The Greatest XI

It’s fun being the editor. When you have a lame content idea like this, there is nobody telling you not to bother with it. I literally have a blank canvas and I can fill it with total rubbish like this. I mean, you wouldn’t get this in the Daily Mail would you? Equally, you probably would come here for a load of hate-filled, propaganda spreading middle-class crap either.

Anyway, this week we move on to the sixth letter in the alphabet which is…….. F.

It’s got to be Frank, hasn’t it? Yes. It’s Frank.

#1 Frank Fielding (Blackburn Rovers)

It’s a tough life being a substitute goalkeeper. Poor old, or young as he was then, Frank spent four seasons at Blackburn Rovers when they were in the Premier League without ever making an actual appearance. It was a surprise he never got a game at Ewood Park as he was the England U21 goalkeeper and, let’s be honest, Blackburn weren’t that good by then. Frank now plays for Bristol City following a spell at Derby County.

#2 Simon Francis (Bournemouth)

There we go, someone actually playing Premier League football. We do love a journeyman that’s made it to the top flight here on Tales so Simon Francis is a very welcome signing. He played League One and Championship football for the best part of a decade before joining the Cherries in League One and stayed with them to the top flight. What a man. And he’s not even that good.

#3 Francis Benali (Southampton)

Matt Le Tissier’s best mate and a true hard man. I wonder, if a study was done, whether it would be proven that statistically hard men were more often than not a left back. Stuart Pearce, Mark Dennis, Francis Benali, Julian Dicks and, er, Ashley Cole right? Anyway, Benali is a Southampton legend who kept a lad I went to school with out of the side so long that Dunc had to join Northampton because the name was similar. Check out Francis’ best bits below.

#4 Frank Sinclair (Chelsea and Leicester City)

This side is creating all kinds of tenuous links to my own brief and not that good playing days. I used to play alongside Frank’s best mate from his Chelsea youth days. Anyway, who cares? Frank Sinclair came through Chelsea’s youth team back in the days when that was possible and was a very good centre back with the ability to score one hell of an own goal, like the one below. Imagine going all the way to Middlesbrough and losing 1-0 because someone did that? He was also very, very short.

#5 Frank Leboeuf (Chelsea)

Where Sinclair probably represented old Chelsea, Frank Leboeuf was very much new Chelsea. Signed by Ruud Gullit to replace himself and to start playing sexy football from the back, the Leboeuf deal was done before Euro 96. Gullit was keen to get it done before as he knew that if people say Leboeuf play in the tournament, they’d be after him too. This was way back when in the days when nobody beat Chelsea to the signing of a player, unlike now eh Antonio? Leboeuf didn’t have a bad career in England and even won the World Cup when playing for Chelsea, something John Terry never did.

#6 Frank Yallop (Ipswich Town)

You see, Canadians used to play in the Premier League quite a lot. Craig Forrest and Tomas Radzinski are two others that spring to mind. Was this because the Premier League wasn’t that good in the early days or because there used to be Canadian talent? Who knows. The fact that Ipswich once finished in the top four might suggest the former. Anyway, Yallop racked up 54 games in the Premier League in the early 90’s and can now be found managing a team in not-the-MLS, but don’t quote me on that.

#7 Frank McAvennie (Aston Villa and Swindon Town)

Eh? McAvennie played for them in the Premier League? But he was a Hammer through and through! It would appear not. Frank scored goals aplenty for West Ham United in the pre-Premier League days but by the time Sky took over the world he was at Celtic. Ron Atkinson persuaded Frank to return south and join what was a very exciting Aston Villa side Ron was creating. However, the emergence of Dalian Atkinson and the ability of Dean Saunders meant that Frank only played three times for the Villa before heading back to Celtic. He soon returned south one last time, on loan, to Swindon Town where he played seven times in their only Premier League season, scoring none. He did, honest. I have proof here…

#8 Frank Lampard (West Ham United, Chelsea and Manchester City)

Only one man could wear the number eight shirt in this team and it is Super Frank Lampard or, if you sit on the other side of the fence, Fat Frank. Here is another player that will divide people in generations to come. Was he good? Was he not? Was he a modern day David Platt, by which I mean did absolutely nothing of use in midfield other than time a decent run into the box and score? Maybe he was all three. But you cannot deny, Lamps won a few things in his Premier League time. 609 games led to 177 goals and 107 assists. He won the title three times. He even managed to score 12 times for Manchester City, which will no doubt get forgotten. Yet, no matter how good he was, he still couldn’t agree with Steven Gerrard, “look mate, when I go you sit and when you go I’ll sit”, which of course is the conversation that used to happen on every Sunday morning across England before everyone wanted to be a number ten.

#9 Francis Jeffers (Everton, Arsenal, Charlton Athletic and Blackburn Rovers)

Hey, you remember Everton before Wayne Rooney? They used to turn out talent back then too. Francis Jeffers was the next Michael Branch/Danny Cadamarteri back then and he was so good that Arsene Wenger labelled him “a fox in the box” when signing him for £8m in 2001. Sadly, this fox disappeared down a hole where a load of injuries were hiding and he never really did it. Still, one England cap equalling one England goal keeps him in top company with David Nugent.

#10 Frank Nouble (West Ham United)

I’ve included Nouble for one reason and one reason only. The boy is 25 years old and he has played for 16 clubs! He started at Chelsea before moving to West Ham as a professional, making his debut in 2009. He only managed ten top flight games in his two seasons at West Ham, going out on loan almost as many times as he has had Premier League touches of the ball. Frank now plays, badly, for Newport County.

#11 Francis Coquelin (Arsenal)

When you are Arsene Wenger and you have Francis Coquelin you do not need to go and spend millions on a defensive midfielder. Well, that’s how Arsene saw it anyway. Coquelin made his Premier League debut, I think, in a massacre at Old Trafford and wasn’t seen again until Wenger called him back from a loan spell Charlton Athletic. These facts may not be right, don’t judge me. Whatever Coq did in his five games at the Valley was clearly good enough as the Frenchman is now nearing 100 Premier League appearances and has even won some silverware with the Arsenal.

So that is the team for this week guys. Oh, the manager? Got to be Frank Clark hasn’t it? Yeah, give it to Frank. He’s a safe pair of hands, which is exactly the mistake the Nottingham Forest board made when replacing a certain Brian Clough.