It was the fourth elbow to the back of the head that finally did it. There was a time when ogling the latest in shitty electronics could be done in a safe environment. Instead of departing radio shack with a new CD Player — the new vinyl player — I left the mall with a cloudy mind and a genuine feeling of anger. And thus the 2012 haters XI was born. In an effort to direct my anger at a worthwhile endeavor, I’ve created the most hateable squad of footballers.
A few housekeeping notes before we begin. This list is my own, so direct your rage at me. The players listed are all good to great players — this isn’t about their technical ability. Also, many of you know I’m an Arsenal supporter. Don’t worry, that didn’t cloud my judgement. You’ll see a couple Gunners on here. And finally, this list was made in jest. I do not actually ‘hate’ any of these guys. Here we go.
G – Wojciech Szczesny, Arsenal
Goalies in general are kings of overreaction. Szczesny takes it to new level. He’s turned yelling at his defenders into performance art. Euro 2012 was supposed to be his breakout performance. No dice. In the second half of Poland’s opening game against Greece, Woj drew red for a foul on Dimitris Salpingidis. Przemysław Tytoń cleaned up his mess, saving the ensuing penalty and stealing Woj’s job for the rest of the tournament. Vito Mannone nearly took his spot at Arsenal. Vito Mannone! Step up your game, kid.
D – Pepe, Real Madrid
He’ll be on the list for as long as he plays. Defenders have to play with an edge — that’s understood. The adjectives that describe Pepe could also be attributed to Piers Morgan. Disgusting, unhinged, cowardly, nefarious, thuggish. Hating on Pepe isn’t hard. Somethings in life should come easy.
D – John Terry, Chelsea
JT is still a world class defender. He also maintains his place as one of the most loathed defenders in the world. He probably isn’t an out and out racist, but his actions over the past year could be described in one word: buffoonish.
D – Piers Morgan, CNN
I have Piers listed as a defender, but he could play any position. One week Arsenal are destined for a decade in the abyss. The next he champions the merits of a club who does it the right way. If FourFourTom and Piers Morgan ever held a weekly podcast the world would spontaneously combust.
D – Leighton Baines, Everton
Aesthetically, Baines is one of the prettiest players to watch. Unfortunately while watching him play you have to look at a venomous beard/hair/sideburns combination that would make Andy Murray shake his head in disapproval.
M – Samir Na$ri, Manchester City
The Marseille product was destined for greatness when he arrived at Arsenal. After three successful seasons he chased the money to Manchester City — I cannot fault him for this (lies). 2012 has been a roller coaster for Samir. From winning his first trophy to cowering behind Eden Dzeko on Robin Van Persie’s Manchester derby winning goal. Schadenfreude for all.
M – Gareth Bale, Tottenham
A few months ago ESPNFC’s Dan Fitch wrote a hilarious article about Garteh Bale that was entitled ‘Gareth Bale is a diver and Spurs fans are ashamed of him.’ Until stronger measures are introduced to curb it, diving will always be a part of the game. Bale’s reputation probably cost him a penalty today against Stoke — Cameron Jermoe’s challenge was a foul. No tears were shed.
M – Ruben Olivera, Fiorentina
Most of us will remember the insane finish at Etihad and Spain’s domination at Euro 2012, but one of my defining footballing moments of the year is a disgraceful one. Miralem Pjanic was lucky to escape Roma’s 4-2 win with both legs in tact after this brutal stomp by Olivera.
M – Jonathan de Guzman, Swansea
There’s nothing worse than a lover scorned. We could’ve used a guy like JDG2 in Honduras. But no. Not even a phone call. de Guzman is enjoying a fantastic year in Wales, thriving under Michael Laudrup’s tutelage. Meanwhile, we’re leaving drunken voice mails at 2 am.
F – Wilfried Zaha, Crystal Palace
This isn’t so much about Zaha as it is about all the transfer bullshit we’ve had to endure this year. Articles with suggestive headlines that contain nothing new in the body, ‘fierce’ competition between (large club a) and (large club b) with (large club c) an outside shot. Nobody wants to see anyone lose their jobs — if the muckrakers are gone surely I am as well, but we’ve arrived at the saturation point. Never forget the Michael Owen transfer ‘saga’ and how inane this all is.
F – Zlatan Ibrahimovic, PSG
I love Zlatan. He’s scored some of the most memorable goals in history this year. Then there are quotes like these: “We are looking for an apartment (in Paris). If we don’t find anything, then I’ll probably just buy the hotel.” Recession be damned.
Honourable mentions: Aaron Ramsey, Luis Suarez, Patrice Evra, Robin Van Persie, Mario Balotelli, everyone on Juventus, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, Sergio Busquets.
There you have it folks. I feel much better after this harmless, fun — remember that — excercise. We all have those players that we dislike for our own reasons. Leave yours in the comments below. And remember, keep it classy.