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Football

31st Dec 2021

Garth Crooks’ Team of the Year has certainly got folks talking

Patrick McCarry

Garth Crooks

One last argument to end 2021…

Garth Crooks has once again delivered the debatable goods with his Team of the Year selection for the BBC.

The former Tottenham and Manchester United striker has long been a go-to for those looking for a reason to scratch their head at Best XI selections. Who, of course, can forget this attack-heavy side from 2015?

Garth Crooks’ history of Mo Salah snubs

The following year, he selected four Leicester City players when the Foxes won the Premier League… but he still riled their fans up by not selecting top scorer Jamie Vardy in his front two.

In 2018, it was Liverpool supporters feeling aggrieved as Mo Salah [despite having the most goal involvements] missed out to Sergio Aguero, Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling in his team of the year.

Flash forward to 2021, then, and Crooks has put his neck on the line. He has five players from 2020/21 champions and current league leaders Manchester City but just one from Liverpool and none from Manchester United [last season’s second placed side].

To see the likes of Ilkay Gundogan, Ruben Dias and Bernardo Silva in any XI gives it some immediate credibility. Crooks, though, does seem to be suffering from recency bias as both Declan Rice and Michail Antonio feature.

Liverpool fans are livid that only Trent Alexander-Arnold features in Crooks’ team, with some pointing out it is not the first time Salah has been snubbed.

The omission of Salah, who has the most calendar year goal involvements – 24 goals and 11 assists – in the Premier League has led to Crooks’ team being called “embarrassing” and “brainless”.

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion but the selections of Bukhayo Saka and Antonio in a front three and Reece James and Silva as wingers certainly do provoke debate and disharmony.

On Sky’s Monday Night Football, for some context, Jamie Carragher and Gary Neville picked their teams of the year and though they could not agree on everything, they both had these eight players in their respective XIs:

  • Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool)
  • Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool)
  • Antonio Rudiger (Chelsea)
  • Joao Cancelo (Manchester City)
  • Declan Rice (West Ham)
  • Phil Foden (Manchester City)
  • Mohamed Salah (Liverpool)
  • Diogo Jota (Liverpool)

Again, some recency bias there but Cancelo and Salah getting their props. Here is the full 2021 selection of Crooks, in all its’ glory.

GARTH CROOKS’ TEAM OF THE YEAR

Garth Crooks