The 2013 Haters XI

Celtic v FC Barcelona - UEFA Champions League Group Stage Matchday Two Group H

“Don’t hate the game, hate the player.” – Descartes

There is a special place in hell for the corporations that buy up large blocks of ad time to pump out their latest wares.

People need to buy stuff, I get that. But watching a sporting event shouldn’t entail being beaten over the head with a violin, a trumpet, or a seminal hip hop classic 14 times within three hours.

This year’s Haters XI is fueled by unadulterated rage, as it should be. First, the disclaimers: This list is my own, so direct your anger at me. The players listed are all good to great players — this isn’t about their technical ability. You can check out last year’s squad here.

GK – Costel Pantilimon, Manchester City 

This was a close one. Pantilimon and Paulo Gazzaniga are the super team of terrible goalkeepers. For all of his faults  Joe Hart should have never lost his job to Costel. Lanky, awkward and terrible, Pantilimon inspires less confidence than Martin Jol on the touchline. Romania, one of the best countries in the world (shout out to Bucharest), deserves better.

D – Piers Morgan, CNN

A hall of famer deserves his due. Piers’ latest trope is pretending he always stood by Aaron Ramsey, even during the dark times. A cursory look at his Twitter timeline indicates otherwise. Worse than a drunk uncle, Arsenal fans are plagued by the man Alex Jones once trumped on national television. Alex Jones! What a world.

D – Rio Ferdinand, Manchester United  

Neil Young’s ‘Old Man’ makes me well up with  tears to this day. Mostly it’s because Rio Ferdinand immediately comes to mind when the song plays. Old and creaky, Rio’s best days are behind him. We’ll always have Rio sidestepping to nowhere as the player he’s defending waltzes by. I’ve been first and last, look at how the time goes past.

D – Josip Šimunić, Dinamo Zagreb

A part of me feels bad for Josip. He won’t get to play in the World Cup, ending an international career that spanned 12 years. The other part of me, the rational part, does not feel bad for Josip Simunic. Leading a crowd in a chant widely considered a relic of fascism’s past is worthy of the Haters XI first annual ‘Accidental Fascist’ award.

D – Wes Brown, Sunderland

Wes Brown is still toiling away and for that he should be credited. But he is the poster boy for the anonymous footballer that only makes news when something terrible happens. His red card against Stoke was one of those moments. To be fair, Brown’s foul on Charlie Adam was never a red, and the FA later overturned it, but it was classic Wes Brown. Something shocking happened to Wes Brown. The world continues to spin.

M – Riccardo Montolivo, AC Milan

The Rossoneri have been terrible in 2013, largely because their captain is a phony. Mario Balotelli garners the headlines for doing zany things but Montolivo’s the real criminal here. You want leadership? Here’s leadership.

M – John Obi Mikel, Chelsea

The term ‘hatchet man’ is one of the best in our lexicon and it’s an apt description for the style John Obi Mikel employs. Not particularly good at anything, Obi spends his time attempting to end careers. Nigeria, a dark horse contender to make a surprise run in Brazil, will have to deal with his inevitable meltdown on the world’s stage.

M – Abou Diaby, Arsenal

Craigslist advertisement: Need new limbs. Mail to Hornsey Rd, London N7, United Kingdom. Thx.

M – Erik Lamela, Tottenham

A lot of was expected of young Erik when Daniel Levy and Franco Baldini wrote a blank check for his services. It hasn’t worked out, but Lamela isn’t the true villain here. Hailed as financial geniuses for their summer spending spree, Levy and Baldini have made some terrible decisions. So far, those around them have taken the bullets. Time to look in the mirror fellas.

F – Neymar, Barcelona

2014 will be the year of Neymar but let’s not forget the other stuff. There was the prolonged ‘where will he go?!?’ saga that eventually ended with the most obvious choice. He goes down too easily and that will likely never change. We take the good with the bad. Remember though, there is bad.

F – Robert Lewandowksi, Bayern Munich Borussia Dortmund

Dortmund will pay for not selling Lewandowski when they could have cashed in, but the Polish star hasn’t covered himself in glory. Leaving the team everyone loves for the heartless juggernaut that is Bayern Munich is nothing new. Lewandowski could have been different. Instead he will become another faceless cog in the best team in the world. This is the Haters XI. Winners aren’t loved.

Honourable mentions: Eden Hazard, Luis Suarez, Wojciech Szczesny, everyone on Juventus, Mario Balotelli, Robin van Persie, Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

That’s it. The comment section is yours, Juventus fans. Leave your choices for the worst of the worst and be rational about it. This is the internet after all.

May 2014 bring you the best and of course, players to hate.