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The worst Premier League debuts of all time


Although unreliable (think of the debuts of teenage sensations Federico Macheda and James Vaughan, for example), first impressions are crucial. It’s human nature to make a judgement on someone at a first encounter.

Therefore, a footballer’s maiden appearance is a highly important, and stressful, occasion.

While, for some, debuts go swimmingly and are they’re instantly adored by supporters, for others they turn into a living hell and turn the next days, weeks, or even months into an uphill battle win the fans’ trust.

But, for fans, they are fun to reminisce about. So, let’s have a look at some of the worst debuts the Premier League has ever seen.

Not many debuts get worse than 19-year old Alex Jankewitz’s maiden start for Southampton against Manchester United on Tuesday night.

The Swiss youth international lasted just 79 seconds after kick off as a ridiculous challenge on Scott McTominay earned him a straight red.

Horror challenge to bring a premature end to a horror debut.

Teddy Sheringham
Teddy Sheringham in action for Manchester United | Gary M. Prior/Getty Images

One of the famous treble winners, Sheringham would go on to be adored by United fans. But things didn’t start particularly well for Teddy at Old Trafford.

The striker was signed as a replacement for Eric Cantona after the Frenchman’s retirement and was handed his first appearance against former side Spurs.

Despite ending up on the winning side, Sheringham missed a penalty and blazed the rebound over the bar in front of the Tottenham fans – much to their delight.

Laurent Koscielny, Martin Atkinson
Laurent Koscielny sees red | Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Yes, it is over a decade since Koscielny made his debut for the Gunners. And it was, well, pretty rubbish.

The Frenchman was stretchered off before half time (more on that shortly) but managed to reappear for the second period.

He would’ve been better off staying on the side lines, though, as he received two yellow cards in injury time to cap off an eventful, but disappointing debut.

Joe Cole
Joe Cole given his marching orders | Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

The man responsible for Koscielny’s injury was Joe Cole, making his first start for Liverpool on the same day.

The Englishman was brought in as an answer to the Reds’ creativity problems, but ended up causing havoc as he was sent off just before half time.

Oops.

Manchester United's Patrice Evra (C) bat
Patrice Evra was outplayed on his United debut | ADRIAN DENNIS/Getty Images

The Frenchman did manage to become a club legend, making 379 appearances for United. But the first of those, in the Manchester derby, was dreadful, as Evra recounts:

“At half-time, we were 2-0 down. Ferguson was raging. ‘And YOU, Patrice,’ he shouted. ‘That’s enough for you! You sit down and watch now.'”

A disaster debut for Fernando Torres at Stamford Bridge
A disaster debut for Fernando Torres at Stamford Bridge | GLYN KIRK/Getty Images

Fernando Torres arrived at Chelsea from Liverpool for £50m, breaking the English transfer record in doing so.

It seemed poetic that he should make his Blues bow against his former employers, but it turned into a nightmare that forewarned what his Chelsea career would turn into.

El Nino missed a sitter just minutes into the game and, after wards, remained in Daniel Agger’s pocket until being brought off just after the hour mark.

Gervinho, Joey Barton
Gervinho battling with Joey Barton | Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Common sense would dictate that you probably shouldn’t be drawn into a scrap with Joey Barton, especially on your Arsenal debut.

But obviously Gervinho saw fit to rise to Barton’s characteristically childish behaviour and, as a result, received a red card – spelling the start of an inconsistent Gunners career.

Theo Walcott comforting Emmanuel Frimpong
Theo Walcott comforting Emmanuel Frimpong | CARL DE SOUZA/Getty Images

Arsenal have their fair share of disastrous debutants, and Emmanuel Frimpong was certainly one of them.

The midfielder received two yellows, one of which for squaring up to Jordan Henderson, just days after Gervinho got sent off for the same thing.

Oh, dear.

Thomas Repka of West Ham is sent off
Tomas Repka sent off | Phil Cole/Getty Images

It wasn’t long before Tomas Repka showed everyone why he came to England with a ‘reputation’.

On his first game for West Ham after his move from Fiorentina, the Czech received two yellow cards and showed the Premier League that he was, in fact, hard as nails.

Leicester v Leeds X
Tough game for Rio | Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

One of the most accomplished central defenders England has ever seen. But, on his Leeds debut, Leicester ran out 3-1 winners, scoring all three within half an hour.

The Foxes fans jeered him off at half time, chanting “what a waste of money”, having broken the transfer record for a British player with his £18m move to Elland Road.

Wayne Bridge contending with Theo Walcott
Wayne Bridge contending with Theo Walcott | IAN KINGTON/Getty Images

Was brought in mid-season by West Ham to help the survival charge.

What happened on his debut? Yep, you guessed it.

He was at fault for all three of Arsenal’s goals in a 3-0 loss. Avram Grant’s Hammers were later relegated.

Dimitri Foulquier against Benjamin Mendy
Dimitri Foulquier against Benjamin Mendy | Chloe Knott – Danehouse/Getty Images

It’s never easy going to the reigning champions but, boy, did Watford make it look difficult at Manchester City in 2019 when they lost 8-0.

The Hornets found themselves 5-0 down in the opening 18 minutes and debutant Dimitri Foulquier was so bad that he was taken off on 33 minutes.

That’s harsh.

Garry Flitcroft
Garry Flitcroft in action for Blackburn | Matthew Lewis/Getty Images

Garry Flitcroft would go on to become an established professional and senior member of the dressing room at Blackburn until 2006.

But it all started horrifically in 1996 when he was sent off within three minutes for elbowing Duncan Ferguson – Duncan Ferguson? Is he mental?!

You’d be forgiven for thinking Paul Pogba is the worst player Graeme Souness has ever seen play. But, no, that accolade definitely goes to Ali Dia.

When he was Southampton manager, the Scotsman was fooled into signing the Senegalese by someone claiming to be George Weah on the phone in 1996.

He made his debut for the Saints immediately, being brought on for the injured Matt Le Tissier – who later compared Dia’s performance to being like Bambi on ice – and came back off in the second half after what was a horrific showing.

Unsurprisingly, he never featured for Southampton again and had his contract cancelled after just two weeks at the club – some first impression.





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