We need to talk about Luis.

Today I was planning to a piece on the poor performance by the England team in the World Cup but then I witnessed something we thought I would never see again. The sight of Luis Suarez biting another player.

Let me preface this by saying that I am a Manchester United fan, but even I appreciate Suarez as a top player and I completely agree with his clean sweep of awards last season as he was phenomenal and almost pushed Liverpool to their first league title. The thing is this time, unlike the others times there are no words of support coming from Liverpool, fellow pundits or anyone. It’s almost as if the patience has run out for the Uruguayan from everyone. There is even talk about Adidas and 888 Poker withdrawing their endorsements with the striker.

So in case you live under a rock what actually happened? Suarez and Chiellini clashed shortly before the goal that ultimately decided the clash and eliminated the Italians, at first look the Uruguayan seemed to run and headbutt the Italian defender and both men went down. The first inkling that something was different from a standard clash in the box was the sight of Suarez grabbing his front teeth as if he had been elbowed. It wasn’t until the second and third replay that I thought hold on a minute, surely not, not again, he didn’t just bite Chiellini did he? The answer is yes, yes he did. It became obvious when Chiellini pulled down his shirt to show 5 teeth marks on his shoulder. The whole thing cast a massive shadow over a big win for Uruguay, the Italians elimination and Pirlo’s & Buffon’s last international game.

So the big question is whats next? Well there is no doubt that FIFA will impose a ban on him that could have potential ramifications not just for country but for club as well as they could put a worldwide ban on him, although this is highly unlikely as it would leave them more open to appeal and reduction under various human rights infringements. If they go down the route of just banning him from all international football it may make him more desirable to teams looking to sign him from Liverpool as they wouldn’t have the burden and risk of him going halfway across the world to play football for Uruguay, so he would essentially have a two week rest every couple of months which would probably make him an even more useful player for the club. As we have already said he risks losing potential endorsements with this latest blot on his copy book, although in his native country he is seen as a bit of a hard man and uses it to trade on his likeness in adverts.

The thing is as well is if this was an isolated incident then perhaps it could be written off as a lapse of judgement but it’s the regularity he seems to do something controversial that would alarm me if I was a Liverpool fan, after all this is now the second world cup in a row that Suarez has done something to cast a shadow on his performances. I have seen various things saying that this is like his way of blowing off when his frustration gets to its maximum, but surely fans would prefer him to go and destroy a team with a magnificent solo goal? or a bit of outstanding play like he showed last season in the Premier League? And if it is the case then why did he not do it last season when the pressure was on Liverpool  in their title run in.

Either way FIFA need to exercise the full force of their power in this instance more than anything to show that they are not as corrupt as they seem. Let me know your thoughts?

Ry

Advertisements

World Cup 2014

So here we are, only a few hours away from the biggest event on the footballing calendar.

After all the hype, scandal, deaths and protests lets hope that Brazil 2014 doesn’t disappoint. But who are some of the teams and players a few members of our writing team think could catch the eye. I will also provide a few players and teams that shouldn’t be written off.

Adam Dell Boy
Winner: Brazil
Player of the Tournament: Neymar
Potential Shock Exit: Portugal

Pete
Winner: Brazil
Player of the Tournament: David Silva
Potential Shock Exit: Italy

Ryan
Winner:Brazil. Although Netherlands would be a good left field bet and Belgium could make it to the semis
Player of the Tournament: Toni Kroos
Potential Shock Exit: England, sorry. Although if Ronaldo doesn’t drive Portugal as he has done on many occasions they could be out at the group stage.

As well as the players highlighted I think Arturo Vidal could continue to build on his fantastic domestic season and help Chile provide a tough test for Spain and the Netherlands. All eyes will be on Neymar and as he showed in the Confederations Cup, he can handle the weight of a nation in an international tournament, but can he handle it on the biggest stage? Romelu Lukaku will be licking his lips and hoping he can win his fitness race before Belgium’s opener against Algeria on Tuesday. This tournament could put him right in the shop window, especially if Mourinho is in a selling mood, also keep an eye out for fellow countryman Axel Witsel who has sparked time and time again at domestic level. Let’s hope it’s Brazil 2014 where he catches fires.

As for teams I’ve already said Belgium and Netherlands are both good “outside” bets for getting far in the tournament and perhaps in Netherlands case winning but who else do I think can do a job? Well one team would be USA, managed by Jurgen Klinsmann and a team that plays a patient game and looks to hit teams on the break, they could prove a real test for all the other teams in perhaps what could be the hardest off all the groups.
The other team to watch is Russia. Built on typical stoic soviet defensive techniques and managed by Fabio Capello who despite his lack of personality is a tactical genius and builds his teams to be fantastic on the basics of the game.

So that’s who we think could be lighting up your TV in the next few weeks but what’s your opinion?

Ry

Why you’d be nuts not to back Brazil at the World Cup.

It might be an obvious choice but for me, Brazil are the clear favourites to win this summer’s World Cup and here’s why…….

That anthem

When watching Brazil on the TV this summer, I guarantee you will find their national anthem impossible to resist. The Brazilian players and their fans sing it with such gusto, you’ll be wishing it was your own national anthem. Thank heavens for ‘God Save the Queen’……..

The fans

Those fans that will make every Brazilian national anthem more of a spectacle than the entire Honduras v Ecuador match, will back their team like nobody else can. The Brazilian fans will be a mixture of passion, noise and colour combining to give Brazil the ultimate home advantage. Oh and there’s bound to be plenty of eye candy in the crowd to keep us boys and the cameramen busy.

20140604-204537.jpg

Neymar

Now is the time for the latest Brazilian superstar to step up to the plate. Surely there will be no better time for the magical Brazilian to emerge from the shadow of his fellow South American Lionel Messi. Get on Neymar to win the Golden Boot and become the Golden Boy of Brazilian football.

20140604-211751.jpg

Brazil nuts are harder to crack

Gone are the days of Brazil being dodgy at the back, they now have quality defenders like David Luiz, Thiago Silva, Dani Alves and Marcelo to count on amongst others. Julio Cesar is still a top level keeper and will be well protected by a solid defence and a powerful midfield.

20140604-212612.jpg

Luis Felipe Scolari


Big Phil is one of the few managers at the World Cup that can truly class himself as a winner. Now in his 2nd spell as national coach, Brazilians will be hoping he finds the same magic that inspired his side to their most recent World Cup success in 2012. That team blew away the opposition and the signs are that history may be able to repeat itself. Scolari will be a massive factor when the pressure rises as high as the Amazon temperature.

20140604-210754.jpg

Recent success

Brazil were mightily impressive in winning the Confederations Cup last summer, comfortably brushing aside the unbeatable Spaniards thanks to a combination of all of the above factors. They’ve proved they can handle the expectation of a nation already, now it’s time to deliver on the grandest stage of them all.

20140604-204802.jpg

@adamdellboy

Redemption – Should John Terry be in England’s World Cup squad?

The 2014 World Cup in Brazil is still a few months away, yet people are already starting to post their own squad selections in anticipation of Roy Hodgson’s announcement. Whilst England look blessed with midfielders(despite Tom Cleverley’s continued inclusion) and wide players, there is a position that I believe will be a key area of concern for the boss.

England’s current central defensive partnership looks to be Gary Cahill and Phil Jagielka, with the useless Chris Smalling and injury prone Phil Jones as backups. Cahill is a player who has improved dramatically in recent years and is enjoying a prolonged spell in the heart of the Chelsea defence. Another big plus for Cahill is his mobility, the guy can cover the ground rapidly and chips in with a fair few goals. For me, he needs a rock solid, aerially strong centre back beside him and none of Jagielka, Smalling and Jones fit the bill. I just see the likes of Italy and Uruguay licking their lips at the prospects of facing him and that’s just in the group stage!!! Perhaps controversially, the best man for the job is former England captain John Terry.

20140321-200015.jpg

The man is enjoying something of a renaissance under Jose Mourinho and is a massive part of the reason that Chelsea sit comfortably at the summit of the league table. Wouldn’t it make sense to build a team around a central defensive partnership that is clearly working at the highest possible club level? England also lack natural leaders in the squad, another box that John Terry ticks in a big way.

There will be many that argue Terry shouldn’t be anywhere near the squad following his alleged racial spat with the Ferdinands, but time has passed and the game has moved on. The only real concern that Hodgson may have is that he’s decided to allow the WAGs to join the squad whilst in Brazil, but surely JT will be on his best behaviour with his missus around!!!

The fact remains, despite the tabloid headlines, Terry is still England’s best centre back and for that reason allow, Roy Hodgson should be drawing on all his powers of persuasion to bring him back into the fold. I know if I was Luis Suarez or Mario Balotelli, John Terry would be the last English centre back I’d want to face.

@adamdellboy

2 Nations Views on their World Cup Draw.

Here at Sat In Row Z we are lucky to have a team of writers who are passionate about the game. Whilst our team is predominately based in England we are also have a talented Belgian team member named Annelies, we thought we would get her view on the group draw for Belgium as well as Elijah’s view on England’s.

    England

The Brazil World Cup 2014 draw held some big surprises as far as qualification went, but the groups are just typical, although due to increased quality in International teams, there are now several groups of death.
England have been lucky really, they fell into a group with Uruguay, Italy and Costa Rica, this is in no way an easy group, but it’s far from the worst. Uruguay seem the most likely to progress with home environment advantage and a very strong team including Suarez leading the line (this is relevant now, it might not be at the end of the current season), but it will be tough between them and Italy. Italy have been one the world’s best teams for a long time and are still producing quality in their youngsters and their senior members of the team still pulling the line. Costa Rica could cause an upset in this group, they are easily the outsiders/underdogs (but they wouldn’t be in the competition if they weren’t a strong team) but if this means that they get underestimated then they could grab a few essential points to make it through, but I can’t see them getting any further than that.
England, well they seem destined to fail next year (especially if a team that seems so strong on the outside, keeps underperforming) but then again, England are a team that do better when they are ruled out (much alike Costa Rica in this group), if they can get a decent result against either Uruguay or Italy, then they might be able to take it through to the knockout phase and cause some upsets.

Elijah

    Belgium

After four years, the World Cup is back! And one of the qualified countries who wrote history in South America before, are back: Belgium! Let’s take a look at their chances in Brazil.
Belgium are seeded in Group H. So are Algeria, South Korea and Russia. Not one of the most impressive groups, but maybe a group with a surprising end. How do the Belgians look at their chances in Group H?

    ALGERIA

Road to Brazil: Algeria were seeded in Group H in the CAF (Confederation of African Football) Qualifiers. They got 15 points out of 18, which made them make it to the play-offs. ‘Les Fennecs’ hope to get further than group stages in Brazil.
We are happy because Belgium can talk about an unbeaten record against Algeria. Their final meeting was a friendly, which ended in a 0-0 draw. But one year after that, the Red Devils won 1-3!
It’s a risk because Algeria still have something to deal with in the world of football. We refer to the World Cup in 1982 in Spain. Algeria beat Chile and West Germany. Algeria would continue to the next round if Austria didn’t lose against Germany. Unlucky Algeria, because West Germany won 1-0. Algerian fans believed the match was fixed and threw money on the pitch. ‘Les Fennecs’ could put the name of justice in football on the map after 22 years.

    SOUTH KOREA

Road to Brazil: The Qualifiers haven’t been easy for South Korea. It was on the penultimate matchday when the Asian Tigers got their ticket to Brazil. The South Korean squad hope for their stars at Bayern Leverkusen (Ji Dong-Won and Son Heung-Min) to perform better in the future, because South Korea finished the Qualifiers with 14 points out of 24.
We are happy because Belgium haven’t lost against South Korea yet. At the 1990 World Cup, Belgium beat the Koreans 2-0 in Group Stages. Eight years later, the Asian Tigers drew 1-1 against Belgium. In 1999, Belgium beat South Korea 1-2 on an away friendly.
It’s a risk because regularity gets rewarded. The 2014 World Cup will be the 8th time in the finals for South Korea, a very impressive number for a country who always had trouble getting out of the group stages. Their last legendary World Cup was on home soil in 2002 and the question is if the tropical weather will inspire the Asian Tigers to write history.

    RUSSIA

Road to Brazil: Russia surprised Europe after keeping Portugal away from a group victory in Group F. The Russians finished the Qualifiers with 22 points out of 30. Aleksandr Kherzhakov lead Fabio Capello and his team to a group victory with five goals.
We are happy because Belgium never lost an international against Russia before. Their first meeting was a friendly in 1996, ending on a 0-0 draw. At the 200 World Cup in Japan, the Russians lost 3-2, which made Belgium continue to the next round. In 2010, Belgium beat Russia 0-2 in a friendly.
It’s a risk because the Russians are capable of surviving the first round of a big tournament. At the Euros in 2008, Russia reached the semi finals. It was Spain who kicked them out of the tournament. It might be good for Russia to perform at Brazil 2014 if they want to earn the name of a worthy host for the 2018 World Cup.

In general, the Belgians believe we can survive the Group Stages. But there’s more than only group stages in this World Cup Campaign. All we know for sure is that it will be another unforgettable month full of emotions and passion!

Annelies.

Who do you think will go further? The Three Lions or The Red Devils?

The problem with England, is it all the manager’s fault?

I was fortunate enough to have missed England’s depressing 1-0 Wembley defeat to Germany, which followed a 2-0 loss to Chile just days earlier. However, on my way home that night I found myself listening to Talksport and to what was a fairly heated debate about the shortcomings of England. Adrian Durham, a man known for his bold and often frankly ridiculous opinions stated that the problem with England over the years has been poor managers, writing off the likes of Sven Goran Eriksson, Steve McClaren(fair point), Fabio Capello(won everything there is to win in the game) and Roy Hodgson.

20131127-171049.jpg

This statement really ticked me off as he went on to say that Bobby Robson and Terry Venables were the only decent managers we have had. Fair enough, they were the only two that lead us to tournament semi finals, but they were competing against teams with 1 or 2 world class players, not today’s mega powers who have a squad full of them. The standard of international teams as a whole is unquestionably higher than ever, but his opinion seemed to sidestep the fact that during this time England as a team have got progressively worse. We have struggled to match the quality of football played by the likes of Spain and Germany, but it comes down to more than simple tactical ineptness.

You only have to look at the England squad to see where the problems lie. In years gone by, we’ve always had one problem position(usually left midfield), but at the minute we have a whole host of problems. In goal, our number one for many years Joe Hart has seemingly lost the plot, losing his starting place at Man City following a series of catastrophic errors. The only thing certain about poor Joe is that he has dandruff free hair. It has meant the focus has switched to his England backups and they are few and far between. The leading contender is Fraser Forster, a regular for Celtic in a league which barely provides a challenge following the demise of Rangers. He’s clearly a talented keeper but you have to question why he never made it at Newcastle if he was genuinely top class. Other contenders include John Ruddy at Norwich, again unproven at the highest level and U21 keeper Jack Butland who can’t get near a game at Stoke.

20131127-170400.jpg

In defence, we seemed blessed with attacking full backs, but question marks remain over their defensive abilities. Glen Johnson in particular is a threat going forward but seems prone to a lapse in concentration when it comes to defending. his alternative Kyle Walker even gets abuse from his own Spurs fans for the exact same reason. Phil Jagielka and Gary Cahill appear to be the preferred defensive partnership, but you can imagine the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi licking their lips at the prospect of playing against the pair. Again reinforcements don’t fill you with confidence, Chris Smalling and Phil Jones have yet to cement their place in the Manchester United team as centre backs yet they’re England’s backups, worrying. The one bonus is they can play a variety of positions which may prove an advantage if injuries strike during the tournament. There have been calls for John Terry to be recalled. But does that really provide a solution that can take us forward and can he be trusted around other players wives!?!?

England’s defensive worries are more concerning when unlike pretty much every other major nation, we lack a genuine defensive midfielder. Some will argue that Michael Carrick can do the job, yet I don’t see him being that destructive force and defensive shield that is so popular with teams today. Spain have Busquets/Martinez, Italy have De Rossi, Germany have Khedira, the list is endless. Sure Carrick can play a nice sideways pass and can slow a game down, but can he protect two centre backs who are likely to be exposed by the best players in the world?

Stevie Gerrard is playing a more withdrawn role these days and it’s clear that his attacking powers are waning. Alongside him in midfield, you only have to read our Twitter timeline to see the constant abuse levelled at players like Tom Cleverley, Jordan Henderson and even Jack Wilshere. The latter needs to step up and realise his potential as he is probably the only man who can provide the creative spark so desperately missing.

In attacking areas it seems we are going to go with Danny Welbeck and Andros Townsend. Again, neither is likely to strike fear into the heart of quality opposition and they will probably spend more time defending than attacking. To be fair, Townsend and Welbeck have had a few good moments in an England shirt this year, but can they do it consistently? Beyond Rooney and Sturridge, we again lack depth with Defoe, Lambert and Jay Rodriguez our current options. We desperately lack an out an out goalscorer in the mould of a Lineker or Shearer and the signs so far are that the Sturridge/Rooney partnership needs plenty of work. Their backups are a long way from international quality in my opinion and the callup of Jay Rodriguez took me by surprise, but they are quite frankly the best we have.

20131127-170811.jpg

So the current crop contains many areas of concern and our younger level squads have not provided much reason to look forward to the future. A lack of English players in the Premier League is killing our national team and as a result our managers are having to pick from a limited group of players. If you look down the lower leagues, more foreign players can be found than ever before, preventing our best young talent from playing regular football. The recent furore about the FA trying to persuade Adnan Januzaj to play for England is a clear indication of where things are heading. The fact is we don’t have enough quality players playing regularly at the highest level and those that are doing seem to shrink in stature when they pull on the England shirt. Maybe it’s because they don’t have to fight for their place in the squad, maybe they just don’t give as much of a shit as some other nationalities do. Watch the passion of the Italian and Brazilian players during their national anthem, then watch ours, a group of nervous schoolboys embarrassed to sing in front of an audience. One thing is for sure, England’s problems run a lot deeper than simply being the manager’s fault.

@adamdellboy

5 Things International Football Could Learn From WWE

How shit are friendlies? They come along, they take away the football we actually care about and they usually end up injuring players that could’ve been doing better things with their time. The battle to get international friendlies scrapped altogether seems to be a futile one, so instead we’ve decided to come up with some ways to spice things up a bit… By borrowing some of the best things about wrestling, such as…

    Stipulation Matches

In wrestling, stipulation matches are used to guarantee some excitement in a match that might need a bit of livening up and there’s nothing that needs livening up as much as international friendlies do.

Sure, we probably can’t have matches decided by someone being put through a table (although the thought of Per Mertesacker chokeslamming Suarez through one is quite appealing…), but we could stick a steel cage around the pitch and have no throw ins or corners, or triple threat matches, where the pitch is divided triangularly and we have three teams playing at once instead, or even something with Elimination Chamber styled timed entrances, so the match starts of 1vs1 before other players are introduced every few minutes in random order. Sure, it might end up that you’ve got a 4vs1 situation at some point, but at least that’d give everyone a half decent excuse the next time England get outplayed by Chile.

    Entrance Music

National anthems are rubbish, there’s no two ways about it. Who wants to hear some antiquated falsification of ‘national pride’ when the teams could come out to something that could really get the blood pumping and the stadium rocking? Germany could come out to Rammstein, Norway to Kvelertak and England to… erm… Craig David?

We could go the whole way and even have them play live. The NFL has live music whenever there’s a big event (even if it was only Tinie Tempah when it came to Wembley earlier this year) and it makes everything just that little bit more special on the night, it won’t solve the pointlessness of the matches, but it would make you feel like you’re getting a good bit more for your money.

    Interferences

“Ibrahimovic gets past Jagielka, he’s one on one with Joe Hart! OH MY G- WHO’S THIS?! SOL CAMPBELL WITH A SLIDE TACKLE FROM OUTTA NOWHERE!!!” It’d be brilliant (and yes, we would bring Jim Ross in for commentary duties), imagine being in the pub watching the game and something like this happened, the place would explode!

There’s always big names at most matches anyway, why not give them something to do?

    Returning Legends

Okay, so Sol Campbell coming back to save the day kind of touches on this already, but you could also have more planned occurrences. No one in their right mind could bring themselves to care about a Italy vs France friendly these days, but if you bill it as ‘MARCO MATERAZZI. ZINIDINE ZIDANE. ONE. LAST. TIME.’ we would all watch the shit out of it.

Of course, this might not be a massive help to England since they’ve not really got any legends who could make a real impact (Neither Gazza nor the team of ’66 are in the best shape right now), but it’s not like the idea of a showdown between the likes of Ronaldinho and Luis Figo wouldn’t be worth watching for the neutral.

    Special Guest Referees

Imagine it: Maradona guest refereeing England vs Argentina, Thierry Henry reffing France vs Ireland. Legends of the game with one last chance for redemption against teams they’ve wronged… Or, of course, they could rub salt in the wound and go the other way, but it’d at least make these games mean something and anyway, it’s not like their bias or influence would really matter, because they’re stupid pissing friendlies that no one cares about!

Ryan De Freitas.

Brazil 2014: My First Belgian World Cup

It has happened. A whole week full of excitement has been rewarded. It’s Friday evening when I get ready for what could be the spectacle of my life. It takes place in Croatia. I’m about to meet some friends in the city to watch Croatia – Belgium on the big screen, together with other people hoping for at least one point. One point is all we need to go to Brazil. The tension is high, even in the local take-away where we ordered some fries and a hamburger. The whole country knows this could be the day.

It was during our walk to the event when Romelu Lukaku scores the first goal of the match. Belgium are leading after just 16 minutes. Soon enough, he scores another one. Lukaku brings us one step closer to Brazil. The country almost exploded with this second goal. We don’t even care about Kranjcar scoring a late goal for Croatia. Belgium explodes as referee Howard Webb brings the match to an end. We have done it. The Red Devils are back in a World Cup!

Brazil 2014 will be my first World Cup with Belgium as one of the teams. I was only six years old when my country was at the World Cup in 2002 and I know nothing about that World Cup. It gave me a special feeling, Friday, after we beat Croatia. It was the first time ever I cried for an international match. Feelings ran high and I sang You’ll Never Walk Alone with the crowd, not even thinking about the fact it’s a Liverpool-thing. No, I sang because I lost control over myself. I didn’t care about people looking at me, thinking I’m drunk (I wasn’t), because everyone in the country was happy. Everyone was celebrating and those who were sleeping have been woken up by the fans on the streets.

The whole country was back alive and everybody, even those who hate football, were celebrating. Belgium are back, and a lot of us believe we can give the world a miracle in 2014! But can we? Can Belgium perform a miracle at Brazil 2014?
Probably every football fan agrees Belgium have a massive team. The relation between staff, players and supporters is amazing at this moment. The fans feel like they’re part of the team and the team gives them what they want to see: good football and victories. Something Belgian fans had to wait for very long. The love for the Red Devils is running high, and some people are even talking about the fact this could end up in something we don’t want. Something we don’t want? Isn’t it allowed to be happy after your country qualified for a big tournament after all those years? The fans have been waiting long enough now and it has become time for Belgium to compete with the rest of the world again.

My vision on our chances in 2014 is not like the others. Most people go too far saying we can win the World Cup. No, we can’t. Not yet. It has been long ago since Belgium played against countries like Spain, Italy or Germany, people’s favorites. It’s a mystery what Belgium’s chances are if they face one of those teams. I’ll be happy to see Belgium making it to the final 16.

Annelies

England’s Upcoming Failure

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

 

Ryan

England’s Footballing Youth.

Another competition, and another upset for England fans, this time it was the England’s Under 21’s team doing what English national teams do best, failing. The youth squad crashed out of the recent European tournament in the group stages and without a win. Is there something wrong with English players, or is this cruel fate?

Well, about 15-20 years ago Germany had a very difficult spell where there wasn’t a lot of youth talent available to them, after noticing this, they made a change, pumped a lot of time and effort into developing their youth training and providing a ground basis for young players to work towards becoming a football player, now they have one of the fiercest and most talented young players in the game.

English youth think of football as a hobby and that’s about it, and I think that’s the problem, with no ambition and no drive, there is no young players. So whose fault is it? There’s a massive contribution to blame for our sudden lack of talent (don’t get me wrong, I know we haven’t won anything on the national stage in a long time, but we’ve always been contenders), and this is from the top flight teams, now I’m not going to name names (cough, Man City, cough Chelsea, cough) but teams in other leagues work incredibly hard on providing a platform for their young players to develop and learn, this seems to have been lost on some of the English clubs.

Most teams in the Premier League search endlessly for talent, young and old, to boost their teams favours in the competition for the title, but do they search in England? Of course not, the Premier League is ram packed full of foreign talent (this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but when Premier League teams haven’t got a shred of English blood in them, there’s something wrong), this leaves a lot less time for English players to get good amounts of first team play, there are very few teams that build from the ground up, providing schemes and training for youngsters as they have in previous years, this could be a possible way of curing our current unfortunate spell.

Elijah