Well, in response to the following proposal from my son in the US, I pondered what my selection would be for a best XI of the last two decades.
This was his selection:
Right Back Center Backs Left Back
D. Petrescu M. Desially J.Terry A.Cole
F. Lampard R. Gullit
Right Wing Left Wing
E. Hazard A. Robben
We have to start with the hub and build around it.
That is a choice between Makelele and Deschamps. And the shirt goes to Claude. Deschamps suffered from playing before Makelele had made the role sexy. Cantona called him a water-carrier. Madrid management thought much the same about Makelele – his team mates knew otherwise.
We got really lucky there. And as a bonus he could play right back. Only recall him shooting twice – and both led to goals (one being Lampard’s that magic night at Highbury).
Behind him we have to have Desailly, who was the first genuinely then-current best-in-world player (in their position) we’d ever had. It was remarkable watching him play for us in his first couple of seasons. He was simply so good. He could also play holding midfield like Makelele.
But who to pair him with is a tougher call. My head says Gallas or Carvalho, while the heart says you can’t leave out Mr Chelsea. Ok, with Makelele in front of him and Desailly beside him we can live with Terry’s deficiencies and enjoy the benefits of his leadership etc.
In front of Makelele, assuming that we need to average 2 goals a game, we can’t ignore Lampard’s 20+ goals a season plus his end-to-end coverage and sometimes remarkable passing range. Frank is worth roughly one-third of a goal a game. That’s right up there with elite strikers – and as he’s a midfielder you can regard them as something of a bonus.
Who with him?
The choice falls between Gullit, Essien and Ballack.
Ruud looked like a giant amongst insects when he first came to us – because he was (despite his dodgy knee).
Take a look at the names on a teamsheet of the time and you’ll see what I mean. But the fact is he was no longer the player that he had been at Ajax, Milan, or even Sampdoria.
Essien at his best offered a drive from Midfield and could fill-in in defence.
Then there is Ballack. His natural game mirrored Lampard’s but he was smart and adaptable enough to alter as was needed. The few times Lamaprd was injured or sick he went back to his natural game. Otherwise he let his vision do the rest. Another great free-kick and the best penalty-taker we had.
Der zweizerkaiser for me. Although In would say that in a year-or-so’s time I believe the answer will be a no-brainer: Oscar
If we’re playing 4-3-3 then the central striker has to be Drogba.
Back to the other end of the spine the choice is also simple: Cech
Now the wings.
Ashley Cole was (and may yet be still) the best left back in the world. Or as good as the best. So there’s no problem there. In front of him the choice is from Arjen Robben, Damien Duff and Juan Mata. Of the three Duff tracked back the best (and ran himself into the ground in the process).
Robben was just too fragile (or too inviting to clog out of a game). Mata has survived multiple cloggings and got up smiling every time. He’s scored 20 goals and leads the PL table for assists.
Juan Mata will only get better. Mata gets the gig.
Right back is between Dan Petrescu and Paulo Ferreira. Mourinho described Ferreira as a 7-out-of-10 player, every game. Never a 9 or 10 – never a 5 or 6.
If you want a reliable right back who defends and can double in the middle if needed Paulo was the guy. In front of him I’m inclined to follow you and go for Eden Hazard. He’s only been with us a season and it hasn’t been the best of environments. But I can see him turning into something really special next season.
So my selection would be:
Ferreira – Desailly – Terry – Cole
Ballack – Makelele – Lampard
Hazard – Drogba – Mata
Quite a team……….
………… They could become Champions of Europe …………
Posted by Steve Symmons