When the hell did everyone agree that this decade was the "Noughties?" And what the hell does that even mean? Anyways, it's time for decade reviews, since we are entering the "Tweenis" (dear God, shoot me) and before presenting my personal starting XI of the millenium, I decided to copy Steven of the Palermo Offside and do a Worst XI of the decade. This is a tricky thing to do. Do you take their transfer fee into consideration? (yes) How does a player who plays awfully often compare to a player who played rarely, yet equally awful? Does it matter if a player was signed to be a reserve, rather than a starter? Not easy questions to answer, that's for certain. Recent fans of Juventus, be happy, since we were a good team until 2006, many of these are from recent years. Without further ado, I present to you, the Juventus Offside's Worst Juventus XI of the Decade.
Edwin Van der Sar: (Ajax, €15-16million)- No getting around this one. While he only played one year of the decade, other than San Gigi, he's been the only other starting goalkeeper for Juventus. Some might consider giving it to someone like Antonio Chimenti, who has never done jack shit for us other than hang around and get old, but he's a third-string keeper (formerly second) and that's his place. We forked out a decent amount for Van der Sar, having previously beat him in the CL final, a strategy that worked for Edgar Davids but not so much for his Dutch compatriot. Van der Sar proceeded to look nervy, spill shots, commit papere, and generally look out-of-sorts. In 2000, we finished 2nd to Lazio and we beat Holland on penalties, which must have been a miserable time for Van der Sar. In 2001, Lippi was back and we signed some guy you may have heard of, Gianluigi Buffon, and thus Van der Sar and Ancelotti's time were up after two miserable seasons. I remember Barcelona was interested in Van der Sar, yet he chose to take the plunge and join Fulham for about the same fee as we signed him for. The first non-Italian to be the starting keeper for Juventus, and that's about all he'll be remembered for.
Jonathan Zebina: (Roma, Free Transfer) The right-back over the previous years had been occupied by names like Gianluca Zambrotta and Lilian Thuram, both who will go down in their countries histories as some of the finest defenders ever. JZ15 will not. Perhaps he's unlucky, but right-back has been one of our strong points, and he has not been part of it. He was signed by Capello from Cagliari to join him at Roma, and then signed by Capello again when he moved up north to Turin. He's been incredibly average, injury-ravaged, and just generally douchy since his arrival. The last two years, I think of two incidents- Him bitch-slapping a cameraman having conceded 2 1/2 penalties, and then having spent all goddamn season on the injury table, telling the fans to "stfu" after they whistled the team following our 4th consecutive draw against Lecce. He wasn't that impressive (nor that awful) from 2004-2006, and when we returned to Serie A, Zebina+co executed a classic move to get a longer contract, linking him back with Roma and other teams until we panic-signed him to a 3-year contract extension, and a pay raise. What a mistake that was. One of the great mysteries of the decade to me is how JZ15 has managed to stay at Juve for 6 years. Considering he's 31, injury-ravaged, and has averaged 9 starts over the last two years, you can bet we are screwed with him until his contract expires.
Dario Knezevic: (Livorno, loan)- I referred to him as his real name for the first time in a year or so, preferring to call him he-who-shall-not-be-named, or HWSNBN for the rest of the article. We competed against Torino for his signature. TORINO, who was battling relegation. Oh, and speaking of relegation, his previous club, Livorno, had just been relegated themselves. No matter how much Secco and Co. praised Knezevic, who was giddy as shit that he had somehow managed to join a big club, he was awful, and the contract emphasized that. We paid €750,000 for his loan, and we had the right to buy half of his contract for something around €1.5million. I understand Livorno couldn't exactly force their hand, being relegated and all, but any defender they value at €3million who is 26-years old, is not one we should be signing. Thank God it was only a loan deal. He made 4 appearances for our club, notably a 2-1 loss at home to Palermo, and then a loss to Napoli. Both games he looked utter shit in, but particularly Napoli where under no pressure whatsoever, he decided to scissor-clear the ball right into Lavezzi's path. Oh yeah, and he was injured more than half the season. When he came back, Ranieri rightfully decided to play Ariaudo instead of him. Awful. Awful. I can't repeat that enough.
Jean-Alain Boumsong: (Newcastle, €5million)- We were going to Serie B, no one knew if Tudor would be healthy, Legrottaglie was on his way to Turkey, Chiellini wasn't playing center-back yet, so we panic-bought Boumsong at the request of Didier Deschamps. Anyone who watched Boumsong at Newcastle knew what a colossal error we were making, as alongside his soul partner Titus Bramble, it is a big wonder how Newcastle staved relegation off so long. He was utterly average in Serie B, and when we returned to Serie A, he was worse and benched until Lyon came knocking. Like Bramble, it seems he's found a new lease on life and he's doing alright in Lyon, though Lyon is going through what one is calling a crap spell.
Salvatore Fresi: (Bologna)- Alright, so maybe he was played a bit out of position, but this guy was just utter mediocrity in his 18 months at Juventus. He had been bouncing around Serie A quite a bit, he failed at Inter twice despite all the promise in the world, though he had a resurgent season at Bologna in 2001-2002, scoring a crapload of goals. We decided to sign him, at age 29, and he turned out to be the player he was at Inter. He made four starts his first season, mostly riding the pine as Juve shot for European and Scudetto glory, and the next season did even less as he waited to go out on loan, which he did to Perugia. Sure, we signed him as a reserve, but he was proof that you do, in fact, need a minimum standard of quality to be a reserve. Never mentally seemed to believe in his Juve career.
Olivier Kapo: (Auxerre, ?)- The French Pavel Nedved, so we were told. One of Moggi's biggest flops, we signed Kapo from Boumsong's old club, Auxerre, in 2004. A left-winger who could switch to attacking-midfield, he was our Ricardo Quaresma, only less expensive. A few good performances here and there, but couldn't cut the grade and has subsequently battled relegation (unsuccessfully, in several cases) with Levante, Birmingham City, and now Wigan Athletic. According to this heart-warming story of Kapo giving his Mercedes to a youth player at Wigan, he still owns his house in Turin for some odd reason. One of Moggi's biggest bidoni.
Fabian O'Neill: (Cagliari, ?)- After several great seasons with Cagliari, we signed him to be our regista, to be the director of midfield. He was, just like Ruben Oliveira, Marcelo Zalayeta, and Daniel Fonseca, one of the many Uruguayan flops that Juventus have had. Let's hope Caceres chooses to play like Montero, and not them. O'Neill was utterly unimpressive at Juventus. You know how Milan put faith in Ronaldinho when Kaka was sold? There was no such thing when Zidane left to Real Madrid, as the management decided to sign Nedved to be the leader of the midfield. Lippi had no faith in yet another one of Ancelotti's average players. Shipped off to Perugia as makeweight for another major flop.
Davide Baiocco: (Perugia, €7.5+O'Neill)- Two good years at Perugia, his youth team, convinced us to spill out to sign him in 2002, where he was supposed to compliment our midfield as a battling powerful midfielder. Our midfield had players like Davids, Tacchinardi, Conte, Nedved, etc. Lippi didn't really like him, and for good reason, he added absolutely nothing to our squad and looked out at sea when playing. He was shipped out to Piacenza, Reggina, and back to post-bankruptcy Perugia, before we finally sold him to Catania, where he finally found some playing time. This summer, his contract expired and he went to Serie B with Brescia, hoping to add experience to the squad and probably finish what has been an utterly mediocre career. You may also remember him from last years Serie A Offside Ugliest Footballer Contest.
Ruben Olivera: (Danubio, ?)- Another Uruguayan flop. Olivera was signed in 2003 from Danubio, and was one of the most exciting young players in South America. He started out with some occasional bright games, that encouraged Juventus into signing him to a 2-year contract extension, before his career stalled. We loaned him out teams like Atletico Madrid, Sampdoria, and even back to Uruguay with Peñarol, but he failed to make an impact even at any of these clubs on loan. He had a decent season last year on loan at Genoa, and I was a bit surprised to see they made no effort to sign him. At age 26, he left on free transfer this summer to go home to Peñarol, where he is floundering once again. One of those promising youth prospects who never grew up.
Marcelo Salas: (Lazio, €15million+Kovacevic)- An absolutely massive bust for Juventus. He was a real gun at Lazio during their glory days, winning a Scudetto and scoring a brilliant 34 goals in 79 games. In 2001, unhappy with the explosion of one David Trezeguet, Pippo Inzaghi forced a transfer out of the club. Like many of Ancelotti's players, Lippi didn't have a ton of faith in Trez at first and decided to sign Salas as Inzaghi's replacement, paying a massive €15million and swapping Darko Kovacevic in place, who was another one of the Ancelotti casualties. Salas was an epic bust, though it wasn't entirely his fault, as he dealt with some massive injury problems. When recovered, Trezegol was starting and on his way to a capocannoniere title, and Salas was sitting on the sideline. When we signed Marco Di Vaio, it was all over, and after two seasons, Salas left for Argentina having scored two goals. Kovacevic, in his two seasons, scored 11 and went on to have a productive career with Real Sociedad, the team we originally signed him from.
Amauri: (Palermo, €22.5million+Nocerino)- There will be some outcry from Amauri's defenders, but sadly, as of now, he gets it. Inter signed Ibrahimovic for the same kind of fee we shelled out for Amauri, but despite a brilliant 4 months, he has been dreadful. It seems between all his various skills, his dribbling, his heading, or his ability to hold up play, he's forgot how to do all 3 well, and at the same time, forgotten how to score. When you consider the other strikers we've had this decade, it's hard to argue from numbers that he doesn't deserve it. Fonseca and Zalayeta were average, we didn't fork out a boatload of cash for them. The other strikers we've had, Iaquinta, ADP, Trezeguet, Ibrahimovic, Mutu, Di Vaio, Miccoli, well, it's hard to argue they deserve it more. In the last year, despite countless starts, he has scored 4 goals. In recent months, he's looked utterly impotent in front of the net and has screwed up countless golden opportunities. The one question remains: what the hell happened to him? His scoring rate his first 3-4 months was unbelievable, and then when winter hit, he gave up. During that brief period, he was tremendous, but right now, he is utter shit and I'd rather see Immobile play. Maybe he'll come good during the next decade, but I'm still all for offing him this summer.
Van der Sar
Zebina Knezevic Boumsong Fresi
Kapo O'Neill Baiocco
HONORABLE MENTIONS: Chimenti; Paramatti, Andrade, Athirson; Tiago, Almiron, Poulsen; Fonseca