A View From Below

Sporting debate and opinion

January 2012 – The month of the veteran comeback

This January sees the Chinese embrace the Year of the Dragon. The theme in the Barclays Premier League this month is welcoming the return of the veteran.

First Thierry Henry answered the call of duty from the man that made his career – Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger – to return to the club the Frenchman insists ‘he loves’ and help lighten the weight placed on captain/goalscorer/inspiration Robin Van Persie’s shoulders.

Over at Manchester United a similar story evolved today, as it emerged that Paul Scholes was coming out of retirement to the fill the gaping void in the club’s midfield.

With Anderson and Tom Cleverly on the treatment table and with Darren Fletcher being forced to take an indefinite break from football due to illness, the ginger play-maker has been coaxed back to Old Trafford for the remainder of the season.

Whilst fans of both clubs (and neutrals too) have waxed lyrical about the comeback’s of these Premier League greats, such short-termism is a new trend developing in the upper echelons of the English game.

That is not to suggest Henry and Scholes’ returns will not be successful – I believe both clubs have all to gain from the moves – even if the players are not at the same level they once enjoyed.

It goes to show how experience, leadership and attitude are highly valued at the top clubs.

The 2-month loan of Arsenal’s all time record goalscorer will bring a buzz to the Emirates Stadium, as well as providing the team with a classy finisher and the perfect man to have around to pass on advice and guidance to the current crop.

Henry is likely to make the majority of his appearances between now and his return to America from the bench, where the club legend is bound to chip in with a goal or two, however his return is a cost-effective way of replacing Gervinho and Marouane Chamakh who are departing for the African Cup of Nations.

Arsenal fans will be hoping that the influence of Henry can help convince Van Persie to commit his future to the club – as the path of MLS’ star striker, who recently witnessed the erection of his statue outside the Gunners’ ground – evidently explains to the Dutchman that the grass is not always greener away from the Gunners.

As for Scholes, Manchester United have been lacking in central midfield in recent months, and whilst calls for the player to be involved at Euro 2012 seem ludicrously premature, he – like Henry – will add another body to the Red Devils’ squad as well as a touch of class.

Scholes’ presence around the Carrington training ground can help develop the potential that young midfielder Cleverly displayed before his injury, as well as display a genuine role model for United’s emerging stars to follow.

Sir Alex Ferguson will hope that having one of his most trusted lieutenants back involved at the club will ensure his team suffer less demoralising days as recent as defeats to Newcastle and Blackburn.

Time will tell if these short term experiments work for United and Arsenal, but it is certainly a gamble worth taking for the managers and players involved.

Other clubs may start to look at which former greats they could recall to the side, and fans around the country may start dreaming of seeing their favourite stars.

Here is five possible (and some comical) moves that would excite the English game further:

Newcastle – Alan Shearer
The Magpies have this season warmed to Senegalese goal machine Demba Ba, but Alan Pardew will be without his leading goalscorer during January as he departs for the African Cup of Nations. Shearer may well be comfortable with the BBC’s punditry team – but could he refuse the call for the Geordie nation?

Southampton – Matt Le Tissier
Another former pro turned pundit, Le Tissier is a staple on Sky Sports’ Soccer Saturday program these days, but you don’t need to be too old to remember Le Tizz gracing the Premier League. If he came back to the Saints he could even add to his puzzling low number of England caps, and its not like he ever had any pace to lose!

Leeds – Tony Yeboah
Yorkshire’s favourite ever Ghanaian is well remembered at Elland Road for his wonder goals thumped in during his spell in England. Yeboah now runs an international sports agency and a chain of hotels in his home country – but considering his love of Yorkshire pudding – could a comeback be on the cards.

Manchester City – Paul Dickov
Despite the riches available to Roberto Mancini, with strikers Mario Balotelli seemingly more focused on his nicotine habit that his footballing career recently, Edin Dzeko labouring out-of-form and Carlos Teves literally AWOL, legendary front-man Shaun Goater may well get the chance to add to his 101 goal club tally.

Nottingham Forest – Stan Collymore
Everyone’s favourite bad boy. These days Collymore strikes a more composed figure, broadcasting for TalkSport and acting as an unofficial campaigner for Depression Alliance – Stan certainly has the cojones to enjoy a twilight return to football. Nottingham has been a quieter place since he graced Robin Hood country.

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January 8, 2012 - Posted by | Football

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