10 Big Transfer Flops

Now that the transfer window has shut for another few months, it’s time to draw breath and ‘celebrate’ some of the biggest, big money transfer flops

(Wolves to Manchester City, £1.437m, 1979)
If you think Manchester City splashing megabucks on average players was a new phenomenon, then think again. Back in 1979 Malcolm Allison   coughed up a British record fee for the promising Wolves midfielder – a deal described as ‘the biggest waste of money in football history’ in an article written by a certain Nick Leeson, who obviously knows a thing or two about financial profligacy… Daley had scored a commendable 38 goals in 212 games for Wolves, but the size of the fee stunned the football world. According to legend, Allison had offered Wolves just £400,000 for Daley, and couldn’t believe his ears when chairman Peter Swales did the deal for an extra million quid. After just 48 eminently forgettable appearances, Daley was on the move to Seattle Sounders for just £300,000. He was selected for the NASL’s all-star team in 1982 and ‘83, but further attempts to resurrect his career in the UK were unsuccessful.


(Norwich to Nottingham Forest, £1m, 1981)
Not much cash in today’s inflated transfer market, but when Fashanu joined Brian Clough’s double European Cup-winning Nottingham Forest       side in 1981 for a cool million quid, it was a huge deal. Fashanu had excelled at Carrow Road, scoring Match of the Day’s goal of the season against the mighty Liverpool, but he couldn’t find his feet at Forest. Clough’s abrupt nature failed to bring out the best in Fashanu, who, at the time, was still coming to terms with his homosexuality. In his autobiography, Clough recounts a dressing down he gave Fashanu after hearing rumours that he was frequenting gay bars. “Where do you go if you want a loaf of bread?” I asked him. “A baker’s, I suppose.” “Where do you go if you want a leg of lamb?” “A butcher’s.” “So why do you keep going to that bloody poofs’ club?” Fashanu scored just three goals in 32 games before joining Notts County for a knock down price of £150,000. In 1990, he was all but ostracised from football after admitting to a gay affair with a Conservative MP. After attempting, with various degrees of success, to resurrect his career in almost every corner of the globe, he was falsely accused of sexual assault in the United States in 1998. He was found hanged in May of that year.


(QPR to Manchester City, £200,000, 1972)
It might seem harsh to deem someone who bagged 36 goals in 118 games a flop, but the great entertainer arguably cost City the title after his    move from QPR in March 1972. Malcolm Allison’s talent-laden side looked odds on for the league title until Marsh entered the fray. From there on, City accrued just eight points from eight games, and the blame for their capitulation was laid firmly at the door of the self indulgent one by his sadly deceased City team-mate, Neil Young. “Rodney cost us the league, there’s no doubt about it,” said the former left-winger. “Whereas before we all knew where we were on the pitch and what we were doing, when Rodney came he unsettled the team. Somebody would give him the ball and I’d make a run ready to collect it in the box and it would never arrive. I’d turn around and he would be juggling it like a bloody seal.”


(Lens to Liverpool, £10m, 2002)
Football fans thought they’d witnessed the birth of a new star during the 2002 World Cup when Senegal’s Diouf teased and tormented holders  France in the opening game. A big money move to Anfield swiftly followed, but Diouf failed to live up to his reputation, despite scoring a brace on his home debut against Southampton. In fact, his reputation plummeted to new depths when he infamously spat at a Celtic fan during a UEFA Cup tie; a fact that will surely please his new owners Rangers. He managed only six goals in 80 games for the Reds, and has since played the pantomime villain for Bolton, Sunderland and Blackburn.


(Gremio to Glasgow Celtic, £4.8m, 1999)
Scheidt by name, shite by nature. The Celtic faithful were mightily excited when former Liverpool hero John Barnes took the reins at Parkhead back in 1999. However, his ill-fated tenure was typified by an embarrassing cup exit to Inverness Caledonian Thistle, which sparked the  immortal ‘Super Caley Go Ballistic, Celtic Are Atrocious’ headline, and a plethora of shocking signings. And none was more outrageous than the capture of the Brazilian international defender in December 1999. Scheidt struggled to settle, and was beset by injuries from the outset. And, when he was fit, a former team-mate revealed: ‘the guy couldnae trap a bag of cement’. After being given a torrid time by Bray Wanderers in a pre season friendly, Scheidt was loaned out to Corinthians. It’s widely believed that Barnes splashed out on Scheidt – who wound down his career two years ago with the mighty Shaanxi Baorong in China – despite never having seen him play.


(Notts Forest to Man Utd, £1.25m, 1980)
Strong, mobile, and a deadly finisher, Birtles looked the real deal under Brian Clough at the City Ground. His signing, by United boss Dave Sexton  in October 1980, was deemed astute; the missing link in a United team who hadn’t won the title since the ‘60s. However, one year on, Sexton had been handed his P45 and Birtles was still to register a United goal. He finally broke his duck in September 1981, but the writing was already on the wall. He returned to Forest for a cut price £300,000 in 1982, where he promptly rediscovered his goalscoring touch. Birtles finished his career with Grimsby in 1991, and is now working as a commentator on Sky Sports.


(Blackburn Rovers to Chelsea, £10m, 1999)
Sutton’s SAS partnership with Alan Shearer helped inspire Blackburn to Premiership glory in
1995, and Chelsea were hoping that he’d have the same impact in west London when they snapped him up for a cool £10m in the summer of  1999. However, he proved to be an unmitigated failure at Stamford Bridge. Sutton’s only goal in 28 appearances for the Blues came in a 5-0 drubbing of Manchester United, and, after being omitted from the 16-man squad for the FA Cup final against Aston Villa, he was shipped out to Celtic for a cut price £6m. Recently fired by Lincoln City following a 12-month stint as manager at Sincil Bank.


(Dynamo Kiev to Spurs, £11m, 2000)
It remains something of a mystery why the Ukrainian was such a catastrophic flop at White Hart Lane. After all, his partnership with Andrei  Shevchenko yielded bucket-loads of goals at
both international level and with Dynamo Kiev. Rebrov bagged only 10 goals in 60 games for Spurs and was frozen out by Lane legend Glenn Hoddle, subsequently returning to Dynamo via West Ham, where he’d managed a solitary goal in 27 games. He became embroiled in a race row two years ago when he warned new Spurs signing, Roman Pavlyuchenko: “I wouldn’t go for a walk on your own around White Hart Lane because a lot of dark-skinned people live there. Naturally the crime rate is higher than anywhere else and it’s not nice to be a robbery victim. So I suggest that Roman doesn’t walk but drives around that area.”


(Deportivo La Coruna to Newcastle, £10m, 2005)
Firstly, an honourable mention to Jean-Alain Boumsong, Stephane Guivarc’h and Marcelino, because over the years Newcastle have signed  some absolute shockers. However, surely none compare to the Spaniard who arrived at St James’ with a glowing reputation as a goalscorer extraordinaire. A disallowed goal on debut against Manchester United was a sign of things to come, however. In his next match against Fulham, Luque limped off with a hamstring injury, and he struggled to re-establish himself. Luque finally bagged his first Magpies goal in the Tyne-Wear derby in April 2006, but, a little over a year later, Sam Allardyce shipped him off to Ajax, where, surprise surprise, he struggled. Now at Malaga.


(AC Milan to Chelsea, £30m, 2006)
The most expensive player in the history of British football until Manchester City broke the bank to snare Robinho a couple of years ago, the Ukrainian hit-man made a promising start to his Blues career in August 2006, scoring on debut in the 2-1 defeat to Manchester
United in the Community Shield. However, Sheva’s lack of pace rendered him ill-equipped to penetrate Premier League defences, and he soon drifted out of Jose Mourinho’s starting XI. Over the next two seasons he managed just nine goals in 47 games, before returning to AC Milan on loan. That’s what you get when chairmen sign players…

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