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Premier League team of the ‘noughties’

The skipper

The skipper

As we approach the end of the decade somewhat annoyingly referred to as the ‘noughties’ I thought I would pick my team of the decade from the English Premier League.

It isn’t an easy task as there have been some wonderful players. This is my opinion and it will no doubt be different to everyone else’s. That is the great thing about football, we all have different opinions that we truly believe to be right.

Consistent

In goal I am going to choose Manchester City’s Shay Given. He has been a consistent performer for many years and along with Mark Schwartzer and Brad Friedel has probably been the most consistent keeper of the decade. On his day Petr Cech or Pepe Reine may be individually better, but Shay Given gets my vote every time.

At right back I have to go for Gary Neville. I know he is one of the most hated footballers outside of Manchester but until he first began to get injured a couple of years ago there was nobody to touch him in the right back position.

Talent

At left back there are a few obvious candidates. I hate myself for doing this but I’m going to choose Ashley Cole. The reason I hate myself is because poor Ashley makes himself a very difficult player and personality to like. However, in order to pick the best team one has to rise above personal dislike and there is no doubting his talent.

The two centre-backs are difficult to choose but I have made my decision. The opinion about Rio Ferdinand is well and truly divided but I believe that at his best he is as good as anyone in the world in that position. He would always be in my team, despite his occasional mistakes. He has the lot as a defender.

Unbeatable

The other centre-back position goes to Jaap Stam. He moved away from the Premier League towards the end of 2001 but he played in this decade and was unbeatable. If he hadn’t have upset Sir Alex in his autobiography I have no doubt that Stam would be regarded as one of the Premier League’s greatest ever players.

On the right of midfield you can’t look past the phenomenon that is David Beckham. Until he moved to Spain in the summer of 2003 he was outstanding for United. His delivery from open play and set-pieces was the best I have ever seen.

Contentious

The left of midfield is a contentious position because most people would say that Ryan Giggs was a ‘shoe-in’. Whilst I admire the Welsh wing wizard and everything he has achieved I am going to overlook him for ex-Arsenal star Robert Pires. He wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea and he certainly knew how to take a tumble, but he was a magnificent player for the Gunners and because of the brilliance of others, most notably Thierry Henry, didn’t always get the credit he deserved.

In the middle of midfield there are too many contenders to even think about. For that reason I am going to choose two men who I think made the biggest impact on the teams they played for. Patrick Vierra was the heartbeat of that great Arsenal side of the early ‘noughties’. He drove the team forward and did the work of two men as well as creating so many chances and chipping in with a few goals. In his time at Arsenal he was the complete midfielder and there is a strong argument to say he has never been replaced.

Brilliance

Alongside Vierra I am going to select Clause Makelele. His absolute brilliance in the defensive midfield role allowed Chelsea to have the success they did. It was no co-incidence that Real Madrid struggled for a while after he left. He was such a master of the role that it is now known by his name. That says it all.

The two up front by no means pick themselves but are two magnificent players. People may ask how I could leave out Alan Shearer, the Premier League’s record goalscorer. The answer is that I am selecting Thierry Henry, simply the finest forward player to grace the Premier League and Ruud van Nistelrooy, simply the best finisher I have ever seen.

So there we have it,

Given
Neville, Stam, Ferdinand, Cole
Beckham, Vierra, Makelele, Pires
Henry, van Nistelrooy

What do you think?

Sun 27 December, 2009
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