Under performing, over-paid, over-rated, these kind words describe the state of England’s best footballers. Fabio Capello has his work cut out after the laid back regime under the likes of Keegan, Sven and most recently Mclaren have taken its toll over the years. These so-called “world-class” English players have had it more than easy the past 10 years, now the Italian job is underway.
First casualty is David Beckham; Former England Captain has been dropped purely because of lack of fitness, some say there is room for sentiment in football, (Keegan thinks so) but I disagree, Becks knew the moment he signed for L.A Galaxy that he would risk his international career, as well as his actual club career. Why? Because the standard in America is the equivalent of League 1, some of his peers are semi-pros, not even close to premiership class. Now he is agonisingly one cap short of joining the 100 club, I don’t think we have seen the last of Beckham however he needs to be fit and playing well because come May, he will be 33 and not playing at a higher enough standard to contest at international level. No doubt, David Beckham is still a world class player; he just needs to focus on football instead of being a UN ambassador/celebrity/model/ and put this Brand Beckham crap on the backburner.
Next casualty is Paul Robinson, and let’s face it, he has been pretty awful for a pretty long time. Not even playing under Ramos at Tottenham, his howlers have helped cost England a place at Euro 2008. Robinson needs to lose weight and sort out his reflexes, go back to goalkeeping basics before he can reclaim a place for club & country.
Steven Gerrard was named captain against Switzerland as John Terry was ruled out, he revealed that Capello has installed a winning mentality into the players, lets get real, these guys need more than a winning mentality, they need discipline, decent tactics and they need to focus and they need to understand that no player can walk into the team, every player needs to earn their place. Gerrard has let his standards slip and hasn’t played great in an England shirt for ages. (I am not counting his double against Andorra, he scored but hell, England should be beating teams like Andorra without needing a Stevie G double)
Michael Owen has a great England record, almost 1 goal in every 2 games but Owen’s footballing career for the past 5 years has consisted of injuries, lack of form, lack of games, lack of goals for his clubs. He doesn’t deserve a place in the squad because he isn’t good enough, sure he scores goals every now and then, but Owen starts purely because this country hasn’t possessed a natural goal scorer since Alan Shearer.
Something which has plagued the selection of England teams is the media, former England managers who have tried to keep the press, the fans and the players happy. Fabio Capello will not care for reputations, the word “untouchable” does not exist in his vocabulary however, the fact he hasn’t fully grasped the English language isn’t good but considering he hasn’t got a professional game until September means the man has plenty of time to learn his English.
Call up’s for the likes of David Bentley is encouraging for England, an English player who has great technical ability, vision, a great right foot, and he can take a quality free-kicks, in my opinion Bentley is a more suitable long term replacement for Beckham than Shaun Wright-Phillips .
Jermaine Jenas has been instrumental for Tottenham, a great passer of the ball, aware of his surroundings, drives up and down the pitch and occasionally scores goals too, he will only get better. Upson has been great at the back for West Ham, deserves his call up but will be naturally replaced when Terry recovers.
Owen Hargreaves has 40 caps for England, most of them substitute appearances, his sudden popularity among fans and media alike is mainly due to one good performance against Portugal in 2006 World Cup quarter finals. Whether he should start in debatable, Hargreaves has been injury prone of late and has yet to get his Manchester United career off to consistent start; he was substituted against Tottenham at half time a few weeks back which is a testament to his poor form, he was replaced by Michael Carrick who I believe should start for both club & country.
Carrick executes the perfect pass much like his Manchester United team-mate/mentor Scholes, he is known for his creativity and vision. Alex Ferguson didnt spend £18 Million on him for no good reason. He’s a complete midfielder, he can shoot, cross, pass, defend, tackle, his work rate goes unnoticed; he carries out his defensive duties as well any conventional holding midfielder. Carrick may not be an England Golden boy or a prolific scorer but he more than makes up for it with his dynamic range of passing. However he needs to be more mobile, more of a box-to-box-Roy-Keane type midfielder and dictate the the game on a more consistent basis but if Capello picks him ahead of average Frank Lampard, his quality will flourish.
Everyone is aware of England’s lack of quality up front, Defoe, Crouch, Bent, Owen, Johnson just haven’t done the job at international level. Rooney needs to be more prolific for club and country, his teamwork and work rate is world class, but in front of goal, Rooney needs to score more goals than create and perhaps be more direct and selfish in the box.
I don’t understand why certain players are over-looked in the England set-up, Phil Neville is constantly left out of the squad although he is captaining and leading an exciting up and coming Everton side, Wes Brown has been a great cover for Gary Neville during his absence, and deserved his place against Switzerland, Gareth Barry has been amazing for Aston Villa and a consistent performer but it has taken years for him to get noticed.
The likes of Frank Lampard, Rio Ferdinand, Ashley Cole, Michael Owen embody everything which is wrong with England as a footballing institution, lazy under-par performances, lack of passion, and of course they are under the impression they can walk into the first eleven, attitudes need to change, big name players need to be dropped, younger, hungrier players need to be selected because the reality is this… the so-called golden age of English football never existed, it never arrived, we have won nothing since 1966, even though we have possessed great players such as Paul Scholes, Paul Gascoigne, Paul Ince, Alan Shearer, Gary Neville, Teddy Sheringham, David Beckham, John Terry, Steven Gerrard, Wayne Rooney… the list can go on.
I have to refrain from a personal attack on Frank Lampard, he may be a decent bloke but he’s a player I believe hasn’t got the basic technical skills a “world class” player needs to possess, he hasn’t got a first touch, he isn’t particularly quick, he needs to lose weight, hasn’t got the ability to spot a pass, he shoots and hopes and mostly scores for Chelsea but a player who shoots 100 times a match, is going to grab a brace. His good points are this; he rarely gets injured, he’s determined to get on the score sheet. And that’s it. I feel there are nearly ten English players ahead of Lampard in midfield, and if Paul Scholes hadn’t retired early, he wouldn’t stand a change against the ginger genius. Tom Huddlestone, Jermain Jenas, Gareth Barry, Michael Carrick, Owen Hargreaves, Scotty Parker, Jamie O’Hara, Steven Gerrard, all of the above are superior to him and he just isn’t good enough, I feel his luck is about to run out and at 29 years old, the next tournament he will be 32, I think his time is up.
England do have a great wealth of players, some are overrated, some are underrated, unfortunately some are ridiculously injury prone, Ledley King, Jonathan Woodgate, Kieron Dyer, Michael Owen, Scott Parker to name a few.
I feel England need to change instantly under this new era with Capello, if we are to qualify for a major championship let alone win a one.