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Interviews

MY XI | Jonathan Macken

25 April 2020

The next former pro to star in our 'My XI' feature is Jonathan Macken, who made over 100 appearances for Barnsley in all competitions.

After joining on loan from Derby County in 2007, the forward made that move permanent in 2008 and spent a further two years at Oakwell before moving onto Walsall.

Prior to his stint in South Yorkshire, Macken made his name at Preston North End and then signed for Manchester City in what was then a club record fee back in February 2002, where he helped Kevin Keegan’s side to promotion from Division One.

From Eastlands, he transferred to Crystal Palace before a loan spell with Ipswich Town. Here, he discusses his all-time team of players he has played alongside.

 

GOALKEEPER – LUKE STEELE
I played with quite a few and it’s a difficult one because I played with Peter Schmeichel at Man City, but he was only there for a while. So, you think, ‘Do I do that or the longevity?’. Realistically, he’s probably the greatest goalkeeper I’ve ever played with, but I only played with him for a certain amount of games. Obviously, David James who I thought was an excellent goalkeeper as well and David Seaman, who was only at City for a short while. You could still see the qualities they had in training, especially Schmeichel. We played Chelsea and I think they beat us 5-0, and honest to God, it should have been 10 or 15 – the amount of world class saves he pulled off that day and he was 40 at the time, but he was the only City player who got clapped off at the end of the game. Luke Steele stands out, though – I thought he was an excellent goalkeeper and he’s gone onto great things. He was only young when he came in at Barnsley, but he’s played well and gone onto have a fantastic career, so he’s up there with the best I’ve played with.

Luke Steele in action for the Reds

RIGHT BACK – GRAHAM ALEXANDER
There have been a lot and someone I thought was an excellent right-back was Stephen Foster. But you look at Graham Alexander and he’s had a fantastic career – he was such a talent on the ball and you knew if you got a penalty or free-kick, he was going to score it. His forward play and reading of the game was second to none as well. He’s gone into management and is doing tremendously well down that path too.

CENTRE BACK – RICHARD DUNNE
He was probably underrated by many. In players terms, he was thought of very highly, but I suppose, in terms of other people, I don’t think they rated him quite as highly. He was a full international and in his last couple of seasons at City was phenomenal; he was made captain and was a fantastic player. I remember playing against him, coming through the youth teams as well. He won City’s Player of the Season four times in a row, which just goes to show you how good he was and everyone associated with the club and Ireland knew what a fantastic talent he was.

CENTRE BACK – STEPHEN FOSTER
It’s a tough one and a toss-up between Mark Hudson and Stephen Foster. They’re both captains in their own right and excellent players. With Fozzy, every day he’d give 110 percent, in training he’d give 110 percent; you always knew where you stood with him and he was a very good player as well. The same with Mark Hudson, but I’ll go with Fozzy.

Stephen Foster clears past Manchester United's Michael Carrick 

LEFT BACK – MICHAEL TARNAT
I don’t think you’ll get many better than him – an unbelievable talent. I’ve got a team full of free-kick takers here. In the Tottenham Hotspur game, the FA Cup game, I think he set three of them up or they indirectly came from his build-up play; he crossed it in for me for the winner.

CENTRAL MIDFIELD – PAUL MCKENNA
This was another tough one and I’m torn between a few people, but I wanted someone tricky. I was with him at Preston and, once again, underrated and had a great career. There’s probably more talented players that I played with, but he achieved quite a lot and he’s another captain – you need leaders in your team if you want to be successful.

CENTRAL MIDFIELD – EYAL BERKOVIC
I’ve got to put him in, unfortunately over Ali Benarbia. It was a toss-up for who was the best; Ali was tremendous. But I think Eyal was equally as good but, in my opinion he just tops it a little bit for me. He gave everything and was one of those who would go past players, go around the goalkeeper and then square it to me to put it in, so I just loved those type of players. I thought Eyal was a fantastic talent. That’s arguably what that Man City squad was at the time – a lot of underrated players, who were fantastic, but outside of the fans and the players, they weren’t really well thought of.

Eyal Berkovic skips beyond Leeds United's Lee Bowyer

CENTRAL MIDFIELD – SEAN GREGAN
Once again, he was an amazing talent and an unbelievable captain – everywhere he went he was captain – and he was underrated in terms of his ability. I played with him for five years and he was such an inspirational character and he had charisma. Really, he was what a leader and captain should be about and he inspired people by that.

FORWARD – DAVID HEALY
Personally, we built up a great relationship and he’s played for some fantastic clubs. He scored goals wherever he went, but his movement in and around the box was second to none and his finishing was incredible.

FORWARD – NICOLAS ANELKA
An unbelievable talent on his day; he could score from anywhere. I played two years with him and, looking at the teams he had and the players he played with, he probably didn’t do himself as much justice as you’d have thought. But, wherever he’s been, he’s made an impact and scored a lot of goals.

FORWARD – ROBBIE FOWLER
I wanted a left footer to put up there. He wasn’t spectacular when he came to City but he was by no means terrible – he was such a great player throughout his career. In training, you could see what he had and he was an unbelievable player.

Robbie Fowler fires home against Southampton

MANAGER – DAVID MOYES
I was with him at Preston for five years and you could tell he’d go onto bigger and better things. Coaching-wise he was unbelievable; he knew what he wanted and expected from you. The tempo in training was ridiculous at times and the atmosphere at the club made it a great place to be, and he’s been a very successful manager.


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