The Danish disaster: Per Kroldrup at Everton

When compiling the worst XI for Everton, the usual names are likely to appear: Alex Nyarko, Andy Van der Meyde and Brett Angell will be among them, so too will Per Kroldrup.

Indeed, in the long list of terrible defenders to have turned out for the Toffees, including such names as Matteo Ferrari, Lars Jacobsen and Lei Wei Feng, Krøldrup would be picked as the worst of the bunch.

Signed in the summer of 2005, David Moyes brought the Dane to Goodison Park as part of his attempt to usher in a new era on Merseyside.

The season before he had guided the Toffees into the top four against all the odds. On a shoestring budget with Marcus Bent as his striker, he had somehow broken the monopoly of the top four.

It was a feat that made no sense, especially considering they finished the campaign on minus one goal difference. Only Liverpool’s epic Champions League success that year was a bigger achievement by an English team.

Improvements were needed in the squad, of that there was no denying, and Krøldrup was supposed to be one of them.

A Danish international, he was a direct upgrade on an ageing David Weir and looked to be a bargain capture for just £5 million; optimism was high about his arrival.

Things would not get off to a good start for Krøldrup on Merseyside, though, as a hamstring injury picked up in pre-season ruled him out for several months. Or so the club claimed anyway.

Unofficially, however, a different story was circulating. Rumours among the fan base were varied. Some suggested the club had signed the wrong player, others claimed Moyes was simply not impressed by his summer recruit. If Leon Osman is to be believed, the latter was not far from the truth.

“On his very first day of training, the gaffer took him to one side and started doing heading practice with him, like you would with a seven-year-old.

“It was a case of holding the ball, saying: ‘Are you ready? One, two, three – jump.’ Honestly, it was incredible.

“I don’t know what happened, but he had obviously realised that heading wasn’t Per’s strong point. £5m for a centre-half who can’t head the ball.”

Leon Osman

Despite the clear reservations, a debut would come for Kroldrup, but not until December of 2005. Sitting 16th in the table, Everton desperately needed a win. Just a week before, Bolton Wanderers had beaten them 4-0 at Goodison Park.

Handing Krøldrup a debut was not the answer to their problems. A consecutive 4-0 defeat followed at Villa Park that day and the Dane was a disaster. As bad debuts by centre backs go, only Jonathan Woodgate’s for Real Madrid beats it.

Up against Milan Baros and Luke Moore, hardly the world’s most threatening strikers, Kroldrup was a tragedy. He could pass it out from the back but the defensive aspects, tackling, heading and intercepting were beyond him. The equally important job of marking was also over his head, something Milan Baros happily took advantage of.

Baros would finish the game with two goals to his name and Kroldrup would only feature in the Royal Blue one more time. By January 20th, he had returned to Italy with Fiorentina and the Toffees had taken a £2million loss.

With just 147 minutes under his belt, he had cost them £13,600 per minute. David Moyes was that unimpressed, he re-signed a 34-year-old Alan Stubbs, a man who he’d fallen out with the previous year, to replace him. That should be enough to tell you just how bad Kroldrup was. A simple Google search of Everton’s worst players will only enforce the point.

Away from Goodison, he would go on to make 146 appearances for Fiorentina, featuring in the Champions League and UEFA Cup. Clearly, there was a player there somewhere, it just wasn’t supposed to be for him in England. It’s fair to say he and Everton, would rather not think about the whole sorry affair.