Premier League gets nostalgic 20 years on

LONDON Tue Apr 17, 2012 6:33pm IST

Manchester United's Wayne Rooney (R) reacts during a practice session at the clubs Carrinington training complex in Manchester, northern England March 7, 2012. REUTERS/Nigel Roddis/Files

Manchester United's Wayne Rooney (R) reacts during a practice session at the clubs Carrinington training complex in Manchester, northern England March 7, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Nigel Roddis/Files

LONDON (Reuters) - Nostalgia, the old line goes, is not what it used to be. But as the Premier League gets misty eyed about its 20 years of existence, it appears that great goals are not what they used to be either.

Arguably the most striking thing about the candidates for the '20 Seasons Awards' launched this week by the Premier League is that just one of the 10 best goal contenders was scored in the last 10 years.

Wayne Rooney's overhead strike for Manchester United against Manchester City in February 2011 stands alone as the only goal scored after 2002.

This means there is no place for any of the competition's recent top marksmen like Cristiano Ronaldo, who found the net 84 times in six seasons at Manchester United, or Chelsea's Didier Drogba who has twice topped the goal chart.

Two goals from former Southampton favourite Matt Le Tissier -- a player whose chubby physique was a throwback to the days before the increased athleticism of the Premier League era -- are the earliest choices on the list.

There is also David Beckham's famous 1996 goal from the halfway line for Manchester United against Wimbledon.

Strikes by Tony Yeboah, Eric Cantona, Paolo Di Canio, Thierry Henry, Dennis Bergkamp and Alan Shearer all feature among the nominees that fans will select a winner from via a vote on the Premier League website, www.premierleague.com.

The public will also choose the best match, best save, best celebration and best team of indivuduals from the 20 years since the 20-team league replaced the old first division as English football's top tier in August 1992.

BEST MATCHES

In contrast with the choice of goals, seven of the 10 contenders for the best match of the past two decades are from 2007 onwards.

In fact there are three games from 2011 alone, compared with just two from the 1990s -- Liverpool's 4-3 win over Newcastle United in 1996 and Newcastle's 5-0 rout of Manchester United that same year.

This begs the question whether individual goals stay in the memory longer than games.

Football fans with longer memories might also point out the irony of the Premier League getting nostalgic in the first place as the preceding century of organised league football in England is often ignored amid the hype surrounding the competition.

Besides the public vote, which is open until April 30, a panel of football figures, journalists and commentators will select a best player, manager, team and season.

The 10 candidates for best player are Bergkamp, Cantona, Henry, Ronaldo, Shearer, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Roy Keane, Patrick Vieira and Gianfranco Zola.

There are five Manchester United players among the 10, underlining the Old Trafford club's dominance of the English game in the Premier League era.

By contrast only one United player, Rooney, featured on the six-player shortlist of nominees announced on Monday for this season's Professional Footballers' Association player of the year award.

There were three Manchester City players - Sergio Aguero, Joe Hart and David Silva - along with Arsenal striker Robin van Persie and Tottenham's Scott Parker.

(Editing by Mark Meadows; To query or comment on this story email sportsfeedback@thomsonreuters.com)

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