There is nothing football supporters enjoy more than a talking point, something to stir debate, boil the blood and argue about. In honour of this noble pursuit I decided to compile two teams made up from the best English players ever to grace the Premier League and pit them against the best foreign XI.
The Premier League era may seem rather arbitrary but, with some notable exceptions, this has been the era of the foreign player in the English league so it should pass scrutiny.
I am positive people will disagree with some of my selections but erroneous decisions aside who do you think would win this battle? My money is on Johnny Foreigner.
GOALKEEPER: David Seaman
DEFENCE: LB Nigel WInterburn, CB Tony Adams, CB Rio Ferdinand, RB Gary Neville
MIDFIELD: LM Steve McManaman, CM Steven Gerrard, CM Paul Scholes, RM David Beckham
ATTACK: Alan Shearer, Michael Owen
SUBSTITUTES: Teddy Sheringham, Robbie Fowler, Bryan Robson, David James, Sol Campbell.
As Mike Bassett in the film of the same name infamously said: “England will play Four-Four-F**king-Two.” There really didn’t seem a more appropriate alternative for this team. A team which is absolutely rammed with leaders. That backline is looking solid with two parts of the most efficient and durable backline of the Premier League era in Tony Adams and Nigel Winterburn. Rio Ferdinand and Gary Neville would not let this team down either, completing a defensive unit I am confident has the right balance.
In the midfield David Beckham’s awesome delivery and dead ball skill is complimented by the silky running of Liverpool legend Steve McManaman on the left flank. In the middle are two winners, players of true class and I think Steve Gerrard’s renowned engine and work rate would work brilliantly with Paul Scholes’s eye for a pass.
There is not much to offer about the strikeforce, two proven goalscorers and a combination that would pose problems for any defence with Owen’s pace and Shearer’s strength. There is also options on the bench, Teddy Sheringham had to find a spot on the bench for his intelligence and pedigree. Elsewhere Bryan Robson could offer energy coming off the bench and Robbie Fowler’s predatory instinct won him a spot in the squad.
GOALKEEPER: Peter Schmeichel.
DEFENCE: LB Patrice Evra, CB Paul McGrath, CB Marcel Desailly, RB Dan Petrescu.
MIDFIELD: LM Robert Pires, CM Roy Keane, CM Patrick Vieira.
ATTACK: LF Thierry Henry, CF Eric Cantona, RF Cristiano Ronaldo.
SUBSTITUTE: Dennis Bergkamp, Gianfranco Zola, Petr Cech, Denis Irwin, Andrei Kanchelskis.
Given the cosmopolitan nature of this side I decided to use a formation to reflect this and plumped for the revered Barcelona 4-3-3. The Great Dane Peter Schmeichel seemed a natural choice in goal, with Chelsea’s Petr Cech in reserve.
The defence combines warriors like Paul McGrath, one of a select few defenders to win the PFA Player of the Year Award, and Marcel Desailly who bossed the defence at Chelsea at the turn of the century. Flying full backs Dan Petrescu and Patrice Evra are selected as this side is made to attack, Petrescu is adored by Chelsea fans and Evra gets the nod due to his contribution in putting United back at the top after Chelsea’s rise to prominence.
The midfield trio combines all the elements needed in a modern footballer, the steel of Roy Keane, the phenomenal energy Patrick Vieira displayed at Arsenal and the silky talents of Robert Pires. All these players enjoyed phenomenal success and are iconic figures at the clubs they played at to this day.
The three strikers I selected have goals in abundance and the movement of Ronaldo and Henry would compliment Cantona’s touch and vision. The forward line has pace and between the three players they won a raft of team and individual prizes.
The bench also has incredible strength and I felt wrong not selecting Zola and Bergkamp for the team but in management you need to make tough decisions. The rock steady Denis Irwin could cover either side of the defence and Andrei Kanchelskis finds the bench thanks to his pace and flair.
Just to clarify in the selection of this team I deemed Irish players as foreign but drew the line at including Welsh or Scottish players. So before any irate Manchester United fans jump down my throat for not including Ryan Giggs I thought I should make that clear.
Let the debate commence!