It could be worse!
A phrase so often used, in various circumstances. So why am I using it? Well, recently I picked my Palace team of the decade, which was an enjoyable look back on those who had performed so well in our red and blue between 2010-2020. So, what about an alternative XI? This past weekend's win over Brighton, once again saw several mentions of the signings of both Cahill and Ayew for just £2.5m, being two of the best bits of low cost business we have ever done. There are others as well, who have shone since moving here. Jimmy Mac for £5.5m has been worth every penny, and Guaita on a free is just sensational business. There have been some who have done well to a degree, but not lived up to the hope(Benteke after season one, Sakho with so many injuries). Then, of course, there have been absolutely terrible transfers. This, is where my use of the term 'It could be worse' comes in. I have decided to put together an XI of the very worst signings we have made, since promotion in 2013!
Now, those who follow my articles, will know that I always go for 4-4-2. My XI teams always resemble the back of a Mike Bassett cigarette packet. This time though, I am mixing it up. This time, I am switching to a 4-3-3. Why? Because believe it or not, there were so many attacking options for this category, I had to plum for three up top!
So, who has made the honours list? Which players came in like Armani, and left like a charity shop reject? Who has taken the club's money, and given us absolutely nothing in return? Given the high amount of options, this will vary from person to person, but here, is my XI and their manager!
GOALKEEPER: Alex McCarthy
I must say, he wasn't my first choice. My initial choice, was Diego Cavalieri, signed on a free transfer for the second half of a season, making zero appearances. I even contemplated putting in Wayne, given the fact that I don't rate him, and in my opinion he has made more appearances for us then he ever should have. However, he has also had some top performances for us, meaning he could not make this team. So, it was going to be Diego. Why did it change to Alex? Because, I had forgotten about him! It was only when I was recapping our transfers, to pick this team, that I remembered he was with us. When we signed him for around £3.5m, I was pleased. I thought he came with the promise of being a good prospect, just waiting to find his settled home. He started well too, with a 3-1 away to Norwich. It was downhill from there though, including a shocker at home to Liverpool were he gave them a gift of a goal to get them back level. He made just 7 appearances, before moving on to Southampton, where he has found more game time. For us though, he found a way to not be better than Wayne. The only plus, was we actually made money, if only a small amount, when we sold him.
RIGHT BACK: Jack Hunt
Jack was one of the many 2013 summer signings we made, in our scattergun shopping spree(and not the only one in this XI). He had been playing well in the Championship for Huddersfield, and looked like a shrewd signing for around £2m. His arrival would provide cover and competition for Joel Ward. Before he could play for us though, he broke his ankle in training, setting him back four months. This would be the begining of the end for Jack, who then spent spells on loan to Barnsley, Nottingham Forest and Rotherham, before signing permanently for Sheffield Wednesday during the 2015/16 season. He came in with promise, but made a total of no appearances for us. This, effectively, would be his debut in a Palace starting line-up!
CENTRE BACK: Jaroslaw Jach
The only player in this XI, who is still on our books! In January 2018, Roy was in need of some reinforcements to strengthen our injury stricken team that was fighting for survival. He was given three players, all of which would fail to give Roy what he needed. Jach came in for a low fee, and was a sign that perhaps we were learning to look around European Leagues for bargains. The only time he would pull on the shirt though, was in an Under 23's match. Jach clearly did not meet Roy's standards, and despite our injuries, could not get a single minute of game time. He has spent his career out on loan since then, in much weaker European Leagues, and I feel it is inevitable that he will leave on a free, because who will buy him from us?
CENTRE BACK: Florian Marange
Ok, so I am aware that he is a left back, but I was short of centre backs, and Football Manager used to say he could play there! Like Hunt, Marange was another of those signed in that 2013 summer spree. He joined on a one year deal, and made his debut in a loss away to Bristol City in the league cup. That would be his lot for us, as Ian Holloway wrote him off and left him out of the Premier League 25 man squad. We would end up paying off his contract in January. You could argue, that we did not treat him very well. Not the first time, if rumours be true. Dan Gosling was supposedly left waiting outside Selhurst, Ampadu was left in limbo as we couldn't agree a fee with his team but told him to come anyway, and I believe Tufan was left at the airport. At least, unlike Hunt and Jach, he actually played a game
LEFT BACK: Zeki Fryers
In 2014, with Neil Warnock in charge, the departure of Johnny Parr meant we needed a left back. Step forward Zeki Fryers, who signed from Tottenham. He made such an impact, that after one League Cup match and one three minute appearance as a sub in the league, he was loaned out to Rotherham and Ipswich. His second season saw him make no appearances, while his third and final season saw him make eight league and four cup appearances. He never really impressed, and found his level when he moved to Barnsley, and now Swindon. The fact that we would rather play with no left back, than with him, says a lot about his time with us.
MIDFIELD: Jimmy Kebe
Jimmy is the third and final member of this team, from that 2013 summer window. He seemed like good business at the time, as he had been a good player at Reading. He turned out to be anything but. His 6 performances were poor, and when Holloway was sacked, Pulis quickly found his place with us, far away from the first team. He ended up moving to Leeds alone for the rest of the season, making 5 poor performances, during which Leeds fans chanted for him to be subbed. He spent his second season with us in exile, taking our money, before his contract was terminated with one year left. He moved to Mallorca, to make no appearances before retiring. Kebe has been a symbol of just how badly wrong we have got it at times since promotion.
MIDFIELD: Jordon Mutch
There is a familiar theme forming here, because signing Mutch looked like good business. He had played well for Cardiff in the Premier League, and under Pardew, it was believed he would bring goals. Across four seasons, he did not sore once, and while he made a total of 40 appearances for us in all competitions, quite frankly he was never good enough. Both Reading and Vancouver took him on loan, neither wanted to keep him. We were desperate as fans to see him leave for good, and in the end took a financial hit. The fact that he turned up in Korea, says it all. So Mutch promise, but Mutch ado about nothing in the end.
MIDFIELD: Erdal Rakip
Rakip was joined in the same window as Jach and Sorloth. Another bizarre deal, we wanted to sign him from Malmo, but he opted to move to Benfica instead on a free. Although, as soon as he did so, Benfica then loaned him to us for the second half of the season. He managed a game, and I believe a goal, in our Under 23's, but bar a bench appearance or two, had nothing to do with the first team, despite our injuries. Why he never got a chance, we don't actually know. May have been Roy just didn't rate him, may have been that he was useless. At least he could keep Jach company in the Copers Cope Training Ground wilderness! The fact that upon his return to Benfica, he failed to make a single appearance for them, before they sold him back to Malmo, says that perhaps he was not the player that either us, or the Portuguese outfit thought he was.
FORWARD: Patrick Bamford
Patrick was a player highly rated among the Chelsea ranks. His stock rose, when he scored 17 goals in 38 goals for Middlesbrough in the championship. So, when we signed him on loan that summer, it seemed as though we were getting a talented goal scorer, while Chelsea would get to see if he could hack it in the Premier League. The short answer, was that he couldn't. Patrick was all reputation, and no product for us. He would managed 6 league and 3 cup appearances for us, with no goals, and fell out of favour. In December, without consulting us or Chelsea, he declared he was terminating his contract with us, to which none of us shed a tear. He would join Norwich on loan for the rest of the season, zero goals from 7 appearances! The next season he joined Burnley on loan, but after 6 appearances without a goal, he returned to Chelsea, citing a clash with manager Sean Dyche. He and his bag of excuses for his lack of talent, finished that season back at Middlesbrough, as they were back in the Premier League. His 1 goal in nine appearances helped them to get relegated out of it! The following season he managed 11 Championship goals, and then moved to Leeds. There he has managed goals, but as I have heard time and time again from Leeds fans, he misses so many chances it's unbelievable. Patrick was a rising star, that quickly burnt out because he wasn't good enough for this league. The fact that he tried to blame us for his departure, only to then continue to prove his is a poor striker, says a lot about him.
FORWARD: Emmanuel Adebayor
In January 2016, we were in need of a striker(when aren't we). We scraped the bottom of a barrel, and found Adebayor. With a list of clubs to his name, that include Monaco, Arsenal, Man City, Real Madrid and Tottenham, as well as a knack for goals, we had every right to expect something from him. Sure, he wouldn't be that guy anymore, but some good football and a few goals would be possible right? Adebayor actually managed a total of 12 league and 3 cup appearances for us, but only found the back of the net once. Master tactician Alan Pardew(yes I joke) could not get much out of the once lethal striker, and instead of having a great six month cameo, he ended up being an expensive dud.
FORWARD: Loic Remy
When we signed Christian Benteke and Loic Remy in the same transfer window, I was genuinely incredibly excited. Remy was a pacey goal scorer, and would be playing alongside a big man goal scorer. We would be scoring goals for fun, I thought, Europe here we come! Sadly though, instead of being the fox in the box for us, he instead spent most of his time in our treatment room. Loic managed 5 league and 3 cup appearances, without ever scoring. He should have been a dream pairing with Benteke for us, but in the end was only ever a 'what if' memory. Chelsea loans are never cheap either, so in all, we massively lost out on this one.
MANAGER: Frank De Boer
Who better to run this bunch of let downs into relegation, than good old Frank? He seems to have found his feet with Atlanta now, but for us, he was shocking. Crazy decisions, strange selection choices, a formation that would never work, and a cocky attitude in training, topped off with bad treatment of players, all made Frank a nightmare appointment. Four losses without a goal from four league games, cemented his early termination at SE25. When he was appointed, it seemed like a huge step forward, a chance to build and come of age at last. It nearly ruined our Premier League existence.
So there you have it, my Terrible XI! There are other candidates for this team for sure, it all depends on how you look at it. In his recent interview, Steve Parish implied that we have learned from these mistakes, and have changed our transfer strategy. Let's hope so, because there have certainly been plenty of errors to learn from!