By The Pugilist
June 15, 2010
Did you enjoy England’s debut in the South African World Cup? Do you think it is a coincidence that these unfortunate football situations ALWAYS happen to England?
In my opinion the answer to both questions is a residing NO!
Fabio Capello is a great manager and his record speaks for itself but why oh why when it comes to England do these great managers get it so wrong?
Sir Alf Ramsey is the only manager in England’s World Cup history to get it right and that was back in 1966 on home territory 44 years ago.
Then it all went horribly wrong! Ramsey the new messiah of English football couldn’t reproduce the brilliance of 66’ and failed miserably at the1970 World Cup and then lost the plot in the build up to the 1974 World Cup where England failed to qualify.
Since 1974 apart from perhaps Sir Bobby Robsons’ 1990 World Cup semi-final failure against Germany and Terry Venables’ 1996 Euro Championships semi-final exploits (again on home territory and again defeat against the Germans) every manager has failed and failed miserably.
Joe Mercer, Don Revie, Ron Greenwood, Graham Taylor, Glenn Hoddle, Howard Wilkinson, Kevin Keegan, Peter Taylor, Sven-Goran Eriksson and Steve McClaren, great names that you would associate with great things given most of their achievements at club level. Yet each and everyone of them failed to ignite the fire needed to turn England into World Champions once more.
Out of those illustrious names I still believe Glenn Hoddle was the one England manager who was beginning to make in roads and had it not been for the English press making such a big deal about comments he made in an interview given to the Times newspaper he may have succeeded where so many others had failed.
So where has it all gone wrong? Why has it all gone wrong? I doubt the answers exist but here is food for thought.
The day we lost the great Ryan Giggs to Wales was the start of our left hand side problems. Just imagine what a difference his presence in an England shirt would have made over the years? I blame Graham Taylor for that one. Turnip Taylor should have done everything in his power at the time to convince him the three lions is where it is at rather then keeping Gordon Cowans England career alive.
Since that moment of madness the left hand attacking side of the English national team has been a major problem and no manager at the helm has managed to solve it. Players have come and gone but not one has stood out and had a major impact.
For me the simple solution is Ashley Cole. We arguably have one of the best left-backs in the World in Cole, would it not make sense to change the team formation to a 3-5-2 automatically solving that left side problem? The team then has balance and a player that can run all day. Why do England managers continue to play players out of position when this option makes perfect sense? Roberto Carlos played left wing-back for Brazil for years and did a fantastic job. We have an abundance of Centre-half’s that are very strong, read the game well and can play football when instructed with a cracking array of midfield players to make the 3-5-2 formation a great success.
However, my biggest criticism’s of Capello are these, firstly nothing has changed in the way we play or how we play since he has taken over and secondly the final squad he settled on for South Africa was both baffling and non-sensible.
Let’s start with the keepers. Obviously Rob Green has come under huge scrutiny for his part or lack of in USA’s goal in the opening game, but why are we surprised? Capello has picked two out of his three goalkeepers who had shocking seasons with their club teams. Green who plays West Ham just avoided relegation and David James who plays for Portsmouth wasn’t as fortunate and actually tasted relegation. How can any manager pick two goalkeepers for the national set up that have been playing in struggling teams all season?
Paul Robinson without a shadow of doubt is still England’s best keeper. He kept the most clean sheets out of any English keeper last season and has always been reliable when called upon. People will look back on that fateful night against Croatia, but what people forget is that the ball hit an awful divot in the pitch that would have deceived any keeper in the world at that particular time.
Joe Hart quite rightly should be number two in the pecking order followed by Ben Foster as third choice back up should anything sinister happen to the top two.
Now defensively, Wayne Bridge should have been forced to change his mind about withdrawing from the squad and again Capello should have done everything in his power to change his feelings. Bridge in fact should have been more of a man and not let the whole Terry fiasco affect him, it shows weak character.
Then some of Capellos’ inclusions are just laughable. Ledley King, good defender without question, but the guy can't play two games in a row after a weeks rest, what the hell was Capello thinking? Jamie Carragher initially retired from international football for good reason, he knew he no longer had the legs, why change his mind? And then Stephen Warnock the less said about that selection the better.
Sol Campbell, Jolean Lescott and dare I say it Gary Neville would all have been better options if only for the experience they possess. In no way are any less competent then Carragher, Upson, King or Warnock.
Now onto midfiled, does Paul Scholes ring a bell? Should be first name on the England team sheet. As soon as Capello was confirmed as England manager that is the first phone call he should have made, not leaving it four weeks before flying out to South Africa.
Including Shaun Wright-Phillips, James Milner and Michael Carrick. Helloooo, these guys are not international class, all good Premiership players but that is it. Ashley Young, Adam Johnson and yes Theo Walcott should have all been on the plane instead. All three players posses incredible pace, all three are talented and all three are relatively raw something which is always worth having at any World Cup. The Dutch, the Germans and even the Brazilians have a few raw talents up their sleeves ready to be let off the lead.
Finally onto the forwards and once again one massive question mark. Capello in his defence did get one thing right leaving out Darren Bent. I know he was second top goal scorer last season in the Premier league but he quite simply is not up to international football. Wayne Rooney is the second name down on the team sheet but I strongly believe something isn’t quite right with him. He was poor on Saturday against the USA and wasn’t himself in the warm up games against Mexico and Japan. The question mark is why on earth did he not take Gabriel Agbonlahor? He is strong and gives you something no other striker in the squad has, blistering pace.
So after all that the squad which should have been selected is as follows:
Terry / Lescott / Campbell
A.Cole / Gerrard / Lampard / G. Johnson
Rooney / Agbonlahor
Then you have the squad available for a plan B should you need it being able to revert to a 4-4-2 or 4-3-3.
As is stands I can see USA winning the group (by scoring more goals then us), England coming second and playing Germany in the second round at which point it will be GOODNIGHT South Africa!!!
Every World Cup, every European Championship the whole world writes the Germans off, yet no matter what happens they get a side together that plays football the way we would love to see England play........and that comes down to a manager preparing correctly, knowing his players and building a strong mentality and belief.
I know it is only one game in and the knifes are already out and that after all this we will probably go on and win it. (we can dream can’t we)!! But don’t hold your breathe.