Football365's Forgotten Men XI

We're a little bit sad that Stuart Taylor and Philipp Degen have not survived last year's XI but we're happy to report that Xisco has been joined up front by Bebe...

Last Updated: 11/07/12 at 13:02 Post Comment

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GOALKEEPER: HEURELHO GOMES (TOTTENHAM)

Standard question: Didn't he go back to Holland in January?

F365 answer: No, though we really can't blame you for thinking the must have buggered off somewhere as Gomes never even made it onto the Spurs bench after January and you have to go all the way back to November to find Gomes starting a game against PAOK along with other 'Arry outcasts like Sebastien Bassong, Vedran Corluka, Steven Pienaar and Jermain Defoe. "It was a hard season. I was desperate to leave," admits the £7.8m goalkeeper who is now making noises about staying despite every indication that he will start the season as fourth-choice goalkeeper. Gomes replaces Stuart Taylor (finally released by Manchester City) in our Forgotten Men XI.

RIGHT-BACK: PAULO FERREIRA (CHELSEA)

Standard question: Hasn't he been released this summer?

F365 answer: No, you're thinking of Jose Bosingwa. Ferreira's hanging on in there after making a grand total of five starts for Chelsea last season. Not only is he hanging on in there, but he has a shiny new Champions League medal around his neck after being on the bench for the final in Munich. The grand total of his Chelsea collection: Three Premier Leagues, four FA Cups, two League Cups and a Champions League. Not a bad haul for a man who has not played 30-plus games in a season for Chelsea since 2006/07. Looking at last season's Forgotten Men XI, we smiled at the name of Philipp Degen (back at Basle, in case you were wondering).

CENTRE-BACK: RAFIK HALLICHE (FULHAM)

Standard question: Who?

F365 answer: He's the Algerian centre-half who kept Wayne Rooney quiet in their World Cup clash. Hindsight shows that William Prunier could have kept Wayne Rooney quiet in their World Cup clash but that was enough to impress Mark Hughes and he brought Halliche to Fulham from Benfica. Two years have since passed and Halliche has played once in the Premier League for Fulham (15 minutes v Stoke) and only made it as far as the bench four times under Martin Jol last season. Halliche eventually got so desperate that he even went to Celtic for a trial in December. But Celtic weren't desperate enough to give him a contract.

CENTRE-BACK: PISCU (WIGAN)

Standard question: Who?

F365 answer: You might know him as Adrián López Rodríguez, but the chances are that you don't know him at all. Wigan fans would struggle to recognise him in a line-up as he has played in just five Premier League games since turning up at the club in December 2010. Roberto Martinez said at the time: "He is a defender who is very calm under pressure and is a great reader of the game. I am confident he will be able to fulfil his potential at Wigan. He is desperate to help the squad win games." Presumably he remains quietly desperate.

LEFT-BACK: DANNY WILSON (LIVERPOOL)

Standard question: Didn't he join Blackpool?

F365 answer: Good knowledge. And yes, he did go there on loan for the second half of last season but struggled to hold down a regular place in Ian Holloway's side. It's a familiar tale for the Scot, who has featured in just two Premier League games for Liverpool since joining from Rangers for an initial £2m in 2010. The fee could rise to £5m depending on appearances so we think it's fair to say that the fee is and always will be £2m. Wilson is now back at Liverpool under new boss Brendan Rodgers and says: "I'll just go back and be ready for next season and if I'm included then great. If not I'll look somewhere else to get some football."

MIDFIELD: MICHAEL JOHNSON (MANCHESTER CITY)

Standard question: Didn't he get really fat?

F365 answer: Yes, he did. Really, really fat. Once hailed as a future England midfielder, problems with fatness/fitness mean that Johnson has not played in the Premier League since September 2009. When he played for a grand total of two minutes. 'Yet another product of the prolific Platt Lane kindergarten,' reads his biography on the Manchester City official website. The accompanying picture suggests he may have eaten the other kids. He did go on loan to Leicester City last season but played only seven games before succumbing to injury again. He's still only 24.

MIDFIELD: HENRI LANSBURY (ARSENAL)

Standard question: Didn't he join West Ham?

F365 answer: Only on loan...and he started just 13 games for West Ham in the Championship during his fourth consecutive season-long loan (Scunthorpe, Watford, Norwich and West Ham). The last of his three Premier League appearances for Arsenal came in the final seven minutes of that 8-2 defeat to Manchester United in August but the five successful passes he made during those seven minutes were apparently enough to earn him a contract extension at Arsenal. We can't help thinking that Arsene Wenger may have made an error.

MIDFIELD: JEAN MAKOUN (ASTON VILLA)

Standard question: Wasn't he sold by Alex McLeish?

F365 answer: Not quite sold, but sent on loan to Olympiakos (where he played Champions League football and won a Greek title winner's medal) because McLeish preferred the understated stylings of Jermaine Jenas. He figured just once under the Scot (a back-handed compliment, if ever we've heard one) in a Carling Cup win over Hereford before being shipped off to Greece. He's now back with Villa and we suspect he might get longer shrift from Paul Lambert. "He's played in the Champions League so he can't have become a bad player overnight," says Villa legend Ian Taylor.

MIDFIELD: MICHAEL TONGE (STOKE CITY)

Standard question: Did he retire?

F365 answer: Not officially - though one Premier League start in four years with Stoke suggests he might as well have hung up his terribly clean boots. That game came in October 2008 and he has since 'enjoyed' loan spells with Preston (twice), Derby and Barnsley, where he was part of a Tykes squad plunging towards relegation at the back end of last season. Quite why or how Tonge was given a 12-month extension by Stoke in the middle of four utterly forgettable years is a mystery surely beyond the world's finest minds. Even those that discovered the Higgs Boson thing.

IN THE HOLE: BEBE (MANCHESTER UNITED)

Standard question: Didn't he bugger off to Turkey?

F365 answer: He did - and Besiktas seemed quite keen on taking Manchester United's £7.4m man for a bargain £2m after an initial loan spell. But one year, one cruciate ligament injury, four appearances and one banishment from the squad for breaking a curfew later, and that deal looks dead in the water. So Sir Alex Ferguson's impulse buy is back in Manchester and can presumably look forward to a few substitute appearances in the Carling Cup and many, many more headlines in the Daily Mail.

STRIKER: XISCO (NEWCASTLE)

Standard question: Is that the Thong Song fella?

F365 answer: He may well have been wearing a thong in some very, very homoerotic photographs freely available on the internet featuring the man who Newcastle fans have seen score one goal in four years. He cost over £5m. He gets paid a reported £50,000 a week. He has one year remaining on his contract. He has spent most of that contract back at his original club Deportivo La Coruna, for whom he scored the goal that sealed promotion last season. Well done, Xisco. You must be very proud.

Substitutes (of course): Jan Mucha, Gael Kakuta, Rob Hulse, Matt Kilgallon, Joseph Yobo, Mauro Boselli, Giovani Dos Santos.

Sarah Winterburn

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