My Team of the Year: Simon Head
The Pubcast’s answer to Ron Burgundy, anchorman Simon Head looks back over the season and selects his team of the year.
My team isn’t a greatest XI of the season, it’s a team comprising players who have impressed me during the 2010-2011 campaign. There’s a mix of international stars and lower league campaigners, with a mad Finnish keeper thrown into the mix, too.
Lassi Hurskainen: “Lassi who?” I hear you ask. Considering Dan had already nicked my goalkeeper pick (Rogerio Ceni) I’ve gone for another keeper whose YouTube exploits entertained me greatly this season.
Graham Alexander: Penalty king and evergreen pro, Alexander passed the 1,000 appearance mark this season and has been a reliable presence at the back for his side for the best part of 20 years.
Benoit Assou-Ekotto: Previously I’d thought the Spurs left back was a weak link in Harry Redknapp’s side, but this season I’ve seen him in action quite a bit and he’s impressed me every time. A bit of a sleeper selection, as he’s not the sort of player to get the headlines, but he’s worthy of inclusion in my side.
Matty Lawrence: If he isn’t Gillingham’s Player of the Year this season I’ll storm Priestfield and demand a recount. The former Millwall and Palace defender has been a model of consistency this season and the major reason why we’ve improved defensively following Andy Hessenthaler’s arrival as manager. Shocking hair, mind you.
Sean Hessey: Accrington Stanley centre half Hessey spent most of his appearance at Priestfield doing his nut at his teammates, but when the home fans started taking the mickey out of him for it, he took it all with great humour and spent the rest of the game sharing gags with the Medway Stand faithful before applauding the home fans on his way off after the game. Sometimes the game can take itself too seriously, but when you get a player who’s happy to take a bit of stick in good humour and give a bit back with a grin, it’s one of the great things about watching football live. For being a good sport and reminding us that football can be a good laugh too, Hessey gets into my XI.
Jack Wilshere: After a summer of abject disappointment during the World Cup, Wilshere’s transition from the bench at Arsenal to first-team regular for club and country has brought a real boost to the England side, just when it really needed it.
Joey Barton: Yes, yes, we know he’s not covered himself in glory in the past, but he’s been brilliant this season and, if performances on the pitch were the only factor in picking players for England, then Barton would be in the England squad. Along with Kevin Nolan, he’s been the driving force in Newcastle’s midfield.
Matty Jarvis: Undoubtedly the proudest moment of my season was watching Matty, who came through the ranks at Gillingham, take to the field at Wembley in a full England international. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve told people he’d make it at the top level and this season he’s been excellent for Wolves. His international call-up and first cap were just reward for a player with the right attitude to match his undoubted ability.
Adebayo Akinfenwa: While his strike partner Cody McDonald has been bagging the lion’s share of the goals for my club Gillingham this season, a large proportion of them have been down to the big man playing alongside him. Bayo doesn’t look like a footballer, he looks more like a prop-forward. But at League Two level I don’t think there’s a better player with his back to goal.
Darren Bent: His move from Sunderland to Aston Villa for £18m (rising to £24m) may have raised eyebrows among some fans, but the lad always scores goals. His ability to step up to international level is yet to be consistently tested by Fabio Capello, but at Premier League level there are few more consistent finishers than Villa’s number 39.
Luis Suarez: The Uruguayan international is probably the one striker in the Premier League who has me on the edge of my seat when he’s on the ball. He’s made the step from the Eredivisie to the Premier League effortlessly (something Afonso Alves and Mateja Kezman failed to achieve) and looks capable of producing something special whenever he gets the ball in and around the penalty area.