After our new author JAFL inadvertently sparked off the customary Friday controversy by telling Liverpool fans that they won’t win the Premiership this season, one of the threads talked about “who had the better players” between Manchester United and Liverpool.
As a result of that discussion, here is my pick of a starting 11, a manager and 7 (1 keeper, 2 defenders, 2 midfielders, 2 strikers) bench players for a combined team from the two clubs. I’m a Manchester United fan, but I will do my best to be objective.
Criteria for picking the team:
- We’re going for a 4-4-2 formation.
- We’re picking a team that should do well in the Premiership AND Europe.
- Only current squads will be used.
- The focus is on picking a team that is the best at present. I understand that each club has tremendous potential in young players, but picking Evans as a defender just because he’s got a great future ahead of him means diddly squat. It doesn’t do justice to the players who are performing well today.
Please remember that when you carry out this ‘combination exercise’ between two top teams like Liverpool and Manchester United, the decisions are based on the tiniest of differences as in most cases both players will be very close in terms of ability. So don’t take too much offense and realise that with a slight adjustment the decision can easily go the other way.
Ready? On we go.
Manager: Sir Alex Ferguson
Starting 11: Edwin van der Sar, Gary Neville, Rio Ferdinand, Jamie Carragher, Gabriel Heinze, Cristiano Ronaldo, Steven Gerrard, Xabi Alonso, Ryan Giggs, Wayne Rooney, Louis Saha
Bench: Pepe Reina, Brown, Vidic, Sissoko, Scholes, Peter Crouch, Bellamy
Score: Manchester United 12-7 Liverpool
Several tough calls to be made here and I’m sure people will disagree. The ones I think could have gone either way I’ve put in bold.
Ferguson vs Benitez – went for Ferguson’s experience in the Premiership – winning back to back league titles or the Champions League with a famous comeback is not only the realm of Rafa’s teams.
van der Sar vs Reina – calmer, better positioning skills. Reina probably has slightly faster reflexes, but van der Sar’s experience and control of his box compensates for that.
Neville vs Finnan – Experience wins out again. Finnan has improved considerably (and can play RM in a pinch) but my vote’s with Neville, also because of his single-mindedness.
Ferdinand and Carragher – the two best central defenders in the two teams, so no arguments there. Vidic and Hyppia were other candidates, but these two are proven and first choice.
Heinze vs Aurelio vs Riise – One of the toughest choices to make. Aurelio has a lot of talent (although I’ve seen very little of him), Riise has an awesome shot while Heinze is the toughest left-back I’ve ever seen. I guess this is one area where us biased fans cannot decide fairly, so I’m interested in seeing who non-Manchester United and non-Liverpool fans pick as left-back.
Ronaldo vs Pennant – One of the easiest choices to make. Like him or hate him he is one of the most talent youngsters around.
Gerrard and Alonso vs Sissoko, Scholes and Carrick – I went for the established partnership of Alonso and Gerrard. Sissoko is a good hard-man to have but I’d rather keep him on the bench.
Giggs vs Gonzalez vs Kewell – Giggs all the way folks. Pure class, and his ability to switch wings as well as play up front in a pinch speaks volumes for the abilities of the Welsh winger.
Rooney – This guy is a shoe-in, the same way Gerrard is a shoe-in for a midfield slot and Ronaldo is guaranteed a spot on the wing. Many others will disagree, and that’s ok.
Saha vs Crouch – I plumped for Saha because of his on-field relationship with Rooney, Ronaldo and Giggs (the four form an awesome attacking quartet for Manchester United – imagine how well Gerrard and Alonso would fit with them). Saha’s injury problems aside, he is an effective goal-scorer although yes, I could have also gone for Peter Crouch here. Bottom line? It was a 50-50 call for me, and with nothing substantial to decide either way I went with the club bias.
Bench – Brown as utility defender (can play across the back four), Vidic as backup central defender, the rest are pretty obvious choices (although it was hard to choose between Kuyt and Bellamy, I went for Bellamy because Bellamy has the pace and the skills are already in the side with Saha and Crouch)
Made this list considering that we were building a team for the next three years (and for this season only).
Starting 11: Reina, Brown, Ferdinand, Carragher, Heinze, Ronaldo, Alonso, Gerrard, Aurelio, Rooney, Crouch
Bench: Foster, Vidic, O’Shea, Carrick, Sissoko, Rossi, Bellamy
Score: Manchester United 11-8 Liverpool
Now it’s your turn – let me know your starting 11 and manager pick for a combined Liverpool and Manchester United team, according to the criteria I listed at the beginning. Oh and don’t forget to mention which club you support 🙂