At the weekend, during a fortnightly visit to the local astro-turf, somebody asked me who I thought was the worst player to ever play in the Premier League; it sparked one hell of a debate.
Sorry to name and shame but a few names that were mentioned were pretty self-explanatory. Pascal Cygan, Ade Akinbiyi, Stefan Maierhofer, Mateja Kezman, Juan Sebastian Veron and many other names all cropped up. The name Igor Stepanovs was also mentioned but after guiding my Hull City team to promotion on Championship Manager 2001/02 I maintain his talents were misunderstood (that’s loyalty to your players for you).
The Montenegro international was signed for £6 million in July 2011 from Partizan Belgrade and came with a reputation as being one of the best young defenders in Europe. He had his moments; at the start of his City career he looked like a really good buy, even scoring against Blackburn Rovers in October 2011.
When Vincent Kompany was suspended in January the youngster came into the first-team because Kolo Toure was away on African Nations duty with the Ivory Coast and despite showing obvious moments of talent he often failed with clearances, looked out of position and played opponents in with sloppy hospital passes and first touches.
His mistakes became costly. He gifted Liverpool a penalty in a League Cup defeat and played an accidental role in a Jermain Defoe goal. After that moment he was openly criticised in the press and Roberto Mancini leapt to his defence:
"Stefan is a young player and when you are young, you can be in trouble for nothing. Stefan should be quiet. He is a good player but he needs to improve."
However when he gifted Swansea the ball that lead to their solitary goal in a 1-0 victory, that at the time seemed to be the start of the end in regards to their title campaign, (we know how that ended up) it seemed the writing was on the wall and City used him as a makeweight in the deal for Matija Nastasic.
Nastasic has been a great buy for City but the effect has been vice-versa; with Savic in good form for Fiorentina. He has played in 18 games for the team this season despite recently being labelled ‘too shy’ by manager Vincenzo Montella after a poor showing against Juventus earlier this month.
However he recovered in a solid performance against Inter Milan and as part of a three-man defence his talents have flourished; despite his apparent communication problems. Indeed when he was hauled off against Juve at half-time was the only time he hasn’t played the full 90 minutes for Firenze since making his debut in October.
Like former Manchester United and Liverpool outcast’s Adem Ljajic and Alberto Aquilani the former Manchester City player is certainly finding his best form in the Violet of Fiorentina as they chase a European spot this season. He certainly looks better at centre-back than Javi Garcia anyway.