Five-a-side as a ‘thing’ has come to the fore once more in recent years, buoyed by the tax breaks available for those who want to open centres, given its nature as a sport. Whilst managing QPR, Neil Warnock was asked to name a fantasy 5-a-side team, and to sum up, it was god-awful:
However, as an exercise it got me thinking – who would Leeds United’s best current 5-a-side team be? The game itself rewards passing ability and technical ability over other attributes such as strength and height, things that don’t necessarily conform with how we pick our current eleven on a weekly basis. There was a huge response to the question on Twitter and I’d love to hear your responses in the comments too. Eventually, this was the team I settled on (with a 1-2-1 formation):
GK – PADDY KENNY
Very much an obvious choice, Kenny is definitely the better of our two goalkeepers (three if you consider Paul Rachubka a goalkeeper and not some sort of rabid goal allowing robot whose sole purpose is to concede the most simple of chances). Aside from his clear shot stopping ability, Kenny is actually probably a decent choice as a 5-a-side goalkeeper because he has decent feet for a goalkeeper. Who can forget his lob over an onrushing striker against Shrewsbury? Useful as a sweeper keeper.
DEF – SAM BYRAM
Technically, our most skilled defender with the ball at his feet. Can pass the ball, but importantly, can also tackle fairly cleanly. Will win the ball, and spring attacks successfully further up the…field? Arena? Whatever it’s called, he’s an asset both at the back and further forward.
MID – RODOLPH AUSTIN
He’s gone off the boil recently, but Austin would fulfill a double role here – that of defender and midfielder. His tackling ability is key here, and really, were Byram to move further forward, Austin would cover the hole. Also, he can run quite well with the ball, and shoot from range, so on a smaller court he’d be quite destructive.
MID – PAUL GREEN
He’s like a mini-Lee Bowyer, and Green is the workrate you need. He’d harry the opposition and have the technical ability to back it up, something the likes of Michael Brown just simply don’t provide (please don’t play 5-a-side football Michael Brown, I’m pretty sure conventional laws govern the pitch there, not the craziness that allows you to murder people on a field of grass). Can also run with the ball and support the striker.
FWD – ROSS MCCORMACK
Very much Leeds’s best player with the ball at his feet, McCormack also provides the sort of finishing ability that would be exceptional on a 5-a-side court. It would genuinely be interesting to see McCormack play on a pitch of that size, and the idea of him and Byram linking up with passing play sounds a treat. Skilled with either foot, McCormack would probably be the star of the hypothetical team.
Honourable mentions: El Hadji Diouf, Tom Lees, Michael Tonge, Ross Barkley, Davide Somma
If you’ve enjoyed my descent into madness, why not follow me on Twitter for similar shenanigans? (@awinehouse1).
Comment below with your teams, I’m interested to see them.