After a quite probably unsucessful stint as manager of World Mullet XI, who would almost certainly get beaten by the folically challenged might of World Bald XI (http://bit.ly/gSLTnj) I decided to get straight back into the Novelty XI management game.
The latest contest came about after a discussion between myself and Mohamed Moallim, or @jouracule as you may know him on twitter. Mohamed is going to be my opposing number for this particular event and is one of the nicest guys around, especially if you want to chat about the beautiful elements of the game, past, present and future.
So the rules for my team are very simple, I can only select players who have played for one club, and one club only. In the case of present players they must have played at least 10 years for the club.
Without further ado, I present to you:
XI One Club Men
My team will be playing a 4-2-3-1 that merges into 4-5-1 without the ball and depending on where the space appears. Given the midfield genius at my disposal I’m going to give them some flexibility on this.
GK - Marcos Roberto Silveira Reis – Palmeiras
Marcos to his friends plays for Palmeiras and has done for the last 19 years. For Palmeiras he has won two Brazilian Serie A titles as well as ten other trophies, including the Libertadores Cup. During a 6 year spell playing for Brazil he earnt 29 caps and World Cup winners medal and a Copa America. But it’s not just his achievements and his ability that earn him a place in this team, this is the Marcos who famously had a trial for Arsenal before vanishing and then appearing back at Palmeiras stating that he would rather play in Serie B for Palmeiras than in Europe for the money. Those kind of values are what this team is all about.
http://youtu.be/kmMJlAnOlC8 (not the greatest video in the World, but not many to choose from for a Goalkeeper who’s spent entire career in Brazil)
RB – Gary Neville – Manchester United
Gary Neville is one of the most divisive players in the history of the game. But I’m a Manchester United fan so to be honest, I couldn’t give a monkey’s if everyone else hates him, for me that’s part of the reason I love him. The key thing for me with Neville is that every single fan of every single club would love it if all their players were half as passionate as Neville. Sure, he takes it too far sometimes, but he was a brilliant right back for about 16 of his 19 years service. This season he retired himself when he realised that injury had taken too much of a tole and he could no longer contribute at the level that he expects of himself. He could have just sat on the sidelines collecting his paycheques, but to his credit he realised he was his own harshest critic. Neville maximised every single bit of talent that he had, and created a career far more sucessful than many more naturally talented players. In all honesty it doesn’t really matter what I say about Gary Neville, you’ll either love him or hate him anyway, and I kind of like that every now and again in a player.
LB – Paulo Maldini – AC Milan
Il Capitano, the ultimate, ultimate leader and defender. Maldini played for AC Milan with distinction for 25 years. During that time he won the European Cup 5 times, appearing in 8 finals. He also won Serie A 7 times and has more caps for Italy than any other player. The number 3 shirt at Milan has been retired in his honor and will only be reinstated if one of his sons go on to play for Milan. Speaking of sons, Paulo and his father Cesare are the only father and son combination to win the European Cup, Paulo lifting it 40 years after his father achieved it.647 appearances for Milan is quite simply incredible and watching Maldini play on Channel 4′s Football Italia during the 90s was an absolute delight, especially for a full back who loved to make sliding tackles. Maldini made defending easy and was part of some incredible teams, including the 91/92 who went unbeaten the entire Serie A season, wining the title along the way. In 1993/94 Maldini and Milan then won the European Cup without conceding a goal, including the 4-0 demolition of Barcelona in the final, one of the most complete team performances that I have ever seen. That Maldini had retired by the time Italy hit upon success always seemed a bit of a travesty, but even with only runners up medals to show for his incredible international career the Maldini household must need a bloody big trophy room.
and just in case you wondered whether Daniel Maldini has any chance of following in his father’s footsteps
CB – Franco Baresi – AC Milan
Imagine a player who makes Maldini’s appearance total for Milan look a little lazy? In the space of 20 years Franco Baresi racked up 719 appearances for Milan, was voted their player of the century, won the Scudetto 6 times, the European Cup 3 times as well as numerous Cup trophies. Oh and he also won the big one. The World Cup. Baresi was a part of the same legendary sides as Maldini during the early 90s and the two of them, along with Costacurta and Tassotti was part of arguably the greatest back 4 of all time. Baresi was the ultimate class act sweeper, a defender who could, and frequently would mark a striker out of the game. As Romario put it after the 1994 World Cup Final “The most ruthless monitoring of my entire career”. Just looking at a back 4 with Baresi and Maldini is enough to inspire any team to go forward and attack with extreme prejudice because you’ve got an absolute brick wall behind you, nothing is getting through.
Around the 4 minute mark on this clip Romario think he’s timed his run to perfection, made a yard to shoot, Baresi thinks otherwise. Quietly brilliant defending.
CB – Tony Adams – Arsenal
They say that great players rarely make great managers and if anyone could prove this it’s Tony Adams. Because despite being bobbins as a manager he was one of the truly great defenders of his time. Another fantastic leader for this team and one of the greatest players Arsenal have ever had, captaining the side at the age of 21 and continuing to do so for another 14 years. Adams had his vices, which to his credit he has faced down and made no secret of, launching the Sporting Chance Clinic to help others who have suffered with addiction. Adams won the title 4 times, including 2 league and FA Cup Doubles. It’s fair to say that many Arsenal fans wish their current defenders were even half as good as Adams who could defend any way he wanted, elegantly nicking the ball away when the situation required or putting his face into harms way to clear the ball. Oh and as being English goes Adams is awesome, born in 1966 and winning 66 caps.
CM – Paul Scholes – Manchester United
Rather than summarise Paul Scholes, I’m going to let other people do it for me:
Glenn Hoddle : “There isn’t a player of his mould anywhere else in the world.”
Terry Venables : “He’s the best one- or two-touch passer in the country. He sees the game unlike any other player.”
Alan Shearer : “If you ask footballers to pick out the player they most admire, so many of them will pick Paul Scholes. He can tackle, and his passing and shooting is of the highest level. He’s the most consistent and naturally gifted player we’ve had for a long, long time.”
Eidur Gudjohnsen : “I’m more an admirer of Paul Scholes than I am of Ronaldo. Ronaldo is a fantastic player, but he has 10 other great players around him every week…Scholes is one of the most complete footballers I’ve ever seen. His one-touch play is phenomenal. Whenever I have played against him, I never felt I could get close to him.”
Edgar Davids : “”Every one of us (midfielders) is just trying to become as good as him. Everyone can learn from Paul Scholes.”
Edgar Davids : “I’m not the best, Paul Scholes is.”
Tony Adams : “I really rate Paul Scholes, because he hasn’t got the high profile of many of the Manchester United players, he doesn’t get too much attention, but he is one very good player. He is an intelligent player, he works hard and he scores some great goals. He is not flamboyant and is a quiet lad off the pitch but he is a tremendous asset to Manchester United and to England. He has already got my vote as player of the year.”
Cesc Fabregas : “He is the one whose level I aspire to. He is the best player in the Premier League.”
Patrick Vieira : “The player in the Premiership I admire most? Easy – Scholes.”
Thierry Henry : “I can’t understand why Scholes has never won the player of the year award. He should have won it long ago. Maybe it’s because he doesn’t seek the limelight like some of the other ‘stars’.”
Zinedine Zidane : “My toughest opponent? Scholes of Manchester. He is the complete midfielder.”
Zinedine Zidane : “Scholes is undoubtedly the best midfielder of his generation.”
Sam Allardyce : “There is not a better midfield player in the world.”
Kevin Keegan : “What United have got that Chelsea haven’t is Paul Scholes. I think he is different to anything else in English football.”
Marcello Lippi : “Paul Scholes would have been one of my first choices for putting together a great team – that goes to show how highly I have always rated him. Scholes is a player I have always liked, because he combines great talent and technical ability with mobility, determination and a superb shot. He is an all-round midfielder who possesses character and quality in abundance. In my opinion, he’s been one of the most important players for United under Sir Alex.”
Ray Wilkins : “I’m saddened because I think we as spectators, not only in this country but right through out Europe and the rest of the World, will be missing one hell of a footballer.”
Gordon Strachan : “Paul Scholes has been the best England midfield player for 30-odd years. You’d probably have to go back to Bobby Charlton to find someone who could do as much as Scholes. When the ball arrives at his feet he could tell you where every player on that pitch is at that moment. His awareness is superb.”
Veron while at Chelsea being asked in an interview who’s the best english player : “Paul Scholes.”
Peter Schmeichel : “People say he is a great player, but you have to define what a great player is, For me, it is a player who has a bottom level that means his worst performance is not noticed.If he is having a bad game, a team-mate might feel Paul Scholes is not quite on his game, but a spectator wouldn’t notice. Scholes, of all the players I have played with, has the highest bottom level. His reading of the game is unsurpassed.He has an eye for a pass, for what the play or the game needs at that precise moment, that I have never seen anyone else have. He controls and distributes the play and the game better than anyone I have ever seen.”
Peter Schmeichel : “Still the best player in that United midfield.”
Laurent Blanc : “Scholes is the best English player. Intelligence, technique, strength… all the attributes are there. At Manchester United I saw what he could do on the training field. Phew!”
Michael Carrick : “Paul Scholes is just fantastic. When you play alongside him, you realise what a special talent he is.”
Michael Carrick : “He is a legend and he’s going to be remembered for a long time. Just to play alongside him and learn from him has been an absolute pleasure. I think he is a footballer’s footballer; he has been at this level for so long. As long as he is part of us we always feel we have a chance. We appreciate the way he goes about his business. I have never met a character like Scholesy; certainly not someone who is that good.”
Park Ji Sung when asked by the club’s official home page which United player he would like to see in the red shirt of the Taeguk Warriors : “It has to be Paul Scholes.”
David Beckham said that, among his teammates at Real Madrid, which included Zinedine Zidane, Raúl, Ronaldo, Luís Figo and Roberto Carlos, Scholes was the most admired opponent : “He’s always one of those people others talk about. Even playing at Real Madrid, the players always say to me ‘what’s he like’? They respect him as a footballer, and to have that respect from some of those players is great.”
Brian Kidd : “Paul Scholes had the best football brain I’d ever seen in a kid. Let’s face it. Paul Scholes is in a class of its own.”
Rio Ferdinand : “I can honestly say Paul is the best player in the England squad. For me he is the complete player.”
Rio Ferdinand : “For me, it’s Paul Scholes. He’ll do ridiculous things in training like say, “You see that tree over there?” – it’ll be 40 yards away – “I’m going to hit it”. And he’ll do it. Everyone at the club considers him the best.”
Phil Neville : “Paul, for me, is the best player in the England team. It worries teams. Speak to any other international team and they will single Paul out as England’s key player. For me, he doesn’t get the full credit that he deserves. He is a world-class player and deserves to be up there with the likes of Zidane and Figo.”
Gary Neville : “I wouldn’t swap Paul Scholes for anybody. He is quite simply the most complete footballer I have ever played with. He is the best.”
Gary Neville : “Paul Scholes is the best player I’ve ever played with. There’s talent in every part of his game.”
Steve Bruce : “He’s the best player in Britain in my opinion and he has to get himself fit just before we are due to play at Old Trafford. I cannot pay Paul a bigger compliment than to say that he’s the most complete footballer in the country. The best bar none.”
Roy Keane : “An amazingly gifted player who remained an unaffected human being.”
George Best : “To be honest I think England have lost their best player. Certainly he’s the most consistent and naturally gifted player we’ve had for a long, long time.”
Sir Bobby Charlton : “I am sorry for England because they don’t have any player like him. You can talk about others but there is no one else like him. He is the best technical player England has without any question. He could have had a lot more caps if he had carried on. And if I was the manager he would have ended up with more than I did – easy”
Sir Bobby Charlton : “He’s always so in control and pinpoint accurate with his passing – a beautiful player to watch.”
Sir Bobby Charlton : “Paul Scholes is my favourite player. He epitomises the spirit of Manchester United and everything that is good about football.”
Sir Alex Ferguson : “Very few players can do that, but Scholes is one of them – and I knew he was one of them. That’s why, without question, I think Paul Scholes is the best player in England. He’s got the best skills, the best brain. No one can match him.”
Sir Alex Ferguson : “He has an awareness of what’s happening around him on the edge of the box which is better than most players. As a kid he always had a knack of arriving in the penalty area just at the right time, but he’s proving just as effective from outside the box because he’s using his experience in the right way. It doesn’t matter who I am thinking about bringing into my midfield, Paul Scholes will be included, as he would in any side in the world.”
Sir Alex Ferguson : Sir Alex Ferguson gave evidence in court on behalf of one of his former trainees and listened to the prosecution barrister’s list of United’s top players.
“You’ve missed Paul Scholes – and he’s my best player,” Ferguson chided her.
Xavi: “In the last 15 to 20 years the best central midfielder that I have seen — the most complete — is Scholes. I have spoken with Xabi Alonso about this many times. Scholes is a spectacular player who has everything.”
“He can play the final pass, he can score, he is strong, he never gets knocked off the ball and he doesn’t give possession away. If he had been Spanish then maybe he would have been valued more.”
CM – Xavi Hernandez – Barcelona
I won’t lie, the reason this Novelty XI appealed to me in the first place was the idea that I could have a midfield of Scholes and Xavi. When you put those two together in the centre of midfield then the only way the other team is going to get the ball back is when they take centre. Xavi is the heartbeat of the Barcelona team that everyone is purring over as one of the greatest of all time and the best of our generation. He’s also the heartbeat of the World and European Champions – Spain. Xavi has already won everything that there is to win, and in the case of the European Cup he has won it twice. League titles – five times. Right now he’s chasing a Treble. That’s to go with the one that he won in 2008 for Barcelona along with the European Championships with Spain. Every child who wants to be a footballer should watch Xavi before they go to bed. Whenever they aren’t playing football or practicing they should be thinking “What would Xavi do?” – he really is that good.
RW – Lars Ricken - Borussia Dortmund
Ricken’s career has been hampered by injury, and that is really the only reason he has been limited to 301 appearances for Dortmund in the 15 years that he was there. Ricken is a player that I will always remember because when I was 12 years old he made the biggest of impacts on a game that a young player could ever hope to make. The youngest scorer, and scorer of the fastest goal in a Champions League Final (on as a substitute for a mere 16 seconds) as Dortmund sealed a win over Juventus. Ricken came on, sprinted onto a through ball and at the tender age of 20 decided to lob the keeper from something approaching 30 yards. Spectacular.
LW – Ryan Giggs – Manchester United
“Giggs, Giggs will tear you apart again” goes the chant and for so many defenders, and so many clubs that must be exactly what it feels like to have to play Giggs. The fact that he is still playing 21 years after making his debut, that he holds Manchester United’s all time appearance record having overtaken Sir Bobby Charlton whilst playing in the Champions League final in Moscow exactly 50 years after the Munich air crash and the fact that he slotted home the winning penalty that night tells you just a few of the things you need to know about Ryan Giggs. But it doesn’t even come close to telling the whole story. Giggs has scored in every single season since the Premiership (and Football) began, he’s also won it 11 times which when added to his 4 FA Cups, 4 League Cups and 2 European Cups is quite simply incredible. The man is an absolute legend at his club and when his own brand of anti-aging cream stops working, when he finally hangs up his boots there won’t be a dry eye in the house at Old Trafford. Or to put it another way, George Best is the old Ryan Giggs. He’s that good.
Trequartista - Francesco Totti – Roma
Some people will hate Totti, but for the red half of Rome he is a God. Il Gladitore as the Italian media have dubbed him is one of the best second strikers I have ever seen. Playing in the hole behind the forwards Totti is both a wonderful goalscorer (204 league goals for Roma in 469 appearances) and a brilliant provider as well (top assist provider in the 2006 World Cup). Totti only has the one Scudetto to his name, but the fact that it was with his beloved Roma will mean more to him than 50 trophies with another club. A true one club legend Totti was also part of the Italian World Cup team, operating behind Luca Toni in the role that suits him best. Totti has had his moments of controversy, in fact, he’s had his moments where it’s hard not to call him every name under the sun, in particular spitting at an opponent. But whilst I can’t condone those actions, I just have to have him in my team.
CF – Nat Lofthouse – Bolton Wanderers
The only player in my team who retired before my time, Lofthouse is a true ‘old school’ pro. Nicknamed the Lion of Vienna after a game in which he rode numerous tackles (assualts would be a better term) to score his second goal in a 3-2 win over Austria. In 14 years for Bolton he scored an amazing 255 goals in 452 games as well as smashing his way to 30 goals in 33 games for England. A goalscoring record that defies belief. Lofthouse only won the one trophy, the FA Cup in 1958, scoring both goals against the Busby Babes of Manchester United. At the time a wave of sympathy for the survivors of the Munich air crash meant that Bolton’s win was an unpopular one, but looking back on it now, with all the success that those players recovered to achieve, and that the club as a whole have had, I think it would be very, very tough to begrudge a man as great as Nat Lofthouse an FA Cup victory. Sadly Nat Lofthouse passed away in January, and his loss was mourned by anyone who has ever come accross him. A brilliant player and a brilliant man.
Mohamed has set himself some rules to follow for the selection of his team and they are quite simply that his players must have played for at least 3 different clubs in different countries. Oh and so that “I have a chance” he’s only selecting currently active players. Playing a 4-3-3 I present to you, the wonderful JOURNEYMEN XI
Edwin van der Sar (Ajax, Juventus, Fulham and Manchester United)
One of the modern great keepers, despite a torrid time in Italy he’s excelled at his three
other clubs. A product of the fabled Ajax academy, Van der Sar was educated like his
predecessor Stanly Menzo, to keep goal the Ajax way – meaning being a sweeper. No
long balls instead start attacks from the back with decisive passing. Johan Cruijff even
quipped that he was the best attacker at the club. Success came naturally like it has done at
Manchester United and with him entering the final games of his long and wonderful career;
football will be a lesser place without him.
Maicon (Cruzeiro, Monaco and Internazionale)
Despite his recent coming together with a certain Gareth Bale, this is the premier right-back
in world football. Unless you say Dani Alves. Still he’s one of the best; his inability against
Spurs was more down to the tactics deployed by his coach, who was clearly not Mourinho.
At full force, he’s a beast of a player an incredible force and few could live with him.
Lúcio (Internacional, Bayer Leverkusen, Bayern Munich and Internazionale)
Maicon’s international and club team mate, one of the more stellar centre-backs around, a
commanding presence at the back and his quality leadership has no doubt bought success
wherever he’s been. The sight of him rampaging through midfield, leaving more attack-
minded teammates in his wake is one to behold. There are few central defenders in world
soccer so adept at bringing the ball out from the back.
Nemanja Vidić (Red Star Belgrade, Spartak Moscow and Manchester United)
A colossus figure at the heart of the defence one that many forwards don’t relish meeting.
And who can blame them given the form he’s been in of late. The last few years has seen
his leadership qualities come to the fore to go with his great reading of the game. One of
the very best in his position unquestionably.
Patrice Evra (Marsala, Monza, Nice, Monaco, Manchester United)
One of the very best in his position if not the best. Evra is a tough customer who is reliable
defensively and outstanding going forward as he regularly overlaps the midfielder before
either crossing or passing the ball inside to a team-mate.
Yaya Touré (Beveren, Metalurh, Olympiacos, Monaco, Barcelona and Manchester City)
He’s been everywhere as you can see, 5 different nations as well growing up in his native
Ivory Coast. One of the more versatile members of the team, he’s capacity to play in
defence, midfield and attack makes him valuable. But it’s his drive from a deep midfield
position that earns him his spot. A truly beast of a player.
Rafael van der Vaart (Ajax, Hamburg, Real Madrid and Tottenham)
Finesse doesn’t begin to describe this remarkable player. He oozes quality, especially so
far this season, whether as a deep-lying playmaker for the national team or as a second-
striker/false no9 call it what you want for Spurs. Either way he’s got skill and excellence in
Wesley Sneijder (Ajax, Real Madrid and Inter Milan)
Arguably the best player of the last year, he would have won the Ballon d’Or if they had
kept their old system. Still putting that to one side, one of the finest midfield playmakers
around, ambidextrous, have yet to see a player capable of taking a corner/free-kick with
either feet and make it look naturally. No surprise as he’s yet another graduate of the Ajax
academy. Also he loves to chip in with a goal to two, most of the time really special.
Cristiano Ronaldo (Sporting Portugal, Manchester United and Real Madrid)
He’s the best in the world or the second best, either way he’s a destructive force, capable of
doing just about anything – on the football pitch that is. Whether scoring from corners via
his brilliant heading, or his trademark ‘punt’ freekicks, to his blistering pace and the ability to
change direction at a flick of a switch, his two-footedness means full-backs struggle at the
best of times.
http://youtu.be/hJXcGbncsiA (just for the ludicrously Savage Garden sounding song)
Carlos Tévez (Boca Juniors, Corinthians, West Ham, Manchester United and Manchester
An industrious goal scorer, that’s how I would describe this Argentine. His travels have seen
him play in his native homeland to the hustle and bustle of the English premier league via a
spell in Brazil with Corinthians. Despite the controversy that has followed him; he’s always
shown a degree of loyalty to the team he’s playing for, well most of the time.
Arjen Robben (PSV, Chelsea, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich)
When he’s not in the medical room, he’s one of the finer left-wingers around and that was
evident for all when he played his part in getting Bayern Munich to the 2010 Champions
League final. Also a league winner in four different leagues, not many can say that.
So, there you have the two teams, please take the time to let us know your thoughts, who you think we could/should have included and even who you think would win.