Thursday, June 30, 2011

Premier League - Greatest XI: Right midfield

Our summer series giving you the chance to vote for the greatest team in Premier League history continues with the right midfield position.

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Next season will be the 20th in Premier League history and over the summer we will be compiling the best XI to grace the top-flight since the competition's inception in 1992.
Each week we will provide a shortlist of players and you can vote for your favourite in the Eurosport-Yahoo! online poll or on the Eurosport Facebook page - web users can click on the link on the right to vote.
Each Thursday our panel of experts will make their decision - their votes count for 50% - while the poll votes will also count for 50% as well and in true reality television style, you - the fans - hold the tie-breaker.
Last week, Ashley Cole was voted best left-back to join Tony Adams, Nemanja Vidic, Gary Neville and Peter Schmeichel in the Best XI back five.
Stone Ronaldo Beckham
Now you can choose the best right midfielder - will you favour Cristiano Ronaldo’s flair, David Beckham’s dead-ball ability, Steve McManaman’s movement, Robert Pires’s sublime touch or Steve Stone’s determination?
On Friday we will announce the final result of the vote to find out who completes the defence and post the best user comments left on the Eurosport-Yahoo! website, the Eurosport mobile app and the Eurosport Facebook page.
What needs to be said about Beckham that hasn’t been said already? Signed by United aged 16, the 21-year-old Londoner announced himself to the football world with ‘that’ goal, lobbing Wimbledon’s Neil Sullivan from halfway, but he had already impressed in his first full season at the club, weighing in with seven league goals. Renowned for his ability to cross a ball, he also boasts pinpoint accuracy with free-kicks and a steely determination and professionalism that compensates for a relative lack of pace and dribbling skills. He became England captain - winning over 100 caps - and won everything that could be won with United. By the time he moved to Real Madrid in 2003, Beckham had scored 62 league goals and a record 152 assists. Some still doubt his ability - claiming his popularity was down to boyband looks and the celebrity sideshow that accompanied him and wife Victoria - but the statistics speak for themselves. A testament to hard work - he was often the first in and last out of training as he perfected his technique - Beckham is turning out for LA Galaxy at the ripe old age of 36 and is still deemed good enough to be linked with a Premier League return.
Appearances: 265
Titles: 1995-96, 1996-97, 1998-99, 1999-2000, 2000-01, 2002-03
PFA Team of the Year: 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000
PFA Young Player of the Year: 1997
UEFA Club Footballer and Midfielder of the Year: 1999
Premier League Team of the Decade: 1992-93 to 2001-02
Premier League Goal of the Decade: 1992-93 to 2001-02 (for August 17 1996 goal v. Wimbledon)
England Player of the Year: 2003
Officer in the Order of the British Empire: 2003
The flamboyant Portuguese took over Beckham’s mantle at United and, while they share some similarities with celebrity lifestyles and a worrying interest in fashion, on the pitch they are very different. Blessed with a prizefighter’s physique and an angel’s touch, Ronaldo is lightning quick and has the full repertoire of dribbling and shooting skills: with impudent flicks and stepovers, he leaves defenders for dead and fires in unstoppable drives from all angles. More a goal-scorer than creator, in six seasons with United since joining from Sporting he totted up 118 goals in all competitions, including a mammoth 42 in the 2007-08 campaign, when United won a domestic and European double. Since his world-record £80m transfer to Real Madrid he has morphed into an out-and-out centre-forward and has scored more than a goal a game in La Liga, although has yet to hit the heights with Portugal. Has won every award imaginable, including the World Player of the Year gongs in 2008.
Appearances: 196
Titles: 2006-07, 2007-08, 2008-09
PFA Young Player of the Year: 2007
PFA Players Player of the Year and Fans Player of the Year: 2007, 2008
PFA Team of the Year: 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009
Barclays Player of the Season: 2007, 2008
FIFPro World Player of the Year: 2008
Ballon D’Or: 2008
Destined to be the thinking man’s choice, ‘El Macca’ came through the ranks at his native Liverpool where he became a fan favourite as part of what became known as the ‘Spice Boys’ generation of players. Like Beckham, he was more about assists - setting up 112 and scoring 46 in just over a decade in the first team - but he found the space through running and dribbling, a relative rarity in England at the time. He was perhaps unfairly blamed for Liverpool’s relative underachievement at the time - they had been the most successful team in Europe but he never won the league asManchester United became the dominant force in English football - but that was due to the changing of football’s old order, and a club-wide playboy culture that developed alongside the British fascination with celebrity. Indeed, after he left Liverpool he proved his worth by adapting to Spanish life and winning two Champions League titles at Real Madrid, although he never really shone with England.
Appearances: 274
Titles: None
PFA Team of the Year: 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998
Thierry Henry’s ‘Eh, Bobby, what iz French for va va voom?’ in a car ad comes as close to encapsulating the enigma that is Pires, even though the French winger did not appear in the commercial. With his shaggy hair, Gallic indifference and supreme touch, Pires was the beauty to Arsenal’s beast, Patrick Vieira. It seems hard to imagine now, but a decade ago Arsenal managed to combine delightful verve with cynical strength and a killer instinct - Pires was the creative force alongside Denis Bergkamp. Perhaps his finest moment was a wonderful solo strike against Newcastle and he racked up 14 league goals in three consecutive seasons as Arsenal won two Premier League titles with him in the team, including their last one in 2004. Fell victim to Arsene Wenger’s obsession with shunning older players, moving to Spain - the country of his mother - with Villarreal.
Appearances: 182
Titles: 2001-02, 2003-04
Football Writers’ Association Footballer of the Year: 2002
PFA Team of the Year: 2002, 2003, 2004
In a 17-year-career that included a decade at Nottingham Forest and spells with Aston Villa and Portsmouth in the Premier League (and Leeds in the second tier), Geordie Stone developed a reputation as a tireless, dependable winger with excellent delivery and an eye for goal. It is unfortunate that his career coincided with that of David Beckham, but he nonetheless forged a fine career and picked up nine England caps - scoring two goals - in the process. His career was curtailed by injury but he was well into his 30s by then and is now a coach at Newcastle.
Appearances: 263
Titles: None
PFA Team of the Year: 1996

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