19th March – Kolo Toure

Kolo Toure may have been overshadowed by his younger brother Yaya in recent seasons but he has had an amazing career himself and is proving that on his day he can still be one of the best defenders in the Premier League.

At the age of 34 it is understandable that he is not a guaranteed first choice for Liverpool but as he proved away to Real Madrid earlier this season he can produce some immense performances. After winning the African Cup of Nations earlier this year he can finish his career knowing that he has accomplished almost everything in the game, as well as being a part of one of the best teams ever seen in England.

Toure started his career in his homeland with ASEC Mimosas before going on trial with Arsenal in 2002 and was signed by the club on the 14th February for £150,000. During his first season he didn’t play for the club but did start the Community Shield against Liverpool at the start of the following campaign. He was initially seen as a versatile player who could fit in either at right back or in the centre of midfield and he would go on to score his first goal in England in a 1-1 draw with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

Toure Arsenal

The 2003-04 season saw Toure become first choice at centre back alongside Sol Campbell and they were phenomenal as the club went unbeaten in the Premier League and gained the nickname ‘The Invincibles’. He was obviously a fan favourite because of his performances and he played 50 times in the 2004-05 season and pick up an FA Cup winners medal. By this point he was known as one of the best centre backs in England but in the following Champions League campaign he proved his ability in Europe as he helped Arsenal reach the final and keep 10 consecutive clean sheets in the competition and would even get the honour of scoring the final European goal at Highbury.

He stayed at Arsenal for a further three seasons but they were not having the same success and on the 29th July 2009 he signed for Manchester City for £14 million. He was quickly named club captain by Mark Hughes and helped the club finish fifth place in the Premier League. But after Roberto Mancini took charge he lost the armband to Carlos Tevez but was still a regular in the squad and would help the club lift the FA Cup. However, he was banned on the 3rd March 2011 for six months after failing a drugs test.

Toure MCFC

After returning he couldn’t break into the first team regularly but did make enough appearances to pick up another Premier League winners medal. In his final season at the club he would play more league games but this didn’t guarantee him a new contract and he left the club on a free transfer in the summer. On the 2nd July 2013 he joined Liverpool and made his debut in a 1-0 win over Stoke City but he once again struggled to become a regular in the first team. Even with Liverpool opting to play with centre backs he still cannot get in the team for a prolonged period and that is why it looks likely that he will leave the club in the summer.

Soccer - Pre-Season Friendly - Preston North End v Liverpool - Deepdale

The final word can go to Mark Hughes. “He is strong, quick, reads the game well and will be an influential figure in the dressing room. Kolo has been a central figure in a strong Arsenal team for many years, and I have been an admirer of him for a long time.

Advertisements

3rd March – Emmanuel Riviere

Emmanuel Riviere hasn’t quite showed the Newcastle United fans why he outscored James Rodriguez and Radamel Falcao at Monaco but he certainly has talent.

At the age of 25 he has plenty of time to adapt to English football and the fans will be hoping that this season has just been adjusting to life in a new country. In their last game Newcastle played two upfront and although Riviere didn’t get a goal himself he certainly put himself about and cause Aston Villa some problems. He will need a good end to the season, at least in terms of performances if he does want to remain in the Premier League.

Riviere started his career at Saint Etienne and made his professional debut on the 3rd January 2009 against Bordeaux alongside current Swansea City striker Bafetimbi Gomis. He would have to wait until right at the end of the season to score his first goal, but on the 13th May he did grab one in the 4-2 win over Le Havre. Due to injuries the striker started the next campaign as the first choice striker but as players returned he was either shifted out wide or used from the bench. During the second half of the season he performed brilliantly and was one of the main reasons why the club avoided relegation. In February and March he played seven times and scored five goals and then later scored the only goal of the game against Boulogne to confirm Saint Etienne’s safety in the top flight.

Riviere SE

In the summer Riviere signed a new three year contract but only stayed for one more season as he produced more good performances and scored some valuable goals for the club once more convinced Toulouse to sign him. He only spent one and a half seasons with his new club and didn’t quite score the amount of goals he would have hoped. In total he scored 10 times in 47 games and somewhat surprisingly on the 30th January 2013 he joined Ligue 2 Monaco. He would go on to score on his debut against Arles in a 2-0 win and helped the club gain promotion to Ligue 1.

Riviere Toulouse

Back in the top flight he started off brilliantly, scoring on the opening day against Bordeaux and then in the next match against Montpellier he scored his first ever hatrick. He continued his good form by scoring the winning goal against Marseille on the 1st September. However, he could not continue his goalscoring form and ended the campaign with 13 goals.

Emmanuel Riviere celebrates scoring for Monaco in their victory over Montpellier

On the 16th July 2014 Riviere joined Newcastle United and made his debut on the opening day against Manchester City. He would go on to score his only goals to date in the League Cup win over Crystal Palace.

The final word can go to teammate Mike Williamson. “I do think the work from Manu goes unnoticed. For me, he’s a great outlet, he puts his body on the line and gets other people goals, hopefully he can get some himself. Up front it was good to see the presence, that work rate, that doggedness.”

2nd March – Trevor Sinclair

England have had a problem on the left hand side of their midfield for a long time and during the 2002 World Cup the position was given to Trevor Sinclair.

Now 42 it will surely be one of the highlights of his career but perhaps more surprisingly was the fact that he did a good job on the left wing and possibly deserved more chances in the position on the international stage. Since retiring he has been doing some coaching and will be hoping that he can get some experience in the higher divisions but for now he is currently the assistant manager at Lancaster City.

Sinclair began his career at Blackpool where he became the club’s youngest ever player after making his debut on the 19th August 1989 at the age of 16 years and five months and has since been voted into the club’s Hall of Fame by their fans. He only spent four years at the club but he was definitely a fans favourite and well remembered by the supporters. In total he made 112 league appearances for Blackpool and scored 15 times.

Sinclair Blackpool

In 1993 he would break another record at Blackpool by becoming their record transfer sale when he joined QPR for £600,000. He spent five years at the London club and in 1995 he won the October Player of the Month for his performances and was consistent during his time there. But what he is mostly remembered for is his 1997 Goal of the Season. In an FA Cup match against Barnsley he scored a bicycle kick from outside the box and is regarded as one of the best ever in the competition.

Sinclair QPR

After 168 league appearances and 16 goals, Sinclair moved to West Ham in January 1998. He got off to a fantastic start at his new club scoring seven goals in his first 14 games, including two on his debut against Everton, helping them to finish eighth in the Premier League. Over the next two seasons he was an important member of the team but an injury kept him out of the end of the 2000-01 season and West Ham suffered. When he returned he was putting in some impressive performances which led to him being picked for the 2002 World Cup.

Sinclair WH

His final season at the club was difficult as they were relegated and due to cost cutting measures he was one of the players they had to get off the wage bill. So in 2003 he signed for Manchester City and would score the first goal at the new City of Manchester Stadium against Welsh side TNS in the UEFA Cup. But it could be argued that he didn’t produce his best football in Manchester and at the end of the 2006-07 season he was released.

On the 10th July 2007 he joined Cardiff City but he started to struggle with injuries and couldn’t help the team as much as he would have hoped and after just one season he left the club and didn’t play again until the 14th August 2014 when he came on as a substitute for Lancaster City against Clitheroe in a 3-1 defeat.

The final word can go to Kevin Keegan who signed him for Manchester City. “In Trevor Sinclair we will have an England international at the peak of his career. He can play left side, right side and up front, so he will strengthen us and give us options. I tried to sign Trevor when I was at Newcastle. It didn’t come off and now, ten years later, I am still thrilled to have him.”

23rd February – Gareth Barry

Gareth Barry has been one of the most consistent players in the Premier League but with Everton not being at their best this season it has been difficult for him to influence games as positively.

The midfielder is now 34 and currently holds the record of picking up the most yellow cards in the Premier League and reached 100 against Stoke City on Boxing Day this season. He will be hoping that he and his club can end the season strongly or it will be seen as quite a disappointing year for everyone involved after such a good season last year and maybe Barry will be one of the players that will be getting dropped from the starting 11.

Barry has had an interesting career and even before he had played a professional game he was involved in some controversy after he left Brighton for Aston Villa along with Michael Standing and Brighton were demanding £2.5 million. But the deal went through after a tribunal set the fee and Barry went on to make his debut on the 2nd May 1998 against Sheffield Wednesday on the left side of a back three alongside experienced duo Gareth Southgate and Ugo Ehiogu. Over the next few years he was seen as a versatile player that could fill many roles, after playing centre back for a while, he moved to left back then left midfield and finally to the centre of midfield. This was his best position and it wasn’t long before he was named club captain.

Barry AV

He spent 12 years at Aston Villa and is currently ninth on their all time appearance list but in 2008 it seemed like it was unravelling and after several bids from Liverpool it looked like he was leaving. Despite getting the captain’s armband taken off him he did stay at the club for another season and after an injury to replacement captain Martin Laursen he was given the armband back in January 2009.

On the 2nd June 2009 he did eventually leave the club after 441 games and 52 goals and joined Manchester City. This was a surprising move in a way as he said he wanted Champions League football and at the time City were not in the competition. He made his debut on the opening day of the season against Blackburn Rovers and would go on to score his first goal not long afterwards in the incredible 4-3 defeat against Manchester United.

Barry MC

Over the next two seasons things got better for both him and the club as they lifted the FA Cup and Premier League with Barry being one of the most consistent players in the squad. The next was not so successful as they failed to defend their Premier League title. After 175 games for the club he was on the move once again and joined Everton on a season long loan on the 2nd September 2013.

On his debut for Everton he was named man of the match after helping his new team to a 1-0 win over Chelsea and later in the month became the 10th player to make 500 appearances in the Premier League. He formed a great partnership with James McCarthy and completed the most passes over the course of the season for Everton as they amassed a club record 72 points. At the end of the season his contract expired at Man City and he joined Everton permanently.

Barry Everton

The final word can go to Roberto Martinez. “Gareth is a model professional. He sets high standards in everything he does and that is the perfect model you want for your young players. We enjoyed having him as a loan player, but we will be enjoying him even more knowing he is an Everton player.”

11th February – Steve McManaman

Steve McManaman had a very interesting career and one that he can look back on proudly as he won a lot of honours in the game and will go down as one of England’s greatest footballing exports.

During his career he became the first English player to win the Champions League with a non-English club and then followed this up by winning it again and becoming the first English player to lift the trophy twice. Now at the age of 43 he will be happy that he made the decision to move abroad but at the time he was one of the most controversial and high profile free transfers of all time.

The winger started his career at Liverpool and made his debut on 15th December 1990 in a 2-0 win over Sheffield United. After an injury to John Barnes, McManaman became a regular first team member during the 1991-92 season and played 51 times, including the FA Cup final in which he was named man of the match. His reputation was continuing to grow but one of the biggest bust ups in Premier League football happened between him and Liverpool goalkeeper Bruce Grobbelaar after his poor clearance led to a goal in the Merseyside Derby during the 1993-94 season.

Steve McManaman

In the following campaign, McManaman was instrumental in helping the club pick up another trophy. The League Cup final in 1995 was renamed ‘The McManaman Final’ as he scored twice and in his second final he was once again named man of the match. At the end of the next season he was proving that he was one of the best wingers in the world by getting 25 assists in the Premier League.

McManaman was named Liverpool captain at the start of 1998-99 season but with his contract coming to an end and it not looking likely he would be signing a new one it seemed like a strange decision and on the 30th January 1999 it was announced that he would be joining Real Madrid at the end of the season. He never really hit the same heights but he will still go down as one of Liverpool’s best players and ended his time at the club with 66 goals in 364 games.

Mcmanaman RM

He made his debut for the Spanish giants on the 22nd August 1999 and set up a last minute winner against Mallorca and a week later on his home debut he scored in a 4-1 win over Numancia. It was in the Champions League that he saved his best performances for and he scored a fantastic volley in the final against Valencia and was arguably man of the match. Despite his contribution, Real Madrid splashed out on other players and it looked as though he was on his way out, however McManaman was determined to succeed and during the second half of the season he became a first team regular and was a key part in helping them win La Liga.

While at Real Madrid he constantly changed his game and became a versatile player making a fan favourite and also someone the rest of the team relied on. His second greatest moment for Madrid was also in the Champions League as he scored the second goal in the semi final against Barcelona to help them reach the final. After coming on as a substitute in the final he helped secure a 2-1 win over Bayer Leverkusen. He spent one more season in Spain but didn’t get to play much and after 152 games he left and joined Manchester City on a free transfer on the 30th August 2004. Injuries stopped him reaching his full potential at City and he only played 35 Premier League games in two seasons for the club and did not manage to score a single goal.

Mcmanaman MC

The final word can go to Kevin Keegan who spoke after the 2000 Champions League final. “He was tremendous and, if he wasn’t man of the match, then I don’t know who was – and there were a lot of great performances. We are absolutely delighted for him. I want him to go and enjoy things and I know what it is like to play in a foreign side in a European Cup final.”

8th February – Carl Jenkinson

Carl Jenkinson celebrated his birthday today by helping West Ham to a 1-1 draw with Manchester United and despite a late goal it was still a very good point and performance.

It wasn’t such a good time for his parent club Arsenal this weekend who got beat by local rivals Tottenham Hotspur but the player is developing into a top quality right back who has been getting better as the season has gone on. It is good to see him now he is 23 getting first team football as he could easily challenge for the right back spot in the national team. His form this season has proved he is good enough for the top flight and with Mathieu Debuchy getting injured a few times this season he could have got plenty of opportunities at the Emirates.

Jenkinson started his career at Charlton Athletic but got his first taste of professional football at Welling United who he joined on loan in 2010 and went on to play 10 league games. He had to wait until November to get his next taste of football at Conference Premier Side Eastbourne Borough but after just four appearance he was recalled by Charlton. He made his first appearance for Charlton in the Football League Trophy Southern section semi final against Brentford. His performances for the rest of the season were impressive and this led to him being linked with moves away from the club.

Jenkinson CA

In June 2011 he joined Arsenal and made his debut in the Champions League qualifier against Udinese after coming on as a second half substitute. This was a meteoric rise for the defender but he seemed to be taking everything in his stride and put in decent performance. However, it wasn’t long before it was too much of a step up as he was part of the Arsenal side that were demolished 8-2 by Manchester United but he did set up Robin Van Persie’s goal, however his game was ended early after being sent off late in the game.

Jenkinson Arsenal

After returning he did show some potential but unfortunately his development was stalled as he spent three months on the sidelines after a stress fracture in his lower back. At the start of the 2012-13 season Jenkinson started the first five matches and once again gained plaudits for his performances, particularly against Manchester City and was rewarded with a new long term contract by the club shortly after. He ended the season with 21 appearances and in the following campaign he once again was a part of the starting lineup. He featured 22 times throughout the season and got his first career goal on the final day of the season against Norwich City.

On the 31st July the right back joined West Ham on loan for the whole season but had to wait until a 2-2 draw with Hull City on the 15th September to make his debut due to injuries. But he quickly established himself in the first team and has put in some consistent performances.

Jenkinson WH

The final word can go to Theo Walcott. “Carl always wants to learn, which is great to see. He’s eager, he wants to perform and he is getting better every game. He’s got bags of confidence, all the lads are encouraging him and it’s showing in his performances.”

6th February – Per Frandsen

Per Frandsen is a player that will be very familiar to fans of Bolton Wanderers because he put in some brilliant performances for the club and scored some sublime goals.

The midfielder is now 45 and will go down as one of the most important players in Bolton’s recent history as he helped them gain promotion to the Premier League and also produced some solid performances to keep them in the top flight. He was a midfielder that could create a lot from the centre of the pitch and could certainly score some cracking goals, including one against Middlesbrough on the final day of the 2002-03 season which just highlighted everything about his game.

Frandsen started his career in his native Denmark with B 1903 and made an instant impact with the club. He would go on to finish as the third best goalscorer of the 1990 Danish First Division and ended his time at the club with 15 goals in just 25 league games which is a very good record for any player. In November 1990 he made the move to France and joined Lille for a club record fee. He spent four years with Lille and he was very consistent despite still being quite young and inexperienced and took to a new style of football very quickly. During his time at the club he scored 19 league goals in 109 games but they could not keep hold of their promising midfielder because of financial difficulties and he returned to Denmark, signing for Copenhagen.

Frandsen Lille

He acknowledged this would only be a temporary move and after helping the club lift the Danish Cup in 1995, he moved to Bolton Wanderers for £1.25 million in August 1996. He made his debut in a 1-1 draw against Port Vale and went on to score his first goal for the club in the next game against Manchester City. It was during this time that he was being linked with moves to the Premier League as he was considered one of the best to play outside of the top flight. But instead he stayed with Bolton and helped them win promotion to the Premier League. Despite this being followed by relegation he was one of the bright spots in the team.

Frandsen Copenhagen

In September 1999 he made the move to Blackburn Rovers for £1.75 million and the Bolton manager Colin Todd resigned because he was against the decision to sell the midfielder. Unfortunately for Frandsen it didn’t work out for him at Ewood Park and after just one season he returned to Bolton for £1.6 million. His second spell was also very good and he was very good with the younger players in the squad, particularly Kevin Nolan who has stated how important he has been in his career.

Frandsen BWFC

In 2004 he was released by Bolton after 304 first team games and 38 goals. Before he retired from the game because of a cruciate ligament injury he went on to help Wigan Athletic gain promotion to the Premier League, grabbing a goal against Brighton.

The final word can go to Sam Allardyce. “I have ultimate respect for him. Per will go down in Bolton folklore. Everyone at the club has appreciated what he has done for us. Eight years is a long time in any career and Per has had eight great years at the club.”