Greatest Ever Team Of The North?
For centuries a north-south divide has existed in England. Whether it be in politics, money or sport. The perception that there is no life north of Manchester is a fine example. .
Could the greatest English-XI ever be fully comprised of people born north of Manchester?
Steve Harper, to people who don’t know much about Newcastle United, will be largely unknown. But for twenty years the Newcastle-born goalkeeper served his club with incredible loyalty. He could have been England’s number one goalkeeper in the early 2000s, if he had left to pursue first-team football.
For many years Steve Harper was over-shadowed by arguably the best goalkeeper the Premier League has ever seen – Shay Given. A similarity between then and now is that of Celtic FC’s Fraser Forster who made the move across the border from Newcastle United, because he was overshadowed by talented Dutchman Tim Krul.
The defence of this all-time great Northern XI on appearances doesn’t necessarily look strong from an outsider’s point of view. But taking a closer look is important in understanding how good this side would actually be.
In at centre-back: Jonathan Woodgate and Newcastle United’s Steven Taylor.
Both are/were great centre-backs, who play well with the ball at their feet. Some believe Jonathan Woodgate to be the most naturally-gifted English centre-back since the days of Bobby Moore; sadly his potential was never fulfilled due to injuries.
Newcastle United’s Steven Taylor could head down a similar path – though at least once a season he picks up a serious injury that rules him out. When playing at the top of his ability he is arguably England’s most talented centre-back.
The right-back in this side would be a popular addition amongst fans of Liverpool: Bob Paisley served the Reds for almost 50 years; captaining them, managing them and becoming one of the most successful managers ever. As a player he wasn’t bad either; making over 250 appearances for Liverpool.
At left-back, Robbie Elliot starts. Though left-back is probably the weakest part in this All-star XI, Robbie Elliot must not be dismissed. During the times when Newcastle United were ‘The Entertainers’ he impressed the country with his performances at left back; in Kevin Keegan’s final season with Newcastle – Elliott notched seven goals from the role of left back.
The midfield is where it gets exciting. Some of the finest players to ever wear an England jersey were born north of Manchester.
Playing holding midfielder in this team’s 4-1-3-2 formation is Wallsend-born Michael Carrick, who is a nomination for this season’s Premier League player of the year. The Manchester United midfielder can pick out a pass from anywhere on the pitch, he also has an engine to match. Michael Carrick has been one of the driving forces in Manchester United’s ascension to the Premier League crown this season. One of the most technically-talented midfielders England has ever produced, Michael Carrick fully deserves his place in this side.
The attacking midfielder trio of Peter Beardsley, Bobby Charlton and Paul Gascoigne would have any side in the world worried. Between the three of them they scored no fewer than 616 goals. The teams lining up against this side would have feared the dribbling abilities of this trio, the creative flair and enigmatic driving-force.
Up front we have – to nobody’s surprise – Alan Shearer; the man who could score from anywhere. Alan Shearer is the Premier League all-time highest goal scorer – netting 260 goals in the Premier league and over 409 goals altogether. Prolific, passionate and never a scorer of boring goals. Shearer was the textbook classical striker.
Partnering Alan Shearer up front is someone who is more prolific; in terms of goals-to-games. Brian Clough netting 251 times in 274 appearances for the likes of Sunderland and Middlesbrough.
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