It's Up For Grabs Now
Saturday, February 25, 2006
With Clive Woodward steadfast in his motives for moving from the British Lions to football coaching, why shouldn't Sky make out Sven's headed the other way?
Sunday, February 19, 2006
We know we did an England squad manque back in October, but with friendly season starting in the middle of next week and the squad to face Uruguay next Wednesday announced tomorrow we thought we'd take a more thorough approach. Sven says he knows up to twenty of the squad already, so let's take as our starting point the 23 named for the friendly against Argentina: Robinson, Green, James; Young, Bridge, Konchesky, Campbell, Ferdinand, King, Terry; Beckham, Carrick, Cole J, Gerrard, Jenas, Lampard, Neville P, Smith, Wright-Phillips; Crouch, Defoe, Owen, Rooney. Ashley Cole, Gary Neville, Jamie Carragher, Owen Hargreaves, Chris Kirkland and Jonathan Woodgate were all missing injured.
So, the goalkeepers look fair enough - James will be preferred to Kirkland, we suspect, on both international experience and first team games played - and the only real debate with the four strikers now is if Darren Bent is preferred to Peter Crouch, and after the way he worried the Argentinian defence we suspect Crouch will get the nod. Seven defenders and nine midfielders (counting Phil Neville as a defensive midfielder) in that squad but we'd go for levelling the numbers up, Ashley Cole for Konchesky, Gary Neville as the other defender in for, just to make it easier to follow, the luckless Alan Smith. We wonder, though - could Jamie Carragher come in for Luke Young? The Carragher bandwagon has been rolling steadily over the course of the season but while he'll find it hard to knock one of Campbell, Ferdinand, King and Terry out of the squad he can play full-back and Charlton haven't had the safest of seasons defensively. Jonathan Woodgate will have to wait for injuries, which seems odd given his renaissance in Madrid but not playing an international since the end of March 2004, when he started in Sweden, will count against him. Anton Ferdinand will justhave to wait.
Which leaves the midfield. The traditional starting four are all guaranteed places, and with King classed by us as a defender they have another option already settled which leaves four places open to, we reckon, eight live candidates, assuming Sven isn't really going to surprise us and use one of the next three friendlies to properly blood Nigel Reo-Coker or Aaron Lennon, although if he does, and the whisper is that the former isn't too outlandish a prospect, we could find ourselves very wrong. The eight include Scott Parker, who with Smith gone we suspect will get named in the Uruguay squad as reward for a season when he's been regarded as Newcastle's most consistent player but will face just too many obstacles to immediately be considered for the trip to Germany. Could Kieron Dyer's liveliness back from injury sneak him ahead of Shaun Wright-Phillips, who's not been all that consistent at international level (see Northern Ireland) and doesn't get the games? Will Jenas still be preferred to Carrick? Could Phil Neville's improved form see him get the nod instead? Does anyone still like Owen Hargreaves, who's been troubled with injuries of late? Shall we just assume Kieron Richardson's not coming back any time soon? We'll go Dyer and Wright-Phillips for attacking options plus Neville and Carrick, Michael sneaking ahead of Jenas due to his new club competition in the form of Danny Murphy, another player whose time may have passed through no fault of his own. Right, Sven, that's your job done for you:
Robinson, Green, James; Neville G, Cole A, Bridge, Campbell, Ferdinand, Terry, Carragher, King; Beckham, Gerrard, Lampard, Cole J, Carrick, Neville P, Dyer, Wright-Phillips*; Crouch, Defoe, Owen, Rooney
* Reo-Coker if wet
Tuesday, February 07, 2006
Learn Contradiction With Rafa Benitez
"People talk about who will be the next national manager and for me he is a very good option"
"To talk now so many months ahead of a competition shows no respect for the current manager."
Monday, February 06, 2006
Juventus' Fabio Capello and Pavel Nedved on thin ice, ho ho. It won't catch on just because British players can barely talk about football with authority, or indeed themselves.