West Ham’s Mark Noble and five other victims of small club snobbery…

Snobbery and elitism is rife in life but even rifer in football. In fact it could be said if you put arms, legs and a head on football it would talk exactly like Hyacinth Bucket.

The ‘big six’ – that’s the traditional big six that includes clubs that haven’t won silverware for a decade or more – lord it up like the aristocracy while the rest beg and grovel like their illegitimate offspring. Any signings by Chelsea or Manchester City meanwhile is looked upon with open disgust. Ugh, those nouveau riche oiks splashing their cash like eighties plasterers. Who do they think they are?

The snobbery can be especially extended to players with clubs liking nothing more than to splurge their hard-earned on the continent, on talent that you probably haven’t heard of yet and who you certainly cannot get in British stores. It’s exclusive and only found in a funky little outfit from Bucharest don’t you know.

Which means sadly some fantastic home-grown talent, who deserve Champions League football and to test themselves regularly against the very best, often get overlooked. Unfortunately they’re just a bit lumpen, pale and, well, English.

Here are six players who would instantly and greatly improve the Manchester United midfield, the Arsenal defence, and Manchester City full-back roles. If their name ended in a couple of vowels that is…

Mark Noble

Mark Noble

The Hammers’ irrepressible frontline may be grabbing all the plaudits but Noble is the driving force behind West Ham’s Champion’s League charge putting in eight out of ten performances each and every week.

How Tom Cleverley has 13 England caps and Noble none remains a mystery and I can personally attest that his continued omission greatly annoys two former international midfielders who have been there and bought the t-shirt. They know what they’re talking about and they know just how good he is.

Ryan Shawcross


Has there ever been a domestic player damned with more faint praise than Shawcross? He’s a ‘no-nonsense defender from the old school’. He ‘embodies the full-blooded Stoke philosophy’.  In pubs across the land supporters like to claim the 28 year old could ‘do a job’ for their side and it’s always said with their hands up to deflect the barrage of scoffs that awaits the ever-so-controversial assessment.

The simple facts are these –

If you follow Arsenal, City, United, or Liverpool then Shawcross is twice the player of at least one of your big-money signings. He is defensively more accomplished and miles more committed and positionally disciplined. With the Stoke stopper in your team they would concede less goals per season.

My hands are down. Come at me.

Scott Dann

Scott Dann

Equally as effective on the right or left side of central defence Dann has achieved hero status at Selhurst Park through a series of impeccable displays and we can only imagine the acres of praise afforded to him if those displays had been at the Emirates or Old Trafford.

No matter because the Palace fans know what they have and treasure him accordingly. Dann is robust, positionally astute, and entirely at ease with the ball at his feet and team-mates jostling for space.

It was recently reported that Chelsea were weighing up a summer bid with a view to making the former Blackburn colossus a ready-made replacement for John Terry. Except they won’t.

Steven Davis

The Northern Irishman has established himself as an integral component of the Saints midfield with his energetic showings matched by a neat touch and clever interplay.

With his side twice having been stripped of its top talent Ronald Koeman has learned to rely on Davis to provide stability and excellence for a team seemingly perpetually in flux and though in the summer he swooped for the highly coveted Jordy Clasie it is this under-rated gem he turns to time and again.

Charlie Daniels

Charlie Daniels

With the left-back position being a long-term problem area for Liverpool and Manchester City we can safely assume both clubs will be targeting a player who has taken the Premier League by storm in 2015/16, a player whose stats reveal him to be Mr Consistent defensively while boasting the most successful dribbles of ANYONE in the top flight.

Wait, what? He is 29 and plays for Bournemouth? Forget it then.

Danny Drinkwater

Danny Drinkwater

After just two senior appearances the idea of immediately parachuting Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford into the England squad was proposed to Roy Hodgson. He pointedly refused to rule it out.

Daniel Drinkwater meanwhile has arguably been the Premier League’s most outstanding and consistent box-to-box midfielder throughout this season but when a possible international call-up was recently mooted Hodgson’s (unnecessary) response was to insist he would stick with the players he knew. This bizarre reasoning born from out-and-out snobbery was backed up by Dietmar Hamann who said this week, “Drinkwater is having an exceptional season but I just don’t see what he would add to what England have already got”.

I think the clue lies in ‘exceptional season’ Dietmar.