Selecting the best team of a decade can be a flawed approach – you miss the players who straddled the previous and current decades, you forget players who were great in the first half of the decade and you give undue importance to players of the latter half of the current decade.
Still, if you can expect anyone to make ‘reasonable’ picks, it would be Premier League managers (like Avram Grant), right? Right…
Maybe the next survey should mandate that the managers have actually MANAGED in the Premier League for the last decade before asking them about the best players? Or are managers as bad with their memories as football fans (utterly hopeless)?
Anyway, here’s Barclay’s Premier League team of the decade (as part of a survey conducted of the 2010/2011 top flight managers) and the notable omissions.
MANAGERS’ TEAM OF DECADE
GK: Edwin van der Sar
RB: Gary Neville
CB: Nemanja Vidic
CB: John Terry
LB: Ashley Cole
RM: Cristiano Ronaldo
CM: Steven Gerrard
CM: Paul Scholes
LM: Ryan Giggs
S: Didier Drogba
S: Alan Shearer
- Van der Sar was a firm favourite in goal, with 53% of respondents choosing him ahead of Chelsea’s Petr Cech (33%).
- Ashley Cole convincingly secured the left-back spot, with 73% of the vote, ahead of Patrice Evra (27%). Neville took the right-back position with 60%.
- John Terry received 40% of votes at centre-back, with Vidic joining him (27%). Rio Ferdinand was edged out after receiving 20%.
- Giggs was an emphatic winner in the vote for the left side of midfield, with 87%. His former team-mate Ronaldo (67%) easily beat another Manchester United legend, David Beckham (27%), to the right-flank position. Beckham did not play for long in the Premier League at the start of the decade, having joined Real Madrid in 2003.
- Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard (33%) is the only non-United player in midfield, partnering Scholes (23%) in the centre, meaning there was no place for Roy Keane (17%), Cesc Fabregas (10%) or Frank Lampard (10%).
- In attack, Chelsea’s Didier Drogba (23%) and former Newcastle star Alan Shearer (23%) were the joint favourites of the managers, seeing off competition from Thierry Henry (17%), Wayne Rooney (20%) and Dennis Bergkamp (10%).
- Sir Alex Ferguson’s 2007/8 Manchester United side were chosen as the outstanding team of the decade, ahead of Arsenal’s 2003/4 ‘Invincibles’ and Jose Mourinho’s 2005/6 title winners.
- The 2007/8 season, which saw United pip Chelsea to the title by two points, and Roy Hodgson’s Fulham perform a miraculous escape from relegation, was rated as the most exciting campaign of the decade.
- Not much to say about the goalkeeping position, although one wonders how many votes Brad Friedel garnered.
- Jamie Carragher will not be pleased at missing out on the center-back berths.
- Thierry Henry and Ruud van Nistelrooy were both better performers than Drogba and Shearer, their goal-scoring records speak for themselves.
- Are we picking central midfielders on talent or impact on their team’s fortunes? Vieira, Fabregas, Lampard (especially Lampard) and Tim Cahill all very important for their teams. Best players? Scholes and Gerrard might edge it, although Fabregas is up there with them (Keane’s best years probably came in the previous decade). Scholesy’s impact on the team this decade is debatable beyond the first few seasons.
Overall, it’s a fair team (Lampard over Scholes *maybe*) apart from the striking positions, where Henry and Nistelrooy are shoe-ins ahead of Drogba and Rooney.
Who would make it in your Premier League Team of the Decade?