It has been a mixed reaction from fans and the media to Roy Hodgson’s England squad selection for Euro 2012 but it would appear that the vast majority are giving the 23 man squad the “thumbs down” with suggestions that it will not be good enough to qualify for the knock-out stages of the tournament.
Question marks have been raised over the inclusion of all John Terry, Stewart Downing, Frank Lampard, Andy Carroll, whilst conversely, similar questions have been asked over the omissions of Rio Ferdinand, Peter Crouch, Micah Richards, Aaron Lennon and Adam Johnson.
Of course everybody is entitled to an opinion but surely Hodgson must have realised that this was an opportunity to bring in a number of young players and dispensing with those older players who have failed at so many times before and are unlikely to be involved in major tournaments in the future.
The selection of Terry over Ferdinand is particularly surprising in light of Terry’s impending court case for allegedly racially abusing Ferdinand’s brother, Anton. If Hodgson was to also consider Terry’s thuggish foul on Barcelona’s Alexis in the Champions League Semi Final and his woeful display in Chelsea’s league game against Liverpool last week, then no-one would have been surprised to see him dropped. As it stands though, it would appear that Hodgson has sided with Terry over Ferdinand in the quest to try and keep peace in the dressing room and with both Chelsea and Man Utd equally well represented in the squad, this may not be guaranteed!
Lampard’s inclusion makes no sense at all as all it will do is raise the same old question of whether or not he can play in the same midfield as Steven Gerard. The two have never performed alongside each other before and with Gerard being named captain of the squad then he will start with the soon to be 34 year old Lampard either sat on the bench or raising questions about Hodgson’s ability to be proactive in his approach to bringing about change in the England team.
At best, his selection of Stewart Downing is foolhardy. The winger has not made a single assist or scored a goal for Liverpool this season so selection on form cannot be the excuse for his inclusion. He does not have the explosive pace of a player like Aaron Lennon, a player who at least has the ability to add a new dimension if needed.
The decision to include Andy Carroll is also a very risky one, although the Liverpool striker did show signs of good form towards the end of the season. There is no doubt that he has ability but he will need to strike up a partnership very quickly with Jermaine Defoe who will almost certainly be alongside him in the first match. Scoring goals is what football is all about and Carroll has hardly been close to topping the charts with his efforts in front off goal this season, while Defoe has started most games for Spurs this season from the bench.
Peter Crouch is not everybody’s idea of a great international striker but at least he has a respectable scoring record for England and has been hitting the net regularly for Stoke City this season. He certainly would have been a better option to partner Defoe up front as the two have played successfully together at club level as well as for England. He is very unlucky not to have made the trip.
Also unlucky is Manchester City’s Micah Richards who has matured into one of best right full backs in Europe. He would get most votes over Glen Johnson to play at right back particularly as he would be bringing a winning mindset to the squad after his club won the Premier League this season and his presence at the back with Hart and Lescott would surely have brought about a sense of stability and familiarity to the XI. This is not to say that Glen Johnson is a bad player because he is far from that but the exclusion of Richards after the excellent season he has enjoyed is a little unfortunate.
Ultimately, England fans are powerless and whether or not we agree with Hodgson’s squad selection is irrespective and all’s we can do is support the team in their three group games and hope that the former Fulham, Liverpool and West Brom manager knows what he is doing. The changes are far from radical and it would be no surprise to see a repeat of the debacle in South Africa two years ago but saying that, a lot has been said about Hodgson’s experience and knowledge of the European game so for the time being, he gets this author’s benefit of the doubt but many questions about the players he’s picked and how he will approach games tactically remain unanswered. We can only wait and see!
Heart says Euro 2012 winners, head says going home after the Ukraine game…