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Written by 'I-Spy' from Red Corner

Louis Saha scored against Sunderland and Chelsea and was immediately
rebranded as United's most effective striker and the man Sir Alex couldn't do
without if he really wanted to end the season with silverware.

Then, amid the stretching and the rubbing oil of the prelude to the match against
Wigan, Saha was injured during the warm-up and is back in rehab. From French
perfume to stinking worse than last month's fish in a matter of weeks!

Travelling the same road but in the opposite direction is the Brazilian Anderson.
When United lost against Coventry, observers were quick to point the finger at
the famed swordsman. The Guardian gave him two blasts with a loaded shotgun.

“Anderson, Manchester United's £17m summer recruit, may come with a big
reputation and an even bigger price tag, but the Brazilian is facing a prolonged
spell in the reserves after an unflattering start to life with his new club,†the
newspaper claimed.

“Sir Alex Ferguson had angry words with the entire team after Wednesday's
Carling Cup defeat at home to Coventry City, but he was particularly aggrieved
about Anderson's ineffectual display and is concerned at how the new arrival is
struggling to make a favourable impression.â€

This was followed by allegedly pious warnings from United liggers that the
youngster should stay in a lot more as his socialising was damaging his United
career. There was even one tale that claimed Anderson was so poor he would be
loaned back to Porto.

The Brazilian may well have used the corruscating criticism and snipes at his
lifestyle as a replacement for a motivational tape because he played the best 45
minutes of his United career against Wigan earlier this month and earned
glowing reviews.

Wayne Rooney will know all about the twist and turns of fate. Last Friday he was
a fading England star who had't scored for two years. Even his manager was
growing less impressed, describing England's most feared striker as
only “potentially†world class.

Was Rooney the new Michael Ricketts? The nation settled in front of its television
to ponder that very question and watched as Rooney broke his Three Lions duck
against Estonia. Dullard Alan Shearer predicted that Wazza would go on a run
and must have felt like the sage of the Toon when Rooney thumped in a
marvellous opener during England's ill-fated match against Russia.

The point of these case studies is to prove that the moronocracy has taken over
football. Phone-ins, newspaper instant polls and gibberish masquerading as
opinion in the blogosphere has lent authority to those who peddle instant and
reversible opinions and immediate judgements based on what someone told
them in the pub the night before.

Is this the Sky-Sententa dividedend of wall-to-wall television coverage of the
sport or are fickle fans as old as the game itself? Was football always the
plaything of the partisan nutter, defending his team and its players in the face of
irrefutable evidence that both are inadequate?

Absolutists will know that I've been involved in a spat of late with Eros from
Arsenal Analysis over our respective ratings of the players representing United
and Arsenal. I think Eros is a good lad with intelligent opinions some of which I
think are wrong but sincerely held.

Eros and I have been going at it like two cartoon characters in our bid to convert
one another. When I widenend the discussion to include other fans, surprise,
surprise - no opposing fan was willing to accept without reservation that United
players are by and large better than their heroes.

Liverpool loyalists plead the case of Agger and Carragher over Rio and Vidic. City
diehards think United got the wrong Brazilian and delight in running the Elano
showreel of goals and tricks again and again.

I could go on but should I really stop once you are informed of the quality of Ged's
tale. He thinks Middlesbrough's Stewart Downing is a better proposition than
Nani or Giggs. Ged, are you allowed out unaccompanied?

Yes, in the Premiership, absurdity reigns.

By contrast, at international level, there is little debate over which players form
the nucleus of the England team. Rocky Robinson stays in goal, because no-one
has really forgiven Calamity James. The Nev should come in at right back if he can
prove his fitness. Otherwise Micah stays. Rio and Terry pick themselves in the
centre because Carragher has grown tired of wasting his time travelling without
any hope of a game. Cashley at left back is automatic.

Gerrard in midfield, with Hargreaves or Barry looks a better combination than the
Scouser and Frank. The right flank position is up for grabs. Joe Cole is a decent
option on the left whilst up front, it's Rooney and Owen full stop.

Not hard or controversial is it. This team can be tweaked here and there but by
and large it's the team most fans would pick.

So why is impossible to do the same at club level? Is it becasue the choice is
greater?

Does the answer really lie in the fact that national teams matter less?

When it comes to the domestic league, team colours cloud judgement. Just to
prove that I can try to be objective, here's my top Premiership 11 based on form
shown over the past year..with only the hint of personal bias.

(Gk) Cech

(Defence) Cole; Carragher; Ferdinand, Richards

(Midfield) Giggs; Gerrard; Scholes; Ronaldo
(Attack) Berbatov; Rooney

Subs: EVDS (Gk) Obi Mikel; Fabregas (Midfield) Drogba (Attack) Terry (Defence)
 
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