The 2014-15 Pele Confidential Alternative Premier League Team of the Year

mceachran

With some stalwarts of the game set to move on this summer, the time has come to recognise those ignored by the official team of the year. Sure, this might be because no one else even realised they were still playing in the Premier League, but that’s hardly important here.

 

Goalkeeper – Carlo Nash

The literalists among you may argue that Nash doesn’t even play in the Premier League, and sure, you’re technically right. However does any reserve goalkeeper ever really play in the Premier League?

Nash made 0 top-flight appearances in each of the last seven seasons, but was registered to Wigan, Everton, Stoke and Norwich for the entirety of the period. The fact that he retired last summer should hardly matter.

 

Right-Back – Kyle Walker-Peters

We all knew the replicants were set to rise up, but I don’t think any of us expected it to happen so soon. Walker-Peters is a second-generation AI, after the moderate success of Fulham’s Moussa Dembele in the 2013-14 season, while his operating system has been trialled in Montreal where striker Romario Williams made his debut earlier in the year.

 

Centre-Back – Alex Bruce

It takes some moxie to base your entire career on the Simpsons episode Bart Star, but Bruce found a way. Seriously, I’m not even mad.

 

Centre-Back – Zeki Fryers

When Manchester United let Fryers leave for Standard Liege in 2012, it was rumoured that the decision was an elaborate campaign to prove there were other Belgian clubs besides Royal Antwerp. The defender scored 0 goals in 7 games for the side, following that with an impressive 0 in just 7 for Tottenham. He now plays for Crystal Palace, allegedly.

 

Left-Back – Bryan Oviedo

A harsh lesson in the volatility of stock-trading, Oviedo enjoyed a fruitful 2013-14 after receiving investment from journalist Sid Lowe and long-haired meme Michu. However this year, just like fellow Costa Rican international Mauricio Bitcoin, his stock has plummeted, leaving him practically unusable.

 

Centre-Midfield – Josh McEachran

Josh McEachran is still a Chelsea player. Josh McEachran is getting kept out of the Vitesse team by other Chelsea players. Josh McEachran’s last Chelsea appearance came against Wolves in January 2012. Since that game, Wolves have been relegated twice and promoted once. They could be promoted again while Josh McEachran is a Chelsea player. Josh McEachran’s last Chelsea appearance came in a game involving Fernando Torres, Juan Mata, Raul Meireles, David Luiz, Ashley Cole and Bosingwa. None of these people still play for Chelsea. Josh McEachran is still a Chelsea player. These are facts.

 

Centre-Midfield – Chris Brunt/Graeme Dorrans/James Morrison/Craig Gardner

 

Centre-Midfield – Sebastian Lletget

Watch us wreck the mic, watch us wreck the mic, watch us wreck the mic…psyche! Lletget ready to rumble. Lletget ready to rumble. Get ready get steady and rumble. Everybody rumble. Sit back cracker jack don’t take no flack, rhyme in time to the rhythm of the track. Lletget ready to rumble.

No league appearances. Rumoured to be moving to MLS with LA Galaxy over the summer.

 

Right-Wing – Shaun Wright-Phillips

Shaun Wright-Phillips is 33 years old. Thirty-three. How did we, as a society, allow this to happen without making more of a fuss? He’s older than Sienna Miller. He’s older than Britney Spears. He’s older than long-retired Argentinean tennis player Guillermo Coria. Is none of this even a little bit weird?

 

Left-Wing – Mauro Zarate

In an example of peak Harry Redknapp, QPR’s transfer business this season has seen them sign a talented Chilean forward with talents not necessarily suited to the Premier League, then in the following transfer window bring in another version of the same guy. If that wasn’t enough, Eduardo Vargas and Mauro Zarate openly hate each other. And if *that* wasn’t enough, Redknapp attempted to send Zarate back to West Ham in the same window, a move which was literally impossible under Premier League rules. Top planning, there.

 

Striker – Facundo Ferreyra

Take a look at this! That right there is the mail. Now let’s talk about the mail. Can we talk about the mail, please, Mac? I’ve been dying to talk about the mail with you all day, okay? Facundo Ferreyra. This name keeps coming up over and over again. Every day, Facundo’s mail is getting sent back to me. Facundo Ferreyra. Facundo Ferreyra. I look in the mail, well THIS WHOLE BOX IS FACUNDO FERREYRA! So I say to myself, I gotta find this guy. I gotta go up to his office. I gotta put his mail in the guy’s goddamn hands otherwise he’s never gonna get it. He’s gonna keep coming back down here. So I go up to Facundo’s office and what do I find out, Mac? What do I find out? There is no Facundo Ferreyra. The man does not exist! Okay. so I decided, ohhhhh shit, buddy. I gotta dig a little deeper. There’s no Facundo Ferreyra? You gotta be kidding me. I got boxes full of Facundo. Alright, so I start marching my way down to Carol in HR. And I knock on her door and I say “CAAAAAAROL. CAAAAAAAAAAAROL. I gotta talk to you about Facundo.” And when I open the door, wha’ do I find? There’s not a single goddamn desk in that office! THERE. IS. NO. CAROL IN HR. Mac, half the employees in this building have been made up. This office is a goddamn ghost town.

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The Best Football Writing of 2014

2014 saw some awful football writing. I mean, truly awful. The sort of stuff that brings shame to the already lowly art of clickbait, and that’s only the tip of the iceberg.

But this year has also seen some fantastic work by a number of writers, both professional and amateur, serious and satirical, and here are some of the best:

January:

Why Football is Too Tolerant of Anti-Semitism by Darren Richman (@DarrenRichman) for FourFourTwo

How to Make Football Better by Ally Moncrieff (@AllOrNothingMag) for BetsOfMates

Are Football Clubs Thinking Enough About Social Media? by Alex Stewart (@AFHStewart) for Huffington Post

Football, Globalization, and the Dutchman from Japan by Elko Born (@Elko_B) for The False Nine

How to Enjoy the Premier League Without Being a Dick by Callum Hamilton (@Callum_TH) for VICE Sports

Scotland Unites in Support of Divisive Figure Fernando Ricksen by Peter McVitie (@PeterMcVitie) for BeNeFoot

February:

Why David Moyes Cannot Save Himself at Manchester United by Rob Brown (@robbro7)

Martin Demichelis is Pellegrini’s Bad Lieutenant by Oscar Rickett (@oscarrickettnow) for VICE Sports

Wayne Rooney – The Lost Boy Wonder by Callum Hamilton for SBNation

The Changing Language of Football by Rob Brown

Anelka Suspension: 5 Games Feels Far too Few by Andi Thomas (@andi_thomas) for SBNation

March:

Reading Deadspin? Allow a Former MLS Player to Convince You Otherwise by Bobby Warshaw (@bwarshaw14) for Deadspin

A Curious Website Launch by Caroline Hatwell (@hatwell) for Typical City

A Monument to Losing: The Importance of World Cup Heartbreak by Zack Goldman (@thatdamnyank) for A Football Report

April:

Steve Evans: Football Manager. Convicted Criminal by Ian King (@twoht) for Two Hundred Percent

Lewis Emanuel: Talent, Torment and Armed Robbery by Jamie Allen (@plymkrprss) for In Bed With Maradona

World Cup: 25 Stunning Moments…Number 10 by Rob Smyth (@robsmyth76) for The Guardian

‘Your Fight is Our Strength’ a Fitting Legacy to Tito Vilanova by Sid Lowe (@sidlowe) for The Guardian

#Weareallmonkeys: Can a Picture of a Banana Fight Racism by Jude Wanga (@judeinlondon) for Independent Voices

Piermario Morosini – 2012 by Alex Stewart for Football’s Fallen

Your Heroes are Human: On FIFPro’s Mental Illness Study by Zito Madu (@Phaetonv2) for SBNation

May:

The True Story of Steve Snow, USMNT World Cup Hero Who Never Was by Nick Firchau (@nickfirchau) for MLSSoccer.com

Helena Costa to Clermont – A New Era? by Philippa Booth (@Philby1976) for French Football Weekly

Luis Suarez’s Redemption? Sport Needs a Political Conscience by Shane Thomas (@tokenbg) for Media Diversified

Golden Opportunities by Callum Hamilton and Andi Thomas for SBNation

Bari in their Hearts by Dominic Bliss (@theinsidelefty) for The Inside Left

June:

Diamonds in the Rough by Brian Phillips (@runofplay) for Grantland

World Cup 2014: We’ve Got to Start Somewhere by Max Grieve (@maxjgri) for Vertigo

Brazil 2014 is the World Cup We’ve Been Waiting For by Greg Johnson (@gregianjohnson) for VICE Sports

This is Not the Bosnia You Were Looking For by Kirsten Schlewitz (@KDS_Football) for SBNation

World Cup 2014: ITV Preview Belgium v Algeria by James Dutton (@jrgdutton) and Greg Johnson for The False Nine

July:

Hunting White Elephants in Manaus by Andi Thomas for SBNation

The Moving, Tragic and Very Brazilian Story of the Late Jorge Selaron by Reda Maher (@Reda_Maher_LDN) for Eurosport

1982: Why Brazil v Italy Was One of Football’s Greatest Ever Matches by Tim Lewis for Esquire

The Day Football Saved Lives by Michael Calvin (@calvinbook) for The Independent

Ze Carlos: From Selling Watermelons to World Cup Semi-Final by Charlie Pulling (@clonmacart) for WorldSoccer

August:

FIFA? PES? Against Modern Football Games by Ally Moncrieff for The False Nine

Letting the Monsters In by Ruud Gullit Sitting on a Shed (@RGSOAS)

This is Football’s Tipping Point by Michael Calvin for The Independent

September:

Transfer Window Should Know Its Place by Iain Macintosh (@iainmacintosh) for ESPNFC

Brian Clough Was Charming, Disarming and Had His Own Set of Rules by Daniel Taylor (@DTGuardian) for The Guardian)

A Club Transformed: Supporting Reading FC by Rob Langham (@thetwounfortunates) for The Inside Left

Atletico Madrid: Thank You For Bringing the Aggro Back by Rob Smyth for Eurosport

Clarity of Vision by Alex Stewart for The Upright

Red Bull and RB Leipzig: Money Gives You Wings by Daniel Storey (@DanielStorey85) for Football365

Partizan Belgrade Banner Highlights a Problem That is Not Going Away by Igor Mladenovic (@Mladenovic) for The Guardian

The FourFourTwo Preview: Newcastle vs Hull by Huw Davies (@thehuwdavies) for FourFourTwo

October:

No Good Reason Not to Try the Rooney Rule by Nick Miller (@NickMiller79) for Football365

False Memories and Football Opinions by Billy MacFarlane (@BillyMacfarlane) for The False Nine

The Problem with Ched Evans Returning to Football by Jude Wanga for Football Fanzone

Mario Balotelli and the Lessons of Liverpool Past by James Dutton for The False Nine

November:

The Brilliant Youth Football Idea That UEFA Took On and Killed by Ian Herbert (@ianherbs) for The Independent

Yaya Toure, Loss, and Treating Players Like Robots by Daniel Storey for Football365

Yaya Toure and the Stereotyping of African Players by Seb Stafford-Bloor (@premleagueowl) for The Premier League Owl

Football: More than a Man’s Sport by Alex Stewart for The False Nine

The Malky Mackay Texts, Dave Whelan, the FA and How Football is Losing the Fight Against Discrimination by Jonathan Fadugba for JustFootball

How Football Unlocked the Heart of a Boy with Autism by James Masters (@masters_jamesD) for CNN

Ched Evans Should Not Be Allowed to Return to the Sheffield United Football Pitch by Mollie Goodfellow (@mollie_writes) for Indy Voices

 

December:

Golden Goal – Fabio Grosso for Italy v Germany by Nick Miller for The Guardian

The Velvet Revolution by Elko Born for The Blizzard

Almost Mute: Why Angel Correa Deserves His Wings by Rob Brown for In Bed With Maradona

So You’ve Been Nutmegged… by Zito Madu for SBNation

 

Curle All the Bad Guys Want

curleRemember early-2000s banger Girl All the Bad Guys Want by Bowling For Soup? Of course you do. Now imagine how much that would be improved* if the words were replaced by names of footballers.

Wonder no more, as I bring you the worst thing you’re likely to read all year.

*ruined

 

Hayter Clark Bunn Day Knight Adam Weifeng

Depay Lee Cork Du Wei Skerla Little Calderon Mee

Kerr Nemeth Nolan Gee Zambrotta Wiss Arnaud Whing

Shearer Zitouni Button Knockaert Sherwood Landín

Owen Gee Wark, Hall Irwin Lowe Sand Lee Angell Singh

Butt Gee Neville Curtis Mee

                

Goss Steve Watson Wes Brown Greening Goma Duff Guy

Blissett Ling Thuram Eto’o Burn Davison Urzaiz

Salako Brown Mooney

Ji Slew King Rooney

Euell Whelan Newby

Greening Sung-Yeung Diouf

Milijas McPhail Blissett Lee

Ryder Keller Curle Hall Labyad Guy Juan

 

Gillet Zikos McAnuff Lichaj Juan Norris

Hasebe Chedjou Fuller Sigurdsson Ahmad Adler Dann

O’Shea Ji Leitgeb Carson Riether Ahn Defour Die

Gee Neville Nolan Aimar Best Aquino Varane

 

Owen Gee Wark, Hall Irwin Lowe Sand Lee Angell Singh

Butt Gee Neville Curtis Mee

Goss Steve Watson Wes Brown Greening Goma Duff Guy

Blissett Ling Thuram Eto’o Byrne Davison Urzaiz

 

Leitgeb Winter Moss Trasch

Rai Stack Caesar Glass

Driver Inler Lahm Stam

Deisler Muller May Hamann

 

Salako Brown Mooney

Ji Slew King Rooney

Euell Whelan Newby

Greening Sung-Yeung Diouf

Milijas McPhail Blissett Lee

Ryder Keller Curle Hall Labyad Guy Juan

 

Keshi Rose McKenna

Fish Nelson Fred Fox Chilavert

Jerome I. Harte Ivan Eliseu Deivid

Allen Warne De Vos De Zeeuw Makin

 

Nayim Watson Wes Brown

Ryder Dier Duff Guy

Isla Rincon Mapp Eto’o

Burn Davis Inler Wise

 

Salako Brown Mooney

Gee Slew King Rooney

Euell Whelan Newby

Greening Sung-Yeung Diouf

Milijas McPhail Blissett Lee

Ryder Keller Curle Hall Labyad Guy Juan

 

Gus Caesar Curle Hall Labyad Guy Juan

Gus Caesar Curle Hall Labyad Guy Juan

Gus Caesar Curle Hall Labyad Guy Juan

Gus Caesar Curle Hall Labyad Guy Juan

Gus Caesar Curle Hall Labyad Guy Juan

 

Premier League Team of the Year 2013-14

Jonas

 

Like this, but good, here’s my alternative team of the year. It’s inevitably worse, less witty and more tiresome than yours, but I don’t care.

 

Goalkeeper – Heurelho Gomes

It takes some effort to go from being first choice for your club and a squad mainstay for your country to playing back-up to a 42-year-old back-up keeper and losing out to Toronto’s number one on the international stage. Many would have struggled to pull it off, but Gomes has that never-say-die attitude needed to keep Richard Wright out of the starting XI.

 

Right-back – Ryan Taylor

“But Ryan Taylor left Newcastle ages ago, he’s probably retired, or playing in MLS or something. Actually it’s probably Australia. There’s a Newcastle there too, right? He can’t still be in the Premier League, right?” Wrong. He’s still there despite injuries restricting him to three games in the last two seasons, which itself is probably more than you’d thought he’d played. See, this is educational.

 

Centre-back – Garry Monk

A few weeks ago, when Ryan Giggs took over as Manchester United player-manager, people wracked their brains to try and think of the last person to fill that role at a Premier League club. Either they didn’t realise that Monk was still registered as a player for Swansea, or they didn’t care. Probably the latter in fairness.

 

Centre-back – Antolín Alcaraz

It takes a special kind of defender to see his teammates overachieving and deciding “I’ll do something about that”. Step forward Antolín Alcaraz. Clearly distraught by his contribution to Wigan’s survival in 2012, the Paraguayan sought to redress the balance by sabotaging new club Everton’s pursuit of Champions League football.

 

Left-back – Florian Marange

Sometimes when you join a new club you expect it to take a while to be given a game. However you probably rarely expect your new manager to make you ineligible for Premier League games. When Ian Holloway can’t even think of a woodland animal analogy when criticising you, you know it’s bad. Thankfully things have improved in the new year, as Marange has realised his name is an anagram of ‘Granola Fireman’.

 

Central midfield – Abou Diaby

Forget that meaningless Koscielny and Mertesacker stat, Arsenal have a 100% record this season in games where Abou Diaby has been named in the matchday squad. If he’d been fit the whole season then they’d have 111 points – you can’t argue with cold hard numbers like that.

 

Central midfield – Jonas Gutiérrez

He might have only made five league appearances this season, but the man’s Twitter game puts sees him lock down a midfield berth. A mesmerising blend of dog photos, Bon Jovi lyrics and so much more, El Galgo puts us all to shame.

 

Right midfield – Sylvain Marveaux (captain)

Not going to lie, I’ve only included him here so I can use the line ‘Captain Marveaux’.

 

Left midfield – Iago Aspas

Just look at him. The focus. The precision. The drive. And then this.

 

Striker – Jordan Bowery

Apparently a real person, with skin and bones and Premier League appearances and everything. He’s yet to live up to the illustrious career of his father, who scored one goal in a prolific 10-game spell for Team Hawaii in the 70s (this is actually true).

 

Striker – Moussa Dembélé

When we look back on Fulham’s season, we will remember two things: The first is Rene Meulensteen’s attempt at a Schrödingeresque teamsheet against Manchester United (I’m at least 70% sure Muamer Tanković isn’t real, or at the very least he’s part of an inside joke shared by only Meulensteen, Chris Morris and the Stonecutters).

Second is Martin Jol’s decision to pre-empt his sacking by calling upon Football Manager regens as early as November. In much the same way that Swansea tried to trick their fans into thinking Jordi Gómez hadn’t left by signing Jordi López, Jol fasttracked Dembélé into the first team despite him being nine years younger than his recently departed namesake, not to mention a different nationality and a different position. Did it work? See for yourself.

39. Bad Santi

santi

38. Good Berger

goodberger

37. Thomas Müller’s Day Off

muller