Monday, 25 June 2007

Curb's Perfect XI

Ever wondered what Alan Curbishley's ideal Premiership team would look like? What the shape, form and characteristics would be of a West Ham team moulded in our manager's vision by our chairman's ambition; fashioned without the constraints of circumstance, time, personnel and money. In short, the look and feel of the team we could all be watching play Champions League football in a new 60,000 stadium within five years.

Below is Alan Curbishley's 'perfect eleven', hand-picked from the entire back-catalogue of Premiership footballers and manipulated into his system of choice. Interestingly, Curbishley shows himself to be neither an apologist for 4-4-2 orthodoxy nor a slave to 4-5-1 pragmatism. His team would be fluid in movement, physically imposing and possess a goal threat from every area of the pitch. There is an emphasis on 'English backbone' and strong leadership, with organisation rather than pace the key attribute in defensive areas. The central midfield would be combative rather than creative, but pace and creative flair would be allied to a strong physical presence in the final third of the pitch. If everything goes to plan, a version of the following team could be coming to a pitch near you very soon.

Goalkeeper- Peter Schmeichel
He took the Premiership by storm. You've got to be a certain sort of player to go to Old Trafford: you can't play for that club unless you can handle it. He galvanised United at the time and I don't think Alex has ever replaced him successfully. I've never seen anyone warm up for a game like Schmeichel: he's so intense it's unbelievable. He must have needed a shower after his warm-up! He was also the first keeper that would catch the ball and throw it to the halfway line. A major icon for United.

Right-back- Gary Neville
I'll go for Gary because he's been in the Premiership for as long it's been going, and has been very consistent. Most Premiership bosses would want him as their right-back. I think England missed him and Beckham missed him when he didn't play at the World Cup. He's a proper leader - very vocal in the dressing room, and a fantastic ambassador for United.

Centre-back- John Terry
Terry has been fantastic for five years and has become a major part of Chelsea's dominance. He's given Chelsea an English backbone, which is important. He's invaluable as a defender but he also chips in with goals: he gets a fair quota every year.

Centre-back- Tony Adams
Tony pulled Arsenal through their successful years, single-handed sometimes! I've recently read Tony's book, and I found it interesting when he says he challenged Dennis Bergkamp when he arrived at Highbury. He asked Dennis why he'd come, whether he had what it takes to win trophies. That's the kind of determination he had. Tony was very defensively solid and - like John Terry - he chips in with important goals.

Left-back- Denis Irwin
Denis Irwin: a right-footed player playing left-back. He never got exposed, he was always driving forward, he got goals. You either sink or swim at Old Trafford, and he was a local boy, he was hungry and he grabbed his chance. I think the back four I've picked would produce 15 goals a season.

Right-midfield- Steven Gerrard
I went for Steven because over the last three or four years he's dragged Liverpool along on lots of occasions. He roams around, playing wide right, wide left; wherever he goes, he's influential. He's the backbone of the team and he can defend, he can score fantastic goals and he can make goals. A real winner.

Centre-midfield- Roy Keane
My captain. I don't think there has been a better player or captain at Old Trafford. He would sit there in the middle controlling things, put in great tackles, get his fair share of goals and create chances, too. He was a real catalyst. Roy never hid, and he got things going all round him: when it wasn't going well on the pitch, he would step up and sort it out.

Left-midfield- Ryan Giggs
Ryan is unbelievably consistent. He must have played in the last 11 or 12 Premierships, so he probably goes unnoticed now. He'd give this side some balance, and he's such a good footballer. Alex is playing him wide right, wide left, centre midfield, up front, all over, and Ryan can do it all. Just the perfect footballer. The injuries have slowed him up, but when we used to play against him, he was a massive threat.

In the hole- Eric Cantona
I wanted to fit in two forwards in, so I'd have Cantona in the hole. His period of dominance was when the Premiership really took off. He had his faults but what a player. United dominated when he was on his game, he really imposed himself. I think Eric would probably ideally like to be one of a front two dropping off, but I can't leave the other two forwards out, so I'm being very offensive.

Striker- Alan Shearer
His ability to score goals is second to none: headers, right foot, left foot, he'll score it. He makes goals, too. And if a game wasn't going well, he'd still give you 90 minutes and battle away for you. He wouldn't ever go missing. His record speaks for itself: he is the ultimate British and Premiership centre-forward.

Striker- Thierry Henry
Henry is unstoppable when he's in full flow. He can turn a game in seconds, and he's brought a new dimension to the Premiership because he's a centre-forward that doesn't play like a traditional centre-forward. He'd drift out and around, making the side a 4-3-3 or a 4-5-1. He can isolate a defender, and you can turn defence into attack so quickly with him, because a simple ball over the top becomes very dangerous.

Manager- Alan Curbishley
I'd love to manage this team. It's a physically imposing side, and it's got goals. When I think about the last 10 years, I've come up against all these players, and they've hurt me in all sorts of ways. I could pick a team that would have a bit more balance and shape, but as individuals, these players stand head and shoulders above the rest. I think they could probably manage themselves though! You've got captains all over the pitch.

Substitutes- Ashley Cole; Dennis Bergkamp; Frank Lampard; Steve Bruce; Robbie Fowler

1 comment:

HeadHammerShark said...

No keeper on the bench again. The man's a lunatic.


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