Sometimes you need that kind of ‘utility player‘ to provide your squad with the cover it needs to sustain its talent. And Anthony Vanden Borre is a case which blows this low-cost thinking out the water!
When you think about it, the concept of a ‘utility player‘ is an inherently negative one – as it seems to suggest that the reason for one’s inclusion in the team is merely for the fact that they can play in a number of positions. Therefore, that old adage of being a ‘jack of all trades; and a master of none‘ seems to come to the fore of one’s mouth far more often than it should here …
Nowadays, players like James Milner or Liverpool or Stuart Dallas of Leeds United are brandished with that term; where often their technical capabilities are pushed to the background in relation to their versatility and ‘usefulness’ which comes to the fore.
Which, particularly in Milner’s case, is incredibly unjust – for he possesses skill in a number of areas that many professionals at his level could only dare to dream of having in one. Thankfully, it seems as though Football Manager realised this when coming up with their 2007 edition of the wonderful game …
In 2006, they gave us a little whiff of the youngster (depending on which database you chose to work with), but in 2007, we saw the fully fledged powers of Anderlecht and Belgium prodigy, Anthony Vanden Borre. And trust me when I saw that this lad was the saving grace for us all!
Capable of playing alongside the back line in pretty much any position, Anthony Vanden Borre was as stable, consistent and technical as they come. Moreover, his physical attributes enabled him to take to the wing-back role with aplomb; as his crossing ability from deep was capable of opening up many defences in that game – only for his recovery pace to bail him out of trouble should he find himself a fish out of water.
As mentioned by the HITC Sevens channel here, Anthony Vanden Borre was the kind of player that you needed to sign – provided that your club was of a certain stature (first or second division of English football would do the trick). Not least because he’d only set you back between £3-5million and would pay you back with interest after the first year or so.
Either: you’d stick him in his favoured right-back or holding defensive midfield position (which always seems to be the way with modern full-backs), and allow him to develop the way the FM gods intended. Or; you hang onto him for a year or two and sell on for a profit to a larger side for more than 10x your investment. Whichever choice you make, Anthony Vanden Borre must easily rank as one of the greatest ‘bang for your buck’ transfers in the history of Sports Interactive’s great game. And I’ll be darned if anyone would dare tell me otherwise!