Sunday 20 October 2019

Players hit high notes but fail to top charts

David Beckham was a talented player, but his brand outweighed his footballing skills
David Beckham was a talented player, but his brand outweighed his footballing skills

Dave Devereux

I bought a couple of tickets for The Stone Roses' big summer gig in Marlay Park the other day in another desperate attempt to cling on to the last remnants of the carefree, halcyon days of the late eighties and early nineties by my ever-decreasing fingernails.

I'm far from a fanatical fan of the Manchester madcaps but they did manage to get a toe or two tapping back in the day, and when you've got a couple of young kids at home any opportunity to let the hair down and relive the long lost days of rock and roll is always welcome.

There's a few other pals of mine that will also be making the pilgrimage to Rathfarnham in July, although one friend reacted to the purchase of the tickets with the question: 'possibly the most over-rated band in the history of music?'.

Obviously, they haven't produced a body of work like The Beatles or, to draw a sporting analogy, never threatened to have the longevity of Ryan Giggs, but like Michael Owen during his heyday at Liverpool there was a very brief period when they had a real swagger and could be considered world class.

Oasis, on the other hand, surely do deserve the 'most over-rated' tag and in footballing terms would be more Jozy Altidore than Lionel Messi.

Anyway, the exchange got me thinking about the most over-rated footballers that have managed to dupe clubs and fanatical fans into believing that they're really better than they are.

Of course there have been a bucket-full of average players that have changed clubs for ridiculously inflated transfer fees that have turned out to be complete flops, like Andy Carroll and Fernando Torres, but for the purpose of this column we'll concentrate on footballers that have been mentioned in the same breath as the world's elite, but maybe don't deserve to be perched on such lofty heights.

There's been plenty of prime examples in the top flight across the water, none more so than English darlings Wayne Rooney and David Beckham.

Rooney may have been among the best in the Premier League for most of his career and has become England's all-time top goal scorer, but when he burst on to the scene as a teenager he promised to be even better.

The suspicion is that he would never have quite cut it at Barcelona or Real Madrid and his poor goal return at major tournaments is another blot on his copybook, although being surrounded by mediocre colleagues is a mitigating factor.

As for Beckham, even though he did manage to line out with one of the Spanish giants it was more about the brand than the footballing skills.

There's no doubting that Beckham was a brilliant crosser and a dead ball specialist but his all-round game wasn't anyway near as mesmerising as some would have you believe.

Brazilian centre-back David Luiz definitely wouldn't be a controversial selection for most. The Paris Saint Germain player may possess some decent ball skills and have an eye for an audacious pass, but in his primary role of defending he is miles short of world class level.

His running around like a headless chicken approach was cruelly exposed by Germany during their 7-1 demolition of the Brazilians in the World Cup semi-final.

Perhaps a more contentious inclusion would be Spanish defender Sergio Ramos, but he certainly suffers from the same defensive limitations as Luiz.

He may have won all before him with Spain and Real Madrid, but with his national side in particular his midfielders monopolise possession to such a degree that his defensive frailties are rarely exposed.

However, the Real Madrid man has amassed a record number of red cards in La Liga, something which clearly illustrates his lack of composure when it comes to the basic arts of defending.

If you looked up over-rated in a dictionary, it would come as no surprise if you saw a brooding, sulky Mario Balotelli staring back at you.

He can be brilliant at times, as he showed in Italy's Euro 2012 semi-final win over Germany, but all too often his antics off the pitch outweigh his fleeting fireworks on it. Inter, AC Milan, Manchester City and Liverpool have all put faith in the volatile striker, but he rarely lives up to the billing.

Speaking of a fiery frontman, Ian Brown and co. will strut their stuff in front of expectant Dublin on the eve of the Euro 2016 final.

What odds on the Republic of Ireland lining out against a bunch of over-rated English players in the European showpiece?

More chance of The Beatles making a comeback!

Wexford People

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