By Chris Wright
It’s been a heavy few days on Pies and in football generally, so we thought we’d introduce a breeze of brevity in these troubling times by focusing on the positive for a while.
In no particular order, here are 10 current Premier League players who, try as you might, are just impossible to dislike in any way, shape or form…
1. Jussi Jääskeläinen, Bolton – With more umlauts to his name (literally) than you can shake a stick at, Jussi is a faultless goalkeeper who has spent the last decade-and-a-half keeping Bolton’s ‘goals conceded’ column in somewhat respectable order over the course of his 500+ appearances for the Trotters. He may be older than Saturn’s rings (36), but he’s not aged a day in 15 years and the fact that he looks a bit like the baby from Ghostbusters II is obviously also a massive plus in his favour.
2. Shola Ameobi, Newcastle – Shola, how do I do thy greatness justice? Like a galloping Lipizzaner pony, so refined and delicate that he can only be used sparingly, Ameobi scores exactly three truly great goals a season without ever getting near being first-choice at Newcastle. Personally speaking, I’d have him on the plane to Euro 2012. Sunderland fans (and Newcastle fans for that matter) may disagree.
3. Benoit Assou-Ekotto, Tottenham – After a patchy start to life at Spurs, BAE has flourished into a more than decent left-back over the past two years, while maintaining that whiff of eccentricity that stood him out in the first place. Talks frankly (to a fault on occasion) under questioning, insists on wearing odd boots, moseyed on down to sort everything out after the London Riots and, of course, favours the ‘towering afro’ hair arrangement which, all-in-all, makes him okay by us.
4. Javier Hernandez, Man Utd – Awww, the ‘ickle pea. Bless his little cotton socks. As well as having the saddest eyes this side of Labrador puppies, Chicharito – regardless of his fractious second season at Old Trafford – obviously loves playing football more than anything else in the whole wide world. Well, other than firing off a quick pre-match prayer to our Lord and saviour.
(For the record, had he not buggered it all up by retiring at the end of last season, Edwin van der mother flippin’ Sar would’ve been a shoe-in for a place on the list. Michael Owen would not.)