The Spoiler’s top ten Premier League scapegoats

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The men who have shouldered the blame this season



On matchday, Premier League football fans need three things to sustain their interest in the beautiful game: an overpriced ticket for a flimsy plastic seat, a weak pint (to be consumed away from the playing surface, Mr Ashley) and a good scapegoat on which to blame the entire team’s shortcomings.

Here’s the top ten players and managers who have been made to bear the brunt of their club’s collective sins in 2008/09 thus far…

Nicklas Bendtner (Arsenal)

The Spoiler’s Arsenal correspondent claims that Bendtner has overtaken Emmanuel Eboue in the Emirates scapegoat stakes, being vilified to such an extent on Saturday that Emmanuel Adebayor received a hero’s reception when he was brought off the bench to offer some firepower.

Jermaine Jenas (Tottenham)
Heurelho Gomes has put in a sturdy challenge in recent weeks but he still has a fair way to go before toppling Jenas, who has been the main subject of clenched fists and growling at White Hart Lane for a few years now.

Florent Malouda (Chelsea)
Apparently being the midfielder who has provided the most assists in the Premier League this season isn’t enough to save you from abuse when you occasionally misplace a pass or have the audacity to have a shot saved.

Luis Boa Morte (West Ham)
Holds the dubious honor of being one of the only players in the world to be booed by his own fans before a match has even kicked off. His abuse reached new levels last week when he was waved off when substituted against Everton.

Gareth Barry (Aston Villa)
A large number of Villa fans are still upset with Barry for publicly stating his intention to join Liverpool in the summer. He is greeted with indifference rather than boos but his weaker performances are now analysed in more detail. Many say they won’t forgive him unless he signs a new contract.

Philipp Degen (Liverpool)
After missing most of the season with injury, the Swiss right-back has rather harshly been written off by many Liverpool fans after just one start, in the 4-2 loss to Tottenham last week. He isn’t helped by the fact he has to live up to the likable Steve Finnan, who was harshly shipped off to Spain in the summer.

Everton’s Rotation Policy
Rather than subjecting one player to an endless torrent of abuse, Everton fans like to share the blame. Phil Neville is often the subject of derision but is redeemed slightly by his passion, while big-money signing Marouane Fellaini was becoming a scapegoat before he started scoring. Even David Moyes is never safe from abuse but with no obvious target right now, even Mikel Arteta and Tim Cahill have come under scrutiny.

Damien Duff (Newcastle)
Off the pitch, there is an ever-so-slight feeling of hatred towards owner Mike Ashley and director Dennis Wise, but on it, Damien Duff takes a large proportion of the criticism. The Irishman hasn’t helped himself by being injured for much of his two-and-a-bit years at the club and many fans feel he offers no end product.

Gary Megson (Bolton)
To most outsiders, it’s a mystery how Bolton fans can demand Gary Megson’s sacking considering they were joint-bottom when he took over and he kept them up. However, the over-achievement of the Allardyce era appears to have some Bolton fans believing they should be finishing in the top half and pushing for Europe, making Megson’s job an impossible one.

Darius Vassell (Manchester City)
When you’re a mediocre player in a team whose attacking talents include Robinho, Shaun Wright-Phillips and the on-fire Stephen Ireland, it’s hard to avoid sticking out like a sore thumb and that is why Vassell, who incredibly has 22 England caps to his name, has been getting up the noses of Manchester City fans recently.

Know of any other Premier League scapegoats? Let us know with a comment.

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