The Greatest XI

The sound you can hear is the sound of the bottom of a content barrel being scraped. Over the course of a football season, you create a long list of ideas and some end up higher on the list than others. This one, well it is safe to say that this one is the Sunderland of the content league table. It is so far adrift at the bottom I don’t know why you are still even reading. But seeing as you are, I bring you the Greatest XI of Brians to have ever played Premier League football. Yeah, you read that correctly. You really did. We did Alan last week, so logic moved us on to Brian quite easily.

1. Bryan Gunn (Norwich City)

I’m starting off pretty seriously today. No mucking about with this pick. Bryan Gunn is probably the finest goalkeeper ever to play for Norwich City (I know, stiff competition and all that) and he was their custodian during those glory years when Norwich were good, their kit was bad and Jeremy Goss’ hairstyle was too good for Inter Milan. You see, the youngsters won’t remember that when the Premier League actually started Norwich were proper decent. Mark Robins had moved from Manchester United and was scoring for fun and they nearly won the title. Honest, they did.  Bryan Gunn was a better keeper than manager, a is still better than his son will ever be. Maybe. I’m not actually sure about that last bit.

2. Brian Borrows (Coventry City)

What could possibly make up for the disappointment of twisting your knee days before the 1987 FA Cup Final and missing your club’s only major honour? That’s right, getting the number two shirt in this motley crew. Brian Borrows actually played for Everton 27 times when the Premier League was a mere twinkle in the eye of the greedy men. He moved to Coventry, was a regular for the Sky Blues and was still there when all the razzmatazz kicked in. Good work Brian. Not so good for Brian was ending his career at Swindon, poor chap.

3. Bryan Oviedo (Everton & Sunderland)

Well, this is easier than I expected! Bryan Oviedo slots in at left back having played many times for Everton before getting relegated by David Moyes. A slight spoiler for you, he isn’t the only Costa Rican international in this team today, oh no.

4. Brian Kilcline (Newcastle United & Swindon Town)

Thank goodness he was able to get through 11 Premier League appearances before he retired. If you pick a team of Brians then Killer has to be one of them. Kilcline was probably best known for his hair and his performance in the 1987 FA Cup Final but, like his old teammate at right back, he just about hung around long enough to make no money out of the Premier League whatsoever. He now rents holiday homes in Spain don’t you know. I’m making him captain.

5. Brian Gayle (Sheffield United)

Not many strikers will fancy playing against these two at centre-back. Brian Gayle came through the youth ranks of Wimbledon and followed Harry Bassett to Sheffield United. Big, strong, quick he was probably too good for Sheffield United anyway. Once they were relegated, he was never seen in the Premier League again.

6. Brian McClair (Manchester United)

Chocky ended up playing deeper and deeper the older he got, so it is only right that he can play in the deep-lying-playmaker role whilst his central midfield partner bombasts his way around the pitch. McClair had some fine moments at United having moved down from Celtic. His finest moment was probably in the middle of that brawl at Highbury in 1989 but, as we know, football didn’t exist then.

7. Bryan Robson (Manchester United & Middlesbrough)

One of England’s finest midfielders of all time just about makes the starting XI for me, but he is not my captain. He won’t be fit long enough. What can you say about Bryan Robson that hasn’t been said before? Captain Marvel, likes a drink, loved an injury and knew how to sign a Brazilian. Robbo is a prime example of being a superb player doesn’t always lead to being a superb manager, but who can forget him keeping West Bromwich Albion up that time? Me, I can forget it very easily.

8. Brian Laudrup (Chelsea)

I am not too ashamed to admit, I had forgotten that one of Denmark’s finest had graced the Premier League with their presence seven times in the 1997/98 season. He was at Chelsea. Of course, he was! He didn’t do much, but then neither did George Weah. We’ll come on to him another time.

9. Brian Deane (Sheffield United, Leeds United, Middlesbrough & Leicester City)

You can’t have a team of Brians and exclude someone called Brian who just happened to score the first ever goal in the Premier League. Yes, big Deano headed home for Sheffield United against Manchester United, a game that Harry Bassett’s side went on to win 2-1. Deane scored 15 times in that inaugural season earning a big money move to Leeds, his hometown club. 32 Premier League goals for the Elland Road club clearly wasn’t enough as he was sold to Middlesbrough by way of punishment. 18 goals there came before a final 6 for Leicester meaning, by my reckoning, he must also be the top-scoring Brian in Premier League history.

10. Brian McBride (Everton & Fulham)

Brian McBride landed from the good ol’ US of A and made a good impression at Everton, scoring 4 in 8. This led to a big money move to Fulham, back in the day when Fulham could make big money moves. A further 32 Premier League goals from McBride is not a bad return at all and he will form a decent partnership with Deane, providing we hit it aerial.

11. Bryan Roy (Nottingham Forest)

I was amazed to learn that the Dutch winger had played three seasons of Premier League football for Nottingham Forest scoring 24 goals in 80 odd appearances. For me, I just remember he had a bit of an attitude problem, although his was not as bad as Pierre’s!

Those that nearly made it included Bryan Ruiz of Fulham, but with one lazy bastard in Bryan Roy in the side, I couldn’t afford another.  The side would have to be managed by Brian Clough, obviously. Brian Laws would also be on the bench as a dependable defensive back-up, and also in charge of half-time catering.

It’s worth noting that certain managers in the game seem to be drawn to certain names. The aforementioned Dave Bassett managed no less than three of this team. David Moyes managed two, if David Moyes ever managed anyone and Sir Alex also managed two. Actually, that’s not as interesting as I thought. Anyway, next week begins with a C….