With the last decade a thing of the past, (unless you want to be pedantic and say that the decade doesn’t end until this year), I’ve compiled my team of the decade (2000-2009). I’ve tried to only include players who played for a large part of the decade, so no Torres. Also, I don’t believe that the most successful players are necessarily the best so I’ve gone for performances as my main criterion.
Here’s my team of the decade:
GK: Shay Given: Given is an amazing shot-stopper and commands his are well. It is easy for a keeper to look good when he has a good defence in front of him. Given spent the decade behind some truly woeful defences (remember Titus Bramble was his team-mate!) and still looked magnificent.
LB: Ashley Cole: His only real challengers were Evra and Clichy, neither of whom has played for long enough for this team. Cole has always been good going forward but has really improved defensively in the last few seasons. Cole in bad form is better than most left-backs at their best so for that reason, he’s in.
CB: John Terry: Pretty close between him and Ferdinand but Terry shades it for me. He’s a totally committed, whole-hearted defender who’s not afraid to put his body on the line. He’d be welcome in any team.
CB: Sami Hyypia: Maybe a bit of a personal choice but big Sami was the rock that the Liverpool defences of the 00’s were built on. Sami was unbeatable in the air and had an amazing habit of getting himself into the right position at the right time. His reading of the game more than made up for his lack of pace. Even when his legs had gone in his last couple of seasons, Sami could be put in a team and not let you down.
RB: Gary Neville (shudder): Can’t stand the guy but he is good. He’s a player who never really catches the eye but turned in consistently good performances for years and often had to cope with Ronaldo and Beckham’s lack of tracking back. I did consider Steve Finnan but Neville gets my vote.
LM: Robert Pires: Ryan Giggs had a few seasons in the last decade, were he was below par and some United fans were calling for him to be replaced. Pires was another prominent member of the Arsenal teams of the early 00’s who could pass, run at players and had a good goalscoring record. Along with Vieira, Pires was sold too soon, with Wenger believing his best days were behind him and Arsenal missed him badly.
CM: Steven Gerrard: Gerrard developed from raw youngster to midfield lynchpin in the 00’s. He’s pulled Liverpool out of the poo so many times he has to be included. He has an excellent goalscoring record and has a knack of scoring the important goals for Liverpool.
CM: Patrick Vieira: In to provide a bit of balance because Lampard and Gerrard together doesn’t work. Vieira was the all-action midfielder that helped to make Arsenal so successful, providing the midfield steel that complimented the attacking flair. He’s so good Arsenal have been looking to replace him ever since he left, and even uber-rich Man City are rumoured to want him today.
RM: Cristiano Ronaldo: Who else? Ronaldo is arguably the world’s best player. He’s an incredible mix of pace, trickery and technique. His goal return for Man United was outstanding. He was maybe the best player to have ever played in the Premier League.
ST: Thierry Henry: Simply unstoppable at times. He has pace, creativity, lethal finishing and fantastic footwork (his hands aren’t bad either!). Henry scored 24 goals or more 5 times, more than anyone else and was a joy to watch (provided he wasn’t playing your team or if you were Irish).
ST: Ruud van Nistlerooy: The equine-faced striker averaged 2 goals every three games for United and was a lethal finisher. He wasn’t the quickest but was superb off the ball, scoring many of his goals from very close range.
GK: Jussi Jaaskelainen: Criminally underrated keeper, who like Given, played with some terrible defences and helped to keep the scores down.
DF: Rio Ferdinand: Ferdinand matured from a very raw talent to a fine defender in this decade. He is excellent on the ball and is one of the best around.
MF: Frank Lampard: Mr consistency. Scored over 150 goals for Chelsea and played in nearly every game. Sometimes goes a bit quiet in matches but always seems to pop up at the vital moment.
ST: Alan Shearer: Maybe a little past his best in this decade but was still an excellent striker. He brought determination, leadership and goals to the table for Newcastle.
MF: Paul Scholes: Another brilliantly consistent player. He is an amazing passer, wonderful awareness and brilliant technique.
ST: Wayne Rooney: Was tipped for big things when he arrived on the scene and hasn’t disappointed. He has started to add goals to his all-round good attacking play.
DF: Sol Campbell: A rock-solid defender who still performed admirably, despite being faced with his personal problems and being on the receiving end of some terrible abuse.
I’m sure most of you don’t agree and have your own ideas so what do you think?