittle down the panoply of dreadful endorsement and sponsorship deals to a mere five.
So, we’ve decided to limit our focus here to transfers and managerial/playing contracts – which, to be honest, is an intimidatingly vast array in itself.
David Moyes hired as Manchester United manager
David Moyes’ initial contract at Manchester United has long become a meme, a go-to gag for wags seeking an easy laugh. And, to be honest, we’re totally on board with that.
David Moyes still has a year left on his Man Utd contract. https://t.co/oCNCTcyUDu
— hambubger (@niallward) November 13, 2018
The six-year deal began on July 1 2013 and, amazingly, still has over seven months to run. United claimed the ex-Everton coach was a long-term successor to Alex Ferguson, and banged on ad nauseum about how another dynasty was on its way.
On 22 April 2014, Moyes was sacked, with a mere 62 months left on his contract.
Alan Pardew’s infamous 8-year Newcastle contract
Oh, and speaking of ridiculously elongated contracts for mediocre British football managers, Alan Pardew was once given an EIGHT-year contract at Newcastle United.
No, seriously. To make matters more incredulous, he was only two years into a five-and-a-half-year deal at the time. Even Pardew said he was ‘astounded.’
You and everyone else, pal.
Signed in 2012, the octo-season deal would have taken him up to 2020 as Newcastle boss. Surprisingly – or not – Pardew was given the boot by Mike Ashley in 2014, and has since managed two different clubs.
Park Chu-Young signs for Arsenal, makes one league appearance in three years
Let’s be honest, the Gunners have played their part in a few atrocious transfer deals down the years. Arsene Wenger made his name at the club early on by pulling off some astute signings – Emmanuel Petit, Thierry Henry and Robert Pires spring to mind – but as the seasons went by there was a certain decline in the standard of arrivals at Highbury/The Emirates.
This may have been down to other clubs copying Arsenal’s recruitment methods, or a lack of funds due to the building of the new stadium. Either way, during the second decade of the 21st century, things really started to go downhill.
In September 2011, South Korean forward Park Chu-young turned up in London from Monaco. Apparently, he’d been halfway through a medical with Lille when Wenger came calling, and leapt at the chance to join Arsenal.
He made his league debut against Man United in January, getting eight minutes as sub, and never played another league match for the club.
Three years later, after spending most of his time on loan elsewhere, he’d become symbolic of the club’s malaise, a running joke used to highlight the confused nature of Arsenal’s approach to signing players.
‘George Weah’s cousin’ gets a one-month contract at Souness’ Southampton
According to the Guardian, in 1996 several English clubs had received calls from ‘Georgie Weah’, at the time one of the world’s best strikers. The caller – who, as you’ll have gathered from the quotation marks, wasn’t actually George Weah – ‘had a player’ for the clubs. A cousin, in fact, now that you mention it.
Most ignored the call, but Port Vale gave him a trial in a reserve game (‘He didn’t impress’), as did Tony Pulis’ Gillingham (‘He was rubbish’). Eventually, Unibond League side Blyth Spartans signed the player, whose name was Ali Dia. But Dia had higher aspirations, and kept persuading his ‘cousin’ to put in a good word for him at top tier clubs.
And so to Southampton, where we find Graeme Souness in charge of a side crippled by injury. Once again, Dia failed to impress during a trial, but such was Souness’ desperation for players that he gave the Senegalese striker a one-month deal and threw him onto the bench for a game against Leeds the next day.
Peter Reid signs Milton Núñez, but thought he was getting someone else
‘The legend of Reid’s signing of Núñez has gone down in Wearside folklore,’ according to SB Nation’s Sunderland blog, The Roker Report.
The Honduran forward pitched up at the Stadium of Light amid much fanfare, including a half-time unveiling in which he performed a ‘shadow-boxing routine that would only enhance his nickname of Tyson.’
Unconfirmed rumours had it that then-Sunderland manager Peter Reid had intended to sign Adolfo Valencia, a Colombian on the books of PAOK in Greece, where Núñez was also playing at the time.
Confusion reigned, and in some ways, continues to do so.
Núñez has recently claimed both that he was ‘100% the player Sunderland wanted’ and, later, that Reid may have mistaken him for another Honduran, Eduardo Bennett, rather than Valencia.
Sunderland even went so far as to file a lawsuit against Núñez’s agent, which only led to more uncertainty, this time in relation to where the player was registered.
Suffice it to say, things didn’t work out: Núñez made one league appearance for the club in two years and has since entered the realm of Black Cats legend. Still, according to Wikipedia, he made 85 appearances for his national team, scoring 33 goals, so he can’t have been all that bad.