Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The England Selection Debate - who will stay behind?

As an avid follower of English club and international football since my earliest days as a football fan this is probably the team on which I can speak with most authority. Obviously my authority has nothing on Capello’s but it doesn’t stop me from airing my views. That, after all, is the purpose of a blog.

England are one of the few countries not to have named their final 23. They have named a 30 man preliminary squad that needs to cut 7. I will explore who these might or should be.

First of all: a reminder of the 30 man squad – 3 goalkeepers, 10 defenders, 12 midfielders and 5 strikers

James - Portsmouth
Hart – Man City (on loan at Birmingham)
Green – West Ham
(Ashley) Cole – Chelsea
Carragher – Liverpool
Ferdinand – Man Utd
Terry – Chelsea
Dawson – Spurs
(Glen) Johnson – Liverpool
Upson – West Ham
King – Spurs
Warnock – Villa
Baines – Everton

(Adam) Johnson – Man City
Milner – Villa
Gerrard – Liverpool
Carrick – Man Utd
Huddlestone – Spurs
(Joe) Cole – Chelsea
Lennon – Spurs
Parker – West Ham
Barry – Villa
Lampard – Chelsea
Wright-Phillips – Man City

Defoe – Spurs
Rooney- Man Utd
Heskey – Villa
Crouch – Spurs
Bent – Sunderland

The 3 goalkeepers are certain.

Out of the 10 defenders Capello is likely to select 8. In my mind this means Warnock misses out (he is in straight competition with Baines for the second choice left-back slot). The other to miss out will surely be a centre-back as there are six who can play there. The unlucky man is between King, Dawson, Upson and Carragher.

King has had chronic knee problems but is experienced and of high quality. Upson was always considered one of the best young defenders in England but has not been on form in recent years and was involved in West Ham Utd’s relegation scrap. Dawson has come into the reckoning of recent times and was part of a strong Spurs back line that finished 4th in the Premier League. Carragher has been encouraged out of retirement. Purely on central defence he is the weakest but he offers back-up to the first choice right-back Johnson and is a versatile player. Upson misses out for me but I would not be too concerned if it was Dawson that missed out instead.

Out of the 12 midfielders 8 are likely to go to South Africa. Milner, Gerrard, Lampard, Barry (fitness permitting) and Lennon are surely all obvious choices. Walcott is not far behind for me; he is inconsistent but can quickly change a game. I am also of the opinion that Johnson and Cole should both be part of the squad thus leaving Huddlestone, Carrick, Parker and Wright-Phillips behind.

I am convinced at least one of Johnson/Cole will miss out though because the problem with picking both is that it leaves England light on central midfielders. To compound this Capello may decide to use Gerrard as a striker playing just behind Rooney and Barry may not be fully fit. This would leave Lampard and Milner (who has been converted very successfully into a central midfield player this season, although the holding type role he may be asked to play doesn’t come naturally to him). We must also remember that Ledley King is capable of playing the holding midfield role and that Joe Cole can play both on the wing and in an attacking midfield type role.

Why do I want Cole and Johnson? Cole is a very gifted player technically. He might only be a squad member rather than a first team regular at Chelsea, but his skill level is high, one only has to look at the perfect technique he employed for that perfect volley he scored against Sweden at the last world cup. He is not a traditional winger but can play effectively in that type of role and is quite versatile.

Johnson has only just come onto people’s radar recently. I have known of him for about four years now. Initially he was one of those players I had only vaguely heard of after seeing him come on as a substitute for Middlesbrough in the Premiership on the odd occasion. Only a few months after I had heard of him he joined my beloved Leeds United on a one month loan in October 2006 (he did OK for Leeds in his four games for us, nothing flash). Thus at this point I researched him more fully and have followed his career fairly closely since then.

Johnson had another loan spell at Watford in 2007 and from all accounts put in some excellent performances prompting Middlesbrough to recall him. In 2008-09 he played 32 games, half as a substitute as he was behind Downing in the pecking order. In 2009-10, following relegation, he played the first half of the season for Middlesbrough in the Championship before Man City bought him in the January transfer window for 10 million pounds following yet more stellar performances. He has played a decent amount of times for Man City since then, putting in a number of man of the match performances. He is a really exciting prospect and it would mean a lot to his development to go to the World Cup. And were he to play a role from the substitutes bench I would back him to produce something special

Wright-Phillips’ star has fallen, he is no longer seen as one of England’s great hopes. One has to imagine that being bought by Chelsea a few years back, as Man City’s star player (a couple of years before they became rich), and becoming merely a bit part in their squad has stunted his growth as a player. Also, Chelsea do not have the reputation for nurturing their players so it is little surprise. (Have Chelsea done Wright-Phillips out of two World Cup squads then?). Still a good player but not quite good enough for the squad methinks.

The other 3 midfielders I have suggested to miss out are the central trio of Carrick, Parker and Huddlestone. All very decent players but not quite the standard of the players I have picked.

I think however that Capello will choose one of Cole and Johnson and give the other spot to Carrick, my preferred choice out of the three players in the previous paragraph. Johnson may indeed be the unlucky one. If this is what Capello decides then so be it. Another option would be to take one less defender (Dawson) to accommodate the extra midfielder. Could be a good idea but may leave England light on central defenders.

Out of the 5 strikers my choice to miss out is Bent. Second only to Rooney in the Premiership charts he may be but he has never replicated this for England and I don’t see why this will change. I have far more confidence in Defoe to do the business. Heskey I do not rate as a goalscorer but if he plays alongside Rooney there’s no doubt he can help the balance of the team by holding up play, laying balls off and generally making a good partnership. Crouch has very skilfull feet for such a tall man and has a great scoring record for England.

Which 7 would you leave behind? Which 7 will Capello leave behind? Your thoughts please.
In the near future I will discuss my England starting 11. I have some very clear views on that topic.


Hayden said...

I think you leave out Joe Cole, done nothing all season. Heskey should stay at home as well I guess Capello goes with Rooney as a lone front man with Gerrard behind him and negates the need to take heskey.
Carrick is a complete waste of space I'd take Parker no matter what and huddlestone if Barry is injured. Dawson has never played for england so has to stay home.
My seven: Heskey, Dawson, Warnock, Carrick, Joe Cole, Wright-phillips and defoe, no place in the team for him if you play a loan striker.

William Fussey said...

If Barry is completely recovered would you then leave Huddlestone behind and take one of the seven you've dropped?

So we agree on SWP and Warnock. I would have Dawson over Upson and you vice versa. I don't think the fact that Dawson has never played for England is the most relevant point, I rate him more highly but the decision between those 2 is a tight one. Whoever out of those 2 goes won't get any game time unless there are some major breakdowns.

I would leave Bent home rather than Defoe or Heskey. For me this is partially gut feeling and partially the fact he has never been much cop in an England shirt. If Gerrard is behind Rooney what happens if he gets crocked? You have to have your second best combination - and whilst I have never been a Heskey fan there is no denying he works well in tandem with Rooney.

Yes Joe Cole has done nothing all season but we know what he is capable of and he strikes me as more of a big game player than a Scott Parker. Give him plenty of time in the friendlies, I feel he needs the opportunity to show his worth.

I will backtrack on my comment of Carrick over Parker. Forgive me, it was late at night and my brain obviously wasn't working. Parker is much the better player. Still if I were to take him it would mean dropping an extra defender or striker which is certainly a possibility.

Andrew said...

William, you overrate Walcott and Defoe. Bent and Carrick (as a holding midfielder, its not like they have many) for me. Heskey stays as cover but I wouldn't play him. Other than that I agree with you.

William Fussey said...

Andrew, Walcott is inconsistent but he has the ability to do something special. I would never start Walcott but he is a great option for a sub. We can agree to disagree on Defoe vs Bent ;)

The case for the defence: http://www.goal.com/en-gb/news/2873/polls/2010/05/25/1940470/goalcom-uk-poll-which-defender-should-fabio-capello-leave-out-of- : interestingly Hayden the popular vote rates Dawson a lot higher than Upson as well :)

Hayden said...

Yep my mistake there was very early when I typed that comment. I take defoe if Barry is fit. Dawson finished the season well but do you really want a center half playing a 1/4 final as his first match for england? Also Dawson plays for spurs

JoshyT said...

I'm not convinced by Walcott - he's been highly inconsistent this season and has still failed to improve his final ball. Nobody denies that he has pace in abundance, but so do Lennon and Johnson, and both of them offer more. As for Dawson-Upson. Let's note how one of them led his team to the Champion's League, and the other nearly got relegated.

Jamie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jamie said...

In my view I feel on the matter of a holding midfielder it looks as if Barry should make the squad. To cover him I would have Parker over Carrick purely based on form. I agree with you William over Bent being left behind and taking Defoe instead. I feel Walcott will be taken as he does offer added pace and like you say can change a game. It will be interesting to see what line up Capello starts with against Japan

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