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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Premier League Round-Up 06/12/10

Arsenal v Fulham , Premier League 04/12/2010 Samir Nasri of Arsenal Photo Marc Atkins Fotosports International 07783 913 777 Photo via Newscom

With Manchester United’s game against Blackpool falling foul of the weather, this weekend saw only nine Premier League matches.

Arsenal took full advantage of their rivals’ week off, but only just. Samir Nasri was the main difference between Arsene Wenger’s side and visiting Fulham, with two goals from the Frenchman earning the Gunners a narrow 2-1 victory.

In normal circumstances Wenger might be concerned by his side struggling at home to a team without a win on the road since the opening day of last season.

However the depleted nature of his squad and their recent shaky form at the Emirates Stadium he will surely be more relieved at the North Londoners getting their season back on track.

Chelsea missed the chance to return to the summit after dropping yet more points at home in a 1-1 draw with Everton.

Owner Roman Abramovich may be regretting his decision not to provide Carlo Ancelotti with funds to replace the departed midfield trio of Cole, Ballack and Deco, as a stretched Blues outfit failed to contain their visitors.

In the last six games Chelsea have only amassed five points, one more than Saturday’s opponents who are also heading in the wrong direction.

With no one in particular staking a claim for this season’s title, we might yet see Manchester  City creep up on their rivals and surprise everyone.

Roberto Mancini’s side are only three points behind the league leaders after outclassing Bolton at Eastlands, and at times a 5-0 victory – rather than the 1-0 they actually achieved – did not seem beyond the realms of possibility.

It was one of the few occasions this season where Owen Coyle’s Bolton have been neutralised, and the return of midfield dynamo Stuart Holden next week will not be a minute too soon.

West Brom continue to confound those who tipped them for relegation at the start of the season, cruising to a 3-1 win over a Newcastle side which sorely missed the presence of Joey Barton and Kevin Nolan in the middle.

Still the result, which came courtesy of two composed finishes from Peter Odemwingie, will ultimately be remembered as Chris Hughton’s last as Newcastle manager.

It is difficult to justify Mike Ashley sacking the Magpies boss, and there is a sense among fans that the chairman was waiting for a bad run to use as an excuse for what remains a controversial decision.

Defeat for Newcastle saw them leapfrogged by Blackburn, who had keeper Paul Robinson to thank for a flattering win over lowly Wolves.

Birmingham City/Blackburn Rovers Premiership 21.08.10 Photo: Tim Parker Fotosports International Paul Robinson Blackburn Rovers 2010/11 Photo via Newscom

The former England number one kept out the visitors on numerous occasions and Blackburn took their chances well to run out victors by three goals.

They are still looking up at Sunderland, though, after Steve Bruce’s men kept up their unbeaten home record with a narrow victory over bottom-of-the-table West Ham.

Jordan Henderson’s goal proved the difference in a game which never really took off despite the hosts starting with three up front and the visitors ending the match with four strikers on the pitch.

Elsewhere, Wigan and Stoke played out an entertaining encounter which was high on goals but low on quality.

Three of the four goals in the 2-2 draw came courtesy of deflections, while Latics midfielder Hendry Thomas showed why he is more at home in the Makelele role with one of the misses of the season.

Saturday’s remaining game saw Tottenham held by draw specialists Birmingham thanks to a headed goal from surprise top-scorer Craig Gardner.

Spurs will be disappointed to only emerge with a point after wins in their last four outings, but they only have themselves to blame after some lax defending allowed their opponents to level the scores late on.

Team of the week (4-2-3-1)

Robinson (Blackburn); Tomkins (West Ham), Kompany (Man City), Nelsen (Blackburn), Baines (Everton); Yaya Toure (Man City), Tchoyi (West Brom); Lennon (Tottenham), Nasri (Arsenal), Silva (Man City), Odemwingie (West Brom)

Premier League round-up 23/08/2010

Last week I talked about champions Chelsea being frustrated by one of the minnows of the Premier League before emerging with an inconceivable 6-0 win. I didn’t in my wildest dreams believe I’d be repeating myself this week.

Chelsea’s second-half performance at the DW Stadium was by all accounts a procession, but they had been more than matched in chances and commitment by a determined Wigan side keen to erase the memory of an embarrassing 4-0 home loss to Blackpool on the opening weekend.

Roberto Martinez has a lot of thinking to do

Unfortunately for Roberto Martinez’s side they collapsed after falling a couple of goals behind, a situation all-too-familiar to the Spaniard. Indeed you only have to go back to the end of last season to find an example of a Latics capitulation at the hands of the same opponents who defeated them on Saturday.

Amazingly, this was not the only case of a team racing to a flattering 6-0 win in a game they might have drawn or even lost. Aston Villa looked to be cruising against Newcastle in the early stages, but John Carew’s penalty miss (not the first or last of the weekend, but more on that later) seemed to provide a catalyst for the Toon Army to wake up and run away with the tie.

Chris Hughton’s side displayed a flair and counter-attacking verve completely absent in their relegation campaign two seasons ago, and if the 3-0 scoreline at half-time was generous, they never looked in danger of relinquishing their lead. The manner in which Newcastle cruised through the second half suggests they will have few concerns come May, and in Andy Carroll they have a striker capable of tucking away the chances squandered by the likes of Shola Ameobi in the past.

There was, believe it or not, a third 6-0 game this weekend. The only difference as far as Arsenal’s triumph over Blackpool is concerned is that the hosts were fully deserving of the crushing victory. Of course things may have been different if Ian Evatt had not scythed down Marouane Chamakh before the break, but the Tangerines already knew they were going to be in for a long afternoon.

How costly will Carlton Cole's penalty miss prove to be?

It was, it seems, a week of missed penalties. Of the six awarded only two were converted, by Mark Noble and Andrei Arshavin. And Noble’s goal came only after West Ham team-mate Carlton Cole had sent a feeble effort into the hands of Bolton goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen. In a classic game of two halves, the Finn’s save ensured the Trotters ended a West Ham-dominated first period on level terms before outplaying their opponents after the break to emerge with a 3-1 victory.

Just as costly a penalty miss was Nani’s for Manchester United against Fulham. With four minutes left on the clock he had the opportunity to make the game safe, but David Stockdale pulled off an impressive save and Brede Hangeland’s late header allowed Mark Hughes’ side to escape with a 2-2 draw.

What is it with English goalkeepers and penalty saves? The day before Stockdale’s heroics, former United number one Ben Foster tipped Morten Gamst Pedersen’s spot-kick onto the woodwork, paving the way for his Birmingham side to edge past Blackburn 2-1. The hero at the other end was Craig Gardner, a young man enjoying his football after making the move across England’s second city from rivals Villa.

If English goalkeepers provided one of the main talking points this summer, another was provided by the argument for or against goal-line technology. It would of course only be a matter of time until that particular debate reared its ugly head once more, and the Britannia Stadium was the setting for the source of pub debates across the country.

Did Jonathan Walters’ late effort cross the line? Probably. Would sensors or cameras have confirmed whether a goal should have been awarded? Possibly. With a clear view of the incident, should Chris Foy have made a decision himself rather than delegating to an unsighted linesman? Definitely.

Ebanks-Blake might finally be finding his feet in the Premier League

While Stoke may have lost their opening two games, they still look like an established Premier League team, and Mick McCarthy’s Wolves are looking to follow their example. While many (myself included) tipped Wolves to struggle, they already seem a more solid outfit than they did last season, as demonstrated by a hard-fought 1-1 draw against Everton at Goodison Park. One of their problems last campaign was their strikers’ lack of confidence in front of goal, so Sylvan Ebanks-Blake’s equaliser will have done him a world of good at this early stage.

Speaking of strikers looking to benefit from an early-season pick-me-up, Peter Odemwingie got his West Bromwich Albion career off to the perfect start, netting the winner against Sunderland. Perhaps just as important for Baggies boss Roberto di Matteo was the clean sheet, erasing the memories of the opening-day defeat at Stamford Bridge.

Finally, one of the advantages of writing my round-up on a Monday night is that I can comment on the final match in this round of fixtures. Manchester City’s victory over Liverpool was as comfortable as they come, and a perfect present for watching owner Sheikh Mansour. With Carlos Tevez getting into his goalscoring stride and James Milner slotting into the first-team as if he had been at Eastlands for years, City look capable of a top-four finish if not better.

Team of the week (4-3-2-1):

Jaaskelainen (Bolton); Richards (Man City), Roger Johnson (Birmingham), Williamson (Newcastle), Cole (Chelsea); Scholes (Man Utd), Henry (Wolves), Gardner (Birmingham); Walcott (Arsenal), Adam Johnson (Man City); Carroll (Newcastle)