|If there is one thing that is sure to be missing from Match of the Day this season with no Alan Hansen on the couch, it is that we won't hear someone say that defending is the lost art of football. That is until Martin Keown or Lee Dixon pick up the mantle.
Maybe Hansen is right because in the list of players who's names cropped up as CM/FM star defenders there was a fair share of names who any football fan will recognise but they certainly never got to the dizzy heights as predicted in the footy sim.
Take Paul Warhurst for example. He is a classic case of the Champ Man developers getting a little over excited over a prospect when they created his profile in Championship Manager 93. Warhurst had just come off an incredible season with Sheffield Wednesday where injuries meant that centre back Warhurst was used in an emergency strikers role and he bagged an incredible 12 goals in as many games. It earned him a transfer to big spending Blackburn Rovers where he ended up playing in defence more than up front anyway, but he never recaptured the sort of form at either end of the pitch which made Rovers cough up £2.7m in the first place. Maybe we should have been suspicious back then of these so-called great players...
After Manchester United's class of 92' took the world of football by storm there was a huge expectancy put on the shoulders of any young Red Devil. When the United U18s emulated the success of David Beckham and co by winning the FA Youth Cup in 1995, big things were expected from John Curtis. If you could sign him for your team in Championship Manager 97/98 he'd be a rock at the heart of your defence. After a handul of appearances for United Graeme Souness took him to Blackburn but it was all downhill from there as Curtis became a bit of a journeyman. Another centre back star from CM 97/98 was Teddy Lucic but the Swedish international struggled outside of his homeland despite spells in England and Germany.
A big name in the world of European football but an even bigger name in the world of Champ Man was Philippe Mexès. Granted the French international has had a decent career and has turned out for both Roma and Milan in the last decade, but he has come nowhere near to the teenage superstar we all tried to buy from Auxerre in CM 99/00.
And the same can be said for Kevin Hofland. The Dutch defender was immense if you could sign him from PSV Eindhoven, but in real life Hofland's career saw him play for a poor Wolfsburg team in Germany and then return to Holland with Feyenoord. He is now at the end of his career playing in the mighty Cypriot league for AEK Larnaca and has only ever earned seven caps for The Netherlands.
Championship Manager 01/02 provide a whopping four names for this list. Taribo West had spells at both Milan and Inter but didn't exactly have the most amazing stats at the start of the game when you could snap him up on a free transfer, but that didn't stop most players taking a punt and watching him boss your defence and develop into a world beater, with green dreads and all.
Fredrik Risp and Steven Taylor both feature as star defenders in Championship Manager 4. Risp travelled around some of the European minor leagues in Scandinavia and Eastern Europe, while Taylor has remained loyal to Newcastle United but never quite reach international captaincy standard as he did in CM4.
Two players I remember fondly who would often form a long-standing partnership in my Championship Manager 03/04 game would be Tomas Hubschman and Martin Albrechtsen. I think the guys at Sports Interactive have a bit of a club crush on Shakhtar Donetsk as Hubschman is just one of many players from the Ukrainian Premier League outfit who was predicted to have a better career than he actually did. Albrechtsen spent four seasons at West Brom but these days he is playing in his native of Denmark for Brondy.
Breno is an interesting story because he could have well lived up to his Football Manager 2008 fame had he not got himself sentenced to nearly four years in prison for arson. After 13 months he was released and Bayern Munich coach Pep Guardiola brought him back to the club to work with the youth teams.
England fans probably thought they had found the next Tony Adams or John Terry if they signed Mark Beevers from Sheffield Wednesday in Football Manager 2009. Instead the 24-year-old is now at Millwall in the Championship instead of playing Champions League football.
If Mamadou Sakho had lived up to his Football Manager billing then Liverpool might just have won the Premier League last year. Diehard CM/FM fans will know all about Sakho who started to appear in the game from around FM10 onwards. It would not be cheap to buy the teenager from PSG but it was always money well spent. It probably says a lot that PSG were happy to sell him to the Anfield club in real life.
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