It’s easy to compile a Premier League Best XI when you can choose from the likes of Sergio Aguero, David Silva, Robin Van Persie, Wayne Rooney, Didier Drogba, Papiss Cisse, Gareth Bale and Yohan Cabaye.
From Manchester City, to Newcastle, Arsenal, Tottenham and Manchester United, the top half of the Premier League table is dripping with talent and their silky skills make you salivate with delight.
But there are also some talented folks in the bottom half. In fact, this season more than ever, there are some players in the bottom half who wouldn’t be a bad investment for some of the teams at the top. If some scouts took a wee gander at what was going on beneath them, they could save on the travel budget!
Instead of the traditional Best XI, this season, we’ve put together our Not So Best XI. This selection of players make up a team that could perhaps qualify for the Europa League. Or some would argue they could easily get relegated. Chime in and let us know what you think. Better yet, send us your Not So Best XI so we can compare scouting notes!
Goalkeeper = Michel Vorm | Swansea
Defenders = Phil Bardsley | Sunderland | Zak Whitbread | Norwich | Stephen Warnock | Aston Villa | Ashley Williams | Swansea
Midfield = Victor Moses | Wigan | Sebastien Larsson | Sunderland | Leon Britton | Swansea | Gylfi Sigurdsson | Swansea
Forwards = Scott Sinclair | Swansea | Grant Holt | Norwich | Peter Odemwingie | West Brom
Subs = Al Habsi | Wigan | Yakubu | Blackburn | Darren Bent | Aston Villa | Wesley Hoolahan | Norwich | James McLean | Sunderland | Jonathan Woodgate | Stoke
Manager = Brendan Rodgers | Swansea
Kit Colour = Home | All red | Away | All Black
The Calciopoli match fixing scandal destroyed the hearts and souls of Juventus fans across the universe. It was a dark period for the Bianconeri. They were stripped of their 2005 and 2006 Serie A titles won under Fabio Capello and were sent to Serie B as further punishment for their involvement in Italy’s biggest ever football scandal.
Since that shameful chapter in their history and for all those who remained at the club, the one common goal was to resurrect the good name of Juventus and restore some pride and respect to one of the most famous football teams the world has ever seen.
On Sunday night, after winning their first Serie A title since 2003, Juventus restored more than just pride. They proved the Old Lady lives on. And this time, the Old Lady might just be stronger than ever before.
Following the capture of the Scudetto, Club President Andrea Agnelli perfectly described the emotions of fans as he tweeted “from heaven to hell and back to heaven again.” Despite the despair and pain, Juventus fans always hoped their team would be restored to greatness. Andrea Agnelli finally has them back on the right track, but not without some help from his friends!
For players like Giorgio Chiellini, Claudio Marchisio and legends Gigi Buffon and Alessandro Del Piero, capturing the title is even sweeter as these players remained loyal to the club and stuck with the team when they were relegated to Serie B. And for Del Piero, as he prepares to leave the Old Lady he loves, what a better way to exit than as a champion. It’s only fitting for one of Italy’s finest ever footballers to bow out of the game in this style.
Talking to Sky Sports Italia after the game, Del Piero shared how this could be the most satisfying of all the trophies he has won at Juventus. “This Scudetto has a special taste after some difficult years and I’d go as far as to say that this Scudetto is even better than the one we achieved in Rimini (to win Serie B). I start every season with the hope of winning something, and sometimes it doesn’t happen, but what has happened to me tonight makes up for many years of failing to win a trophy. Tonight we are celebrating a championship that we all deserve and I’m glad to have contributed.”
It’s also an incredible achievement for manager Antonio Conte. From legendary ex-Juventus player to coach of the team now, together with Alessandro Del Piero, he represents everything that is the Bianconeri. He’s experienced the elation. He’s felt the pain. He understands the agony Calciopoli caused. He is family and he was the perfect man to bring Juventus back from the dead. Conte created a dynamic team who have dazzled at times in Serie A and overall, have dominated Italian football without losing a game. The exclamation mark on their season will be if they could win their last game against Atalanta. This would make Juventus unbeaten in all 38 league games and is something that hasn’t been achieved in Italy since Fabio Capello’s AC Milan won the title back in 1992.
Many say Pep Guardiola changed football during his managerial spell at Barcelona. On World Football Daily, I’ve suggested many times that Juventus could be the new Barcelona. Granted they do not play Barcelona’s tiki-taka style of football, but what Juventus do have is a legendary ex-player as coach who is beloved by their fans. They have a special player in Marchisio who has been compared to Tardelli by the Italian media. They have solid ownership in the Agnelli family. They have a brand new stadium that is beautifully set for future years of glory and they have money to spend so they can build on the success they have achieved this year. Some might think the Barcelona comparisons are over-the-top. Even Pep had to start somewhere with the Catalan giants. If Andrea Agnelli keeps faith with the 42-year old Conte, there’s no reason why he can’t duplicate the same type of success Pep had at Barcelona.
Winning a league title in any country is difficult. It is especially difficult in Europe’s most competitive leagues. People will discuss, debate and argue over whether or not this is Juventus 28th or 30th title. Regardless of the Calciopoli scandal, there is so much to be excited about if you are a Juventus fan. When asked by the Italian media about the subject of titles won, Antonio Conte clearly wanted to look towards the present and the future and not the past. “It’s the first for me. It’s the first that I’ve won as a coach.” A classy answer that illustrates the man in charge of the team is clearly focused on the years ahead.
Antonio Conte and Juventus also have the Coppa Italia Final against Napoli to come. They could achieve the double in his first season as coach and they could also go unbeaten in the league. Is anyone still asking if The Old Lady is back?