With Richard Wright making Manchester City’s bench on Saturday, TEAMtalk considers the five players we feel are stealing a living in the Premier League this season.
Oh, how the footballing world was praying for Manuel Pellegrini to pull Willy Caballero off at the weekend. With first-choice keeper Joe Hart injured, Caballero was entrusted against Southampton on Saturday. As a result, Richard Wright made a Premier League matchday squad for the first time since 2012, the same year he signed for Manchester City.
Richard Wright has been named in three of the 125 Premier League matchday squads since joining Man City. Nice work if you can get it.
— Rupert Fryer (@Rupert_Fryer) November 30, 2015
Since the start of the 2010/11 season, Wright has played three games, comprising 187 minutes and conceding six goals.
Just consider the facts: Richard Wright has not conceded a Premier League goal for nine years. The last man to score a goal against him in the top flight? John O’Shea. He’d better find his passport, because Paris beckons next summer.
The whole Victor Valdes thing has been a bit weird, hasn’t it?
Having signed for Manchester United in January of this year, the purchase of Valdes was seen as shrewd business by Louis van Gaal. The Spaniard was only a few months removed from ending a 12-season long, 21-trophy winning spell with Barcelona. Injury may have curtailed his career at the Nou Camp, but United were signing a hugely experienced keeper for free at just 32.
Following disagreements about ‘philosophy’ and ‘match rhythm’, Valdes’ proposed 18-month stay is sure to end some time soon. The 33-year-old has made just two Premier League appearances for United; he has played three games in the Under-21 Premier League.
The row over his situation at United shows no sign of abating any time soon either – after Mrs Valdes got involved on social media after her husband was excluded from a charity event at Old Trafford. It’s charity, for goodness sake!
What do you do when you’ve just won the Premier League with a 63-year-old central defensive pairing who featured in every single game? For your transfer deadline day you purchase a centre-half from the Championship and loan him straight back, and you sign Papy Djilobodji.
Djilobodji signed a four-year contract upon joining in the summer from Ligue 1 side Nantes for £2.7million, and has played one match – as a substitute for Radamel Falcao in the Capital One Cup. Jose Mourinho failed to select the Senegal international in his 25-man Champions League squad, and Djilobodji was named in a Premier League matchday squad for the first time this season against Spurs on Sunday. It hasn’t exactly been Papy’s fun house.
And for anyone wondering, Tuesday marks Djilobodji’s 27th birthday. Papy birthday indeed.
Back in the summer of 2011, a transfer battle was brewing; Liverpool and Newcastle were locking horns over a promising 25-year-old winger from Ligue 1. That man’s name was Sylvain Marveaux.
Marveaux eventually joined Newcastle after failing to agree terms with Kenny Dalglish’s Reds, and the Frenchman enjoyed a relatively positive start under Alan Pardew. Marveaux played 57 games in all competitions in his first three seasons, including playing a role in their fifth-placed finish in his first season, as well as their Europa League campaign the following one.
That isn’t the full story. Since joining Newcastle four-and-a-half years ago, Marveaux has started 13 Premier League games, the last of which came in March 2014. Marveaux-less, in every sense.
A two-time FA Youth Cup winner with Arsenal, a record-breaking Championship winner with Reading, a short spell with then Premier League champions Chelsea, and a subsequent journeyman spell in the Premier League; Steve Sidwell has had a delightful career. You’d be forgiven for forgetting where he is now.
Steve Sidwell was as in demand as Steve Sidwell can get in the summer of 2014, a free agent after his contract at relegated Fulham had expired, with the last decade of the Premier League featuring his ginger locks. Stoke stole a march on the rest and bagged what seemed an experienced bargain.
Injury curtailed a month of his debut season, but the 32-year-old has barely featured since joining. The central midfielder made five Premier League starts in his first season, and has featured just once – as a 12-minute substitute against Liverpool on the opening day – in this campaign. He hasn’t even been on the Stoke bench in the league since a mid-September defeat to Arsenal.