It's always fun being a critic, and even more so when it comes to Scottish football. In previous years the criticism of these articles has generally been along the lines of "you didn't rank our s*** player high enough". Except for the season I included St. Johnstone's David McMillan...but who was proven right then, I ask you?
So this is the ninth year we've ranked the duds signed by Scottish Premiership clubs. Rory Boulding, Stephane Bahoken, Jim Fenlon, Rodney Sneijder, Joey Barton, Eduardo Herrera, Umar Sadiq, Madis Vihmann...who will be this year's 'winner'?
Well, you won't find out today because the top ten will be published at a later date. But here's the countdown from 25 to 11 to whet your appetite...
|25. EDDIE NOLAN (MOTHERWELL)|
|24. MOHAMED MAOUCHE (ROSS COUNTY)|
|23. DJIBRIL DIANI (LIVINGSTON)|
Does this player actually exist, part three? Actually, here the answer is yes; Diani agreed a loan move from Grasshopper Zurich at the start of February but it took nearly two months to sort out a work permit for the French midfielder. So we may actually see him in action after the split.
|22. SCOTT FOX (MOTHERWELL)|
Four different goalkeepers have started matches for Motherwell this season. That number does not include veteran Fox, who wrecked his knee in preseason training and who has been missing for the entire campaign. He probably should be ranked higher on this list just for having his signing announced with a photo of him in some sort of denim bodywarmer/hoodie combo.
|21. ISAAC OLAOFE (ST. JOHNSTONE)|
Callum Davidson brought two players in on loan from former club Millwall. Danny McNamara was a huge success. Isaac Olaofe was not. The forward went back to London in early October having made two substitute appearances; Saints had managed only four goals in their opening ten matches by that point, but Olaofe still couldn't get a look in.
|20. ISAK THORVALDSSON (ST. MIRREN)|
If you think Olaofe's stay in Perth was brief, it was nothing on Thorvaldsson's spell at St. Mirren which lasted just thirty-eight days and two cameos off the bench. Manager Jim Goodwin suggested afterward that homesickness was a big factor, and that Paisley was "a hell of a long way away" from his parent club Norwich. Maybe it just felt like that...
|19. TUNDE OWOLABI (HAMILTON ACCIES)|
Owolabi can probably be classed as a low-risk signing, but he did score 35 goals for FC United of Manchester last season. That's 35 more than he scored for Accies, for whom he started only twice - one of which was a League Cup humiliation at Annan - before being released at the start of February. He is now at Irish club Finn Harps.
|18. JAKE EASTWOOD (KILMARNOCK)|
Goalkeeper Eastwood signed on loan from Sheffield United, and started on opening day against Hibs. Five minutes into his league debut he had a rush of blood to the head and raced out of his box, gifting Martin Boyle a goal in the process. At half-time he was subbed with a thigh injury. He never played again, returning south in January. That forty-five minute long Killie career will go down in infamy.
|17. MARC MCNULTY (DUNDEE UNITED)|
United fans are actually largely sympathetic towards McNulty, given Micky Mellon's tactical system means his forwards seem to spend bugger all time in the box. But just two years on from winning two international caps, McNulty has managed all of two goals this season - and one of those was a consolation goal at Ibrox. That's a dreadful return.
|16. RYAN EDMONDSON (ABERDEEN)|
Edmondson did score twice in one game against Hamilton, but those were his only goals for Aberdeen. Having been signed on loan after Sam Cosgrove got injured, Edmondson himself got crocked quickly and on returning to fitness discovered Derek McInnes had recruited Marley Watkins. Ultimately he became an impact sub making minimal impact. After going back to Leeds he went on loan to Northampton Town where he's played regularly but only scored once.
|15. JUSTIN JOHNSON (HAMILTON ACCIES)|
Dutch winger Johnson made a handful of appearances for Dundee United five or so years ago, and returned to Scotland after a couple of seasons in the Cypriot Second Division. Now, I know the Scottish Premiership isn't an elite league, but I'd like to think it's a few steps - perhaps an entire flight of stairs - above the Cypriot Second Division. Johnson made seven appearances for Accies, and they never scored a goal whilst he was on the pitch. He left at the end of January and signed for Morton; given he's managed only a couple of sub appearances there (they haven't scored during those either) perhaps the Championship is a bit better than that Cypriot league too?
|14. LARS LOKOTSCH (LIVINGSTON)|
Livingston's approach to strikers this season is similar to mine when playing Football Manager - always looking for a better one and willing to discard even the most recent signings for a guy whose rating is a fraction of a star greater. Lokotsch was plucked from the German fourth tier on a two year deal with an option of a third. He did start a couple of league games but was quickly sidelined as the club brought in upgrades. Lokotsch was loaned to Raith Rovers within a few months, where he mostly sat on the bench, before returning to Germany in January.
|13. NATHAN SHERON (ST. MIRREN)|
The most damning thing one can say about Sheron was that by the autumn he struggled to make the Buddies' bench even when they were naming kids on it. His last appearance for the club was in mid-October; before then he had been a regular in the starting XI but as soon as he was dropped results started to improve. St. Mirren's win percentage in seven league games with him - zero. Their win percentage in league games without him - 38%. If Jim Goodwin had dropped Sheron sooner, they'd have probably made the top six with a bit to spare. Sheron returned to parent club Fleetwood in January, but he's been so inconsquential there that no-one's even updated his Wikipedia bio to say he's gone back.
|12. DIEGO LAXALT (CELTIC)|
At least Laxalt is on loan, which means he will return to Milan this summer and Celtic fans will not have to endure him further. Laxalt was signed to play wing-back, only for Neil Lennon to ditch 3-5-2 within days and leave the Uruguayan playing as a more orthodox left-back, where his defensive frailties were frequently exposed. And I can't look at him, with his ultra-thick spectacles and braided hair, without thinking of his resemblance to Lisa Loeb of early nineties hit 'Stay (I Missed You) fame.
|11. ALBIAN AJETI (CELTIC)|
Celtic weren't short of strikers when they paid a whopping £5m for Ajeti, and after a reasonable start he unsurprisingly became a multi-million pound backup for Odsonne Edouard. If he was brought in to be the Frenchman's successor, the plan has certainly hit the skids. He's scored once since the end of September and John Kennedy even left him out of the matchday squad for the most recent game against Rangers.
Lawrie Spence has whinged about Scottish football on Narey's Toepoker since September 2007. He has a life outside this blog. Honestly.