A new decade has crept up from seemingly nowhere, just as most of us are still getting used to the idea of a new millennium. At moments like this, we turn to reminisce of the ten years that have passed and reflect on times gone by. Picking an XI of Premier League players for these ten years seems like an unenviable task. However, after much consideration, plenty of soul-searching and the putting aside of many personal grievances, I have constructed a team. A team that does not only include players that have excelled from 2000-2009, but one that as a unit would be a formidable side of balance, power and attacking threat. So here we go:
There are any number of reasons to dislike Rio Ferdinand. From his failed attempt to become football’s equivalent of Mike Murphy in ‘Rio’s World Cup Wind-Ups’, to missing a drugs test due to a shopping trip, to kicking female stewards, he really does his best to test the public’s tolerance of him. Not to mention video-recorded frolics whilst holidaying with choirboys Kieron Dyer and Jody Morris amongst others, and a drink driving charge at the age of 18, which postponed an international debut. Before this descends into a rant, I must stop myself here. But you get the general idea. However, more worrying developments for Ferdinand is his on the field performances. His dip in form has been well documented, but is there any way way back for a player that 12 months ago was arguably the best centre-half in world football.
Any time the camera focused on Alex Ferguson last Wednesday night, it showed him in an unusual pose. He was sitting down quietly. He looked lost, defeated, deflated. He realised soon after Samuel E’too’s 10th minute toe poke under Edwin van Der Saar that there was no way back. A one goal margin was all there was, but it seemed insurmountable. Ferguson’s teams have never known when they are beaten, as we have seen all too often over the last 20 years. Against Sheffield Wednesday in ’93, Bayern Munich in ’99, Tottenham ’01. Certain defeats turned into glorious triumph. But this Barcelona team was not for bullying.