What have you missed most about football? Crunching tackles? Immaculate first touches? Winding dribbles? Thundering defensive headers? Crisp, clean passing? Goals that go in off the crossbar?
Sure, all those things are nice – but here at Power Tower we’ve been lusting for the less appreciated “gifts” of the game. Namely, those can’t-teach-that moments of utter uselessness carried out by true masters of shit football.
We’re talking mistimed tackles. Crosses hitting the shins of the first defenders. Passes hit directly to the feet of opponents. Players getting booked for particularly unconvincing dives.
Oh yes, how we’ve longed for the belly laughs that only sheer incompetence can bring. After all, ineptitude is as much a part of the sport as aptitude.
And some players have always managed to display far more of the former than the latter. Here’s a selection of them who we can hardly wait to see showcasing their unorthodox talents once the Premier League resumes.
The name you were all expecting to see. Big Phil is unquestionably the true king of Premier League shitness, an immortal who walks – or rather, falls over – among men.
It’s hard to believe we’ll ever see anyone who does it better. So, like Lionel Messi at the other end of the scale, it’s important to appreciate him while we have him.
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Gary Neville once drew the ire of Chelsea supporters by describing the Brazilian as a “PlayStation footballer”.
The Sky pundit’s quip, of course, was way off the mark, as computerised avatars are far more reliable and predictable than David Luiz.
If David Luiz is a “PlayStation footballer”, then god only knows how best to describe his Arsenal team-mate Shkodran Mustafi. A Commodore 64 footballer, maybe?
It’s hard to know what happened in the universe to put the two of them in the same team, but whatever force of nature it was must be blessed with a sense of humour to rival Groucho Marx.
Shkodran Mustafi – Arsenal v Palace – 2019
Skills and Highlights pic.twitter.com/7pxZrJ19qH
— YankeeGunner (@YankeeGunner) April 22, 2019
The clinical Belgian centre forward is averaging a prolific 920 minutes per goal in the Premier League this season.
It’s not hard to see why Liverpool once paid £33m to bring him to Anfield – or why, a few years later, Crystal Palace were convinced to fork out almost the same amount again for him.
Sometimes it seems like Lingard can’t do anything right in the eyes of some Man United fans. And that’s largely because he rarely does anything right when a football comes within five metres of him.
Still, in January Lingard broke a year-long domestic goal drought with a smooth finish against the mighty Tranmere Rovers, so things are starting to look up.
"Last season, for some reason I didn't set any targets.
"My mind wasn't there, I wasn't really pushing myself. It felt like it weren't me. You feel like when you watch yourself you're like 'that's not Jesse.'"
— Goal (@goal) May 28, 2020
Lovren hasn’t really played a huge amount or done anything comical in a while – all the more reason to want to see him back at his “best”.
The big Croat made a name for himself among the elite of this list a few seasons ago, and we just hope he used the extended break from the game to rediscover his true self as a footballer.
Dejan Lovren makes ANOTHER mistake… pic.twitter.com/VDhcdiIEXf
— – (@AnfieldRd96) October 22, 2017
Manchester City have a lot of money. A lot of money. And yet they still choose to play this lad at centre half – and occasionally alongside John Stones, to make matters worse.
Otamendi sticks out like a sore thumb in City’s army of efficient, technically gifted football automatons. So you simply have to sit back and admire his devotion to the ridiculous in the face of all that chilling competence.
Norwich capitalise on an Otamendi mistake to make it 3-1 ?
Who else, Pukki with the calm finish ??#FootballIndex #FICommunity pic.twitter.com/Umnp5KkDE1
— Football Index (@FootballIndex) September 14, 2019
He may be on loan at Inter Milan, but if Man United had any sense they’d recall the Chilean as soon as possible.
We’ve sorely missed this moany chap lumbering around the pitch, complaining about everything and falling over as soon as the ball comes near him. His astonishingly large wage-packet gives him one of the league’s best pounds-per-unit-of-shitness ratio.
Also known as “that Spanish lad who was so bad he basically cost Manuel Pellegrini his job”.
Roberto is another currently out on loan but we’d like to think that, in light of West Ham’s overwhelming dedication to amateurishness, the club would see fit to bring him back into the first team setup at the London Stadium.
At the moment, Joelinton is averaging £40m per Premier League goal at St James’ Park, which is a return-of-investment that the likes of Benteke can only dream of.
He hasn’t scored in the league since 25 August 2019 and last got on the scoresheet for the Magpies in the FA Cup against Rochdale. Pure class.
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