92 clubs favourite players – Fulham – Aaron Hughes

Fulham have not had the greatest start to the season but that does not mean they have a poor squad and I expect them to get better and Martin Jol to guide them to safety.

They have experienced players that have played at the highest level and a lot of talent in their squad including Dimitar Berbatov, Adel Taarabt, John Arne Riise and Scott Parker. But even though I do like these players and think they are brilliant footballers, the player I have decided to choose is central defender Aaron Hughes.
Aaron Hughes
This may seem like a strange choice at first but personally I do not think there has been a more consistent player in the Premier League. Over the years he has not grabbed any headlines but he has also not made many mistakes which a lot of the top defenders strive for. The 33 year old has had a good career and it has got even better since joining Fulham and having one of the most underrated central defender partnerships with Brede Hangeland. They are one of the main reasons why some believe they overachieved and under Roy Hodgson got to the final of the Europa League. Hughes helped the club have a great home record and even though in recent years it has not been the greatest they are usually very consistent at Craven Cottage and even the bigger teams struggled to get results there.

It is not surprising to me that when he is not in the starting 11 Fulham look shaky at the back and it was a similar story when he was younger at Newcastle United. While at Newcastle he played all across the back four and occasionally in midfield. He also played in a Uefa Cup semi final but unfortunately for him and the team they ran into Didier Drogba who was on top form and unstoppable. I was very surprised when they sold him because Newcastle are famous for having some pretty bad defenders that make a lot of mistakes and he was always the one that put in good performances. But for whatever reason he left the club and joined Aston Villa and it didn’t quite work out for him there but he was first choice in his first season at the club.

I do feel sorry for him on the international stage because Northern Ireland have never looked like qualifying for a tournament and even though he has over 50 caps he would have maybe hoped for more. However he has been involved in some historic wins for his country and will obviously be proud to have played so many times for his country.

In his career he has not scored many goals and only got seven club goals in his career and they include goals against Manchester United, Everton, West Ham United, Southampton, Sheffield Wednesday, Norwich City and Dnipro. Maybe for a centre half that went forward for a lot of corners he should have scored more however this is not what he will be remembered for and unfortunately for him he has never got the recognition his talents have deserved.

Advertisements

A Liverpool legend – Jamie Carragher

Jamie Carragher has announced that he will retire from football at the end of the season and hopefully he will stay involved in the sport.
Jamie Carragher
For me, he has been one of the best defenders in the Premier League in the history of the league especially when he started playing centre back. He will go down in Liverpool history and there is no doubting that everyone will remember him after this season. He may not have got the headlines over the years like some of him teammates such as Steven Gerrard, but he has been just as important and proof of that is the fact that he has played over 700 times for the club. He is a one club man which is very rare these days and it just shows that there is still loyalty in football.

At the start of his career Carragher was very versatile and played in a number of positions. He was originally seen as either a full back or defensive midfielder. He was a valuable member of the team but under Gerard Houllier this slightly harmed his chances because he struggled to hold down a regular position and in his early days one of his worst games in his career was against Manchester United when he scored two own goals in a 3-2 loss. However, in the 2000-01 season he had one of the best ever by winning three trophies including the FA Cup, League Cup and the UEFA Cup. During this year he played 58 times which is remarkable. He followed this up with another two seasons of playing over 50 times. After this though his career stalled but this was down to injuries more than anything else and unfortunately this hampered his England chances as he missed the 2002 World Cup.

In my opinion Rafael Benitez needs to be given a lot of credit because he moved him alongside Sami Hyypia in the centre of Liverpool’s defence and even more trophies followed including the Champions League in what has to go down as one of the greatest finals ever. During this game even though Liverpool conceded three goals he came out of it with a lot of credit as he produced two fantastic blocks in the game to keep Liverpool in the game. After this he went on to break the European appearances record after playing in his 90th game in 2007 against Chelsea.

Six years in a row he played over 50 games in all competitions but towards the end of this spell many critics had started to slate Carragher for his lack of pace. But, he was never the quickest and I always felt this was a little harsh. This season he has only played 12 league games but played very well against Arsenal and was given man of the match.

His international career never took off and he only played 38 times and I always felt that he was better than John Terry and he would have been a better choice as they both play in a similar way, and love making last ditch tackles and blocks.

Where did it all go wrong for David Bentley?

England beat Moldova 5-0 last night with James Milner playing on the right wing but things could have been so different had David Bentley lived up to his tag of David Beckham’s replacement.

The former Arsenal youngster was tipped for greatness and his attributes were similar to the former England captain with him only needing a yard to put in a cross and not relying on pace or trickery to beat his marker. But where did it all go wrong and why is he now playing in Russia for FC Rostov instead of in the England squad? He has picked up seven caps for his country and did have the talent to be a success but maybe it was his transfer to Tottenham Hotspur that slowed his career and may have effectively finished his international career.

At Blackburn Rovers he was one of their best players and even scored a hatrick for them against Manchester United which not many people have managed to do. In the 2005-06 season he helped the club finish sixth and qualify for the UEFA Cup as it was called at the time. This just shows how far both player and club have fallen away. Bentley followed this up with two more very impressive seasons, playing 97 times, scoring 15 goals and contributing 26 assists for his side and this obviously lead to speculation that he would be leaving the club and there were even rumours that he could be joining Manchester United and in the summer of 2008 he would leave the club for Tottenham Hotspur.

Just looking at the stats of his time at the North London club you can see the problem he only played 42 times in the league in his four years at the club which makes you wonder what the problem was with him because they also splashed out £15 million for him and with his experience and quality in the Premier League it wasn’t seen as a gamble. Although they may have overpaid but that is expected because at the time he was in and around the England squad so his price tag was always going to be high. Other than a few brief moments of quality, in particular his volley against Arsenal in the 4-4 draw and a couple of other goals there isn’t much to say about his time at Spurs, he just didn’t really get the chance and after his first season where he played 35 times he was always behind Aaron Lennon in the pecking order for both club and country.

He has had two loan moves in the last two seasons but neither of them have been particularly impressive, with him spending a lot of time on the substitutes bench at Birmingham City and after agreeing a season long loan move to West Ham United he got injured after only five games and returned to his parent club.

Bentley was always a player I thought highly of, especially at Blackburn where he was a constant threat but there must be a reason why it hasn’t worked out for him since and I hope he can recapture some of his form and come back to England after his spell in Russia and at least be a decent Premier League player.