Every day the gossip columns suggest who will move where and speculate over transfer targets for each club. Whilst it is always enjoyable to contemplate those that are on the market, a more fun and perhaps more thorough method of describing what your team is missing is to look back over your club’s history.
So let’s pose the question – If you could pick any player from your club’s past to come into the current side, who would it be and why?
I’ve picked my suggestions for each Premier League club but this exercise is by no means confined to the English top flight; from Stevenage fans to Juventus followers, let us know your team and your thoughts.
Arsenal – What Arsenal are missing is not a very difficult decision for me. While Bergkamp or Henry would walk into the team, it is not a technical wizard that the Gunners require. The side is crying out for a solid holding midfielder to sharpen up both the defence and the attack. They are also in need of a leader and potential captain. The man who would fit the role like no other is Patrick Vieira. Wenger’s acquisition of Flamini showed this intent, but Vieira is a different class.
Aston Villa – Unfortunately for the Villa faithful, every aspect of the team really needs an overhaul at the moment so there is a huge pot to choose from. The main shortfall however is their difficulty to score goals and so a magician like Paul Merson would be useful.
Burnley – Sean Dyche’s plucky Burnley do not have a shortage of heart, nor do they have a shortage of talent. Their attack is stronger than their defence and perhaps somebody like Clarke Carlisle could add steel to the side. However, no-one would do this to a greater effect than ‘The Beast’ Brian Jensen.
Chelsea – Without doubt the strongest squad in the Premier League with highly talented cover in every position, there is not much that the Blues require. The only position in which they lack decent back up is for Nemanja Matic in the holding role. If the Serb were to be injured or suspended, the options are poor. While Lampard could adapt to the position, he is more suited to being in and around the opposition box so it would be Essien or Makelele for me. As the player who has had the position named after him, Claude Makelele it is.
Crystal Palace – Palace have tried a number of options this year to help Dwight Gayle up front, namely Sanogo, Chamakh and Murray. However a prolific striker is what evades them and there is one man synonymous with goals in Palace’s history; Ian Wright, Wright, Wright.
Everton – The obvious pick for the Toffees would be their prodigy, Wayne Rooney, however with Lukaku, Mirallas, Lennon and Barkley as just a few of their attacking options, Wazza is not essential to the side. This also rules out big names such as Gazza and Tim Cahill. What is crucial is a solid defensive midfielder, especially when Gareth Barry is unavailable. Perhaps the ex-Real Madrid man, Thomas Gravesen is called for?
Hull City – The Tigers are a club who now hold their own in the Premier League and they a solid, hard working side. To take them to the next level however, Steve Bruce could recruit a tricky, exciting central attacking midfielder. Jimmy Bullard could be a choice but the ability of Geovanni would enhance the side no end. Dean Windass could add goals but with Jelavic and N’Doye firing on all cylinders, this wouldn’t be quite as crucial.
Leicester – It is difficult to leave out legends of the game like Lineker, Flowers and Mancini (albeit he was only there for a short loan) but the only position the Foxes haven’t impressed in this year is arguably the centre of midfield. To allow the experienced and hugely skilled Cambiasso to move up the field and contribute with goals, Neil Lennon would be the obvious choice to secure the midfield.
Liverpool – For a club as prestigious as Liverpool, there is a vast pot of world class talent to choose from, and names like Souness, Hansen and Glass could not be disregarded lightly. After Luis Suarez’s departure, and with only Balotelli and Lambert as options, the side requires a top class finisher alongside Sturridge and Sterling. Vying for the spot would be Fowler, Torres or Keegan, and club legend Kenny Dalglish would not usually be overlooked. However, for his immense quality in front of goal, Ian Rush would pip it.
Man City – Who does the team that can buy anyone need? With the cash injection that has benefitted the club in recent years, it can strongly be argued that their current side is the best in their history and so it would only be club legends like Bert Trautmann who could have a place. In Hart and Caballero, City have a world class set of keepers and so I’ve focused on the only position of slight weakness, centre back. With Kompany becoming increasingly less reliable he needs a solid partner. The man for the job would be the Supporter’s Player of the Year in 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008, Richard Dunne.
Man Utd – Boasting players of the calibre of Ronaldo, Beckham and Best, it is difficult to look past such an array of attacking talent. However the Red Devils’ attack is already very strong (slightly resembling a fantasy football team) and it is back towards their own goal where they need the help. The defence has to be the focus and, although Rio Ferdinand is considered a world class defender, I would argue that it is not a ball playing centre back they need, it is a hard man, a leader. This narrows it down to Vidic or Stam for me and I’ll sway towards Jaap Stam, purely because Vidic wouldn’t be the same without Rio.
Newcastle Utd – With a midfield pair that seems settled in Calback and Sissoko, I don’t feel that this is the area for change, nor do the players on the flanks require replacement. Where the side does seem to struggle is at centre back and centre forward. With a fully fit Stephen Taylor however, the defence issue is not too pressing. A shortage of goals since the departure of Demba Ba could be rectified by an out and out number nine. Newcastle have arguably the best history of number nines in English football and any of Milburn, Ferdinand or Cole could be more than efficient, but Alan Shearer’s goalscoring record and legendary status at the club makes him the obvious choice.
Queens Park Rangers – QPR’s side is hugely dependant on Charlie Austin’s goals and without him they would almost certainly be headed for Championship football next season. With little to no firepower in midfield, the London club would benefit greatly from the introduction of Stan Bowles. A club legend, he could either partner Austin up front or contribute with goals from the midfield.
Southampton – With much having been made of Southampton’s youth set up in recent years it is hard to look past Bale, Walcott, Lallana or The Ox. However, the midfield is an area that the Saints have got pretty much nailed down. As the League’s strongest defence there is no need to mess with it and so we are looking for competition and support for Graziano Pelle up front. Shearer, Pahars and Kevin Phillips are all worthy of a recall, but I’m giving it to the Saint’s top scorer in 2001, 2003 and 2004, James Beattie.
Stoke City – As a club that can boast the likes of Shilton and Banks as two of their previous goalkeepers, it is slightly unfortunate (for the purposes of this discussion) that their current goalie, Asmir Begovic is arguably their best player. Stanley Matthews is another possibility however if one trait is interchangeable with the name Stoke City, it is the long throw. With Crouch up front this would be as effective as ever and so it’s obvious. Rory Delap.
Sunderland – Despite their inability to put the ball in the back of the net, The Black Cats have Defoe, Wickham, Graham and Fletcher at their disposal so the attack isn’t my focus. The two positions would be at wing back or centre midfield where they need solidarity. Phil Bardsley was a useful full back during his time at the club but Julio Arca would offer able assistance in both positions; a reliable player to be able to call on.
Swansea – Unfortunately for Swansea fans, the main issues now lie in the absence of a consistent goalscorer. The side play attractive, skilful football but do not have the firepower in Gomis and Emnes to capitalise. Michu, who flourished under Michael Laudrup would bag goals as a lone striker, however (rather ironically) the recently departed Wilfried Bony is the man that could convert tika taka football into goals.
Tottenham Hotspur – With Spurs’ striker crisis seemingly all under control since the emergence of the ‘HurriKane’, the need for a Berbatov or a Les Ferdinand is significantly reduced. Bale, Hoddle and Gascoigne are arguably three of the London club’s greatest players, but is it going forward where they struggle? A centre back would be my pick and it could easily be Sol Campbell, but a fully fit Ledley King is claimed by Spurs fans to be different class and so he would come in to shore up the defence.
West Bromwich Albion – With Tony Pulis as manager their defence seems more solid and they have this season seen the emergence of prodigy Saido Berahino; it is he who is keeping the club in the Premier League this year. Their main issue is a shortage of goals from midfield and Bryan Robson would chip in without a shadow of a doubt.
West Ham Utd – With a colourful array of talent in West Ham’s history, it’s tough to pick just one. Up-and-coming talent like Rio, Lampard or Defoe could feature, while the Argentine duo of Mascherano and Tevez are arguably the last two world class Hammers. The list goes on with Devonshire, Brooking or Bonds while Moore and Hurst were earlier. A past filled with legends of the game, but the weakest point in the current team is on the wing and with the inclusion of Paolo Di Canio, the side would only be enhanced.
Finally, as an Ipswich fan, I can also say that I would pick Matty Holland to return to the Tractor Boys.
So I’ve pitched some ideas for each Premier League side but it is down to you, the fans, to either agree or set me straight; who do you want back in your club’s shirt?