How do you choose the best of the best? Who makes it into your Favourite XI? Which players are a shoo-in, and which ones are beyond the pale?
These are the questions that dominate football from the coaches’ room at the world’s biggest clubs to the pub where fans debrief after a game. One person’s luxury is another’s first choice. We all think we know best.
That’s why it was so important to give Isuzu UTE A-League fans a significant role in choosing the players whose form and pedigree should be rewarded with a place in the 2022 All Stars squad.
Selection is designed to be an honour, and something to be earnt.
But any football team is ultimately led by its coach and so it’s equally only right that the head coach of the All Stars – this year revealed to be Dwight Yorke – gets to shape the squad to reflect their own brand of football, with the input of a backroom of local coaching talent who know the A-League in detail. Their identities will be revealed imminently.
The composition of the All Stars squad will become clear over the next two weeks, beginning with the shortlist of 65 players who know they are in contention and could be called for duty in late May.
These names, unveiled today, were chosen by a panel of nine experts, all ex-players who are members of the panels that vote for prestigious awards including the Johnny Warren Medal.
From today fans will be able to choose their Best XI from those 65 names; picking a goalkeeper, four defenders, three midfielders and three attackers in a 4-3-3 formation. The highest polling in each of those categories by the time votes close on May 12 will be the first 11 names in a squad of 30, with the next two coming as the two players – of any position – receiving most votes outside that initial list of 11.
Another 15 players will then be chosen by Yorke and his assistants, and another two by A-League Commissioner Greg O’Rourke, ensuring that every club is represented and that no club has more than five players in the 30 that is announced on May 19.
Once the identities of the two teams in the A-League Grand Final are known, their players in the All Stars squad will be given “non-playing” status – keeping the honour of being part of the cohort of All Stars chosen for this year.
The other 20 or more – possibly augmented by one or two coach’s call-ups – will then assemble in Sydney for a camp like no other, preparing to join sides with players who are normally their opponents to take on the might of Barcelona.
So who earns your votes? Which players have caught your eye this season and demand selection? The debate starts here.