Top five: Premier League false dawns

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It is always exciting when a man you do not know much about walks onto a football pitch and announces himself with something spectacular.


Nothing quite grips you like a player declaring his intention to race to the top if the sport at lightning speed.


There’s also not a lot more disappointing in the sport when the excitement dies down and you quickly realise this player you thought would march to many records and experience a glittering career, eventually slips into the doldrums of mediocrity.


GMF shares your dismay at the broken dreams and misery loves nothing better than a bit of company, so we have brought together five players from Premier League past who shone brightly for a short while but eventually burnt themselves out.


There are differing ways in which a player can become a flash in the pan; they can produce over half a season, a couple of games or even a single match, but they are all essentially the same.


Here’s the five…


Neil Mellor, Liverpool


This young man was hailed as a reserve team dead-eye before he came onto the big stage under Rafael Benitez. He scored a couple, literally, in the 2004/05 season and also helped in this dramatic win against Olympiacos on the way to Liverpool’s Champions League glory. However, his most notable strike was a late winning goal against Arsenal at Anfield, beating Jens Lehmann from 30 yards with a pot-shot.


Injuries were always a problem in Mellor’s career and he was force to retire form the game last week, but the early promise he showed was never backed up and he found his way to a more suitable level in the Championship with Preston and, latterly, Sheffield Wenesday.


Fedrico Macheda, Manchester United


The tall Italian striker looked entered the game against Aston Villa without many knowing a great deal about him, but his statuesque nature belied the uncoordinated forward lump that he really was. His winning goal in the dying seconds did more to suggest he was capable of brilliance – flicking between his legs inside the marker before curling into the top corner – but, alas, it soon became clear that he was not ready.


Various loan spells have followed and this year a temporary stay with newly promoted QPR ended in injury and a fine for making a homophobic comment on Twitter. He may yet prove us all wrong, but it is going to take a monumental turnaround in ability to control a football properly.



Christopher Wreh, Arsenal


He arrived at the Gunners with a sparkling reputation – as George Weah’s cousin. Wreh showed glimpses that me may possess some of, definitely not as many, the skills that had made the Liberian legend Weah World Player of the Year in 1995. Especially so when he scored winning goals against Wimbledon, this cracker against Bolton and a game later away to Wolves.


It was quite a showing for the young man and were crucial contributions in Arsene Wenger’s side going on to win the double. Wreh even started the FA Cup final that year alongside Nicolas Anelka in the 2-0 win over Newcastle United.


It was the height of his fame with the Gunners and, after a Charity Shield goal against Manchester United the following year, Wreh was moved on with the lasting memory that he was George Weah’s not that good cousin.



Michael Ricketts, Bolton Wanderers


This is a story that is a little different to the others in that Ricketts came up to the Premier League with a bang as newly promoted Bolton Wanderers set about establishing themselves in the familiar muscular style under Sam Allardyce. The season before Ricketts scored 24 goals as the Trotters came up to the Premier League through the playoffs.


His first game in the big league was the 5-0 mauling of Leicester City at Filbert Street, where he scored this fantastic goal – a perfect example of power and clinical finishing. Ricketts was on fire that season and had scored 15 goals by the middle of January, which got him a call-up to the England team for the Friendly against Holland a month later.


It was a poor performance and he failed to score in another game for the rest of the season. He was shipped out by Bolton a year later to Middlesbrough, who then moved him on after a year and so began a series of short-term contracts and loans that were hallmarked by few goals and complaints about his attitude.


Mbulelo Mabizela, Tottenham Hotspur


The South African international joined Spurs from Orlando Pirates with great expectations placed upon him, after becoming the youngest man to captain his nation at the tender age of 20.


Billed as a hard-working and combative midfielder, he was impressive for Spurs in a pre-season game with the White Hart Lane club. He scored this thunderous strike against Leicester City in one of just seven appearances and tailed off soon afterwards.


Mabizela had disciplinary problems and was released by the club in 2004. He joined Valarenga in Norway for a year before heading back to South Africa.



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