A Premier League Hall of Fame should ideally also embrace managers. On that account, Sir Alex Ferguson, who won 13 titles ought to have joined Shearer and Henry as the inaugural inductees. Ex Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger must be a future inductee not just because he won three EPL gongs and went a full season unbeaten, the Frenchman also revolutionarised the way the division’s football is played. Formee Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho and Manchester City’s trailblazer Pep Guardiola also ought to be automatic members of this distinguished club. In future we might even have room for Palace manager Roy Hodgson and West Brom gaffer Sam Allardyce for the sheer volume of matches they’ve overseen.
News that 260-goal record scorer Allan Shearer and Arsenal legend Thierry Henry are the first inductees in the long overdue Premier League Hall of Fame is exhilarating. Shearer was the first jaw-dropping, mesmeric goal plunderer I ever watched live in my adult life whereas Henry is simply the most devastating, awe inspiring forward I ever saw in the EPL.
That said, I don’t think the next six inductees should be left to the whims of fans as it’s done in the American NBA. Technical input from football experts must override fan emotions. Ideally, each of the 40 or so clubs which have graced the Premier League since 1992 should submit a list of ten players they consider their greatest. That way we can avoid future inductees from being exclusively from clubs which won silverware.
The list can then be chopped down to allow for 8 nominees to annually join the Hall of Fame. It’s the only way of protecting super talents that never won the league from being completely forgotten. For example, Chelsea fans would have Gianfranco Zola high up their list of five most gifted/entertaining players despite the fact he didn’t win a single EPL title. Blackburn Rovers’ Tugay Kerimoglu, Southampton’s Matthew Le Tessier, West Ham United’s Paolo di Canio, Tottenham Hotspur’s Jermaine Defoe, Newcastle United’s David Ginola, Bolton Wanderers’ Jay Jay Okocha, Bradford City’s Benito Carbone and Leeds United’s Mark Viduka are examples of players who would have a chance of induction if club historians are allowed to nominate players for consideration.
Longevity of service is another area worth consideration in compiling a list of nominees. A consumate professional who’s clocked the miles ought to be given his due regardless of whether he lifted silverware or not. Liverpool deputy skipper James Milner is a name that springs to mind when you think of building role models. Thankfully, he won titles with Manchester City and Liverpool. It would be inexcusable to overlook players like ex Kop captain Jamie Carragher, team mate Emile Heskey, former Aston Villa and City midfielder Gareth Barry, West Ham’s Mark Noble, Newcastle United’s Gary Speed, evergreen Everton defender Sylvain Distin and always recyclable keeper David James.