Fact or Fantasy?

Huddersfield Town story posted by Andy Dixon on 01/05/2003
Does fantasy ever become reality? Greenhead College student Andrew Dixon compares the England team to the Premiership's 'dream team'.Fact or Fantasy?

Imagine being given ?50 million and the opportunity to have any eleven Premier League footballers in your dressing room.

It would be any managers dream come true.

For supporters the chance to be that manager of an all-star Premiership team is offered annually through the craze known as 'fantasy football'.

Cash prizes of around ?250,000 go to the manager of the best 'dream team', but do these 'dream teams' actually consist of the best players in the country?

According to "Supergoals" (in The Sun) the best eleven English players on the weekend before the crucial Euro 2004 qualifier against Turkey were different to those wearing the famous Three Lions.

England manager Sven Goran Eriksson selected West Ham goalkeeper David James before Leeds 'keeper Paul Robinson, even though James had only 43 fantasy points compared to Robinson's far superior 158.

In defence Eriksson picked Manchester United centre-back Rio Ferdinand before Newcastle United's Jonathan Woodgate when they had 106 and 135 fantasy points respectively.

Additionally, Southampton full-back Wayne Bridge was picked before Aston Villa player Gareth Barry, even though Barry had 168 fantasy points while Bridge had only 111.

In midfield Eriksson made Manchester United megastar David Beckham his captain and included his club team-mate Nicky Butt when they only had 104 and 29 points respectively. This meant that 160 point Frank Lampard of Chelsea and 180 point Danny Murphy of Liverpool had to be left out.

Regarding attackers Eriksson gifted Everton's teen-sensation Wayne Rooney his first-team debut even though he only had 92 fantasy points. Leading 'dream team' striker Alan Shearer of Newcastle United had 242 points but has retired from international football, yet Southampton striker James Beattie with 176 points was overlooked.

With the England manager leaving many of the Premier League's 'dream team' on the bench or at home it makes me wonder - who are the best English footballers in this country?

When comparing the English 'dream team' to Eriksson's there is a consensus over the inclusion of the nucleus of Gary Neville, Sol Campbell, Paul Scholes, Steven Gerrard and Michael Owen.

But why isn't there a consensus over all the players?

Surely if the fantasy league was a fair reflection of England's players then the best English players should be in the England team.

I realise that Eriksson has his tactical commitments and will pick who he thinks is the best player to do a particular job, but surely success would come from picking the best players in the league rather than a player who can do a job.

Although Eriksson won this particular fixture, he did not pick the 'dream team' - so is that all the 'dream team' is?

Is the 'dream team' merely a dream where players like Lampard and Woodgate will never be picked before the arguably more famous Beckham and Ferdinand.

The fact of the matter is that whatever permutations Eriksson decides, there will always be a 'dream team' regular left out. The real fantasy will only come for England's supporters if icon Alan Shearer pulled on the white shirt once again.

This is the original version of the article by me printed in The Huddersfield Daily Examiner on Monday, 21st April 2003.


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