Are these really the best 23 English footballers available?

by Charlie Coffey

Thursday, June 3rd, 2010

The final cut

The chosen few. These are the best 23 English footballers who will represent our nation at the greatest tournament on earth. The only problem is that they simply are not good enough.

That our chances in South Africa seem to hinge on Gareth Barry is not a good start. Then there is Jamie Carragher. The ‘versatile’ savior brought back from the abyss to bolster our rearguard?! Give me a break. If Carragher had been good enough to play for England in his prime he would never have retired in the first place. He is no longer in his prime. The suggestion I heard on Sky Sports News of his being able to ‘do a job’ in central midfield made me laugh out loud and nearly burn myself with an iron (on purpose). That Gary Neville, a man with less agility than Steven Hawking, was considered just shows how much trouble we are in.

Fabio Capello has seen enough of our players now for him to choose Shaun Wright-Phillips over Theo Walcott, and so his decision must be respected. But SWP must have been doing something special in training in recent weeks. Although injury has blighted his season somewhat Walcott showed against Barcelona at the Emirates that he can make an impact against top defenders, and I can’t imagine SWP scoring a hat-trick away in a place like Zagreb as Walcott did in qualifying.

Jermain Defoe is a confidence player lacking just that. Emile Heskey has not been playing regular football and probably should have gone out on loan in January, but has been included because of his proven ability to use his presence as a foil to Rooney; doing the dirty work so the young Scouse star may shine brighter. However, the ‘big man’ role should be Peter Crouch’s to lose given his record in an England shirt.

One positive is the resurgence of Ledley King after three years of international recluse. But are Spurs fans not a little bewildered about his sudden ability to play three times in a week when Champions League football is on offer, then to train and play matches with a suspicious newfound ease once there is a suggestion he might make the World Cup squad? They must also worry that overexerting himself in South Africa could end his stuttering career once and for all.

Lampard can score a lot of goals from midfield but he must remember his team-mates and not simply shoot on sight like at Germany in 2006, where he had the most shots of any player in the whole tournament but did not score once. He has also missed his last two penalties for club and country and must pass that particular mantle on. The World Cup is too important for settling personal scores, or failures to score, as the case is here.

Yes I am being pessimistic, but only about the playing squad. In Capello we have a manager of the highest order, able to pull his players together as a confident unit. Let’s hope he has been studying alchemy as well as he has the opposition. His tactical nous is England’s best hope on their near impossible assault on World Cup gold in South Africa (having said that I bet we still start 4-4-2!).

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  • Stevie

    this is the squad from 2006. Not much difference I’m honest. There doesn’t seem to much youth in the current squad

    1 GK ROBINSON Paul – (Tottenham Hotspur, ENG)
2 DF NEVILLE Gary – (Manchester Utd., ENG)

    3 DF COLE Ashley – (Arsenal, ENG)

    4 MF GERRARD Steven – (Liverpool, ENG)

    5 DF FERDINAND Rio – (Manchester Utd., ENG)

    6 DF TERRY John – (Chelsea, ENG)
7 MF BECKHAM David – (Real Madrid, ESP)
8 MF LAMPARD Frank – (Chelsea, ENG)

    9 FW ROONEY Wayne – (Manchester Utd., ENG)

    10 FW OWEN Michael – (Newcastle, ENG)

    11 MF COLE Joe – (Chelsea, ENG)

    12 DF CAMPBELL Sol – (Arsenal, ENG)

    13 GK JAMES David – (Manchester City, ENG)

    14 DF BRIDGE Wayne – (Chelsea, ENG)

    15 DF CARRAGHER Jamie – (Liverpool, ENG)

    16 MF HARGREAVES Owen – (Bayern Munich, GER)

    17 MF JENAS Jermaine – (Tottenham Hotspur, ENG)
18 MF CARRICK Michael – (Tottenham Hotspur, ENG)

    19 MF LENNON Aaron – (Tottenham Hotspur, ENG)

    20 MF DOWNING Stewart – (Middlesbrough, ENG)

    21 FW CROUCH Peter – (Liverpool, ENG)

    22 GK GREEN Robert – (Norwich, ENG)

    23 FW WALCOTT Theo – (Arsenal, ENG)

  • Mike

    I am fully behind Capello on his squad selection. The man obviously knows more than we do and it’s clear that he’s gone for experience. Italy didn’t win the 2006 WC with youth, they won it with players whhad their last chance to win it. Gerrard, James, Lamps, Terry and Ferdinand- this is their last chance. I’m positive that we’re going to get further than the quarters. Actually I’m definite that we are going to get to the semi’s. I don’t think we will win it but semi’s is still good

  • Doug

    In my opinion, the squad is devoid of pace or anyone in the final third who can deliver a ball with their left-foot! And there I was thinking that England’s best chance was with pace players (Walcott, Lennon, Young and Gabby from Villa etc)…

  • Matt

    On all fairness young has had a poor season, defenders have worked him out, very one dimensional, the same can b said for aggy and walcott, although I still he had some part to play, as did Johnson. Oh well, let’s see what happens, at least we r not getting to excited

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