We know you've always wondered...
Seeing as the Premier League is in it’s shortest ever pre-season and all you can find on the internet is transfer rumours linking Chelsea with just about everyone, how about we answer a question you never knew needed answering?
Here’s one: If you had to pick a starting XI made up of the 20 current Premier League managers, who would make it into the side, and how would they line up?
We decided to find out, and after learning that no fewer than ELEVEN of the current bosses used to be defenders in their playing days, we weren’t sure it was even possible.
But we battled through, and thanks to perseverance, we’ve came up with the side that no one knew they ever needed in their lives.
Here we go!
Goalkeeper – Nuno Espirito Santo
Before he was a talented manager in the Midlands, Nuno was a goalkeeper in Portugal, which is great for us because no other Premier League manager was ever a keeper. That means he gets the nod in goal, slightly ahead of Jose Mourinho, whose cameo in a charity game a couple of years ago just wasn’t enough to nudge his countryman out of the side. Jose was actually Nuno’s manager as Porto won the Champions League back in 2004, with Nuno on the bench for most of the campaign as Vitor Baia was Mourinho’s first choice. Funny how things work out isn’t it?
Right Centre-Back – Steve Bruce
Now to the defenders, and because there’s loads of them, we’re going with a back five. The first of the central three is Newcastle manager Steve Bruce. A commanding presence in his day, and still one in kebab shops around the North East to this day, Bruce is considered one of the best English players to never receive an England cap. He once scored 19 goals in a single season for Manchester United, and was still overlooked!
He’ll bring some ruthless aggression to our side (a theme you’ll see in the coming picks) and considering we don’t think he’s ever lost a 50/50, will bring some steel to our defence. Wait until you see who’s alongside him…
Centre Back – Sean Dyche
In the middle of the three at the back is the commanding presence that is the Burnley manager.
Much like Bruce, his game is built around aggression and shouting at people with that gravelly voice. Heaven forbid you try a fancy piece of skill against him, you’ll end up in A&E.
Where the other defender will be waiting for you…
Left Centre-Back – Slaven Bilic
Look at that face. Absolutely no funny business tolerated at the back. The West Brom boss is one of six former internationals in our team, having represented Croatia 44 times in the 1990’s.
Probably the most comfortable on the ball of our central defenders, but don’t confuse that for weakness – he’ll smash you into next week if you go past him.
Right Wing-Back – Chris Wilder
Now then, here’s another issue we ran into coming up with this XI – there was absolutely no wingers to choose from, so we had to get creative.
Wilder was a right-back during his playing days, albeit in the lower leagues. He counts Sheffield United, Bradford City and Rotherham United among his former employers in a career that stretched 15 years.
We’re not using right-backs in our team, so a more adventurous wing-back role is Wilder’s. Continuing the aggressive streak that runs through our defence, we can only wish any left wingers luck if they try anything against the Blades boss.
Left Wing-Back – Graham Potter
On the opposite flank to Wilder is Brighton manager Potter, who made a handful of Premier League appearances for Southampton during his playing days. He actually played in the Saints’ 6-3 win over Manchester United in 1996.
A left-back by trade, he’s another we’re nudging forward into a more adventurous role. He’s also one of the younger managers in this selection, so we need his boundless energy.
Defensive Midfield – Scott Parker
Speaking of energy, not many had more than Parker during his playing years. One of the first modern day defensive midfielders, Parker had a fine career which DEFINITELY peaked when he won the Intertoto Cup with Newcastle United in 2006.
The Fulham manager walks into our team in midfield, which is where our selection genuinely starts to look quite impressive.
Defensive Midfield – Pep Guardiola
In the argument of who’s better between Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp, one area the Spaniard is untouched is playing career. Reaching the height of the game, Guardiola played in four countries during his playing days, winning six league titles and the Champions League with Barcelona, before finishing his career at Mexican side Dorados. We almost got to see him in the Premier League too, as he contacted former manager Bobby Robson while he was at Newcastle to ask about a move. Unfortunately for Pep, Bobby had just signed Jermaine Jenas and a mid-30’s Guardiola wasn’t deemed good enough by that stage.
Guardiola occupies a deep-lying playmaker role in our team, spraying passes around the pitch like an old school Xabi Alonso, and his midfield partners aren’t bad either…
Right Attacking Midfield – Mikel Arteta
Never far from Guardiola’s side (until recently anyway), Arteta plays just ahead of his former boss in our side.
More of a defensive/central midfielder during his playing days for Everton, Arsenal and others, it’s testament to how good Spain were at the time that he never received a senior call-up to his national side. Many England managers even looked at him for an England call-up once he’d been at Everton for a few years, but the rules found that he was always ineligible for his adopted homeland. Shame.
Left Attacking Midfield – Frank Lampard
Arguably the best player in our team, Lampard has a resume that would envy most strikers. Chelsea‘s all-time leading goalscorer is one of the main sources for goals in our team, and judging by the passing ability of team mates Guardiola and Arteta in particular, he should get plenty in our side.
Another of the younger lads in our team, we reckon Frank is still in pretty good shape for 42, and could probably still do a job in a few leagues around the world even now, so dragging our sorry lot through a game should be a walk in the park for the Chelsea boss.
Striker – Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
This one wasn’t the hardest of choices either. Ralph Hassenhuttl earned eight caps for Austria in a career that journeyed around Germany and his homeland, but Solskjaer’s 100+ goals for Manchester United edged the giant Southampton manager.
Probably the most feared substitute in Premier League history, Solskjaer’s predatory instincts would bag him plenty of goals in our side, and his youthfulness (even if that’s still just in his face) would help the aging legs of others considerably.
JOSE MOURINHO – The Spurs boss combines his role as backup goalkeeper with that of team translator as he watches from the bench. Everyone speaks English, so it’s not the hardest gig Jose’s ever had.
JURGEN KLOPP – The Liverpool manager and former Mainz defender is better at raising team morale as he combines his role with that of first-team coach too.
ROY HODGSON – In a fantasy team made up of players that are too old to conceivably play, Roy is still far too old. The Crystal Palace boss’s playing days ended in the same year the first Concorde flight took off. Seriously.
CARLO ANCELOTTI – The Italian had a trophy-laden career, but he’s the victim of age in this selection, as his aging legs are only enough for a place on the bench. He’s also the team tailor because he’s suave as hell. Didn’t go down with Wilder well, as he loves a tracksuit.
DEAN SMITH – Missed out on a starting position after being eliminated by Slaven Bilic in a battle royal for the three centre-back positions. Bad luck for the Aston Villa boss.
BRENDAN RODGERS – The knee condition that forced his retirement age 20 keeps him out. The Leicester City boss is team secretary.
DAVID MOYES – The West Ham manager misses out after scything down Pep Guardiola in a training session in a bid to win a starting XI place, despite being another centre back. Sorry Dave.
RALPH HASSENHUTTL – The Southampton boss was once team mates with Philipp Lahm and Bastian Schweinsteiger at Bayern Munich. You can tell everyone stories about those two from our bench though, Ralph. Sorry.
MARCELO BIELSA – TEAM MANAGER. The Leeds United boss retired aged 25 after a short career as a defender, but probably knows more about management than the rest of the team combined (shut up Roy). He’s our gaffer.
Here’s how we’d line them up: