Simon Walsh - It Doesn't Matter
In this day and age does it really matter who is numbered what? I mean really? If you still think that number one has to be a 'keeper and that three a left back then you're living in the dark ages.
You may refer to yourself as a 'traditionalist' however the more apt term is that you're stuck in the past. Nobody really cares any more, and neither should you.
Back in the day when everyone was numbered up "properly" it was fine, however when things began to change, was it really that much of a problem? We'd been doing it in international tournaments for years, either with or without names on the back.
Would anyone say that Paul Gascoigne shouldn't have played in World cup 1990 on account the number nineteen isn't a traditional pick for a midfielder? When Zinedine Zidane wore five at Real Madrid did he become less of a player? I don't think so.
If anything, squad numbers and unique ones at that are a selling tool for the club. David Beckham may have been forced to switch from the traditional seven to twenty-three and thirty-two, but shirt sales continued to boom. To a lesser extent Asamoah Gyan's number three proved to be popular both on Wearside and in his homeland when he was still liked. Where I am in Manchester there's plenty of folks adorning Yaya Toure's fourty-two and previously Mario Balotelli's fourty-five.
Edgar Davids, a truly world-class player has this year opted to wear the number one in midfield as player-manager of Barnet. What does it matter? It doesn't.
Much like age, a shirt is just a number.
Nick Holden - Squad Numbers Matter!
Now, I'm not strictly against players wearing squad numbers outside of 1-11; far from it. I remain a massive fan of Julio Arca sticking to 33 all those years, and think that certain players' affinities with particular numbers for their team (for instance, Ledley King's 26) can be a nice affectation. However, there are certain things about squad numbers that I do dislike. Firstly, players like Nicklas Bendtner and Nicolas Anelka always sticking to 52 and 39 respectively whatever club they're at. Pick a new number at each club and forge some fame at one club in particular for that shirt number!
Secondly, I just think that from an aesthetic perspective I find something slightly off-note about a whole team wearing a collection of random high numbers. If a team has a fair few "traditional" numbers in their "traditional" places then I have no problem with a smattering of higher numbers throughout the team, however when half the side are wearing random high numbers something about it jars with me.
For example our supposed front four of last season were; Johnson 21, Sessegnon 28, McClean 23 and Fletcher 26. To me that just looks intrinsically wrong, like a picture on a wall that is at a slight angle. I just can't help but want to correct the lean! If, for example, Johnson had worn 11 and Fletcher 9 (as they will this season) then somehow for me that front four would have had a pleasing balance to the squad numbers, instead it felt like hanging the Mona Lisa at a tilt. Well, maybe not quite the Mona Lisa. More like a poster from HMV. But still.
Finally, a complete pet peeve of mine is players in wholly inappropriate numbers. Edgar Davids no.1, Arouna Kone and Clint Dempsey no.2, Asamoah Gyan no.3 - I'm talking to you guys! That should be some vague rules on what constitutes a defender's number, and what constitutes an attacker's number. The two should not be allowed to mix.Therefore I'm making the ground rules:
1 - Goalkeeper. Only ever a goalkeeper. Except for if they have just broken through, then the first choice keeper should always have this shirt.
2 - Right back, first choice right back by no means has to have it, but it is a cardinal sin for a defender to use it as his squad number.
3 - Left back, and see the above point.
4 - Centre-back or central midfielder. Not, as Mike continually suggests, the number Fletcher should have taken when he first joined last summer.
5 - Defender or in some cases midfielder. Certainly Zidane gets a free pass on wearing no.5. Because he's Zidane.
6 - Defender or midfielder.
7 - Midfielder (in any position), or any attacker.
8 - Central midfielder or, for suitably stylish players, could be worn by an attacking midfielder/second striker. Would need to look damn cool in shades to pull it off mind.
9 - It's a centre-forward's number, obviously.
10 - Any creative player.
11 - Anyone in midfield or attack.
So there you go. Simple easy to follow rules on squad numbers. And why should you care? Because it's about the aesthetic beauty of the shirt, of course! And because some of us have slight issues.
Which side are you on? Vote in the poll below if you're super-bored and for some reason think any of this matters!