When was the last time England started with no Manchester United players?
England’s recent games versus Moldova and Ukraine were remarkable for very little. The former a routine win over a modest side; the latter a workmanlike performance to deny opponents the victory they sought (as opposed to striving for one themselves).
Then, during the second half in Kiev, I got a text from Big Pat. When, he asked, was the last time England started a competitive fixture with not a single Manchester United player prior to this last week’s fixtures?
It got me thinking. [God knows, I needed something over and above the game to occupy my mind.] The short answer is “ooh, quite a while ago” but beyond that I was struggling a bit. In the last decade there’s always been a Rooney and/or a Ferdinand. Prior to that, a Beckham and/or a Neville. The Search was on.
I was now back in the early Nineties. This XI from that game against Sweden at Euro ’92 came close:
Woods, Pearce, Walker, Keown, Batty, Palmer, Sinton, Webb, Platt, Daley, Lineker.
Plenty of comments you could make about that line-up. But sadly, for The Search’s purposes, Neil Webb was still a United player, albeit he’d played his last game for them and would return to Nottingham Forest the following season before finally finding happiness as a postman.
At one point, I thought I might have to delve back as far as 1986 for this rather splendid side that faced Argentina (I forget the result):
Shilton, Stevens, Fenwick, Butcher, Sansom, Reid, Hoddle, Hodge, Steven, Beardsley, Lineker.
Subs Barnes and Waddle maintained the United-less-ness on that occasion.
But then I remembered that, in 1990, Paul Parker was still a Queens Park Rangers player. Which meant that once Bryan Robson picked up his customary injury part-way through the tournament, the England team that faced West Germany read as follows:
Shilton (Derby County), Parker (QPR), Butcher (Rangers), Walker (Nottingham Forest), Wright (Derby County), Pearce (Nottingham Forest), Waddle (Olympique de Marseille), Gascoigne (Tottenham Hotspur), Platt (Aston Villa), Beardsley (Liverpool), Lineker (Tottenham Hotspur).
So that’s my offering. That oh-so-nearly glorious night in Turin.
Have I cracked it or can you set me right? Answers below please.Tagged in: David Beckham, england, England football, gary neville, manchester united, rio ferdinand, Wayne Rooney, world cup, World Cup 2014
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