Two tough omissions as Neville and Carragher select Premier League Team of the Year
Seven Liverpool players, but a couple more than were unlucky to miss out.
Sy Sports punditry duo Jamie Carragher and Gary Neville have become an event in themselves. How often do you tune in to the first hour of Monday Night Football, despite not being arsed about the game they're about to show? Answer: often, because it's always Burnley.
On this week's MNF, the pair selected their best Premier League XI of 2020. Obviously, their choices have ruffled a few feathers, but that's pretty much inevitable. The team features seven title winning Liverpool players, but no Sadio Mane, as Heung-min Son takes the left wing slot.
The team they settled on is as follows: Alisson, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Conor Coady, Virgil Van Dijk, Andrew Robertson: Jordan Henderson, Kevin De Bruyne, Bruno Fernandes: Mo Salah, Harry Kane, Heung-min Son.
"Alisson has been the best by a mile. Ederson had been outstanding for a few seasons but his standards have dropped. When you have an outstanding goalkeeper, the difference it makes is off the scale. The upgrade from a good goalkeeper to a great goalkeeper, points-wise, is unquantifiable," Neville said, on their choice of goalkeeper.
Coady is a selection that may raise a few eyebrows. The Wolves captain has been in top form throughout the year, breaking into the England squad in the process, but has beaten bigger names at bigger clubs to make it into this team.
"The second centre-back was a debatable one. We had Eric Dier, Harry Maguire, Ayermic Laporte, Tyrone Mings and Conor Coady - but Coady's stats but were better than the rest," Neville said.
"I went with Coady, not only for his Wolves performances but for his England breakthrough too. There's always a question mark surrounding players who don't play at the top level, whether it would be Champions League or international football. But Coady stepped up for England, impressing everyone with his personality."
The rest of the back four picks itself, the pair concurred.
When discussing the midfield trio, Neville was full of praise for Bruno Fernandes.
"He's a leader in what he does when he gives the ball away, he sprints straight after it," he said.
"Every time the team is on the ball, he wants the ball and every time he gets the ball, he wants to play a pass that matters. He's transformed the whole club and every time he doesn't play, it's a massive problem. That's a big issue when you are almost reliant on him."
Their exclusion of Sadio Mané was a tough call, with Neville saying any club in the world would want him. But there wasn't room for both of them.
"You cannot criticise Son or Mane. There is no negative about them. They are both absolutely world-class.," Neville said.
"Just plug the actual goals and assists in, and Son's just done better in a team that isn't as good obviously. Son just won it but that is no reflection on Mane. He could've easily been in the team."
Mané could, in theory, have made it in on the other wing over Salah, though.
"The reason I've always chosen Salah over Mane is because he's cold-blooded. Mane's a team player, who would always put the team first, but Salah is cold-blooded and that's not a negative," Neville explained.
Harry Kane requires no explanation, even though Raheem Sterling, Jamie Vardy, Danny Ings and Roberto Firmino all had good cases for inclusion.
You'd assume there would be no complaints about this combined XI, but that would be to underestimate the tribalism in football.