I’d drive him to his next club
The phrase “I’d drive him to his next club” is currently a mantra on Championship message boards as fans hope their clubs will offload unwanted stars before the Autumn Equinox. Certainly overpaid and without question over here, it’s possible that quite a few of these miscreants are oversexed as well – only without the bonus of coming to our assistance in wartime like the GIs who originally provoked the phrase. Stephen Hunt’s departure to Hull – his garb would have fitted in well in the Only Fools and Horses episode featuring that city – will be a relief to most Reading fans, tired of his grabbing the ball and standing, Ronaldo style, over free kicks all through last Spring’s implosion. But who is left and still to flee the Championship nest? Here are five that ideally need to find new homes soon.
Lee Trundle (Bristol City)
A few step overs and an ample girth and you are likely to attract the attention of the people down at Soccer AM, most notably, the 606 presenter who single handedly gave us reason to claim back our licence fee, Tim Lovejoy. The star of Something for the Weekend proved beyond doubt how little he knows about football by championing this unwitting, wide-eyed ingénue of a player back in the middle years of this decade. His goals and flicks in West Glamorgan were a joy to watch but were crucially performed at League One level. The usually sage Gary Johnson brought the sometime Hoxton befinned star across the Severn bridge and he was promptly found to be carrying a few too many extra kilos for the second flight. At 32, he could have one last hurrah – maybe the Barnes-McAteer dream team at Tranmere will be tempted?
Billy Sharp (Sheffield United)
Stepping up a division is a tough nut to crack – see the Trundler above and you’ll see a dramatic example of this, but Billy Sharp’s 53 goals in 82 games for Scunthorpe have counted for nothing in the city of Cockers Joe and Jarvis. One can imagine Kevin Blackwell lying awake at night trying to convince himself that the man has got to come good at some point – but no, Sharp can be shelved alongside the likes of Freddie Eastwood, Gary Bull and Sam Parkin, players for whom oodles of goals at the lower level have failed to translate into Championship bounty. Goals could be a problem for Blades this season but the Dronfield lad won’t be given the chance to rectify that.
Fabricio Coloccini (Newcastle United)
The hair metaller is unlucky to be on this list, not because he is knuckling down and doing the business at the moment, but because it could have been any one of his team mates who made this one player per club run down. After an auspicious Hansen-praised beginning at Old Trafford this very weekend a year ago, it was all downhill from then on, his barnet making him conspicuous amidst the shambles. Accompanying him on the unwanted list are those who appear to try but are earning too much – Alan Smith, Damien Duff, Jonas Gutierrez – and the plain criminal – £5.7 million pound Xisco and some Liverpudlian fella named after an Australian kangaroo. All this from a club that had Marcelino on their books a few years ago – hell, he may even still be there. Coloccini is an Olympic winner and an alumnus of Boca Juniors, Milan and Deportivo la Coruña. Sod’s law says he will probably nod one in against Reading tomorrow.
André Bikey (Reading)
Bikey differs from the aforementioned Fabricio in actually being revered by his club’s fans, but a rumoured £2.8 million switch to Burnley will, in words already uttered by Director of Football Nicky Hammond this week, be a good deal for all three parties. Outrageously talented at his best, the Cameroon defender comes into his own against the bigger players – some titanic tussles with Didier Drogba and classy performances at Old Trafford provide highlights of his career in England – but he’ll occasionally step on the ball or let his casual demeanour take hold – and then there are the tantrums – the shirt throwing reaction to his conceding a penalty at Turf Moor in May, second only to the legendary felling of a stretcher bearer in the African Nations Cup. Was Owen Coyle watching the match during that play-off semi final?
Borja Valero (West Bromwich Albion)
What do you do if you already have a clutch of pleasing on the eye midfielders? Sign another one of course – only for more dosh. Albion’s promotion winning side of 2007-8 featured the clever passing of Jonathan Greening, Zoltan Gera and Robert Koren. Although Gera was to up sticks and head down the M40 to west London, it was obvious to any observer that the Premier League would require a little more steel. Valero came to the club and proved to be as powder puff as a Tim Henman back hand, with no goals and precious little creativity. What percentage of the fee Baggies will recapture is anyone’s guess, but the Spaniard has proved to be no slimline tonic.