I usually do this sort of thing in an international break, but for once I’ll do it pre-match! As if we don’t have enough to worry about with Cardiff away coming up! Nevertheless, here it is:
I didn’t need much thinking time to choose Ian Wright and Thierry Henry. Wrighty smashed Cliff Bastin’s goalscoring record and didn’t care how he scored. With him in the team, I thought we’d always score. As well as that, he must have been a great character in the dressing room and if the going got tough (as in physical) Wrighty would never back down. A true legend and one of my favourite ever Arsenal players.
The same goes for Henry, although he would offer a different kind of threat. Even quicker than Wrighty in his prime, Henry would put on the after-burners and leave everyone in his wake…including team-mates, who wouldn’t be able to keep up. Only he could have broken Wrighty’s record!
On the left wing, I’ve plumped for Marc Overmars. What a lethal finisher, better than Pires in that respect, and quicker too. Impossible to play against. When I did my UEFA ‘B’ coaching badge, the FA coach trainer was telling us full backs should let a winger cut inside onto his weaker foot. ‘Not if he’s two-footed’, I said, ‘as he might shoot. Surely a shot is more dangerous than a cross’. That comment didn’t go down well at all!
On the other wing, I’ve gone for Ray Parlour. I was tempted to choose left-winger Jose Antonio Reyes and put him on the other flank, but he was a bit lightweight for the English game, which is more about brawn than skill. ‘Parls’ or ‘The Romford Pele’ never stopped running and would offer defensive protection as well as something going forward.
In central midfield, I’ve chosen Manu Petit and Cesc Fabregas. Petit was one of the best defensive midfielders I’ve ever seen, while Cesc is probably the best passer I’ve seen in the modern game. I think the two would really complement each other.
Left back is Kenny Sansom. I had the pleasure of meeting him once. What a nice guy. A really quick full back with skill and incredibly difficult for wingers to get around. I did consider Ashley Cole or even Bob McNab, but it had to be Kenny.
On the other flank, I’ve got Viv Anderson. I always admired Viv, so I was really glad when we signed him. I was tempted to go for Pat Rice, though, who’s been such a loyal servant to the club and is now battling against cancer.
My centre backs will be Sol Campbell and Frank McLintock. I had to put someone in from ‘The Double’ winning side of 1970-71, so Frank’s the man. I’d make him captain too, as when he left to join QPR it was a long wait until the next trophy. He made that much difference. Meanwhile, Sol was one of the best value signing ever, especially as Spurs were adamant he’d never join us. How wrong they were!
Pat Jennings makes it between the sticks. He was cheap as chips from Spurs, so I’m not sure they valued him as much as we did. I know he’s still a Spurs man at heart, but I’d still pick him as I reckon he was possibly the best keeper in the world when he was at his peak. This guy could catch a football with one hand! That’s how big his paws were!