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The Biggest Sporting Flops of 2017

The Biggest Sporting Flops of 2017

Picture of Luke Bradshaw
Sports Editor
Updated: 12 December 2017

For some 2017 has been a year to forget. From a Manchester City goalkeeper to a Renault racing driver and half of Russia, we pick out some of the biggest disappointments of the year.

New York Giants, American football

The 2016 season saw the Giants make the playoffs with an 11-5 record, before losing to the Packers – no shame there. But the 2017 season on the other hand has been nothing short of a disaster. Rock bottom of the NFC East, just two wins in the regular season, Odell Beckham Jnr’s injury, the dropping of Eli Manning, and above all, the appalling performance of Ben McAdoo, fired as head coach in week 13. McAdoo’s tenure was a car crash from start to finish, full of ill-judged power trips and awful decision making. The sooner the season ends the better.

Sunderland AFC, football

Relegation from the Premier League, not a single win at home this calendar year (13 defeats and nine draws thus far), three different managers and relegation to League One a real possibility for next year – things on Wearside couldn’t be worse. In the Premier League they stank they place out, eventually finishing 16 points adrift from safety, and nothing has improved since dropping a division.

France, Rugby Union

France’s rugby side are traditionally one of the most exciting teams in world sport, but those days are long gone. This year Guy Novès (a backward appointment in the first place) has overseen an average Six Nations campaign, before a summer South African tour that they promptly lost 3-0, and an Autumn Series that saw them record three defeats and a draw with Tier 2 Japan. Last November they were announced as hosts of the 2023 Rugby World Cup, much to the dismay of rugby fans around the world.

Rangi Chase, Rugby League

So, so much talent, and such stupid behaviour. Suspended twice by Castleford after ‘internal investigations’ early on in the 2017 season, Widnes came to his rescue and offered him a loan deal in May. Some good performances earned him a permanent contract and he swiftly repaid them by testing positive for cocaine in August and was handed a two-year ban. At 31, it’s difficult to see him playing again, but you wouldn’t put it past him.

Jolyon Palmer, Formula 1

Palmer was racing in his second season for Renault in 2017 after a steady debut season the year previously. Having been consistently outperformed by teammate Nico Hulkenberg all season, Renault had already decided not to renew Palmer’s contract for the 2018 season, but they went one step further at the beginning of October and cut his contract short, replacing him with Carlos Sainz. As it stands, the chances of a drive next season look slim to none.

Claudio Bravo, football

Signed from Barcelona in August 2016 for £17 million, Bravo replaced Joe Hart at Manchester City after the Englishman made a string of notable mistakes and was shipped out by manager Pep Guardiola. Bravo struggled hugely throughout the season and in 2017 he played six games, making just three saves and conceding eight goals. He was also kicked out of Chile’s national squad’s WhatsApp group after his wife took to social media and accused his teammates of being drunk.

Russia, all sport

Russian athletes have had Olympic medals taken back retrospectively, the country has been banned completely from next year’s Winter Olympics, the exposé documentary Icarus was released and Vitaly Mutko, Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister and former minister of sport, was banned from all Olympic Games for life, all because of allegations of state-sponsored doping. Incredibly, Mutko is still being allowed to organise next summer’s World Cup.

Novak Djokovic, tennis

The term ‘flop’ is a bit rich for someone as talented as Djokovic, he’s one of the best tennis players of all time, but all things are relative and by the Serb’s own lofty standards, 2017 has been very poor. He was dumped out in the second round of the Australian Open by world number 117 Denis Istomin, only made the quarter-finals at Roland Garros and Wimbledon, and missed the US Open totally with an elbow injury. Mid-season he also broke away from his coach, physio and fitness specialist. This time last year he was ranked no.2, now he is at no.12 – the first time he’s been outside the top ten since March 2007.