9 ridiculous boasts that made their subjects look stupid

Jens Lehmann

Following Daniel Sturridge’s statement that he’s the best striker at Liverpool, Tim Ellis went scurrying to the archives for big claims that went much further

10. Houllier’s great 10 games

Gerard Houllier returned to the Liverpool bench in March 2002, five months after undergoing emergency heart surgery. On a glorious night at Anfield, Liverpool advanced to the last eight of the Champions League after beating Fabio Capello’s Roma, and were also challenging in the league.

Houllier duly announced that his team were "10 games away from greatness" – but he’s still waiting for it. The Reds collapsed against Bayer Leverkusen in the quarter-finals and were seven points shy of the top-flight title. Then the Frenchman bought El-Hadji Diouf.

Gerard Houllier, Liverpool

Houllier, hoping it doesn't rain

9. Bookies beat Fergie

In 2011, Manchester United chief Alex Ferguson was in a bullish mood ahead of a second Champions League final against Barcelona in three years, suggesting that his team had devised a plan to cope with their mesmeric opponents.

“Beating Barcelona would end all arguments about this team,” said the Scot. “I know we are playing a terrific team but would you back against us in a big way? I don't think you would.”

Most bookies did, and with good reason. United were somehow level at half-time, but in reality were soundly beaten 3-1 by a Lionel Messi-inspired display from the Catalans. “Nobody's given us a hiding like that but they deserve it,” Fergie admitted.

8. U.S. ladies get shirty

The U.S. women's national team caused a storm after celebrating their Olympics gold medal against Japan in 2012 with a rather in-your-face wardrobe change.

After winning 2-1, the United States’ contingent returned to the field donning the American flag and pre-made t-shirts featuring the slogan: 'Greatness Has Been Found'. They were even available to buy on the official U.S. Soccer store.

As one Canadian commentator opined: “That is why nobody outside the U.S. likes them.”

Hope Solo

"... humility has not"

7. Eagles of Brazil

What a difference one Christmas makes. In December 2015, Alan Pardew was aiming for Europe after Crystal Palace had beaten Stoke 2-1 to keep the Eagles sixth in the Premier League, level on points with Manchester United.

“We’re getting the quality of 11 players on the pitch that’s not too far away from some of the top teams,” purred Pards, who six months earlier had said a 4-1 win over Sunderland (yes, Sunderland) was “like watching Brazil”.

Things unravelled horribly in 2016, though, as the Eagles mustered the worst points total of any team in England’s top four leagues and Pardew was sacked two days before Christmas. At least it gave him a bit more time to work on those snake hips he showed off at Wembley in May’s FA Cup final.