Greatest eleven of all-time and a little surprise.

Here’s my greatest eleven of all-time which has been derived from my recent positional all-time top five. But what would the greatest team ever be without a manager? So scroll down and you’ll find my top five managers of all-time.

Played in a standard 4 – 4 – 2 formation.

Goalkeeper: Lev Yashin – A revolutionary goalkeeper who is widely known as the greatest goalkeeper ever.

Left back: Roberto Carlos – The greatest left-back of his generation, could attack and defend equally well and has a trophy cabinet the size of a shed.
Centre back: Franz Beckenbauer – The most elegant and decorated of centre backs
Centre back: Bobby Moore – When Pele says he’s the best player he’s played against, you know he’s special
Right back: Cafu – The most bombarding right-back of all-time

Left midfield: Ryan Giggs – The most decorated Premiership player of all-time
Defensive midfield: Claude Makelele – He has his own role and position named after him, Zidane once called him the Galacticos engine room.
Attacking midfield: Zinedine Zidane – One of the greatest players ever, won games and beat teams almost individually with elegance and flair.
Right midfield: Garrincha – The greatest dribbler of all time, despite his birth defects.

Striker: Pele – The greatest footballer of all-time and probably the most successful and best goalscorer ever.
Striker: Thierry Henry – Just because I can.

Now that’s done, here’s my top five greatest managers of all-time.

First up is a manager who was so good he didn’t build one or two great teams, he managed to build three. After 24 years at Manchester United, Matt Busby had witnessed both extreme highs of football management, and an extreme low.

Busby’s first team won an FA Cup and a league title, as well as coming second four more times in the league. Busby then replaced his ageing team with players whose youthfulness gained them the media nickname of ‘The Busby Babes’. The players which included England legend Bobby Charlton were so successful that Tommy Taylor and Harry Gregg were Man United’s only major signings in four years. ‘The Busby Babes’ won the league in 1956 and 1957 and were runners-up in the 1957 FA Cup final to Aston Villa.

Busby’s side were showing great potential and were chasing silverware on all front before the 1958 Munich air disaster. Seven players were among the 23 people killed at the scene while Duncan Edwards died several weeks later of his injuries and two more players weren’t able to play football again due to injuries sustained. Busby himself received serious injuries but left hospital nine weeks after the incident.

Ten years later, Busby had built another great team around the Munich air disaster survivors such as Bobby Charlton, Harry Gregg and Bill Foulkes. Accompanied by fellow Man United legends George Best and Denis Law, the team went on to win the 1963 FA Cup, 1965 and 1967 league titles and the 1968 European Cup.

Overall, Busby won five league titles, five Charity Shields, two FA Cups and a European Cup.

Sir Matt Busby

Sir Alexander Matthew ‘Matt’ Busby

Next up is the manager of my own team, I may be called bias for this but what Arsene Wenger managed to transform Arsenal into during their glory days was phenomenal.

Arriving at Arsenal in 1996, he was able to change Arsenal from ‘boring, boring Arsenal’ into, during their prime, the team that played the best and most beautiful football in the country. Wenger has also become renowned for his ability to unearth footballing gems such as Thierry Henry, Patrick Vieira and Cesc Fabregas and turn them into footballing superstars. He was also a key figure in overseeing the construction and design of the club’s Emirates Stadium which is seen as one of the best football stadiums in the country.

Wenger turned Arsenal from Premiership obscurity into one of the top teams in the country but before that he had a good record with previous teams Nancy-Lorraine, Monaco and Nagoya Grampus Eight. To date he has won one Ligue 1 title, one Coupe de France, one Japanese league title, three Premiership titles, four FA cups and four Charity Shields.

Wenger’s greatest achievement was building an Arsenal team which went an entire league season unbeaten, ‘The Invincibles’ as they were dubbed went on to achieve a 49 league game unbeaten streak with the likes of Thierry Henry, Dennis Bergkamp and Patrick Vieira being just a few of what is seen as one of the greatest league footballing teams of all-time.

Arsene Wenger

Arsene Wenger

Third up is arguably Liverpool’s greatest manager of all-time, although he is undoubtedly the most successful. Bob Paisley took over from previous Liverpool manager Bill Shankly after Shankly unexpectedly announced his retirement after winning the 1974 FA Cup. The rest, as they say, is history as the period that Paisley was in charge was the most successful period in Liverpool’s history.

In nine years, Paisley collected 19 trophies in a trophy-laden spell which included six league titles, three League Cups and five Charity Shields. His greatest achievement is leading Liverpool to three European Cups, so far he is the only manager to win three European Cups. He also went on to win one European Super Cup.

Unfortunately for Paisley, the FA Cup was always a trophy which eluded him and is the only major trophy the great manager never won, however he was voted manager of the year six times in his nine year spell, a spell which continued Liverpool’s dominance of the time after the departing Shankly.

Bob Paisley

Bob Paisley

Penultimately is one of football’s greatest pioneers. Rinus Michels is the man who gave birth to idea idea of ‘Total Football’ which shows his team’s style of play is among the most aesthetically pleasing of all-time.

His philosphy of ‘total football’ is a fluid style of play which involves every outfield player of a team being comfortable in any outfield position on the pitch, therefore being able to take over any role.

Michels’ club managerial career included spells at Ajax, Barcelona, FC Koln and Leverkusen. He won four Dutch league titles, a Dutch Cup, a Spanish league title, a Spanish Cup and a European Cup and his success didn’t stop there. He employed his ‘total football’ philosophy further for the Dutch national team, leading them to World Cup glory in 1974, and 12 years later he returned to the Dutch national team, employing his philosophy again successfully as they won Euro ’88.

He was named manager of the century in 1999 by FIFA.

Rinus Michels

Rinus Michels

Last, but certainly not least, is a manager many consider as the greatest of all-time, and they wouldn’t be wrong in thinking so. Sir Alex Ferguson has taken over Matt Busby as the longest-serving and greatest manager in Manchester United’s history.

Before he went to Man United however, Ferguson was responsible for breaking Scotland’s Old Firm dominance as he lead Aberdeen to three league titles, adding four Scottish Cups, a Scottish League Cup, as well as bringing Aberdeen European glory by beating Real Madrid in the final of the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup.

Ferguson joined Manchester United in 1986, and 26 years later he is the most successful British manager in history. He has won ten Premier League titles, five FA Cups, three League Cups, eight Charity Shields, two European Cups as well as his haul for Aberdeen. His greatest managerial feat came in 1999 when his Man United team boasting youthful names such as David Beckham, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and Gary Neville went on to win the treble, being capped off by a last-gasp 2 – 1 victory over Bayern Munich at the Nou Camp.

He has been named English Manager of the Year eight times and World Manager of the Year four times and I can’t look any further for the manager of my all-time eleven than the most successful manager in history.

Sir Alex Ferguson

Sir Alex Ferguson

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Top five strikers of all-time

So here it is, the final installment in my top five of all-time positions series!

Up first is undoubtedly Portugal’s finest ever player, unless Ronaldo keeps going in his current vein of form but for now, Eusebio is the man on top of the pile. He is one of the most prolific goalscorers in footballing history and was known for his speed, athleticism, technique and deadly finishing.

He appeared for Sporting de Laurenco, Boston, Monterrey, Toronto and Beira-Mar, but his best period came in his 15 years at Benfica, which came in conjunction with the club’s golden period, with Eusebio at the helm. He made 715 career appearances and scored a phenomenal 727 goals. During his career, Eusebio won 11 Portuguese League titles, five Portuguese Cups, two European Cups.

For Portugal, Eusebio made 64 appearances and scored 41 goals. He came to the fore for the Portuguese national team at the 1966 World Cup as he led them to a semi-final loss against England, this came a year after Eusebio was crowned European Football of the Year.

Eusebio in his Benfica days

Eusebio in his Benfica days

 

Up next is a player who is also known as ‘The Phenomenon” and in the late 90’s and early 00’s he was one of the best strikers in the world. Ronaldo is dubbed as one of the most complete strikers in footballing history with his pace, strength and finishing ability – he was one of the most feared players that a defender could come up against.

Ronaldo played for Cruzeiro, PSV, Barcelona, Inter Milan, Real Madrid, AC Milan and Corinthians, he is one of few players to play for both Milan teams and the El Clasico rivals. His time at Real Madrid coincided with the club’s ‘Galacticos’ era and he was one of the key players of the club at the time. Ronaldo made 580 club career appearances and scored 405 goals in a career which was unfortunately hampered by injury and health issues.

During his career, Ronaldo won a Brazilian Cup, a Dutch Cup, a Cup Winners’ Cup, a Spanish Cup, a UEFA cup and two La Liga titles.

Ronaldo had a very successful international career, winning two World Cups and he also is the highest ever goalscorer in World Cup history after he broke Gerd Muller’s record at the 2006 World Cup, scoring his 15th goal in four tournaments. He made 98 appearances for the Brazilian national team, scoring 62 goals.

Indivually, he was named European Player of the Year twice, and he won World Player of the Year three times, a record that can only be matched by former Galactico’s team-mate Zinedine Zidane.

Ronaldo

Ronaldo doing his trademark finger wag celebration

Third up is known as one of the greatest footballers and most prolific shooters of all-time. Ferenc Puskas was known for his pace, technique and undoubted eye for goal. He was part of the great Hungary ‘Magical Magyars’ side and also a part of the all-conquering Real Madrid side of the 1960’s.

He played for Budapest Honved and Real Madrid in his career; a career which bore five Hungarian league titles, five Spanish league titles, an Intercontinental cup and three European Cups. In 529 club appearances, he scored 514 goals.

For his country, he was a prominent member and captain of their ‘Magical Magyars’ side, all in all he scored 84 goals in 85 appearances. The team went unbeaten for 32 consecutive games, winning the 1952 Olympic title. Hungary finished runners-up in the 1954 World Cup and Puskas played the entire final with a hairline fracture which he suffered in the semi-final. He also played four times for Spain after he was made legible for a Spanish passport.

In honour of Puskas, FIFA announced the Puskas award for the player who had scored the most beautiful goal in 2009.

Ferenc Puskas

Ferenc Puskas

 

Penultimately is not exactly a surprising addition to the list as he is widely known as the greatest player of all-time. Pele has been voted footballer of the century and the greatest player of all-time by countless governing bodies, publications and indivduals, and for good reason.

Pele spent the majority of his career at Santos, also having a spell at New York Cosmos. His reported tally of 1281 goals in 1363 games has been recognised as the greatest in history. Pele’s career haul of 40 official titles has made him the most successful player in history alongside former Portugal goalkeeper Vitor Baia.

Internationally, Pele won three World Cups and he is the only player so far to do so, playing a key role in the 1958 and 1970 campaigns especially. He is the record scorer of the Brazilian national team with 77 goals in 92 appearances.

Pele

Pele playing for Santos

I have saved the best for last, and I will no doubt get called biased for this selection but I am allowed to be biased for my favourite all-time player. Thierry Henry shot to fame as a world class footballer after moving to Arsenal in 1999 as a replacement for departing striker Nicolas Anelka. He became renowned for his blistering pace, technique, deadly finishing and set-piece mastery.

During his career, Henry has played for Monaco, Juventus, Arsenal, Barcelona and New York Red Bulls. He still plays for New York Red Bulls and so far has a career tally of 340 in 727 appearances. He has won one Ligue 1 title, one French Cup, two Premier League titles, two FA Cups, two Community Shields, two La Liga titles, one Copa del Rey, one Supercopa de Espana, one Champions League, one UEFA Super Cup, one Club World Cup and one MLS Eastern Conference.

For the French national team, Henry won the 1998 World Cup and 2000 European Cup, he is also the record scorer for the French national team with 51 goals in 123 appearances.

He was a vital part of the ‘Invincibles’ Arsenal team which went 49 games unbeaten, he was runner up of the 2003 and 2004 World Player of the Year but won back-to-back PFA Player of the Year titles. Henry is the only player to win the Football Writer’s Assocation Football of the Year award on three occasions as well as French Footballer of the Year on four occasions. He was also the only player to ever retain the European Golden Boot award, he was also the Premiership’s top scorer in a record for seasons.

Barcelona v Espanyol - La Liga

Thierry Henry playing for Barcelona

 

Top five right midfielders of all-time

The penultimate post in my all-time positions series is upon us and it is my top five right midfielders ever.

Up first is probably the most recognizable footballer in history as his football career has led him to be a global superstar and brand in his own right.

David Beckham is one of the greatest set-piece takers of all-time and as well as his dead ball expertise he also has an amazing crossing and passing ability. Beckham has played for Preston, Manchester United, Real Madrid, LA Galaxy, AC Milan and he currently plays for Paris Saint-Germain, he has accumulated over 700 club career appearances so far and 129 goals, many of which come from his famous free-kicks.

He has won six Premiership titles, two FA Cups, four FA Community Shields, one Champions League, one Intercontinental cup, one La Liga, one Supercopa de Espana, two MLS cups, two MLS Supporters’ Shield and the MLS Western Conference. He was inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame in 2009, he also won the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Lifetime Achievement award in 2010. He is currently England’s all-time record appearance holder for an outfield player with 115 caps. He is also credited with scoring the best England goal of all-time after his 2001 stoppage time free-kick against Greece which enabled England to qualify for the 2002 World Cup.

David Beckham playing for England

David Beckham playing for England

Second up is a player who is one of very few to play for both Barcelona and Real Madrid after signing for Los Blancos in 2000 for  a world record fee of £37million. Luis Figo is one of Portugal’s most famous exports and is famous for his dead ball ability and his ability to take on defenders with consummate ease.

Figo played for Sporting Lisbon, Barcelona, Real Madrid and Inter Milan, accumulating 795 club career appearances, scoring 133 goals. Figo’s decision to join Real Madrid from Barcelona was receieved with much hatred from the Barcelona faithful, when he returned to the Nou Camp in 2002 he got a heated reception from the faithful who started throwing objects at him, including a pig’s head. During his career, Figo won one Taca de Portugal, four La Liga titles, two Copa Del Rey titles, three Supercopa de Espana titles, one UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup, two UEFA Super Cup titles, one Intercontinental cup, one UEFA Champions League, four Serie A titles, one Coppa Italia and three Supercoppa Italia titles.

Internationally, Figo is the most capped Portuguese player in history with 127 caps, he also scored 32 goals. Individually, Figo won the Portuguese Player of the Year six years in a row, he won the Balon D’or in 2000 and a year later he won the World Player of the Year.

Luis Figo

Luis Figo playing for Real Madrid in the ‘Galacticos’ era

Third up is thought by many pundits and experts as the greatest dribbler in history. Garrincha was known for his remarkable control and dribbling skills which he combined with his cat-like agility, he was also dead ball specialist who was known for taking free kicks and corners with the outside of his foot.

Garrincha was born with several defects to his legs (his right leg bent inwards, his left leg bent outwards and was shorter than his right) and instead of hindering him, Garrincha’s defects managed to help him. The fans in Brazil knew him as Anjo de Pernas Tortas (Angel with Bent Legs) and it is his defects that seemed to aid Garrincha in his right wing exploits.

Garrincha spent the majority of his club career at Botafogo, with spells at Corinthians, Flamengo and Olaria. He accumulated 348 career club appearances, scoring 103 goals. Garrincha won two National Brazilian Championships, two Rio-Sao Paulo Championships, three State Championships and one Interstate Cup.  Internationally, Garrincha was part of Brazil’s 1958 and 1962 World Cup winning sides, he was named top scorer and Player of the Tournament in the 1962 tournament and he also won World Player of the Year that year as well. Garrincha played 50 times for Brazil, only ever losing once, scoring 12 goals, creating a formidable partnership with Pele up front.

Garrincha

Garrincha playing for Brazil

Fourth in the right midfielders of all-time list is Garrincha’s natural successor to Brazil’s right wing position, Jairzinho. At the 1970 World Cup, Jairzinho was one of Brazil’s best players, making history by scoring in every game he played in the campaign.

Jairzinho’s club career, like his hero, was spent mainly at Botafogo; he also had spells at Marseille, Cruzeiro, Portuguesa and Noroeste. He made over 430 club career appearances, scoring 198 goals. He won one Copa Libertadores Americas, three Torneio de Caracas, one Taca Brasil de Futbol, two Rio-Sao Paulo Tournaments and two State Championships.

Internationally, Jairzinho played 81 times for Brazil, scoring 33 goals. Seven of these coming in Brazil’s successful 1970 campaign where he scored in every game he played in.

Jairzinho

Jairzinho playing for Brazil

Stanley Matthews