Nathan Critchlow selects an XI of players who wouldn’t cost clubs a single penny…though may be expensive for their gold-plated Zimmer frames.
The nervous moment, after the season has ended, when the manager calls you into his office, knowing your contract is about to come to an end, is something traditionally reserved for youth players trying to ply their trade. The inevitable ‘cut’. However with the introduction of the Premier Leagues 25 man squad rule (of which players under the age of 21 are exempt) it appears the tables have now turned, and it is the elder statesman suffering from ‘Squeaky Bum’ syndrome.
Now the season is well underway, and all the media focus is towards actions on the pitch. However, little coverage was given to Richard Kingston’s huge move to European giants Barcelona. Mostly probably because it happened while he was playing Fifa 12 (other virtual football simulations are available). The life and times of the free agent.
And how best to celebrate this infamous of footballing specimens, by picking the best ‘Unattached’ XI of former Premier League (where possible) players.
Goalkeeper: Richard Kingston
The former Wigan and Birmingham City has most recently been released by Blackpool. The journeyman keeper has played for no less than 11 clubs across Europe, however bizarrely Kingston nearly has more international caps than professional league appearances. He even scored in an international friendly against Tanzania in 2008. An experienced goal keeper who scores. What’s not to like?
Defender: Jlloyd Samuel
Last spotted professionally donning the colours of Bolton Wanderers the defender has several unsuccessful trials with Leeds and West Ham during the summer. Samuel has a C.V. that includes over 150 appearances for Aston Villa, over 50 for Bolton, England U21 and Trinidad and Tobago International caps. He’s only 30 so he’s in his prime, no? Going once, going twice, going….right next!
Defender: Sol Campbell
Yes that’s right, the 73 times capped, former Tottenham and Arsenal stalwart, the mind boggles. The descent from Arsenals ‘Invincibles’ has been long and filled with controversy (remember when left Highbury at half-time after a shocking first half). But surely he could do a job at the top level again? Actually for anybody unlucky enough to witness his sole Notts County appearance, it probably boggles less.
Unfortunately for Thatcher modern football has no place for a dependable psycho.
Defender: Paul Stalteri
Although best known for a couple of seasons at Tottenham Hotspur and a loan spell at Fulham the versatile Canadian has forged a more than impressive career in the Bundesliga with over 150 league appearances with Werder Bremmen. Tottenham fans will mostly likely remember Stalteri for scoring the winner in a last minute victory against West Ham United in 2007, despite ultimately missing out on a place in the Champions League. Despite the wrong side of 30 he has to be said he would certainly help shore up the Blackburn defence.
Defender: Ben Thatcher
Unfortunately for Thatcher modern football has no place for a dependable psycho. With a career starting at Milwall and Wimbledon it is not hard to see where Thatcher learnt his over-the-top aggressive psyche. Thatcher’s career has been on the slide ever since his horrific elbow on Portsmouth’s Pedro Mendes whilst playing for Manchester City. Despite attempts to get his career back on track with spells at both Charlton Athletic and Ipswich Town, Thatcher’s career has never quite recovered. Blackburn Rovers, anyone?
Midfield: Robert Pires
Depressingly I must include another of Arsenal’s infamous ‘Invincibles’. Having won The Premier League, FA Cup, Community Sheild’s, World Cups, European Championships, Confederation Cup and Football writer’s player of the year, no Premier League manger should let an ill-fated spell at Aston Villa with Gerard Houllier deter them from the Frenchman’s ability. That said the most recent approach for his services which came from lowly championship team Doncaster Rovers suggests he career is on the slide……however he is 38 so we’ll cut him some slack.
Midfield: Jason Koumas
Who could forget his lung busting runs up and down the wing for, erm…(checks Wikipedia)…Tranmere Rovers! Jokes aside at 32 the Welsh international is as dependable as any Premier League manager could ever want, with a decent goal scoring record to boot. Step aside Carlos Tevez, Jason’s here.
Despite still being under contract at MLS side LA Galaxy David Beckham is potentially about to become the world’s most sought after free agent.
Midfield: Boudewijn Zenden
He played for Barcelona. Just to reiterate Barcelona. And not just on Football Manager (other football management simulators are available – they just aren’t as good). Zenden has bags of Premier League experience garnered in spells with Chelsea, Liverpool, Middlesbrough and most recently Sunderland for whom he scored some important (and spectacular goals). Perhaps not offering Zenden a new contract was a crucial element in the downfall of Steve Bruce as Sunderland have looked short of mid-field creativity and drive of late. Zenden or Cattermole? Hmmmm.
Midfield: Quintin Fortune
Quintin’s career is a strange one, however at his peak he had briefly established himself as an important cog in Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United side. However, as with many of the above players Fortune never quite shone bright enough, and incredibly brief spells at Bolton, Brescia, Tubize and an ultimately fruitless spell at Doncaster Rovers has seen the former South African international spend a too much time on the side lines.
Midfield: David Beckham
Despite still being under contract at MLS side LA Galaxy David Beckham is potentially about to become the world’s most sought after free agent. Many scoffed at his transatlantic adventure, however once again Beckham proved them all wrong by winning the MLS Championship. How the other players included in this list must wish they were being courted by AC Milan, Tottenham and Paris St. Germain is anybody’s guess, but there is no doubt Beckham will have a new club in the club before long, but now is the perfect chance to join the list of clubs after his signature.
Striker: Marcus Bent
There is only one thing spectacular about Marcus Bent; the fact he has played for sixteen different clubs. So good he took pride of place of The Cutter’s recent countdown of the eleven worst strikers to play in the Premier League. That said he is everybody’s Mr. Dependable, and there are one or two Premiership and Championship clubs are pretty short up front…..
So there we have it, Unattached FC 2011. It would be interesting to see how this team would fair in the current Premier League. Although the majority are in the twilight of their careers, speed may fade but class is permanent. There are obviously some questions which need answering at the back, and an obvious lack of goals up-front, the mid-field five selected would certainly be worth a top-half finish. I wonder if Blackburn Rovers fancy a friendly?