A ‘provisional’ English football squad of 26 has been announced by Roy Hodgson for Euro 2016 in France this June. He talks a good game, and certainly did so at the press conference, but it will come to no surprise to readers of this blog that the view here is that not only is the squad selection inadequate, it nevertheless will all be in vane anyway. Half the people are not happy with the squad chosen, but that is no surprise either when major players from well supported clubs lose out on selection, is it?
It is also no surprise that Hodgson’s blue eyed boy and captain Wayne Rooney is in the squad, is it? No, despite the fact that he missed a large part of the end season through injury and is no longer being considered a first choice striker anyway, he nevertheless keeps his place. If he had two broken legs and a pacemaker the Manager would still keep him on and indeed play him in goal if necessary. Make no mistake Rooney was a very good player, has scored a shed load of goals in the past (but few this season so only 27th in the pile), but has never been a great player, indeed never world class, and indeed he is still a decent player although nowadays is well past his best. While loyalty to him is commendable, and many pundits are also, he is not worthy of a place so Hodgson’s determination to play him no matter what, will prove to be England’s Achilles heel, wont it? Rooney has failed to perform time and time again in the big competitions and so it will prove in France, without doubt, eh?
It is obviously clear that Hodgson is equally determined to take and play ‘jack-the-lad’ self inflicted injury prone nightclubbing midfielder Jack Wilshere and that is folly, surely? The guy has been out injured all season except for the last few games when he hasn’t even played a full match. The player is anything but match fit let alone selectable for a major tournament, and is not needed by England. This Manager has fouled-up in the past by taking injured or not fully fit players to major finals, but he never learns, does he? He should take a leaf out of Spain’s manager’s book, who has left the likes of Costa, Mata, and Torres out. Moreover, though without doubt Wilshere is an accomplished player, the man is a bad apple who courts trouble with off-field antics and scrapes that become a major distraction – his most recent escapades include,. smoking, swearing, brawling, a Police warning for drunken spitting at a taxi driver, and just last month being dealt with by police after being thrown out of a nightclub at 2am. [In the last four seasons Wilshere has missed about a thousand days and a hundred and fifty club matches alone]. If Wilshere goes and say Danny Drinkwater gets dropped that will be a double whammy for England’s chances, won’t it?.
Another midfielder in but not worthy of a place now is confidence lacking big price tag Raheem Sterling, who is only just back after injury after a poor lack-lustre campaign overall, when his sparkle dramatically dimmed since jumping ship from Liverpool to Man City. In France England needs good players on form and not off form, nor indeed average players on form.
The bizarre inclusion of the 18 years old new wonder-boy Marcus Rashford is akin to 17 year old Theo Walcott being selected for the World Cup squad a decade ago – he never ever got a kick of the ball there and the experience probably damaged him rather than developed the then kid – he is not even selected for the current squad. Rashford is certainly a talent to look out for, but now is not his time nor place, is it?
England’s squad is full of bit players because there is a dreft of world class players these days so we probably can count only one (all brought about by the Premier League being swamped by mercenary EU and foreign players so English ones don’t get a chance, do they?
Two strikers included on form are top Premiership scorer Harry Kane and second Jamie Vardy, so they cannot be denied a slot, but the problem here is that neither is world class and they are frightfully light on international experience. Kane only made his debut appearance for England a year ago so has just 10 caps (4 goals), while Vardy is even more recent with 6 caps (2 goals). They can be expected to do well in the group stage, but it will be a different matter when they are up against the big boys in the last sixteen if England gets that far, surely?
It is an inescapable fact that striker Jermain Defoe is an old class act whose goals this season certainly have saved Sunderland from relegation, yet despite his England experience of ten years 55 caps (19 goals), and being the Country’s eighth top scorer this season, he is totally ignored by Hodgson, who prefers the likes of Daniel Sturridge, albeit a proficient striker but one who has been overtaken by others, and one with a questionable fitness record to boot (only 14 league games played in the season). Defoe is the kind of player to bring on as a sub to grab a goal out of nowhere. But this Manager is bloody useless when it comes to re-jigging his team when necessary and bringing on substitutes, isn’t he? [Defoe was only on the standby list for Hodgson’s World Cup squad 2 years ago].
Another striker that England really needed in the pack to provide an effective aerial target man option, is battering ram centre forward Andy Carroll, who’s exceptional world class heading ability could have provided that elusive goal when needed. It is true that he has only recently shown top form, but he still scored more goals this season for West Ham than Rooney did for Man U, didn’t he? [He was only on the standby list for Hodgson’s World Cup squad 2 years ago].
England’s big problem is that they have a fragile if not feeble defence, so they might not be saved by world class goalkeeper Joe Hart, and while we are told by Hodgson that he has a glut of strikers, the proof of that will only be known at the Euro tournament, won’t it?
At the Group stage England are up against Russia, Wales, and Slovakia with two teams certain to advance to the knockout stage, so England is expected to progress, aren’t they? However, Wales could prove the stumbling block as most expect England to lose to them because Wales will be fielding superman striker Gareth Bale, who is almost certain to score however well England perform, eh?
[Before the real test starting against Russia in France on 11 June, England have three warm up friendlies, which may test a bit of player fitness, but that is all, surely? Turkey 22 May/ Australia 27 May/ Portugal 2 June]
ENGLAND EURO 2016 SQUAD [3 players to be dropped before finalised by the month end]
Goalkeepers: Joe Hart, Fraser Forster, Tom Heaton
Left-backs: Danny Rose, Ryan Bertrand
Right-backs: Nathaniel Clyne, Kyle Walker
Centre-halves: Gary Cahill, Chris Smalling, John Stones
Midfielders: Jordan Henderson, Jack Wilshere, Eric Dier, James Milner, Danny Drinkwater, Ross Barkley, Raheem Sterling, Adam Lallana, Dele Alli, Fabian Delph, Andros Townsend
Forwards: Wayne Rooney, Harry Kane, Daniel Sturridge, Jamie Vardy, Marcus Rashford
italic =>almost certain to go
blue=>only 12 out of 23 in Hodgson’s squad 2 years ago for Rio World Cup
purple=>only 1 out of 7 ‘on standby’ in Hodgson’s squad 2 years ago for Rio World Cup