Ask Norman

Golden generation, Gunner to Red Devil

June 6, 2013
By Norman Hubbard

If you have any questions on football facts, statistics or trivia, please send them to ESPN's team of football anoraks at and they will try to answer as many as possible.

Paul Scholes, David Beckham and Michael Owen England
GettyImagesPaul Scholes, David Beckham and Michael Owen played together myriad times for England

Four members of England's golden generation (Paul Scholes, David Beckham, Jamie Carragher and Michael Owen) retired from football recently. I would like to know if all four featured together in the same international match(es) for the Three Lions? Yemi from Nigeria asked.

They did, although not in as many matches as may be imagined considering the quartet won over 300 caps between them. Scholes retired from international football in 2004 and while Carragher debuted in 1999, he only picked up two caps in two years. Then all four appeared in a 4-0 win against Mexico in May 2001.

It was the first of five times all four appeared in the same England game; on the first four occasions, however, Carragher came off the bench. The most famous of those was the 5-1 win over Germany in Munich in 2001. There was a solitary match when all four started: a 6-1 victory against Iceland in June 2004.

I remember hearing that no-one who played under Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United beat him after becoming a manager for another team (eg Steve Bruce and Mark Hughes). Fergie has obviously managed other teams before United and while being Scotland's manager he had Kenny Dalglish in his team before pulling out last minute from a World Cup. Did King Kenny play a game under Fergie's command before becoming coach of their fierce rivals? Are there any others? Matti Taimisto asked.

First of all, Ferguson has actually lost five games to sides managed by his former Manchester United players. Bryan Robson was the first to beat his mentor, Middlesbrough winning 3-2 at Old Trafford in 1998. Gordon Strachan, a member of Ferguson's Aberdeen, Scotland and United teams, recorded a 1-0 win for Southampton in 2003, courtesy of James Beattie's goal, and then oversaw a 1-0 victory for Celtic in the Champions League in 2006, with Shinsuke Nakamara the scorer.

The only one of Ferguson's former charges to beat him twice in the Premier League is Mark Hughes, who did a double in his time at Blackburn. They won 2-1 at Old Trafford, with a Morten Gamst Pedersen brace, and 4-3 at Ewood Park, with David Bentley scoring a hat-trick as Rio Ferdinand was sent off, in the 2005-06 season.

Dalglish did indeed play, briefly under Ferguson, becoming the only Scot to win 100 caps when he captained their country to a 3-0 win over Romania in 1986. Dalglish was already Liverpool's player-manager by that point and beat Ferguson for the first time in September 1988. In total, he has beaten Ferguson six times, three in his first spell as Liverpool manager, two in his second and once at Blackburn. However, normally when people talk of Ferguson's former players coming up against him, they generally mean those who represented his club sides. A previous column dealt in greater depth with the number of his players who have gone into management and he has also been beaten by Graeme Souness, another of his Scotland side.

Mikael Silvestre and Robin van Persie
GettyImagesMikael Silvestre and Robin van Persie have played for both Man Utd and Arsenal

Has there been any Arsenal players, other than Robin van Persie, who have moved to Manchester United or vice versa? Philip Clarke from Penang, Malaysia, asked.

When Manchester United bought Van Persie from Arsenal last season, he was the first player they had signed from the North Londoners since Viv Anderson became Sir Alex Ferguson's first recruit in 1986. However, in the meantime, there was one player who made the opposite journey: Arsene Wenger signed Mikael Silvestre from United in 2008.

In earlier years, United signed Frank Stapleton, George Graham and David Herd from Arsenal while the Londoners took Brian Kidd and Jimmy Rimmer south from Old Trafford.

Has there been any team in the Premier League or the other major European leagues that has had no one sent off for a whole season? Zulhafiz from Malaysia asked.

This season every Premier League team picked up at least one red card. The most recent to complete a league campaign without a dismissal was Fulham last year. Before then, it was Liverpool in the 2008-09 season.

The last club to complete a La Liga season without having anyone sent off was Real Sociedad in 2010-11. That same year, neither Brest nor Auxerre had anyone dismissed in the French top flight; neither did Cagliari in Italy's Serie A. In the 2009-10 Bundesliga campaign, neither Borussia Dortmund nor Freiburg received a red card.

A friend of mine says Thomas Muller of Bayern Munich is the son of legendary Bayern Munich goal poacher Gerd Muller. I said he was lying. Who is right? Dav asked.

Your friend may not be lying; he may simply be mistaken. Whichever, though, the reality is that although Thomas and Gerd Muller have both scored goals for Germany and Bayern Munich, they are unrelated. Muller – which means 'miller' – is a very common surname in Germany.