BOTTOM of the League last season? You're not going to get the best players in the world up to Northampton Town, not even in your dreams. That said, I wouldn't mind the odd Bulgarian, they showed a lot of wit. I liked the Spaniards, and also Kennet Andersson: Kevin Keegan will probably be kicking himself for not keeping him when he was on trial at Newcastle. I'd go for Dino ahead of Roberto, but anyone called Baggio would do.
IF the Fifa clamp-down on foul play is to be adopted by our referees then the players you'd want are those who expressed their ability best: that means the strikers and full-backs from Brazil - Romario, Bebeto, Leonardo and Jorginho - and Lechkov of Bulgaria. The money has all been spent here, but even so, and no disrespect to Derby County, I think those players would want to play at a higher standard than our First Division.
I'VE been asked about Peter Rufai, the Nigerian goalkeeper, but I've got two of those already. I'd definitely have Leonardo, he'd be ideal, as would Batistuta and Lechkov, if the chairman had the money] Maldini's been good, but he's already at Milan, so what chance is there of seeing him here? I'd avoid Hagi - super player but you wouldn't get his best here. People like him play in spasms; we demand all-action types.
We actually tried to sign Kennet Andersson before the World Cup, but he quite openly said 'Why play 60 games a year when I can play 40 in France for the same money?' Hagi I'd pick, even though all my feedback says that he never does that well at club level, and the Romanian players in general would suit English football. There's no truth that we were interested in Alexi Lalas, though I think he would do well here.
I was out there for Ireland v Mexico and was impressed by the goalscorer, Luis Garcia, very neat and tidy. I also saw the Belgium v Holland game where Scifo was in a different class. The Nigerians were good and Lechkov was tremendous, but I'd go for Romario first, he's so sharp and clever he'd do well here. Sadly these players tend to end up in Spain or Italy. Our money's gone silly, but it is more ridiculous there.
The young left-sided Moroccan, Ahmed Bahja, was terrific, he played like a person without a care in the world - pure natural ability. That said, I've only admired him from a distance; it's an entirely different way of life here and you'd have to look into his character a lot before bringing him over. Leonardo was clearly the best full-back, in the middle I liked Redondo and I loved the intensity in Stoichkov; they could play here without a doubt.
WITH all these people, you have to wonder whether they would suit the system of playing two games a week. You'd hope that these great players would fit in, but in the past very few have survived long. The East Europeans could do well here and though the Nigerians are very strong, you must consider that our climate is entirely different to theirs. You don't know if they'll succeed until they're here - and that's quite a gamble.
ROBERTO BAGGIO of Italy, Romario of Brazil and Jurgen Klinsmann of Germany. It's quite simple, I'd fancy those three in any team, and I'd particularly like to see them in mine at Aston Villa - and so would the fans. There have been lots of others in this World Cup but those three would certainly do for starters. I'm sorry, but you won't catch me suggesting any lesser known names because I might be interested in actually signing them.
Leonardo, Jorginho and Marcio Santos - fantastic players. Week in, week out, you could rely on them. Some people might pick the glamorous strikers, but I think they would go missing in the bread and butter of the English League. However, Kennet Andersson, the Swedish striker, has come up with some vital goals and has the power and physique to do well here. The Africans were full of enthusiasm, but are still a bit raw.
Romario is an obvious choice as the star man, but I like Lechkov from Bulgaria, who has been very steady and whose style might suit English football. Then there's Hassler of Germany, a worker with good pace and an excellent free-kick, and Thern of Sweden, who I have always admired. That said, we've been linked with nearly everyone, none of it true; the only one we've been in for is the Swedish striker Dahlin.
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