After watching another uninspiring England performance against Scotland a few weeks ago, you have to wonder what the upcoming World Cup will bring and let’s be honest they will never be world beaters but if we are honest this is the worst England team we have come across in a while.
Let’s start from the back, Joe Hart. Since becoming the unchallenged England number one, his performances have slowly gone downhill both for club and country. He seems he is more interested in being the face of a shampoo company than keeping the ball out of the net. Hart only seems to keep his place in the team down to default with him being only one of three England goalkeepers who are regularly playing for his club in the Premier League, the others being Ben Foster at West Bromwich Albion who seems to have fallen out of favor with 3 Lions coaches due to taking 2 years away from international duty to allow himself to heal up from the niggling injuries that have blighted his career. Norwich’s John Ruddy is the other who despite some impressive performances for his club side, but has never had a chance to prove what he is capable of at international level. You could argue that he deserves a decent shot at the number one jersey as he plays in front of a less solid back four than Manchester City’s Hart.
The back four seems to be getting a bit more settled with Baines and Walker deservedly holding down the wide positions after some impressive performances for their clubs and they both seem to be growing with confidence with every international game they play. The center backs cause me a bit of alarm though. I have never been convinced with Phil Jagielka as an international player, an example of this would be the second goal against Scotland in the recent friendly where Kenny Miller shook him off with ease to score. When you look at the options you have to wonder why Michael Dawson hasn’t added to his solitary 4 caps, he has been rock solid for his club for the last 2 seasons yet hasn’t played for England since 2011 and has grown leaps and bounds since becoming club captain, he reads the game well and is capable of winning the ball in the air or playing a sweeping role to win the second balls that are crucial at international level, especially in and around the box. Elsewhere you have Steven Caulker who has recently left Spurs to join Premiership new boys Cardiff City in search of regular football and has youth on his side at just 21 he has already proven himself to be a capable defender. Phil Jones and Chris Smalling at Manchester United could benefit from regular games for their club as could Martin Kelly at Liverpool and Nathaniel Chalobah at Chelsea, all of whom fans have been hearing about for a few years but first team glimpses have been few and far between.
In midfield the only really guaranteed name on the plane is Liverpool’s Steven Gerrard who deserves to be there (as a United fan it’s not even hard for me to say that.) He leads from the front, fights for his team no matter what colour he is in and has a great passion for his country that is rarely seen now days. You have the likes of Jack Wilshire who if he can manage his injury woes could well become a future linchpin for the Three Lions as he has a great range of attacking possibilities and never shirks out of a challenge, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is going to be a great player in the future and hopefully with this repackaging to a center midfielder that he is currently undergoing this will help him on the road to greatness, he has a great turn of speed and is also built like a tank so can easily throw his weight around in the center of the park. Elsewhere you have have Huddlestone, Shelvey, Zaha and Spearing all of whom have moved to new clubs during this transfer window and all of whom deserve a chance, even if in friendlies to show what they can do as we will never find out players capabilities if we don’t give them a chance. Scott Parker is a great example of moving to further his international prospects as moving to Spurs was probably his best and easiest decision in his life and he rightfully got the recognition he deserved and lets hope that continues with his move to Fulham. I would personally say thank you but goodbye to James Milner who I have never rated in an England shirt and also Frank Lampard who has performed amicably for England but they need to look to the future.
Up front England will always be left with Wayne Rooney as quite simply we do not have another striker possessing his ability looking anywhere near ready to step up to the mark and challenge him for line leader. Much has been made of Danny Welbeck’s lack of goals for Manchester United but you also cannot deny his tremendous work ethic and also the energy he brings to the team. Theo Walcott needs to step up the potential we are always being told he has and start producing on a regular basis for club and country to show he is worthy of a place in the squad. Liverpool’s Daniel Sturridge had a great start to his Liverpool career and has always seemed to be a player who was in need of a chance to show what he is capable of and now he is getting that lets hope his eye for goal gets a lot of exercise. In terms of a big physical threat that England have always played with you have Andy Carroll & Rickie Lambert who made an impressive start to his international career with a goal from his first touch. Lambert is in possession of the big man shirt at the minute and Carroll’s record hasn’t been the most prolific in and England shirt so it may be time for England to either move away from the big man strategy or give Lambert a decent run in the squad.
So there you have it, my breakdown of the squad and where I see it going forward. There is a lot of unanswered questions surrounding a lot of the players I have mentioned but either way I think England fans may be in for a long wait for trophies.
My 25 man World Cup Squad.
Goalkeeprs: Joe Hart, John Ruddy, Ben Foster
Defenders: Kyle Walker, Glen Johnson, Carl Jenkinson, Leighton Baines, Micah Richards, Micheal Dawson, Gary Cahill, Phil Jones, Chris Smalling, Martin Kelly.
Midfielders: Steven Gerrard (Captain), Jack Wilshire, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Wilfred Zaha, Scott Parker, Micheal Carrick, Tom Huddlestone, Jonjo Shelvey.
Forwards: Wayne Rooney, Daniel Sturridge, Rickie Lambert, Danny Welbeck, Theo Walcott