The Greatest XI

I knew a letter would screw this up eventually, but I didn’t think it would be the letter H. Not for one second. So, I am thinking on my feet. Who said I could only have one name, eh? I wrote this rule book, I can do what I want. So, forgive me. Today I present you a team that sounds like it went to Eton. It’s full of Harrys and Henrys. Yes, yes it is. Who said Premier League football was a game for the working classes?

#1 Henrique Hilario (Chelsea)

Some men are born to be substitute goalkeepers. It takes a special breed to be a ‘keeper, and an, even more, special one to turn up to training every single day, work your little Nike socks off in the knowledge that even if the first choice goalkeeper breaks a leg you still won’t be getting a game as someone else is further up the pecking order than you. Hilario was at Chelsea for eight seasons, yes eight seasons and played how many Premier League games? 20! He kept six clean sheets in that time which tells you a little about the opposition he was trusted to play against.

#2 Henri Lansbury (Arsenal)

Due to the lack of out-and-out defenders available to me, I am having to get even more creative today. Henri (yeah that counts) Lansbury was highly rated at Arsenal as a midfielder, played for England at youth level and looked like he might be the future of English football. However, reality soon bit him on the backside and he amassed a grand total of three appearances in seven seasons at the Emirates. So, as Lansbury failed to make the grade as a central midfielder, I am dropping him back to sweeper in this cobbled together set up.

#3 Craig Harrison (Middlesbrough)

The things you learn when doing this column. Craig Harrison is the new manager at Hartlepool, having played for Middlesbrough. Do we have another Brian Clough on our hands I wonder? He played three times for Boro as a left-back before a horrific leg break ended his career, so I am sure he won’t mind turning out at centre back for me.

#4 Nicky Henry (Oldham Athletic)

The little I remember of Nick Henry tells me he can do the leg work as a right wing back for me. He was part of that Oldham team that used to do very well under Joe Royle in the FA Cup, before eventually getting promoted to the Premier League. In fact, Nick Henry is one of the reasons the Premier League even got off the ground. In the 1990 FA Cup Semi-Final against Manchester United, Henry thundered a shot in off the bar, but it wasn’t given. Had it been, Sir Alex Ferguson would not have been at Wembley that year, won the FA Cup or even had a job when the Premier League got underway – and without Manchester United’s revival would the Premier League have stood the test of time?

#5 Harry Maguire (Hull City)

Incredibly, with all the crap that is being bought for lots of money this summer, Harry Maguire hasn’t gone somewhere like Everton for £40m or a similar fee. Maguire went down with Hull City, but his penchant for striding forward from the back earned him the tag “a poor man’s John Stones”. Now there is an accolade.

#6 Karl Henry (Wolverhampton Wanderers and Queens Park Rangers)

Karl Henry is a Neil Warnock kind of player, and that tells you a lot immediately. He’s not in this side to play pretty passes and beat a man. He is here to add steel and some fairly cynical fouls to the side. Genuinely, he is one of those Premier League players that you wonder out loud how he got over 100 games in the top flight.

#7 Henrikh Mkhitaryan (Manchester United)

He is in, purely because it helps me learn how to spell his name correctly. A victim of Jose Mourinho’s “genius” man management, Henrikh finally “settled” and went on to win a couple of trophies in his first season in England.

#8 Harry Arter (Bournemouth)

Harry Arter is the kind of player that gives non-league players hope. Forget Jamie Vardy, it’s all about Harry. He signed for Bournemouth from Woking for a mere £5k, and through excellent coaching has become a very, very good player. He has been fundamental to the rise of Eddie Howe.

#9 Thierry Henry (Arsenal)

These boys make a half decent front two, no? Thierry Henry, Arsenal’s record goalscorer and an almost guaranteed pick in anyone’s best Premier League XI of all time. He won the title a couple of times, was an Invincible and also picked up a World Cup along the way. Henry was an absolute Rolls Royce of a player.

#10 Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur)

And then you have Harry Kane. Banging goals in for fun and reminding most people of Alan Shearer. Whereas Henry’s goals led to medals, Harry Kane seems to have accepted early in life that he isn’t going to win much if he stays at Tottenham and he certainly isn’t in line for any international honours, so he is dedicating his life’s work to breaking goal scoring records. Mind you, take Dele Alli falling over in the box every week and Kane doesn’t score anywhere near as many.

#11 Harry Kewell (Leeds United and Liverpool)

Harry Kewell was part of that young, exciting Leeds United side who suddenly felt the need to gamble on winning the Premier League. The gamble didn’t pay off, as we know, and one of the finest youth intakes of recent times all moved away, Kewell to Liverpool where he ended up playing ten minutes of a Champions League final in 2005. He is now manager of Crawley. Yikes.

The Manager

You all think I’m giving it to Dave “Harry” Bassett again, don’t you? NO! It’s the one and only Harry Redknapp who gets to lead this team out. Imagine the confusion on Harry’s face when he is told he can’t sign Niko Kranjcar or anyone else to play in this team…