|photo by diasUndKompott||via PhotoRee|
November 15, 2010/ Minsk, Russia
It’s a cold one today here in the former USSR, and as I finish up my research for a future three-part docu-drama blog for farlieonfootie on FC Dynamo Minsk, I thought it might be about time to publish the first quarter All-Ed team. What does it take to be a member of this coveted group? Well, great play, style, toughness, and as regular readers of my columns already know, more than one name.
So these are the guys I want to go to battle with for the rest of the EPL season. We’re a little weak at the back – as is the whole of the EPL this season – but hey, no one likes watching those nil - nil games anyhow. My guys are going to play attacking footie, and put some numbers on the board. And at while my coach wants to go with the 4-3-3, we’ve got to do what matches our talent best, and go with the 4-4-1-1:
1. The Tick. One might at first think that Didier Drogba would be the obvious choice for striker – the size, speed, stats and ominous name would seem to put him over the top. But I prefer Carlos Tevez -- the little guy who tells Man United he’s the best striker on the team and then goes out and proves it.
Tevez never stops annoying his coaches. He writes bizarre and unintelligible things on his shin guards and pulls them out and shows them (kind-of) to the cameras after every play (huh?). He’s proud of his burn marks – proud of them! And most importantly, he never, ever stops harassing opposing defenses. Every game he just thrashes and gnaws and bites his way to victory. Someone – I think it was farlieonfootie while stuffing an oversized “Polish Taco” into his mouth (bologna, boiled ham, mayo, pickles, ham, and some spicy peppers, all served up gloriously in a hard taco shell) -- told me that Manchester City hasn’t won a game that Tevez hasn’t started. Gotta love the Tick. He’s my guy up top. Honorable mention: Didier Drogba, Chelsea, and Andrew Carroll, Newcastle.
2. The Artist. With a name like Rafael Van der Vaart, and an intensity that’s second only to my striker’s, I have to have VDV right behind the Tick at the top. I pity the defense that tries to lackadasically play the ball left and right and back to the goalie. Seriously? VDV and the Tick will eat that stuff up. And if the Tick doesn’t put it past your keeper, the wicked left foot of this guy will. VDV has injected more into Spurs than anyone could have imagined. In addition to his energy, his control of the ball and vision have been remarkable. Plus, he’s the type of guy that just might body check you into next week for no good reason. Gotta have him. Got to. Honorable Mention: Clinton Dempsey, Fulham and Texas.
3. The Pale Rider. Gareth Bale has been widely covered this season for a reason: he’s been dominating in his play in the Champion’s League, and his play in the EPL ain’t been too bad, either. I used to consider him just an athlete who played football, but anyone who’s watched him knows better than that. His ball control, dribbling and passing have all been at the top, and his surges past defenders and down the line have been followed with perfect crosses. This is a guy who only last year began pretty miserably as a backup at left back, and then moved up to midfield only after injuries took out Modric and Lennon. Now he’s among the best in the world and on the all-Ed team. About all this guy needs is a tan. Seriously, get some sun Gareth, you’re only about a mole away from full vampire complexion. But aside from that, suit up because you’re starting this week at left-mid, my old position. Honorable mention: Florent Malouda, Chelsea.
4. The Bomb. Just how many points does Blackpool have without Charlie Adam? Would they have 15 and be in 10th place in the EPL? No way, baby. But more importantly, this Vice-Captain and his squad are arguably the most fun team to watch in the EPL. I have written about his nutmeg and embarrassment of Joe Cole (See “Blackpoll Drop the Adam Bomb”). A few weeks later in a game in which they outplayed City, he nutmegged the Tick twice! And only due to some dubious goals by the Tick was City – the billion dollar team – able to come away with the win against lowly Blackpool. Plus Adam bludgeons people with his left-footed shots on set pieces and has a big gap in his teeth. I want this Scotsman running the show for me at center-mid. Honorable mention: Luka Modric, Tottenham.
5. Kojo. To help free up my guy Charlie, I’m going to give him Michael “Kojo” Essian to help him out in the center. Chelsea with Essien are a very different team than Chelsea without him. Not only is he extremely skilled with the ball, but he has more speed than most people realize. Perhaps most importantly, though, Essien always seems to keep the pressure at bay. It’s almost as if he plays with the idea that he knows he’s getting away with something big by playing football for a living. And that he knows that in the grand scheme of things, it’s just a game to be enjoyed. Good for him, and welcome to the squad. Honorable mention: Charles N’Zogbia, Wigan.
6. The Algerian. I don’t really like Arsenal that much, although I don’t really dislike them, either. I think I “appreciate” them because I’ve been told to, but I find their play consistently uninspiring. I mean I get it – the control of the ball, the short quick passes, the intricate patterns, and then the strike – but for some reason this year and last it just seems they’re going through the motions. Well most of them anyway, but not my guy, Samir Nasri. I actually believe he’s the best player on the team right now. He’s got enough pace to leave you stumbling just to stay up when he blows by you. He’s got great control, great vision, and a tough shot. Plus he’s got two names and they’ve got that African/French strangeness to them. I mean, he sounds like a guy that might just be hanging out with Keiser Sose. And therefore I’m starting him at right mid. Honorable Mention: Luis Nani, Manchester United, Tomas Rosicky, Arsenal.
7. and 8. The Cleaners. Branislov Ivanovic may be the most underrated defensemen in the EPL. I don’t believe people think he’s bad, it’s just that I don’t think they realize just how good he is. In fact, he’s so good I think I’m going to put him in the middle, and see if he can get along with his fellow former Yugoslavian defenseman Nemanja Vidic. Mind you, I don’t think Vidic is all that great, but he’s solid, and he doesn’t pound people and then flop, and frankly that’s all we can ask for this year. Plus I like the idea of these two just barking instructions to everyone in Serbian. Just sounds like that would be so inspiring to young Serbians around the globe. Honorable Mention: Brede Hangeland, Fulham and Liam Ridgwell, Birmingham.
9. The WASP. What’s so wrong with Leighton Baines? Why doesn’t anyone show him any respect? He’s great on set pieces. He’s a terrific attacking defenseman. He plays with great enthusiasm. So he’s got a name that sounds like someone who’s working his way up to Vice Commodore at the Swarthmore Bay Yacht Club, but hey, he can play! So he’s my starting left back. Honorable mention: Stephen Warnock, Aston Villa.
10. The Ivorian. To round out my squad, I’m picking City’s Kolo Toure for right back. Sure, maybe he’s a center back, but I can’t think of anyone better for the position, and I’ve already moved Ivanovic to the center, so Kolo is going to have to handle the right side. I think he’s fast enough and strong enough to do just fine. If it doesn’t work out, I’ll move my Serbian friend back there, but for now let’s go with this guy. Honorable Mention: Bacary Sagna, Arsenal.
11. The Wall. No one’s played keeper this year as well as Joe Hart. Look, I love Shay Given, but I remember Hart pre-City playing after getting viciously cleated in the skull. He’s tough, and there’s no easy goal with him in the net. Plus England Manager Fabio Capello wouldn’t start him in the World Cup, so he must be damn good. Honorable Mention: Ben Foster, Birmingham, Brad Friedel, Aston Villa.
12. The Angry Chicken. Ian Holloway may not look as pretty as Roberto Mancini (long hair or short, you pick, because you know I’m beautiful either way), but in the matchup with City, Holloway made Mancini look like someone who’s never watched a game before. He’s taking risks, but with the talent he has on his team he needs to. Plus, he’s only about a year or two removed from making chicken sheds for a living -- that’ll give a man some motivation to keep us on the winning side. Coach Holloway, here are the keys – let’s go for a drive!!! Honorable Mention: Owen Coyle, Bolton.
This is farlieonfootie for November 18.