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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Alternative Premier League Team of the Year 2011-12

Supervorm

I thought I’d try to come up with one of these before you’re inundated with them. You know the drill – one player per team, Scott Parker as captain, unfunny just-invented nicknames – the usual. Oh, and I’ve decided to go with the 3-5-1-1 formation that Wigan used against Man Utd. Because I can.

Goalkeeper: Michel Vorm – Swansea City

As a newly promoted team you don’t need your goalkeeper to perform better than most in the league (see R. Carroll, West Ham United 2005-06), but it certainly helps. With Supervorm behind them an already stingy defence got even stingier and at least 20% cooler. They may have got more lax in recent weeks but the Dutchman has already got thousands wondering how no one noticed him before, and not just in an Alan Shearer not noticing Hatem Ben Arfa kind of way.

Centre-back: Martin Skrtel – Liverpool

A brick shithouse in the Marco Materazzi mould, Teenage Mutant Ninja Skrtel has defied vowels and logic to emerge as the stand-out performer in an otherwise hilarious Liverpool season. Both by chipping in with important goals and by scaring the living shit out of team-mates and opponents alike, the Slovakian has forced Kenny Dalglish’s side to work harder than ever before to embarrass themselves.

Centre-back: Vincent Kompany – Manchester City

Dominant in the air, classy on the ground, possessor of a wonderfully spherical head – Vincent Kompany has it all. Based on Richard Ashcroft’s performances in his absence, it seems safe to say Manchester City’s title challenge would have already fizzled out long enough ago to make ‘The most important match in the history of everything’ (© Sky Sports) irrelevant. A dead cert for the captaincy if I didn’t worship at the altar of Scott Parker.

Centre-back: Jonny ‘fucking’ Evans – Manchester United

Convinced that his comedy value was running dry, and living in fear of a transfer to Steve Bruce’s Sunderland (where Manchester United players go to die), Evans has been good this season. Really good. Many feared the worst when the extent of Nemanja Vidic’s injury was revealed, but the man from Northern Ireland has – along with the paucity of much of the Premier League – helped put Manchester United in prime position to stumble over the finish line.

Right midfield: James James Morrison Morrison (West Bromwich Albion)

A.A. Milne’s favourite footballer has spent much of his career flattering to deceive, even living in the shadow of Stewart Downing for a brief period of time (somewhere I’m sure you’ll agree no one wants to be). However this year he’s done more than just shoot from impossible positions and hilariously kick the shit out of Cristiano Ronaldo. A six-point-five-out-of-ten footballer in a six-out-of-ten Albion side, his inclusion goes to show what a terrible season this has been.

Central midfield: Scott Parker (Tottenham Hotspur) – captain

Guaranteed his spot in the team by haircut alone, the kid from those McDonalds World Cup adverts has made the step up from mediocrity to a top four challenging side with ease, proving that it wasn’t just the media’s West Ham bias that earned him plaudits last season despite playing in one of the worst midfields in the history of football. He’s still doing those poncey little turns, but we can forgive him for that. Plus, according to some, he’s a war hero.

Central midfield: Lee Cattermole (Sunderland)

The immature child who could never learn has finally learned, and it only took several painful years (you know, apart from that whole vandalism thing – that was probably Bendtner’s idea though*). After spending the early part of the season hacking and scowling like a drop-kicked puppy, the king of high shorts has turned into the commanding midfielder Alex Smith always said he could be. When you bear in mind he’s still only 24 there’s still time for us to look back at the young eejit and laugh.

* or not, whichever stops me getting sued

Central midfield: Yohan Cabaye (Newcastle United)

Last season Yohan Cabaye won Ligue 1 with Lille while Joey Barton and Kevin Nolan finished mid-table in the Premier League. Hindsight is one thing, but the Frenchman was quite clearly a better footballer than those two anyway, the only mystery being why the fuck he chose Newcastle. A few more defense-splitting passes and long-range stunners and Geordies might start naming their kids after him like in Purely Belter.

Left midfield: Anthony Pilkington (Norwich City)

At first glance Pilkington comes across as a luxury player that an all-hands-on-deck promoted club can’t afford to have in their team, but far from just being a ‘Match of the Day player’ the youngster has pulled his weight for a manager who seems to know how to get the best out of him. Unfortunately I don’t know enough about him to justify any sort of witty or snide comment, so this is all you’re getting. Be grateful.

In the hole: Clint Dempsey (Fulham)

Deuce has scored 22 goals this season for Fulham. 22. For Fulham. Not bad for a player who shares his nickname with a bodily function (yes, it’s a poo joke – don’t worry we’re nearly at the end). This season under Martin Jol Fulham have been a delight to watch, and not even in a patronising way, and Dempsey has been a big part of that in allowing the surly Dutchman to play more wingers than should be reasonably possible.

Striker: Robin van Persie (Arsenal)

The best player in the league this season, his feats are made even more impressive by the fact that Arsenal’s performances for much of the season have been at best embarrassing and at worst Wolves-esque. Providing Holland get out of a disgustingly tough group, the prospect of facing them in Euro 2012 looks absolutely terrifying.

Substitutes:

Petr Cech (Chelsea) – Plastic club: check, Plastic fans: check, Plastic flags: check, Plastic head: Cech. Back to near his best since that incident with Stephen H*nt.

Sam Ricketts (Bolton Wanderers) – Purely here by virtue of not being Paul Robinson, which is surely enough. Also managed to amaze even himself by borrowing Philipp Lahm’s body for 45 minutes against Wolves.

James McCarthy (Wigan Athletic) – So good he cloned himself without anyone noticing, the Scottish Irishman has proved that ‘Hamilton’s finest’ doesn’t always count as damning with faint praise.

Alejandro Faurlin (Queens Park Rangers) – He might only move in slow motion, but the Argentine’s injury will likely send QPR down. It’s already forced us to look at Shaun Derry more than anyone would want.

Steven Fletcher (Wolves) – Proving why he was once a target for Real Madrid (not really – no one can explain that), he has hit double figures in back-to-back seasons in one of the least inspiring teams of the last decade. Which is more than enough for inclusion here.

Yakubu (Blackburn Rovers) – Feed the Yak and he will eat. Ever wondered what happened to Myles Anderson? All I’m saying is Yakubu’s packed lunch comes in a different box to that of everyone else.

Nikica Jelavic (Everton) – Part young Robin Williams, part Stilyan Petrov’s evil twin, not good enough for the Championship and unnaturally good for Everton to the point that the fans are waiting to find out what the catch is.

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Premier League Round-Up 25/10/10

West Ham and Wolves are starting to see a gap develop between themselves and the rest of the Premier League after defeats this weekend.

The Irons failed to build on a solid first-half performance against Newcastle, woeful defending letting in Andy Carroll to head in the winner unchallenged from six yards.

With Matthew Upson unable to complete the 90 minutes and Manuel da Costa perhaps distracted by off-field events, Avram Grant will need to act fast to shore up a back-line which has leaked 17 goals in the first eight games of the season.

Kalou and Malouda

Wolves can be more pleased with their performance, giving Chelsea a run for their money before slipping to a 2-0 defeat thanks to goals from Florent Malouda and Salomon Kalou.

They tested Petr Cech on a number of occasions, and things are looking up after Stephen Hunt played 45 minutes on his return from injury.

The other team in the bottom three, Liverpool, started what they hope will be a speedy ascent of the table with a 2-1 victory over Blackburn.

Sotirios Kyrgiakos has now doubled his goalscoring tally from last season, and while his opener was quickly cancelled out by a Jamie Carragher own goal, Fernando Torres restored the Anfield club’s lead and earned them their second win of the season.

Liverpool’s only other victory was against West Brom, who kept up their strong recent form by coming from behind to beat Fulham.

Mark Hughes’ side opened the scoring through a Scott Carson own goal, but Youssuf Mulumbu drew the scores level with his first goal of the season and Marc-Antoine Fortune ignored Fulham’s offside appeals to slot home the winner and take Albion fourth on Saturday night.

On Sunday, however, wins for Manchester United and Arsenal saw them leapfrog Roberto di Matteo’s men and move back into the Champions League places.

Dedryck Boyata

Arsenal’s victory was the more impressive, although the 3-0 scoreline against Man City was helped somewhat by opposing defender Dedryck Boyata receiving a red card after just five minutes.

The Gunners made the most of their man advantage, with Cesc Fabregas pulling the strings, and the Spaniard could even afford to miss a penalty.

United, meanwhile, left it late to make sure of all three points at Stoke’s Britannia Stadium. Chicharito opened the scoring with a brilliantly-improvised header, only for Tuncay to draw Stoke level with a finish right out of the top drawer.

But Mexican striker Chicharito had the last word, diverting Patrice Evra’s wayward shot beyond Thomas Sorensen with four minutes to play.

Tottenham slipped out of the top four after being held to a 1-1 draw by an Everton side now unbeaten in four games.

Leighton Baines’ early free-kick was cancelled out by a close-range Rafael van der Vaart strike, but neither team could find the crucial second goal.

1-1 was also the final score at the DW Stadium, with Johan Elmander rescuing a point for Bolton against Wigan.

Hugo Rodallega opened the scoring for the Latics after being played through by Franco di Santo, but Elmander reacted quickest in a goalmouth scramble to poke home the leveller.

Liam Ridgewell

The remaining Lancashire club, Blackpool, slipped to a demoralising 2-0 defeat against an often shot-shy Birmingham outfit at St Andrews.

Ian Holloway admitted to being out-thought by opposing number Alex McLeish as goals from Liam Ridgewell and Nikola Zigic condemned ‘Pool to their fifth reverse of the campaign.

The final game of the weekend saw Sunderland preserve their unbeaten home record with a narrow win over Aston Villa.

An own goal from Richard Dunne was all that separated the sides, a Premier League record eighth for the Irish centre-back.

Team of the week (4-5-1)

Fabianski (Arsenal); Bosingwa (Chelsea), Tamas (West Brom), Kyrgiakos (Liverpool), Baines (Everton); Morrison (West Brom), Tiote (Newcastle), Fabregas (Arsenal), Mulumbu (West Brom), Hleb (Birmingham); Hernandez (Man Utd)

Premier League Round-Up 04/10/10

If fans were surprised by the top of the Premier League table in recent weeks, that is nothing compared to the sight of Liverpool in the bottom three after seven games of the season.

Roy Hodgson’s side lost their unbeaten home record to newly-promoted Blackpool thanks to goals from Charlie Adam and Luke Varney, and will also be without frontman Fernando Torres for some time after the Spaniard was forced off through injury.

Charlie Adam

The visitors were deserving of the victory, and are more than holding their own in the top flight after being tipped for relegation at the start of the campaign. A consolation from Sotirios Kyrgiakos was not enough to dampen their spirits and now it is Hodgson – rather than opposite number Ian Holloway – who is left with plenty of thinking to do.

To add insult to injury, local rivals Everton climbed out of the drop-zone with their first win of the season at the hands of Birmingham City.

Tim Cahill sealed the victory after a Roger Johnson own goal had given the Toffees the lead, and the result brings an end to Birmingham’s 18-game unbeaten home run in the league.

The other two spaces in the bottom three are filled by Wolves – who lost 2-0 at Wigan – and West Ham, who were held at home by Fulham.

Wolves were given an upward task as soon as captain Karl Henry saw red for an indefensible foul on Jordi Gomez which was so bad it even left Mick McCarthy unable to defend his player.

Karl Henry

Gomez recovered to open the scoring with a 65th-minute free-kick, before Hugo Rodallega deflected a Christophe Berra clearance beyond Marcus Hahnemann with five minutes to go.

West Ham had to come from behind to extend their unbeaten run, after Clint Dempsey was left unmarked 10 yards out to open the scoring before half-time.

Frederic Piquionne scored his third goal in as many games to level the scores, but the game lost all sense of rhythm thanks to a questionable performance from whistle-happy referee Andre Marriner.

At the top of the table, Chelsea extended their lead to four points after seeing off a wasteful Arsenal side at Stamford Bridge.

Didier Drogba and Alex got the goals with fine finishes, but the visitors will live to regret their profligacy in front of goal, with Laurent Koscielny the main culprit.

Second place is now occupied by Manchester City after Adam Johnson’s winner earned them a third successive league win.

Adam Johnson

But the game will be remembered for the broken leg suffered by Newcastle’s Hatem ben Arfa, just the latest in a worryingly-long line of Premier League players to suffer serious injuries in the season’s early weeks.

Carlos Tevez’s penalty and Jonas Gutierrez’s equaliser are mere footnotes in a match which reignited debates about dangerous tackling in the top flight.

City’s rise to 2nd is at the expense of Manchester rivals United, who have now drawn all four of their away games in the league.

Their game at Sunderland was one of few chances, and those which did come fell to the hosts. Steed Malbranque fired the best opening straight at Edwin van der Sar, while Bolo Zenden struck the outside of his fellow countryman’s post.

Another Dutchman hitting the headlines was Rafael van der Vaart, who scored both goals as Tottenham came from behind to beat Aston Villa.

Marc Albrighton had opened the scoring for Gerard Houllier’s men before van der Vaart capitalised on two Peter Crouch knockdowns to beat Brad Friedel either side of the break.

Hot on Tottenham’s heels are surprise package West Brom, who followed up last week’s win at Arsenal with a rather more subdued draw at home to Bolton.

They also had to come from behind after Johan Elmander lashed home a first-half strike, but after James Morrison’s equaliser the Baggies could have easily snatched all three points.

The final match of the weekend saw Stoke City climb into the top half of the table for the first time this season thanks to a hard-fought triumph over Sam Allardyce’s Blackburn.

Jon Walters scored the only goal of the game against the club where he started his career, tucking home from a Matty Etherington through-ball to add to his Carling Cup strike against Shrewsbury in August.

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

Gilks (Blackpool); Baird (Fulham), Bramble (Sunderland), Jagielka (Everton), Crainey (Blackpool); Mulumbu (West Brom), Reo-Coker (Aston Villa), Essien (Chelsea); van der Vaart (Tottenham), Etherington (Stoke); Elmander (Bolton)