This one had to be called Number 1

Welcome to A Numbers Game, a study, critique and lament of football shirt numbers. To set our stall out from the start, we favour an adherence to the traditional numbering systems, but, while the occasional quirk may be tolerated, the really ‘out there’ stuff is a big no-no. We’ll keep it simple to start with, reproducing the letter we have printed in the current issue of When Saturday Comes:

Upon his return to Chelsea, it was announced that Didier Drogba would wear number 15, as he did when he first signed in 2004.
Then, the day before the start of the season, the club revealed that Oscar had inherited Frank Lampard’s number 8, freeing up 11 – the number Drogba had switched to in 2006.
The collateral damage? Mohamed Salah had moved from 15 to 17 to initially accommodate Drogba but there was no reversion made for him and 15 now remains empty. Does Drogba feel guilty in the slightest?

5 thoughts on “This one had to be called Number 1

  1. No – Salah appreciated that 15 was a centre-backs number and that it should be kept free for once John Terry or Gary Cahill finally came to their senses 🙂


      • As an Arsenal fan, I know it’s the thing, but I always get annoyed that our 15 goes to midfielders. I always want to swap the Ox for someone like Chambers who doesn’t suit 21 imo.

        It just looks wrong to me. I think mostly it’s the fault of Thuram, Vidic, and the English national team.. Sergio Ramos for Spain, De Boer for Holland, Dunne for Ireland, Pepe in 2008 for Portugal, Keown for England in 2002, King in 2004, Carragher in 2006, Lescott 2012.. It just seems right. I think it’s part of the extension that numbers ending in 5 shouldn’t be in midfield unless your Argentinian or Michael Essien.

        I did enjoy Milan Baros wearing 15 for the Czech Republic in 2004. Goalkeepers wearing 15 are the worst though.


  2. What would you normally consider to be your standard 2nd string numbers in a 442? I’d go something like:

    18 15 23 19
    20 21 16 14
    17 12

    With 16 holding like Carrick and 21 attacking like Silva. 17 and 20 can swap maybe.

    It’s tough though. I feel 12, 17, 18, 19, and 23 are fairly mobile. but don’t you dare let me see you give 12 to a defender (CB especially, but RB included – looking at you Lauren).

    I do have a soft-spot for a Nesta-ish 13 at CB and a Barthez-ish GK at 16.

    I can just about tolerate a GK at 12 though after Toldo and Julio Cesar.


  3. Interesting question! Once on FM, my second team was like this:


    But I have to say that it didn’t make feel fully at ease. I do like 22 as a goalkeeper or else a right-back, 16 is acceptable for the goalkeeper too as is 13 but, while 12 is the favoured continental number, I never really do it.

    19 has to be an attacker or a winger (preferably right), 17 and 20 are centre-backs in my book, 16 fits at central midfielder. I don’t really like 18 so generally the back-up left-back ends up with it and 21 is another that fits on the wing. I have to disagree on 12, I’d think of it as a multi-purpose defender.

    Edit: Just checked my current FM game (Cork City in 2043!) and I haven’t always followed my rules. These are first and second XIs:

    ———1———–|———— |———16———-
    4—–2—–5—-12|———— |27—-14—–17—–3
    —–15—–6——–|———— |——-8—–20——
    -7——10——11-|———— |-29——13——-18-
    ——–21———–|———— |———19———-

    9 is a centre-forward who can play on the right or left of the three, 22 is a right- or left-back, 23 a winger who can play on both sides and 24 is a defender/defensive midfielder. 25, 30 and 35 are reserved for goalkeepers.


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