Blake’s Top 10 Footballing Sides 08/09
Well, I’m sure you’re all aware that this season has produced some top-notch football, and some horrible dross. So, let’s get down to business, shall we?
10.) West Brom- What they lack in quality, they at least make up for with their desire to play the game as it should be played. I applaud Tony Mowbray and his attempts to stick by his attacking philosophy, despite the fact that it currently leaves West Brom at the foot of the table, and almost surely- relegation to the fizzy-pops. For me, they’ve been aesthetically pleasing to watch. However, their lack of a cutting edge/final ball seems to be their undoing almost every time they move into the final third. Their build up is good, but no end product. I think that comes down to not having the funds or prestige to attract better players. But, all in all, they’ve not done themselves anything but proud for giving it a valiant effort in, what I believe to be the toughest league in the world. I hope they can make a swift return to the top flight, should their fate be sealed.
9.) Manchester City- They leave you wanting more. I’ve never really been a fan of City, but I have to admit that they have had some tantalizing matches. They’re playing an attractive brand of football, and they happen to be unearthing some very talented youngsters in the form of Michael Johnson, Micah Richards, Daniel Sturridge, Stephen Ireland and Chedwyn Evans. The additions of Shaun Wright-Phillips and Robinho seem to put them into higher tempos than that of the other sides that didn’t make the list. However, I can’t help but scoff at the remarks a certain Mr. Hughes made about Kaka not being able to take over Irelnad’s spot, had he made the move from AC Milan in January. That’s a classic. Almost as funny as a list of comments I am arranging of a certain Mr. Pleat.
8.) Fulham- The Cottagers have seen a welcomed resurgence in their side, as they are challenging to take a spot in the Europa Cup next season with West Ham, Tottenham, Manchester City and even Wigan hot on their heels. I think this comes down to having a sturdy back line. Last season, Fulham’s defending was not even 1/10th of what it is today, and I think that has a lot to do with the men sitting in their midfield. A certain Mr. Murphy springs to mind, in particular. Danny Murphy seems to be pulling the strings at Craven Cottage these days, and with Brede Hangeland and company behind him, this allows him more freedom to run the midfield as he sees fit. It has only served to help Fulham play some tasty matches, and put on some entertainment so the fans get their fill. Well done to Hodgson and co. for finally getting Fulham up to par with the rest of the league.
7.) Tottenham- As much as this pains me to say, I’ve got to hand it to old Saggy Chops. He’s turned Tottenham around from relegation fodder, into a serious contender for a Europa Cup spot. Couple good management with Modric, Lennon and the return of Robbie Keane, and you have a Tottenham side that look good for an entertaining day down at White Hart Lane. They play the pass and move game, and with Lennon bursting down the right hand side of midfield, stretching the fullbacks like rubber, and sending the ball into the box, or simply laying it off for Modric, Keane, Bent, etc… There’s creativity in that line-up, and there was no reason that they should not have been challenging for a top 6 spot this entire season. The sacking of Ramos has saved the Spurs.
6.) Aston Villa- Martin O’Neill has done a superb job, this late run of poor form aside. Even in the matches they lose, they do so with class. There’s a certain poise that Villa have, and when they play, they make the game as wide or as narrow as they choose. Barry and Petrov are ever presents in their line-up, and with Young and Milner flanking them, there’s loads of created chances to be had. Now, I can’t say that I am willing to accept that Agbonlahor is the real deal. See, every time I watch Gabby play, the only threat he seems to have is his pace. He’s not incredible when in possession. He doesn’t finish as well as he should, but he still manages to get the ball into the back of the net. So, I suppose that’s what counts in the end, right? Anyways, Villa take the number six spot because they are a great attacking team, and always carry a threat going forward.
5.) West Ham- Gianfranco Zola was a cracking player in his day, and he’s passing on his own unique flair and passion to the staff and players at West Ham United. Even the fans are in an optimistic mood, thanks to the Italian ace. West Ham have long been know to play the creative, counter-attacking football that would tear defences to ribbons, and they’ve gotten this style back under Zola. Last season under Curbishley, I think any West Ham fan would have been pleased to see a game where they looked creative, energetic and up for the challenge. However, Alan’s archaic medical staff nearly murdered the bulk of the squad, and they got no such football. But, the past is the past, and West Ham have new life. Zola and Clarke have them running like a well-oiled machine, and the determination seems to be there to push on for Europe, despite the injury problems to several key players. Namely, Carlton Cole, Jack Collison, Valon Behrami, Scott Parker and Dean Ashton. But, with a crop of fresh diamonds from the famed Tony Carr system at Upton Park, West Ham have the belief in their style, and in their objective. Get into Europe.Wondeful football for a set of wonderful fans (myself included).
p.s. Carlton Cole’s goal against Wigan has to be my goal of the season. Not that I’m biased or anything…
4.) Manchester United- Though they haven’t quite exhibited the same football they did last season, they’ve produced enough magic to keep them in the top four on my list, and the table toppers in the prem. I’d be willing to bet that there would be a significantly lower number of losses in the column if Ronaldo had been in the same form he was in last season. But, you can never count that man out, as he can produce some of the most Magical moments one could ever witness. They call it the theatre of dreams for a reason at Old Trafford.
3.) Chelsea- Another side that pains me to admit have played some wonderful football. They were fun to watch under Scolari, and the trend continues under Hiddink. There’s loads of quality in that side, and with the return of Michael Essien, they look back to their old, classic Chelsea selves. They are fantastic in possession, and with players like Essien, Ballack, Lampard, Deco, Drogba and Terry, you’d expect nothing less. Joe Cole’s return next season will only add to their incredible depth.
2.) Everton- Now, I don’t know any other club in the top flight that have the same determination as Everton. The Toffees have that never say die attitude, and their football reflects that team mentality. They’re anchored with a solid back line, and creativity in the midfield coming from Arteta, Pienaar, Cahill and even Fellaini. I’ve had some great memories this season from Everton, particularly the 3-3 game with Villa. They are truly a testament to playing the game for all ninety plus minutes. Well done, Mr. Moyes.
1.) Liverpool- The Mickey Mousers have my top spot. Rafa has them playing some great football. That I cannot deny. With Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres linking up, there’s not a defender in the world who wouldn’t be quaking in his football boots, or changing his nappies. Torres has deceptive pace, guile and power. His strikes are light lightning bolts, and there is not a better all-around forward in the prem than Torres. At least, not in my opinion. Not even Drogba. Then adding Captain Liverpool Stevie Gerrard into the blender, you have a fearsome duo at the heart of Liverpool’s attack. And, when the skipper is feeling a bit off, there’s another group of top-notch players ready to fill in wherever needed. Namely, Benayoun, Babel, Lucas, Alonso and Kuyt. And, with the Argentinian Tiger Mascherano sitting just in front of the back four, Liverpool are always a force to be reckoned with.
So, that concludes the ramblings of a mental man who happens to love this game way more than any person should. Hope you enjoyed the read, and thanks for taking time to do so!