Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Best XI Bottom III

This weekend I (again) spent an inordinate amount of time watching Premier League matches back-to-back-to-back while I should have been doing other, more constructive things like walking the dog, cleaning my apartment, or...bathing. This fact was no lost on my delightful girlfriend and I'm currently snuggling on the couch with her watching The Bachelor as penance. I'm screwed if she looks over my shoulder to see what I'm typing. Whatever. It was worth it. I enjoyed it and I can quit any time. You're not the boss of me.

Some time between watching Arsene Wenger actually make use of that ridiculous coat of his and surprising myself by cheering enthusiastically for a draw in the Spurs v Man United match, I had a thought [insert "one thought" jokes here]. Could you, drafting only players currently on teams in the relegation zone of the Premier League, put together a league challenging side?

Just so we're all on the same page here, we're talking QPR, Wigan, and Reading. QPR are, dare I say, reborn under Harry Redknapp and are currently threatening to shed their mantle as Most Spectacular Train Wreck Of The Season. But their January transfer window activity thus far has been limited to signing too old, too expensive hired guns to replace a bunch of other too old, too expensive hired guns. I will literally eat my hat if QPR escape relegation.

My hat.
Wigan have been competently - and I mean that with all sincerity- led by Roberto Martinez right back into a relegation scrap and should be thankful to even be there. Seriously, how does this guy do it? It seems like every year Wigan just escape relegation and celebrate by selling off their best players, replacing them with no one in particular, and winding up the whole thing again just to see how close they can cut it. Everyone goes on and on about Harry Redknapp, but what Martinez does every single year with three nuns, a mime, four UPS drivers, a high school place kicker, two mannequins, and six of those shooting dummies they use at training sessions to make the wall is astounding. I predict they do it again this year.
Hippest duckface ever.

That leaves us with Reading, the quintessential yo-yo side. They could barely stay up or barely go down and I wouldn't be surprised either way. The best thing they have going for them is that there are other teams just as bad, if not worse, that could sneak into one of those bottom three spots. The worst thing they have going for them is that they look an awful lot like QPR in those jerseys. C'mon, Reading. Dress like the guy who has the job you want.  

So, do we have a contender? Well, first things first, we need a manager. Brian McDermott looks like a bond villain to me and I've never been terribly impressed by his tactics. Harry Redknapp seems the obvious choice, but I submit that he's never gone to a club that wasn't woefully underachieving and then done one before he could ride the crest back down to more realistic results. That leaves me with Roberto Martinez and I feel pretty good about that choice (see above).

In goal I've got to go with Julio Cesar, mostly because I just can't square the fact that this guy has won almost everything in the game with the fact that he's about to get relegated as a member of one of the most underachieving Premier League sides ever. He's starting to come good after some very un-Julio Cesar-like performances and her certainly looks the part in his Brazilian ninja kit. Also, my other realistic choices were Ali Al-Habsi and Rob Green. Al-Habsi isn't an awful choice, but he's got to be backup to Cesar. Green is like a poor man's goalkeeping version of Fernando Torres. In a little over two years the guy has gone from England's number one to a warm seat on the bench of the worst team in the league. If Clint Dempsey ever winds up poisoned, I'm going to want to hear Green's alibi.

He'll be damned if Chamakh is going to score on him. I like that in a goalkeeper.
My back four is Maynor Figueroa, Nicky Shorey, Ryan Nelsen, and Ivan Ramis. Basically, this is a crap shoot. None of the bottom three teams are particularly adept at scoring goals, but they're really freaking good at letting them in. Whoever you stick back there is going to be somewhere way down the ladder from Gary Cahill, Rio Ferdinand, and Michael Dawson. Gary Caldwell, Armand Traore, Stephane M'Bia, and Fabio - Has he not been playing quite well of late? - all probably could have found their way into this Best XI Bottom III back four, but I went with my gut. Figueroa is an athlete who can bomb forward when needed. Nelsen is an old school center back general and a natural leader. Ramis is a big oaf who can kick you. Shorey can occasionally serve a ball. Seems like balance to me. 

In midfield we've got Shaun Maloney, Shaun Wright-Phillips, Junior Hoilett, Adel Taarabt, and Samba Diakite. A few things: 1- I never said these players had to be currently fit. This is my fantasy/nightmare side and I can select whoever I want as long as they're on the roster of a bottom three side. 2 - How in the hell is QPR the worst team in the Premier League with the players they have on that roster?! 3 - Samba Diakite is a butcher and sometimes you need that. 4 - Shortest midfield ever? 5 - I don't want to put Taarabt on this team at all, but he's the closest thing to a gamechanger on any of the bottom three rosters. Seriously, look at who is on these rosters. I'll wait. 

This brings us to my one forward selection. On hype it has to be Loic Remy. On Looks it has to be Pavel Pogrebnyak. On hair it's Arouna Kone. You won't be surprised to learn that no forward on any of the bottom three sides has scored more than eight goals. Again, there's a reason they're in the bottom three. You might be surprised to learn, however, that that eight goal scorer is Reading's Adam Le Fondre. Go on, Adam! Be a hero!

So, could my Best XI Bottom III side challenge for a league title? In a word: no. In five words: Not a chance in hell. But with Adel Taarbat pulling the strings behind a front running Adam Le Fondre, Hoilett and Wright-Phillips providing width on the wings and sometimes collapsing in to allow Figueroa and Shorey to overlap, Diakite kicking people, Maloney being one too many attacking players on the field, Nelsen marshaling the defense with Ramis mouth breathing next to him, Cesar getting a steady workout in the goal, and Martinez looking dapper and gesticulating madly on the touchline, this would be one fun team to watch!

Probably wouldn't be dead bottom either......or have a wage bill as large as QPR's. But we would play at Loftus Road. Nothing like watching a train wreck up close! 

No comments:

Post a Comment