Saturday, May 3, 2008

My Starting XI

I didn't include any players from the top 4 clubs (Wes Brown excluded) because if I did the entire team would be made up of top 4 players and that's no fun. Also if I really could make a starting XI of Premier League players this is the team I would pick, no jk. A team of United, Chelsea, Arsenal, and Liverpool superstars would be a disastrous ego clash of epic proportions. Kind of like the championship-winning Lakers of the 80's that featured a starting 5 of four #1 draft picks. But reversies.

Not a single one of these players need my verbal backing to validate their place in the team of the season. Their play on the field speaks for themselves but I'll still sprinkle a bit of well-deserved praise upon them.

Goalkeeper: Tim Howard - Everton
A few years on after a disappointing spell at United, Howard has cut the nonsense out of his game to become one of the most reliable keepers for one of the stingiest defenses in England. Also he was probably the deciding factor between Everton and Aston Villa in the race for 5th place. I mean have you seen Scott Carson?

Right Back: Glen Johnson - Portsmouth
Like Howard, Johnson is another reject from a big club who's finally come good on his potential. He's enjoyed by far the best season of his career as a vital cog in the Portsmouth rearguard. Despite his penchant for committing the oddest of crimes, I'm sure Chelsea would love to have him back and put the 16 million pounds they just spent on Portuguese right back Jose Bosingwa to better use. (16 MILLION?? For a right back? Fucking jokers)

Center Back: Joleon Lescott - Everton
He has an unusually large and odd-shaped head that's helped him score 8 goals this season, mostly off headers, which is not a bad haul for a defender. He's marshaled the aformentioned Everton defense brilliantly throughout the season and has been the one mainstay in a revolving door of a back four. And he has a gnarly scar on his forehead which is great for intimidation purposes. What more can be said about him? He's got the makings of an England legend.

Center Back: Wes Brown - Manchester United
Yes I know he plays for one of the big 4 but let's not kid ourselves, if Gary Neville hadn't been injured all season young Wesley wouldn't have had a sniff of playing time. That being said, Wes has shaken my beliefs to the core this season by consistently putting in one competent performance after another. Previous to this season the last two words I would've associated with Wes Brown are consistent and competent. It's like my retarded son suddenly isn't retarded anymore. I mean I'm happy, but it's just weird. He must be on steroids.

Left Back: Nicky Shorey - Reading
You may think it bit daft of me to put in a defender who played for one of the worst defenses in the league, letting up a whooping 66 goals, on a team that was so bad they're not allowed back next year (they were relegated). Well it's not daft if he tallies up 10 assists and 3 goals, especially on such a bad team. Plus he completes my all-English defense.

Right Midfield: David Bentley - Blackburn
The other DB of similar Kickette fame (for the ladies) and free kick abilities (for the boys) makes it into the squad after a breakout year scoring 6 goals and dishing 10 assists to help Blackburn to a very respectable 7th place finish. Like ya boy Becks, the other David should be a mainstay for the England squad for years to come and, if he plays his cards right, he could also land a fat MLS contract when he hits his mid-30's. He's clearly destined for pastures greener than any Blackburn can offer. And there probably isn't much pop star wife material in Lancashire, either.

Center Midfield: Gareth Barry - Aston Villa
If I had to pick a captain for this team, Gareth Barry would without a doubt be donning the armband. He has been simply inspirational both for England and Aston Villa. His football IQ is incredible, natural leader on and off the field, and he's the owner of the most cultured left foot since Jason Ackerman. 9 goals and 10 assists later he's earned himself a starting job in the hotly contested England midfield and probably a move to Liverpool. God I hope he doesn't go to Liverpool. That would suck. That would really suck. That would "douche bag arch-rival stole my girlfriend" suck. Gareth Barry would be my girlfriend in this analogy.

Center Midfield: Elano - Manchester City
As talanted a passer as they come and a deadly long-range shot in his arsenal as well, the least Brazilian-looking Brazilian since Anderson Varejao makes the cut thanks to a sublime 1st half of the season and despite his disappointing 2nd half. Sven Goran Eriksson's crown jewel suffered a severe mid-season slump with only one goal from mid-October to early March but still managed 8 goals and 9 assists thanks to a strong start and decent finish.

Left Midfield: Ashley Young - Aston Villa
Another young lad with a penchant for peculiar antics. Ok peculiar isn't the right word, how about it's weird, it's fucking weird. Should get along great with Glen Johnson. So he may be a creep but on the field he's brilliant. Fastest player I've seen this side of Cristiano Ronaldo but he's a much better crosser of the ball. And he actually likes to pass the ball with a league-best 17 assists so at least he's got that over Ronaldo.

Striker: Roque Santa Cruz - Blackburn
Bargain basement buy of the season, hands down. Mark Hughes bought him for 3.5 million pounds in the summer and he went on to score 19 goals, 4th best in the league. To put this in perspective, Fernando Torres scored 24 goals this season, 3rd best in the league. He was bought for 26 million pounds. Also ups the latin heartthrob factor of my team which should bump up jersey sales.

Striker: Dimitar Berbatov - Tottenham
Perfect strike partner to complement the deadly finishing of Roque. With 15 on the season he knows how to score, that's for sure. But with 11 assists as well he's also proven himself to be one of the more well-rounded forwards in the game today.
He holds the ball up well and links very well with the midfield and fellow forwards. His first touch and dribbling ability is effortless and immaculate and he has a 6th sense of where everyone is on the field. Am I flirting with hyperbole? Maybe. But I've also never seen a player like him since Eric Cantona, dead serious. The boy's a bit special.

Honorable Mentions (plus why they didn't make the cut):
David James (atrocious hairstyles, have you no dignity?), Martin Laursen (inconsistent, too many Aston Villa players already), Benjani (15 goals, 3 since January),
Stewart Downing (I just plain don't like him)

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