The Welsh Gull

Torquay United, the Football League and other stuff

Dream teams

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Today on RaW Sport: Not Out, we were discussing the greatest players of “our” generation (roughly late 90s through to the present day). Through democracy, we came up with this team:

GK – Peter Schmeichel

DR – Lilian Thuram
DC – Fabio Cannavaro
DC – Paolo Maldini
DL – Roberto Carlos

MC – Claude Makelele
MC – Xavi

RW – Lionel Messi
AM – Zinedine Zidane
LW – Cristiano Ronaldo

ST – Ronaldo

Sub – Oliver Kahn
Sub – Cafu
Sub – Alessandro Nesta
Sub – Patrick Vieira
Sub – Ronaldinho (Gaucho)
Sub – Steven Gerrard
Sub – Thierry Henry

Manager – Josep Guardiola
Home Stadium – Millennium Stadium

It was a good debate and by and large I agree with the choices (apart from Roberto Carlos, one of the most overrated players of all time). Other names considered included Gianluigi Buffon and Iker Casillas in goal; Ashley Cole, Marcel Desailly and John Terry at the back; Roy Keane, Paul Scholes, Andrea Pirlo and Michael Essien in the centre of midfield; Dennis Bergkamp, Luis Figo, Pavel Nedved and Rivaldo in attacking midfield positions; and Alan Shearer, Raul and Andriy Shevchenko up front.

In preparation for the discussion, I created my own dream teams – 3 which could be pitted against other, and a combination of the lot, my own ultimate team roughly covering 1997-2011.

Premier League Brits XI
GK – David Seaman

DR – Gary Neville
DC – Tony Adams
DC – Rio Ferdinand
DL – Gareth Bale

RM – Steven Gerrard
CM – Roy Keane (C)
CM – Paul Scholes
LM – Ryan Giggs

CF – Matt Le Tissier
ST – Michael Owen

Sub – Shay Given
Sub – Ashley Cole
Sub – Sol Campbell
Sub – Frank Lampard
Sub – Paul Ince
Sub – David Beckham
Sub – Wayne Rooney

Manager – Sir Alex Ferguson
Stadium – Old Wembley

The goalkeeper, defence and midfield were relatively straight-forward picks. It was between Bale and Cole for left back and I gave it to the Welshman because I’m biased. Picking the forwards was a bit more difficult as there are plenty of them who could get in.

Equally, I could play Gerrard behind Owen and pick Beckham on the right to go for a complete Man Utd treble midfield. But I wanted Le Tissier in there as he’s one of the great under-appreciated English players of the 90s due to not getting in the national side too often, along with the likes of Tim Sherwood and Ray Parlour.

Campbell is on the bench ahead of Terry because I needed cover at right back (even though Sol isn’t a right back either), even though Terry was probably a better player at their respective peaks, and because he’s a racist. You will also notice that I have picked Irish players – yes, I know, it’s intentional.

Premier League Foreigners XI
GK – Peter Schmeichel

DR – Dan Petrescu
DC – Jaap Stam
DC – Marcel Desailly
DL – John Arne Riise

MC – Patrick Vieira (C)
MC – Claude Makelele

RW – Cristiano Ronaldo
AM – Gianfranco Zola
LW – David Ginola

ST – Thierry Henry

Sub – Edwin van der Sar
Sub – Patrice Evra
Sub – Ricardo Carvalho
Sub – Edgar Davids
Sub – Cesc Fabregas
Sub – Robert Pires
Sub – Paolo di Canio

Manager – Jose Mourinho
Stadium – Millennium Stadium

A few things to note here. Firstly, it was very difficult to find some good foreign Premier League full-backs. I don’t know why that is, but the best ones seemingly stayed abroad or were British. The ones I could think of that were left were usually good but not brilliant – Vegard Heggem, Paulo Ferreira, Pascal Chimbonda (got in the Premier League Team of the Year, no less), Nelson Vivas. Petrescu had a good few years at Chelsea and Riise was very good for Liverpool so they get the nod over Sagna and Evra.

In terms of the centre, I’ve not rushed the likes of Aguero and Silva into contention because they’ve not been around that long, and the same has to go for Yaya Toure, even though has impressed me a lot over the last year or so. Makelele was more influential at Real Madrid than at Chelsea but still an exceptional player. Him and Vieira make an awesome midfield. Davids is on the bench not so much for his Premier League performances at Spurs, but for being brilliant at Juventus and for the Dutch national side.

I could have picked from any number of strikers – Drogba, van Nistelrooy, Kluivert (again, not for his team at Newcastle), Anelka, Tevez, Torres, Berbatov, Hasselbaink, Bergkamp, Yorke, Viduka, van Persie, Crespo, Weah, Adebayor even. However, I’ve gone for di Canio for simply being the most outrageous player I can remember. Bringing him on as a sub would really add something. Similarly, you’d be foolish not to consider the super sub himself, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, for a similar role. Also, I had a dilemma over the sub winger – I went for Pires over Overmars, who I feel has become slightly overlooked due to the achievements Arsenal had after he left.

Non-Premier League Foreigners XI
GK – Gianluigi Buffon

DR – Lilian Thuram
DC – Fabio Cannavaro
DC – Alessandro Nesta
DL – Paolo Maldini (C)

DM – Andrea Pirlo
MC – Xavi
MC – Zinedine Zidane

RW – Lionel Messi
LW – Ronaldinho

ST – Ronaldo

Sub – Iker Casillas
Sub – Javier Zanetti
Sub – Carles Puyol
Sub – Clarence Seedorf
Sub – Pavel Nedved
Sub – Luis Figo
Sub – Raul

Manager – Marcello Lippi
Stadium – San Siro

The ultimate flair team. Bags of creativity. There have been so many great forwards, wingers and attacking midfielders over the last 15 years that it’s impossible to include them all in a 18 man squad. Equally, I would quite like to have included Mark van Bommel on the bench as someone to bring on to wind the opposition up with niggly tackles.

The back four is largely Italian and with good reason. It’s a travesty that Maldini never won the World Cup, but I guess by retiring after 2002 he was able to prolong his club career to the ridiculous length it reached by the time he finished. In my eyes, one of the greatest defenders of all time, and probably the best left-back ever – we talked today about him being a centre-back, but I believe his best football came at left-back, which was where he played under Sacchi at Milan in the 90s and in the national team in order to accommodate the exceptional talents of Nesta and Cannavaro. But for Byron Moreno, they might have gone on to win in Yokohama but who knows? I believe that Italian side to be better than the one that won the World Cup, anyway.

Picking a goalkeeper was also very difficult. Oliver Kahn is a worthy shout, but doesn’t like sitting on the bench, and Buffon was a shoe-in for me. Italy had a glut of good ‘keepers in the early 2000s – Toldo, Peruzzi, Abbiati, Cudicini (who did play in the Premier League, but couldn’t get a look-in for his national side – if you ask me, he should’ve been picked for England) – but all of them were kept out of the side when Buffon was fit (though Toldo played in Euro 2000 when he wasn’t). Similarly, Spain have some very good ‘keepers right now being kept out by Casillas, notably Victor Valdes, who is right up there in the top 10 in the world for his position at the moment.

Honourary mentions must also go to some of the great strikers who never came across the channel – David Trezeguet, Christian Vieri, Alessandro del Piero, Filippo Inzaghi, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Miroslav Klose, Francesco Totti (as a false 9, presumably) and Gabriel Batistuta. I also caught the tail-end of the career of Roberto Baggio, and there should also be a mention for Kaka.

Overall Dream Team XI
GK – Peter Schmeichel

DR – Lilian Thuram
DC – Fabio Cannavaro
DC – Alessandro Nesta
DL – Paolo Maldini

DM – Roy Keane (C)
CM – Paul Scholes
CM – Zinedine Zidane

RW – Lionel Messi
LW – Cristiano Ronaldo

ST – Ronaldo

Sub – Edwin van der Sar
Sub – Gareth Bale
Sub – Marcel Desailly
Sub – Edgar Davids
Sub – Steven Gerrard
Sub – Ryan Giggs
Sub – Thierry Henry

Manager – Jose Mourinho
Stadium – Millennium Stadium

I’m obviously biased but this is what I’d go for. Alternatively I’d just have the outstanding, unbeatable France back four from 1998 (Thuram, Desailly, Blanc, Lizarazu), though not Barthez as he had too many flakey moments.

In addition…

Torquay United 1997-2011 XI
GK – Neville Southall

DR – Andy Gurney
DC – Wayne Thomas
DC – Mike Williamson
DL – Kevin Nicholson

CM – Alex Russell
CM – Chris Hargreaves (C)

RW – Rodney Jack
AM – Eunan O’Kane
LW – Jamie Ward

ST – Jason Roberts

Sub – Bobby Olejnik (GK)
Sub – Paul Robinson (DC)
Sub – Paul Gibbs (DL)
Sub – Jason Fowler (MC)
Sub – Lee Mansell (MC/DR)
Sub – David Graham (ST/WG)
Sub – Alan Lee (ST)

Manager – Martin Ling
Stadium – Plainmoor (obviously)

To make up a 23 man squad, I would add Andy Marriott (GK), Liam Rosenior (FB/WG), Garry Monk (DC), Tony Bedeau (MR/ST), and Kevin Hill (DL/ML). I’m pretty sure that would be absolute quality. I’d like to see how the dream teams above at a cold wet Plainmoor on a Tuesday night…

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Written by James Bennett

February 18, 2012 at 20:30

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