For centuries a north-south divide has existed in England. Whether it be in politics, money or sport. The perception that there is no life north of Manchester is a fine example.
The barbarians of the north proved so much trouble that even one of the most infamous empires of all time had to build a wall spanning 73 miles to contain them.
For years, upon years the northerner’s of England have produced some of the finest footballers this country has ever seen: Alan Shearer, Paul Gascoigne and Peter Beardsley are more recent, notable examples.
The question proposed in this article: Could the greatest English-XI ever be fully comprised of people born north of Manchester?
Goalkeeper | Steve Harper
To people who don’t know much about Newcastle United, Harper will be hardly known. But for twenty years the Newcastle-born goalkeeper served his club with incredible loyalty. He could have been England’s number one goalkeeper in the early 2000’s, if he had of left to pursue first-team football; for many years Steve Harper was over-shadowed by debatably the best goalkeeper the Premier League has ever seen – Shay Given.
A similarity between then and now is that of Celtic FC’s Fraser Forster who made the move across the border from Newcastle United, because talented Dutchman Tim Krul overshadowed him.
Right-back | Bob Paisley
The right-back in this side would be a popular addition amongst fans of Liverpool: Bob Paisley served the Reds for almost 50 years; captaining them, managing them and becoming one of the most successful managers ever. As a player he wasn’t bad either; making over 250 appearances for Liverpool.
Centre-back | Jonathan Woodgate
Woodgate was a great centre-back with the ball at his feet. He played for Real Madrid when they were heralded the ‘Galacticos’. Some believe Jonathan Woodgate to be the most naturally gifted English centre-back since the days of Bobby Moore. Sadly his potential was never fulfilled due to injuries.
Centre-back | Steven Taylor
Newcastle United’s, Steven Taylor could head down a similar path – at least once a season he picks up a serious injury that rules him out for large courses of time. When playing at the top of his ability he is arguably England’s most talented centre-back.
Left-back | Robbie Elliot
Though left-back is probably the weakest part in this All-star XI. Robbie Elliot must not be dismissed. During the times when Newcastle United were ‘The Entertainers’ he impressed the country with his stellar performances in defence. In Kevin Keegan’s final season with Newcastle – Elliot notched seven goals from the role of left back.
Defensive midfield | Michael Carrick
Playing holding midfielder in this team’s 4-1-3-2 formation is Wallsend-born, Michael Carrick who is a nomination for the PFA Player of the Year. The Manchester United midfielder can pick out a pass from anywhere on the pitch, he also has an engine to match.
Carrick has been one of the driving forces in Manchester United’s ascension to the Premier League crown this season. One of the most technically talented midfielders England has ever produced; Carrick fully deserves his place in this side.
Attacking-midfielders | Peter Beardsley, Bobby Charlton & Paul Gascoigne
Peter Beardsley, Bobby Charlton and Paul Gascoigne would have any side in the world shivering. Between the three of them they scored no fewer than 616 goals.
The teams lining up against this side would of feared the dribbling abilities of this trio, the creative flare and enigmatic driving-force. The way the mercurial Gascoigne could feed the strikers as well as score is also another trait this trio possess.
Striker | Alan Shearer
The man who could score from anywhere. Alan Shearer is the Premier League all-time highest goal scorer – netting 260 goals in the Premier league and over 409 goals altogether. Prolific, passionate and never a scorer of boring goals, Shearer was the textbook classic striker.
Striker | Brian Clough
Partnering Alan Shearer upfront is someone who is more prolific; in terms of goals-to-games. Brian Clough netting 251 times in 274 appearances for both Sunderland and Middlesbrough in the league - an amazing statistic that earns him his place in this All-Star Northern XI.
Although the goalkeeping and defence of this team appear weak; the offensive capabilities of this team would be unparalleled.
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