Robin van Persie, Esteban Cambiasso, 'Killer' and eight other one-season wonders
Robin van Persie may be unhappy with the manner in which his three-year spell at Old Trafford came to an end, but he joins an illustrious list of experienced professionals who illuminated their respective clubs for a single season before fizzling out. FFT salutes 10 other one-season wonders...
1. Paul Power, 1986/87
Thirty-three-year-old left-back Paul Power had spent 15 seasons at his beloved Manchester City, winning precisely diddly squat in the process, before Everton supremo Howard Kendall tempted him to Goodison Park in June 1986 after waving a £65,000 cheque under the nose of City chief Peter Swales. Initially, it seemed that Power would be a fringe player with the Toffees, but long-term injuries to Peter Reid and Paul Bracewell meant that Kendall called upon Power's knowhow as Everton launched another title assault. Power was a model of consistency (he even netted against former club City - and refused to celebrate) as his new team pipped city rivals Liverpool to the First Division crown. The craggy veteran had finally landed silverware, but quickly lost the left-back berth after Kendall departed to take the reins at Athletic Bilbao.
2. Brian Marwood, 1988/89
Former Sheffield Wednesday wideman Brian Marwood wasn't the quickest winger in the league, but he possessed an uncanny ability to drift past his marker and supply a killer pass to one of his fellow strikers. Arsenal manager George Graham had long been an admirer of Marwood, but it wasn't until May 1988 that he finally took the plunge and shelled out £800,000 for the diminutive forward.
The 28-year-old began the 1988/89 campaign in magnificent style, with his pinpoint crosses setting up hatfuls of chances for the previously erratic Alan Smith. "Smudger" won the Golden Boot as Arsenal finally won the title after 18 years, with Marwood also netting several crucial strikes. Injuries and a public falling out with Graham limited his appearances the following campaign, and he was sold to Sheffield United in May 1990 having won a solitary league winner's medal.
3. Martin Palermo, 2009/10
He'd once missed three penalties for his country in a 1999 Copa America clash with Paraguay and he was now nudging 37 years of age, but with Argentina looking unlikely to qualify for the 2010 World Cup, national coach Diego Maradona decided to call in Boca Juniors striker Martin Palermo from the cold. After 10 years in the international wilderness, Palermo started a decisive qualifier against Peru.
In torrential rain, Maradona's side laboured horribly until Palermo turned home a 93rd-minute winner to keep his team's qualification hopes on track. "It was a miracle," insisted Diego after sliding on his belly across the muddy pitch in celebration. Palermo even netted in the finals against Greece, making himself the oldest Argentine player to net in the finals since... Maradona.
4. Marco Negri, 1997/98
Marco Negri arrived in June 1997, and immediately netted a scarcely credible 23 goals in 10 games
Marco Negri arrived at Ibrox for £3.5 million from Italian club Perugia in June 1997, and immediately netted a scarcely credible 23 goals in 10 games for Rangers at the start of the campaign. Although the 27-year-old finished his first season with a highly impressive 32 league strikes, Negri had already cooked his proverbial goose at Rangers by sustaining a serious eye injury in a squash match against a team-mate.
He only played another three games after that seismic 1997/98 campaign, sitting out an entire season due to "niggling injuries" and being farmed out on loan. The dashing Italian frontman - who always celebrated his goals with the minimum of fuss - was never the same player again, totally unable to hit the staggering heights he'd reached during those formative days in Scotland.
5. Michu, 2012/13
Attacking midfielder Michu was one of the Premier League stars of the 2012/13 campaign. After netting twice on his Swansea debut against QPR, he plundered 22 goals in all competitions for his new club, helping them win the League Cup and earning himself an international call-up to the Spain squad.
Following eye-catching goals against Arsenal and Chelsea, Michu was linked with a big money move away but opted to remain at the Liberty Stadium. Then his form collapsed, injuries set in and he was loaned out to Napoli at the tail end of the 2013/14 season, where he's singularly failed to set the world alight.
6. Frank Worthington, 1983/84
"I bought Frank because I loved signing old crocks"
"I bought Frank because I loved signing old crocks," recalled former Southampton manager Lawrie McMenemy, "and because I knew that his showman style would go down well with our fans." When former England maverick Frankie Worthington showed up at The Dell in June 1983 in a Stetson and skinny jeans, it set the tone for his eventful year-long stay on the south coast.
Although McMenemy had concerns about the 35-year-old's off-field pursuits, the forward, who held up the ball quite magnificently, was a superb foil for the prolific Steve Moran and the emerging Danny Wallace, as Southampton finished runners-up to Liverpool. "I'm hoping that he sticks around for next season," explained McMenemy. Instead, the old rocker departed to Brighton for another season-long adventure.
7. Asamoah Gyan, 2010/11
"I'm hoping that Asamoah Gyan can propel Sunderland to greater things. Indeed, I'm convinced that he will," insisted Sunderland Niall Quinn after the Ghana star arrived at the Stadium of Light for £13 million in the summer of 2010. Gyan's powerful and direct approach brought him instant rewards as he scored a brace on his debut against Stoke, grabbed an equaliser against Tottenham which moved the Black Cats into 7th place in the Premier League and starred in his team's 3-0 routing of Chelsea. Mysteriously, Gyan departed the North East after little more than a year at Sunderland having netted a healthy 10 goals in his first campaign. After signing for UAE outfit Al Ain, Quinn insisted: "It's good move for the club." It was an even better move for Gyan, who trebled his salary in the process.
8. Brian Kilcline, 1991/92
"We were in massive trouble, and I dread to think what would have happened if we'd gone down," recalled Newcastle manager Kevin Keegan after seeing his club narrowly avoid relegation to the old Third Division by the skin of their teeth in 1992. Keegan attributed their survival to the arrival of rock hard centre-back Brian Kilcline, signed from Oldham in the new year and quickly installed as skipper.
"He absolutely terrified the life out of the opposition and cajoled our players brilliantly. We were in a fire fight and you need the likes of "Killer" when you're in a fix like we were. He was my most important ever signing." Dominant in the air, the former Coventry captain (labelled the "Frightening Viking" by team-mate Paul Bracewell) helped shore up a previously porous defence and steered his new club to safety. Keegan quickly decided that a more aesthetically pleasing approach was required as he plotted the Toon's return to the top flight and Kilcline departed the stage, a Toon hero forever.
9. Middlesbrough, 1994/95
With a new stadium in the offing, ambitious new Middlesbrough chairman Steve Gibson appointed outgoing Manchester United star Bryan Robson as player-manager in a bid to secure top flight football for the then-Ayresome Park club in 1994. "My legs, knees and hips were creaking and groaning," recalled the former England skipper, "but I realised that I could still play an organisational role in midfield if I learnt to conserve my energy." Robson was an inspiration as Boro gained promotion in the 1994/95 campaign, and he was then able to concentrate almost purely on the coaching side of things the following year as Gibson attracted the likes of Juninho to the Riverside Stadium. "Bryan's role in that promotion season completely turned this club around," explained Gibson later. "Without him, we wouldn't have been able to fill our new stadium. He was like a magnet for other stars."
10. Esteban Cambiasso, 2014/15
The 35-year-old defensive midfielder - nicknamed "Cuchu" (The Old Man) - is officially Argentina's most decorated footballer, having won 23 official titles during his illustrious career. So when the former Inter Milan star rocked up at the King Power Stadium on a free transfer, citing his desire to "give it my all for Leicester City," eyebrows were raised. But Cambiasso - whose first goal for the club came in the remarkable 5-3 defeat of Manchester United - was a revelation for the Foxes as they strung together an impressive run of results towards the end of the campaign that saw them avoid the drop. Manager Nigel Pearson described him as "a revelation and an example to all players." Foxes fans agreed, voting him as their Player of the Season. Despite this, after 31 league starts, he opted against signing a new deal. That's football.