Plenty of things have changed since my last post, and I think these need reflecting in how I currently perceive the race for inclusion in England’s Euro 2012 squad. With Fabio Capello no longer the England manager, Tottenham Hotspur’s Harry Redknapp appears to be the leading candidate to replace him, and I wonder how this will affect players’ chances of selection? The whole John Terry saga may momentarily be overshadowed by the Luis Suarez and Patrice Evra affair, however, there are many question marks over the Chelsea captain’s inclusion.
On the plane and in the squad
1. Joe Hart, Manchester City (GK) No change
2. Ashley Cole, Chelsea (DF) No change
3. Scott Parker, Tottenham Hotspur (MF) No change
4. Wayne Rooney, Manchester Utd (FW) No change
Rooney is beginning to find some form again for Manchester Utd, and if he continues to replicate this until the end of the season, it may just highlight how important he is to the national side’s chances of progressing further than the group stages
5. Glen Johnson, Liverpool (DF) Up 1
Beginning to look equally as comfortable in either full-back slot for Liverpool and is beginning to find some consistency in his game
6. Kyle Walker, Tottenham Hotspur (DF) Up 1
7. Gareth Barry, Manchester City (MF) Up 1
8. Danny Welbeck, Manchester Utd (FW) Up 2
Welbeck’s partnership with Wayne Rooney is looking increasingly dangerous as he is rapidly maturing
9. Steven Gerrard, Liverpool (MF) Up 6
There is plenty of clamour for Gerrard to take over the captain’s armband for country (again), and as he regains fitness for Liverpool, I can see him becoming a more integral feature of the Euro 2012 squad
10. John Terry, Chelsea (DF) Down 5
The whole Capello and removing Terry from captain’s duties fiasco has made his position slightly more intenable. The question of whether Terry should be playing for England for some is not related to his impending court case, but reflects that his form this season hasn’t been up to the standards he has set before. I no longer think he is a certainty to go
11. Phil Jones, Manchester Utd (DF) Down 2
12. James Milner, Manchester City (MF) Up 2
13. Joleon Lescott, Manchester City (DF) No change
14. Darren Bent, Aston Villa (FW) Down 2
After being managed, having his striking credentials questioned, and then sold by Harry Redknapp, Darren Bent may be forgiven for possibly not wanting his former manager taking charge of the national set-up. More importantly for Bent, Aston Villa are beginning to need to look over their shoulders at the sides below them as they continue to struggle for form
15. Gary Cahill, Chelsea (DF) Down 4
I would have thought Cahill’s move to the capital would have not only cemented his position in the England squad, but would also have also helped him in his quest for a regular starting place. However, he has only played one game for Chelsea since his transfer, in that they conceded 3, and it would appear that his manager is not that overwhelmed with this signing as he has been left on the bench in preference to others so far
16. Theo Walcott, Arsenal (MF/FW) Up 5
I think Theo Walcott’s place in the England squad may be debated throughout his career. This last week has seem him do well and possibly puts him slightly ahead of some of his competition for the wide births for this summer’s competition
17. Scott Carson, Bursaspor (GK) No change
18. Ashley Young, Manchester Utd (MF/FW) No change
19. Leighton Baines, Everton (DF) No change
20. Frank Lampard, Chelsea (MF) No change
If Uncle Harry is given the role, Frank Lampard may find his position in the squad is a little more secure than it was under Fabio Capello
21. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Arsenal (MF) Up 1
The youngster is continuing to impress at the Emirates Stadium, and I would almost go as far as saying that it may be a shock if he actually is not included now
22. Daniel Sturridge, Chelsea (FW) Up 3
Sturridge continues to look lively for Chelsea and is showing a willingness to track back and perform defensive duties when necessary. His form and ability is further highlighted by Chelsea’s general poor showing this year and Fernando Torres’ continued struggle in front of goal
23. Robert Green, West Ham Utd (GK) Up 15
Might just miss out
24. Adam Johnson, Manchester City (MF) No change
25. Rio Ferdinand, Manchester Utd (DF) Up 1
Ferdinand is now fit and back at the heart of Manchester Utd’s defence. It would not surprise me to see him wearing an England shirt in the summer, however, I can’t see him going as an understudy and he may take John Terry’s place in the squad
26. Chris Smalling, Manchester Utd (DF) Up 1
27. Jermain Defoe, Tottenham Hotspur (FW) Up 4
Although not in Harry Redknapp’s starting XI at White Hart Lane, Jermain Defoe may find his position in the England set-up strengthened as he won’t be competing with the likes of Adebayor and Van Der Vaart for a starting place
28. Bobby Zamora, Queens Park Rangers (FW) Down 5
Having scored on his debut, Zamora has been part of two defeats for his new team, and again, similar to Darren Bent, Zamora has history with Harry Redknapp
29. Jack Wilshere, Arsenal (MF) No change
30. Stewart Downing, Liverpool (MF) No change
May be a fair few in the queue before them
31. Aaron Lennon, Tottenham Hotspur (MF) Up 3
His return from injury may be very well timed, but Tottenham are flying, and much may rely on how much game time at club level Redknapp affords the winger between now and the summer before he can be assured a place on the plane
32. Andy Carroll, Liverpool (FW) No change
33. Micah Richards, Manchester City (DF) Up 3
The cheers in the Richards household must have been emphatic on the news that Capello had resigned. This now makes the fight for right-back very interesting with Glen Johnson and Kyle Walker both performing well currently whilst Richards remains many people’s choice for England right-back
34. Micahel Dawson, Tottenham Hotspur (DF) Up 10
The possible appointment of his club manager may see him leapfrog Phil Jagielka for a place in the final squad
35. Paul Scholes, Manchester Utd (MF) New Entry
I was appauled when it became knowledge that Fabio Capello had tried to tempt the Manchester Utd midfielder out of international retirement for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. With Harry Redknapp expected to become the new England manager, Paul Scholes returning to playing and Redknapp’s recent exclamation means that I wouldn’t rule him out of a startling return to the international scene. A step backwards I would say
36. Ledley King, Tottenham Hotspur (DF) New Entry
King oozes ability, if only his knees were up to it. However, again, like some of his teammates, the potential appointment of Redknapp may provide him with an international opportunity
37. Michael Carrick, Manchester Utd (MF) No change
38. Phil Jagielka, Everton (DF) Down 10
Currently injured whilst others are playing well. His chances of making the final squad I think are looking slimmer
39. Scott Sinclair, Swansea City (MF) Down 6
Have you booked your holiday yet?
40. Joe Cole, Lille (MF) Up 2
41. Peter Crouch, Stoke City (FW) No change
42. Danny Graham, Swansea City (FW) Up 7
He is still scoring goals but would represent a huge gamble. He may get an opportunity next season if his form continues
43. Gabriel Agbonlahor, Aston Villa (FW) Down 8
44. Jack Rodwell, Everton (MF) Down 4
45. Tom Cleverley, Manchester Utd (MF) No change
46. Liam Ridgewell, West Bromwich Albion (DF) Down 7
47. Kieran Gibbs, Arsenal (DF) Down 4
48. David Stockdale, Fulham (GK) Down 32
Mark Schwarzer has returned to keep goal for the Cottagers and I can only see Stockdale going as third choice and for experience
49. Martin Kelly, Liverpool (DF) Down 1
50. Nathan Dyer, Swansea City (MF) No change
England face a trip to Montenegro on Friday 7th October as Fabio Capello aims to secure qualification to next summer’s European Championship Finals in Poland and Ukraine. A draw will suffice but England, as always, will be expected to win and to mount a serious challenge for winning the tournament with the memory of the team’s failings in South Africa still fresh in the mind.
For many, and I include me in that, thought that there should have been a change in leadership after the defeat to Germany; but there wasn’t, and now England sit on the verge of qualification for the 2012 tournament with Capello still at the helm, albeit ready to step down post-tournament (or sooner I guess dependant on the results next week?).
The big question then is who should take the reins and move England forward? To be fair, to call the Italian’s time in the job as a failure may be a bit harsh. We are slowly seeing a change in personnel and the removal of the reliance on a number of players in preference of youth; he has overseen comfortable qualification campaigns and who knows; he may have learned from the mistakes made in 2010 and England may have a good tournament next year (what would happen if we went on to win it I wonder?). The fact remains though that, in my opinion, England need a fresh start inspired by a new regime.
The leading contender amongst the media and many supporters is Tottenham Hotspur’s Harry Redknapp. Although Redknapp is tagged by some as a ‘wheeler dealer’ manager, borne out of his stewardship at clubs such as AFC Bournemouth, Portsmouth, West Ham Utd and Southampton; Redknapp has dealt with many high-profile players, so I fail to see how this attempted blot on his CV stands up. Some might say he hasn’t been that successful, which again I would argue against, citing his time at West Ham Utd with finishes of 5th and 8th and the overseeing of many academy products making the journey into first team regulars (and ultimately internationals).
His two stints in charge of Portsmouth brought about great success for a provincial club; winning the second tier at a relative canter, keeping them in the top-flight and winning the FA Cup and was ultimately more successful than his brief spell in charge of their near-neighbours Southampton.
Now in charge of Tottenham Hotspur; Redknapp has led the club forward to a point where they are now seriously considered as a real and consistent threat to the monopoly of the top-four slots in the Premier League, and indeed, oversaw qualification to the Champions League for the first time in the club’s history.
I hear suggestions that this relative success was only possible due to the financial clout he received at Portsmouth and what he currently gets at White Hart Lane; however, I would argue that this is really not that relevant as being England manager dictates that you have a pool of every English player to select from and the role relies more on coaching ability, tactical nous and man management skills rather than how successful or dependant you have been in the transfer market to acquire success.
The FA I believe have openly suggested that the next manager of the national team will be an Englishman and although it is a sentiment that I would rather, I think it is something of a ‘knee-jerk’ reaction to the media/public frustration connected to Sven-Goran Eriksson and the current incumbant. By choosing an Englishman does not necessarily guarantee you greater success as the opposite doesn’t as recent appointments have shown. My main issue with Fabio Capello is that I feel he doesn’t have the grasp of the language to communicate effectively nor did he have a great understanding of the English game when he came into the role… I may even question if he fully understands it now.
I would not be adverse to another non-English appointment, but I would stress that it would have to be given to a character who has experience of the English league and is able to communicate clearly and concisely in English. I would have no problems with names such as Wenger, Ferguson, Mourinho or O’Neill being linked to the job; all of which have been successful in England (albeit to differing levels and consistency) and all of which would command the respect of the squad. The same old arguments undoubtedly will be discussed referencing how successful (or lack of it) English managers actually are; but the problem with that is that if you measure success purely by winning the Premier League, until one of those clubs who monopolise that title give an Englishman the job, then it is unlikely we will see it for a few years yet.
Another common suggestion is that in order to be successful England need to appoint someone with proven international management experience. Research shows that this is completely inaccurate as since 1994, only Berti Vogts (one year with Kuwait) and Roger Lemerre (coached under Aime Jacquet’s reign) had previous experience at that level and therefore I think blows that thought process out of the water
For me, the next England manager needs to be an experienced coach, someone who has shown to be tactically aware and successful, someone who can communicate coherently with players and supporters, someone who can manage the players as individuals, including those players who aren’t necessarily in the squad, and someone who commands respect. For me, my choice would be one of the above; Redknapp, Wenger, Ferguson, Mourinho or O’Neill; I wonder whether the FA dare select any of these characters or opt for the ‘safer option’ of Stuart Pearce?