My 2 PL legends

Published: Tuesday, 03 March 2020

Before I get round to the main subject - have you seen the top of League One? How about that? Coventry City are top of a league, post Christmas, for the first time since 1967. Sadly I’m old enough to remember the last time!! 

What a job Mark Robins has done at Coventry - despite the owners - not because of them. I don’t want to get into that debate again - I simply wanted to thank Mark and his team for giving all of us Coventry fans something to smile about again.

It’s such a pity that we’re not playing at the Ricoh. It can’t be easy for the guys turning out in front of just 6/8 thousand fans at St. Andrews. I’m not going to get into that debate either - I’m simply going to pretend I’m 10 years old again - as I was in 1967 - and keep looking at the table - as I did back then! Sad isn’t it? But joyous at the same time! All that football I’ve watched. All those big games I’ve been privileged to have been at but I’m still a fan at heart and it’s such a good feeling to see my team back on top. And on top of anything - I just don’t care after what we’ve been through. Thanks again Mark - and keep it going.

And so - the PL have at last decided to have a Hall of Fame and the first two to be honoured will shortly be inaugurated.

I say ‘at last’ because this is something I’ve advocated for such a long time. It’s an idea I put to Richard Scudamore so many years ago that I can’t remember his reason for not doing it.

I also went to see him with a group of friends - that included Alan Curbishley - to put the idea of a red carpet event called ‘The Footies’ to him. It would’ve been brilliant - an event just like The Oscars, but it would’ve been simply football. Perhaps that’s why the PL didn’t want to do it - because someone knew this was up their sleeve?

I think it’s a great idea but I also understand that there are many who think it’s also sad, because football didn’t start in 1992. I get that. Of course, we at Sky we’re responsible for re-starting the clock when the PL was born. It’s something that Andy argues about often. He was party to the decision to ‘start again’ if you like, but now he realises that his career was all but rubbed out when we did that.

As we know, the top PL goalscorer is Alan Shearer, who has to be under consideration as one of the first nominees. He got 260 goals. But, how about the 23 he got at Southampton? Nobody ever mentions those? We know why - because he got them before football was invented - in 1992! It’s wrong. I know it is, but when we started it seemed the right thing to do - start with a clean slate because the PL was a new project.

I remember referring to ‘previous meetings’ when we were at games. It seems daft now talking about United v Liverpool and, for example, saying ‘they’ve met on 6 previous occasions....’ Mad. But that’s how we did it.

Oh, one other little piece of history that Shearer has been robbed of - when he got a hat-trick for Saints against Arsenal at age 17 years and 240 days he became the youngest player to score three in a top division match - breaking Jimmy Greaves’ 30-year-old record. I feel your pain Alan!

Shearer is a PL giant. So like Andy Gray it’s spooky. He’s one of my contenders for the first two official PL ‘legends’.

You’ve got to think about all the usual suspects. Bergkamp (but he once got Paul Williams sent off, so black mark 😂). Zola was amazing. He didn’t get to Chelsea until he was 29 but went on to become a fans choice as their best ever.

Henry was fantastic, but one little known fact that always bothers me about him is this - he played in 13 different finals during his career and didn’t score in one of them. Big players settle big games. I know a few of his playing colleagues always felt he was happy in ‘comfortable’ surroundings.

There’s Giggs. A wonderful footballer. Keane - a warrior, but not as good as Robson for me. His ‘assault’ on Alf-Inge Haland is impossible for forget.

There’s Lampard and Gerrard - two of the best of their generation. How about Tony Adams and John Terry? Peter Schmeichel and David Seaman? Two wonderful goalkeepers.

I agree with Andy that when you’re looking for candidates for this kind of award ‘longevity’ has to be a factor. That would play in Giggs. It certainly does my first nomination - Paul Scholes - simply the best footballer the PL has ever seen.

Scholes was a player that Guardiola, Zidane, Ferguson Socrates, Davids, Xavi, Fabregas, Lippi, Capello, Keane, Giggs, Gerrard, Blanc, Beckham, Brazilian Ronaldo, Bergkamp, who called him ‘the master’, all say was the best they’d ever seen. There’s many more that agree.

He was magnificent. Never mind this nonsense that ‘he couldn’t tackle’. He knew exactly what he was doing every time he ‘mis-judged’ one. I’ll tell you this, despite Van Persie’s goals, Fergie would never have won his last title had Scholes not come out of retirement for those last few months of 2013.

So - longevity and an unquantifiable talent gets Scholes my first vote. Eric Cantona gets my second.

Why? Impact. I can’t think of another player who turned up and had the impact that Cantona had on all of us -not just United. He was an entertainer in every respect. He loved his stage at Old Trafford. He was born to play in those surroundings. He triggered the ‘glory’ years for Fergie. Do you remember him scoring against Sunderland with that sublime chip and then turning 360 degrees, with his collar turned up of course, to take the applause. Brilliant. Genius. Entertainer. Confusing. Unique. All of those things and more. He captured that whole period for me. He made football exciting. You were happy to pay to watch him. He had that extra little bit of something that made him irrepressible. And - most importantly - he settled big games - time and time again. When he was on a pitch you didn’t what was going to happen - but you knew when it did it would be special. That was a quality George Best had. Players like that make football look so easy.

So if it’s not to be Dion Dublin and Darren Huckerby from my beloved Super Sky Blues, my two for the first to be inaugurated into the PL Hall of Fame are Scholes and Cantona. I’m sorry that they’re both from United, but we’ve all got to agree they are two from the most dominant team in PL history, so perhaps that’s not so much of a surprise? Discuss......