Some might say that I am too biased toward Manchester City. And, they would be right. Of course. First choice. Only choice. It’s in the blood. That doesn’t mean I don’t watch other teams. I like nothing more than seeing Aberystwyth Town on S4C or the Vanarama National League on BT Sport. I prefer going to live games and dive in and out of non-league games as and when feasible.
As footy fans, we know nothing and nor do the PFA or the leagues. City have 0 winners of the PFA Fans’ Player of the Year. Only Leicester and Spurs have a winner outside of ManUre, LiVARpoo, Ar$e, and Chelsea… There’s an element of bias and the Premier League has grown far too powerful in shaping our influence. La Liga too. The Bundesliga and Serie A feature heavily. Football has a popular landscape, and a broad landscape sits beneath it.
Select an XI (+7 subs) from your favourite players of all time. The rules are numerous:
1. There are no players who are currently playing.
2. One player from one nation, however, one substitute, can have a repeated nation.
3. No Manchester CITY players, past or present.
4. They must have been playing in your lifetime.
5. A balanced number of defenders, midfielders, strikers/forwards, and 2 goalkeepers.
GK: Jussi Jääskeläinen (Finland)
DEF: Frank Rijkaard (Netherlands), Daniel Gabbidon (Wales), John Mensah (Ghana), Kakha Kaladze (Georgia)
MID: Matt Le Tissier (England), Andrea Pirlo (Italy), Michael Ballack (Germany)
ATT: Gheorghe Hagi (Romania), Romário (Brazil), Andriy Shevchenko (Ukraine)
Subs: Yakubu Ayegbeni (Nigeria), Pavel Nedvěd (Czech Republic), Stiliyan Petrov (Bulgaria), Brad Friedel (USA), Franck Ribéry (France), Arjen Robben (Netherlands), Lorik Cana (Albania)
I always enjoyed watching The Yak at Everton, and Petrov seemed an amazing club member at Villa and Celtic. Jääskeläinen struck me as the kind of keeper a club needs for coaching, encouraging, and reliability. Although I’d say Friedel was the better goalkeeper, I think Jääskeläinen would be the bigger voice in a squad. Le Tissier deservedly remains a club legend at Southampton and won’t be too well known by the international goat brigade that love and cherish Ronaldo (the crap one) and Messi – although Le Tissier deserved a bigger crowd.
Pirlo was a sublime player and won awards for both his play and achievements. Great hair, too. Ballack didn’t shy from challenges. Rijkaard and Robben are two of the greatest players I’ve seen from the Netherlands. Cana, lesser known, was a brilliant player, much like Kaladze from Georgia, who both seemed to go under the radar. Perhaps their better-known fellow countrymen had more awards.
Choosing the best XI players not to have played for City wasn’t easy. Balancing their nations and positions was also a challenge. Football is a complex machine. Many will agree and disagree with my choices. Rightfully so. We all have opinions.