The Hal Robson-Kanu myth

Joshua Byers

We’ve seen it many times over the years; just mention the name El Hadji Diouf to any Liverpool fan or Florin Raducioiu to Hammers if you want to see the still open wounds of those who have suffered from the strange phenomenon.

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The latest reminder came during West Brom’s recent game against Arsenal, when Hal Robson-Kanu netted a goal for the Baggies. The same Hal Robson-Kanu who could barely see his contract to sign it last summer due to the massive hype cloud that was following him and the move.

The 27-year-old will inevitably be bought pints of Brains, Glamorgan sausages and all kinds of other Welsh delicacies from awestruck patriots who still dream of that turn – which you can check out in a hilariously dramatic video below – nightly and remain adamant that he’s better than Messi on his day.

That Welsh adoration is fair enough, but the fact that he was signed amidst such excitement for a side hoping to finish in the Premier League’s top half after scoring just three goals in 28 appearances for Reading in last year’s Championship is ridiculous. It is also an indictment of those who follow football, from both inside and out of the game, and how form can cloud our judgement – there were actually rumours linking Robson-Kanu to Atlético de Madrid in summer.

Sir Alex Ferguson didn’t do too much wrong, but publicly admitted to his own naivety following the failure of Karel Poborsky. The Czech international was expected to be United’s next best thing by an English public who were unlikely to have seen much of mid-90s Slavia Prague, and therefore based their assertions on a few good games at Euro ’96.

And who can forget Roman Pavlyuchenko? Spurs were wowed by his exploits in the 2008 European Championship, where he scored a brace to eliminate England, and promptly coughed up a huge £13.7million. He was a massive disappointment for all except a teenage Vincent Janssen, who was apparently inspired by his performances.

So, is there an antidote to these tales of woe? Well, Lazio did sign Pavel Nedved in the aftermath of Euro ’96, and it’s fair they probably didn’t regret it. The winger was a revelation during his time in Rome, the club making a huge profit when they finally sold him to Juventus. He also made playing on the left cool to a generation of kids and had beautiful, beautiful hair.

One swallow does not a summer make, however, and Premier League clubs should remember Aristotle’s famous words next summer. If clubs are going to spend millions on scouting networks, putting in god knows how many hours on top of ridiculous sums of money, perhaps it would be better to heed their advice rather than sign a player based on some moment of magic against Iran.

Having said that, a devilish part of us would absolutely love to see another Cristian Riveros come to the league and, more than likely, fail miserably.


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