There is a site called Sportige.com* that produces lists each year of the best full backs in the world.
The latest edition has Chelsea’s Ashley Cole and Manchester United’s (er, disgraced) French international Patrice Evra above the rest at left back and Dani Alves, Barcelona’s Brazilian defender, in top place at right back. Very honourable mentions for Sergio Ramos, Phillip Lahm and Maicon (Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Inter Milan respectively).
All pale into shades of nothingness when compared to the scintillating new sensation that goes by various names: Phil Bardsley, Wee Shuggie McBardsley and now – with thanks to Jeremy Robson of this parish – Bardinho.
His two recent cracking goals, the winner at Aston Villa and the opener against Chelsea at home, add to an utterly revitalised consistency in his play as a whole that has been evident since, well, since, we thought he was the last man Steve Bruce ever wanted to see in the first team changing room.
The transformation has been remarkable. And it has been noticed. Take a quick look at these comments about our new hero:
All hail Phil Bardsley. What a player he’s become! I keep on harping on about belief, but Phil seems to have a new found confidence in his ability and can actually play it out of defence as opposed to humping it up pitch. He’s got to be worth about £6m now!
Bardsley has been a complete revelation and he is becoming a cult figure like Bally, Benno, or Dickie Ord. His transformation is astonishing when you consider that he was an average right back moved to a position in which he was clearly struggling to adjust. He’s probably been our most consistent performer all season and his passion inspires those around him. He’s shown that we don’t need to sign a left back now as he’s better there than he ever was in his “natural position”. Have you not seen Bardinho’s goal Bill? Tremendous. He received the ball in his own half!
I just now went looking for it, Jeremy, and Bardinho is right! What a lovely run, confident, unhurried, beautifully taken. It was as if he knew as he started his run, that this one was going into the net.
Since getting on the score sheet at Villa he’s looked more confident and relaxed about it. He reminded me of one of my all time favourite players Stuart Pearce with that last night. He has to be our player of the season the way that he’s turned it all around.
Bardsley’s goal was a belter, not just the finish across Cech, but the run and the sidestep, which were reminiscent of Micky Gray or Lennie Ashurst at their best. He is by far the most improved player in the club and is a great advert for the virtues of the typical English player; what he lacks in technique he makes up for with sheer effort and concentration. Compare him with the wretched Boswinga – all style and no substance.
Getting Bardsley on the back of my shirt after his Villa goal was the best £18 I ever spent.
David Harding, Chelsea fan
I have always been impressed the few times I have seen him by Phil Bardsley. I like unobtrusive, go-about-their-business full-backs. At least he appears like that when I have seen him live.
I’ve been eating my Weetabix for breakfast every morning!. When the chance comes along to shoot I like to take it and fortunately for me in the last few weeks a couple have gone in. That makes up for the ones over the last three years which have gone everywhere! It was nice to get on the scoresheet and grab a goal. Yes, it was a disappointing result in the end, but that’s how it goes.
We know we need goals from other areas and it’s everyone’s responsibility to chip in. Fortunately for me and the team I’m helping out and the other lads have to do the same.
* Click here to read sportige.com’s 2011 edition of its annual look at the best full backs in the world