There were plenty of miserable performances for Sunderland last weekend, because losing 8-0 isn't the sort of thing that lends itself to decent ratings But the crowning jewel — or the opposite, maybe — was the showing of goalkeeper Vito Mannone, who treated the nation to one of the worst individual goalkeeping performances in recent memory. Indeed, we think it might rank amongst the worst of all time: he was really, really bad.
Here, then, are five more shockers to compare and contrast. They're not in any order, since these things don't really suit ranking. Nor are they definitive, since having opinions is a game of opinions. But they are all Mannone-esque in their wonder and beauty. Enjoy.
Marton Fulop, West Bromwich Albion vs. Arsenal, 2012
Some shockers are harmless things, going no further than the game in question. A goal lost, maybe a game lost; fine, that happens, everybody move on. Others, though, have impact. Repercussions. Iker Casillas' summer meltdown against the Netherlands, for example, set the tone for Spain's shambolic defence of their World Cup title. And Fulop's collapse against Arsenal had seismic effects all across north London.
Going into the last day of the 2011/12 season, Tottenham and Arsenal were tussling for third place. Tottenham were a point behind their nearest and dearest, but were at home against Fulham, while Arsenal had the trickier game, away at West Bromwich Albion, the last game of soon-to-be England manager Roy Hodgson's reign. At least, it should have been trickier.
Enter Fulop, with a performance that had it taken place at the end of an Italian season, would have had plenty of heads nodding in a knowing fashion. Arsenal scored three goals and, being as generous as possible, only the second might not be totally Fulop's fault. That was a smart shot from future punchline Andre Santos, and while a stiffer wrist might have seen it around the post, it was hit quite nicely.
Nowhere to hide on the other two, though. For the first, Fulop charges from the safety of his penalty area before fooling himself with a drop of the shoulders; Yossi Benayoun has never had an easier finish. And for the last, the hapless Hungarian manages to punch a corner towards his own net, where Laurent Koscielny was, presumably, quite surprised to be given the chance to stab home. Arsenal won 3-2, Tottenham's 2-0 victory over Fulham was in vain, and they finished fourth. Still, no real danger there. As long as Chelsea, marooned in fifth, don't steal the final Champions League qualifying spot by beating Bayern Munich in the final. And what are the chances of that?
* No, we're not saying that anything untoward was actually going on. For a start, punching a corner backwards would be a serious piece of lily-gilding. But this is some sizzling hot incompetence, and you can see why a few Spurs fans are still seething.
Alen Pasagic, Rudar vs. Kopar, 2013
Sometimes, you don't need words. Sometimes, the video will do. Sometimes, Alen Pasagic just speaks for himself.
On reflection, our favourite's the second. In comes the ball ... Oops! Dropped it! Never mind, got away with that. I'll just roll it out quickly and we'll move on ... oh. Oh dear.
Heurelho Gomes, Tottenham vs. Blackpool, 2011
This isn't a bad performance as such, because Heurelho Gomes was a complicated goalkeeper and simple, straightforward bad performances were well beneath him. Average his games out and they'd seem mediocre, in the same way that a man who jumps out of a plane without a parachute has, on average, a fairly sedentary 24 hours. Instead, this is the Heurelho Gomes experience condensed into one emblematic minute or so.
White Hart Lane, May 7th, 2011. Blackpool are in town, trying to avoid relegation, and with just fifteen minutes to go, Michael Dawson does them a massive favour by handling the ball inside the penalty area. Up steps Charlie Adam, who is good at this sort of thing. But up, too, steps Gomes, who makes an excellent diving save, long and low to his left. And he's pleased with it, as you might expect. And he's pumped, as you might expect. And he's, well, he's actually looking a little bit agitated ...
... so much so, in fact, that from the ensuing corner he sets off on a grand tour of his penalty area, limbs a-flailing, head a-going, and is only brought back to his senses by the referee's whistle. Oh, Heurelho! You've dragged Gary Taylor-Fletcher to the ground! It's another penalty! And Adam doesn't miss twice.
Hero to pillock in less than thirty seconds. Miss you, Heurelho.
Massimo Taibi, Manchester United vs. Southampton/Chelsea, 1999
There is something mysterious about Massimo Taibi. He came, he played four games, he earned himself the nickname "the Blind Venetian," and then he was done. What's weird, though, is that popular memory insists that he was man of the match for the other two games. This is hard to verify: man of the match awards are not recorded and archived with the same reverence as scorelines, and tend to be made on the whim of a co-commentator, a public vote, or whoever's still conscious in the corporate boxes.
Still, a look back at the match reports suggests that Taibi made some excellent saves on his debut, a 3-2 win against Liverpool (though he also flapped at a cross for one of the goals), and perfectly adequate in a 1-1 draw with Wimbledon the week afterwards. So we know two things. One, he wasn't actually a completely hopeless keeper. And two, if he was (on balance) good in the first two games, he must have been (on balance) somewhere far, far beyond awful in the other two. This was a four-game career of two distinct halves; a promising two-game first act completely obliterated by an appalling, two-game second act.
But if judging a player after two games seems harsh in the abstract, then judging a player after these two particular games seems fair enough. Against Southampton, while he bears no blame for their first and last goals (Jaap Stam got nutmegged for the former; Mikael Silvestre embarrassed himself for the latter), his entire performance (and, indeed, United career) was defined by the second, a gentle, rolling putt from Matt le Tissier that inexplicably, ignominiously, magically passes under Taibi's diving body and trundles gently into the net. If he'd just fallen over to his left, it would have bounced off his chest. He actively saved himself around the ball.
Taibi blamed that error on his studs, which were apparently the wrong length. History does not record how he explained his utter and total meltdown against Chelsea a week later; perhaps his brain was too small. Less than a minute after United had kicked off, they were behind, Gus Poyet nodding into an empty net as Taibi came for a cross that was never his. The second and third weren't entirely his fault — United's defence was creaking like a old door in a haunted house — but he doesn't look totally blameless either, oddly positioned for the first and perhaps weak-wristed for the second. Though blameless for the fourth, which is mostly on Henning Berg, he suffered the most precise humiliation for the fifth: not just nutmegged, but nutmegged by Jody Morris, the Poundland Dennis Wise.
And that was that. In came first Mark Bosnich, then Raimond van der Gouw, then ultimately Fabien Barthez. Taibi's career actually went on in perfectly acceptable fashion: he went back to Italy and played creditably for Atalanta for plenty more seasons. But still, he goes down in history as one of the great United flops, and also an illustration of a universal footballing rule. It is nearly impossible to trust a goalkeeper wearing trousers.
Oliver Baumann, Freiburg vs. Hamburg, 2013
These aren't in order, but here is the winner. Before this game against Hamburg, things were going pretty well for young Freiburg keeper Oliver Baumann. He'd been having a good season; so good, in fact, that national team coach Jogi Low had made his way to the Mage Solar Stadium to watch him. We don't know if Baumann knew this, but if he did, we imagine he'd spent some time thinking about what he definitely shouldn't do. Maybe he'd even made a little list. Maybe it read something like this:
1. Do not, under any circumstances, run out for a bouncing ball, get the flight wrong, and end up rooted to the ground as both ball and striker pass you by to meet on the other side, with hilarious results;
2. Further to the above, do not compound the earlier error by advancing to meet another bouncing ball and shepherding it back into the area, before forgetting to, y'know, catch the flipping thing, with hilarious results;
3. Oh, and try not to meekly usher the ball into the path of an onrushing Rafael van der Vaart, with hilarious results.
At the time of writing, Oliver Baumann, now 24 years old, has not played for Germany.
Peter Enckelman vs. Birmingham, Rene Higuita vs. Cameroon, Fabien Barthez vs. Arsenal, Paul Rachubka's entire Leeds career but particularly the Blackpool game, Sasa Ilic vs. Everton, Dave Beasant vs. Norwich ...
Brad Guzan, Aston Villa vs. Chelsea, 2012. Not all eight-nil hammerings are alike. Big Brave Brad shipped loads this afternoon, yet he was as brilliant as Villa were hideous. Without him, it could have been sixteen.
Thanks to everybody on Twitter for their assistance.