This decade has seen the Premiership continue to grow and attract some of the worlds greatest players throughout the last ten years. By continuing to attract some of the biggest stars in the world, only La Liga can truly consider itself a rival for the quality of the players on show throughout the league. Yet who would make the best Premiership team of the decade?
Which players have consistently delivered year in, year out, or given years of sterling service throughout the decade? Well I present you with my best 11 of the last ten years, from goalkeeper to striker and I think you may be surprised with some of my choices. Once you’ve glanced through the team, let me know who you think should have been in or your best 11 of the decade.
1. Shay Given
The most consistent goalkeeper of the last ten years, with only the criminally underrated Jussi Jaaskelainen coming close for me. Seemingly trying to keep Newcastle up on his own, he served under 9 managers at St James Park this decade until he finally ran out of patience with the chaos in the boardroom and accepted a move to Manchester City. Since joining City in January, along with Craig Bellamy, he’s easily been head and shoulders above the other high profile signings at Eastlands.
2. Gary Neville
England’s most underrated player of the last 15 years and one of the best fullbacks this country has ever produced. Solid, dependable and wholly committed to Manchester United, Neville has often been in the shadow of higher profile players at United. For all the plaudits that Scholes, Giggs and Beckham received, without Gary Neville, it would have been a very different period without his consistent quality for club and country.Was clearly the best full back in Europe for a while along with Michel Salgado.
3. Ashley Cole
Yes, he’s got the personality that gets on your nerves and his autobiography was beyond deluded, but he’s been head and shoulders above most other left backs in the last ten years. Despite his issues, Cole is a fabulous full back and his duels with Ronaldo for both club and country have been more exciting than they should be. Only Patrice Evra can come close to him over the last few years. If only he could score more goals!
4. Roy Keane
Love him or hate him, Keane was the ultimate midfield enforcer over the first half of the decade in the Premiership. When Arsenal and Manchester United clashed, Keane vs Vieira was always worth the waiting for. Yet, he scored more than his fair share of important goals than Vieira and Makelele who were the other two key players in a similar position. Controversial until the end, Keane has always spoke his mind, but as a player, for me he was peerless.
5. John Terry
Mr Chelsea, 100% no nonsense defending, Terry epitomises everything that defenders represent. Tough, uncompromising and occasionally has too much to say on the pitch but as captain of club and country, Terry has given everything for the cause at domestic and international level. When he retires, Chelsea will have a major job on replacing him.
6. Rio Ferdinand
Another player who’s off field antics can sometimes grate with the followers of football, but there is no doubting the quality he has as a player. The silk to Terry’s steel for England and Vidic for Manchester United, Ferdinand is the best centre half of his generation. He’s had a ropey few months struggling with injuries and the scandal that the missed drug test caused unfairly tainted his reputation for a while but only Ledley King can come close as a footballing centre half over the last decade.
7. Christiano Ronaldo
Love him or hate him, Ronaldo’s 2007-2008 season was something magical. Quite how he kept scoring at the rate he did can’t really be explained and the following season was always going to disappoint but even though his head had been turned, he still kept scoring marvelous goals throughout the season. If he can replicate his domestic form internationally, then he will be remembered as one of the greats, but he has yet to deliver for Portugal. He needs a great World Cup to cement his reputation. Pace, trickery and explosive finishing that belies his size.
8. Frank Lampard
There is a hair’s breadth between Lampard and Steven Gerrard for me but Lampard gets my nod because he creates more chances for his team mates and doesn’t have the nasty streak that Gerrard can fall back in to on the pitch. A fabulous finisher and a master of the late run, Lampard has consistently delivered season after season for club and country. Has struggled a little this season with the new system that Ancelotti has implemented at Stamford Bridge this year, but I wouldn’t back against him to score another 20 goals this season.
9. Thierry Henry
Well, at least he didn’t have as bad a year as Tiger Woods, his fellow Gillette endorsed scandal buddy but that handball has certainly tainted his reputation almost as much as his whining after Arsenal lost the 2006 Champions League. That aside, Henry was immense for the majority of the decade, even suffering from sciatica for the last few years. His partnership with Bergkamp left defenders dizzy during the Gunners pomp. Failings aside, a damn fine player and terrifying sight in full flight.
10. Didier Drogba
When Jose Mourniho signed him for £24 million from Marseille back in 2004, eyebrows were raised all over England, but he has made the critics more than eat their words. On his day, he is simply unplayable and is once again banging the goals in for Chelsea. His form dipped under Scolari and he flirted with leaving the club, but he’s still at Stamford Bridge and the Blues are far more formidable for his continued presence.
11. Ryan Giggs
What is there to say about Ryan Giggs that hasn’t been said? How good would England have been if he’d stayed true to his schoolboy football roots instead of choosing to represent Wales. Clearly in the category of the greatest players never to have made it to a World Cup, he has scored and created more goals for Manchester United than you can think of. Even now, with Ferguson wrapping him in cotton wool he still delivers. A truly remarkable player.
Notable mentions must go to the following players: Jussi Jaaskelainen, Patrice Evra, Jamie Carragher, Ledley King, Patrick Vieira, Cesc Fabregas,Michael Essien, Paul Scholes, Steven Gerrard, Wayne Rooney, Fernando Torres and Dennis Bergkamp. I don’t think anyone would come up with a similar starting 11, so comments please!