The People against Wayne Rooney

21 06 2010

Honestly? They should come home now, as with every performance they embarrass their country more and more. The Quarter-Final Exit blog is not usually the place for hysterical hyperbole, so we’ll save the needless regurgitation of the clusterf@@ck against Algeria and just describe it as it was – hugely disrespectful. To the fans, to the shirt, to the history of the national team. There’s a very large part of me that would enjoy seeing this team eliminated – this generation of players, with the exception of David Beckham, deserves nothing.

So, with the honest points out of the way – here’s our starting eleven for Wednesday, and naturally our justification for it.

Soon to be home of another installment of English tragedy

1. David James – The dream of seeing the accomplished Joe hart starting has died, we’re stuck with David James. However, as one of the few to emerge with a slice of reputation intact on Friday, the country fears impending catastrophe and Jubulani sponsored madness less than it might with James between the posts.

2. Glen Johnson – There’s just aren’t any other options. The only positive, at a stretch, to be taken from his Algeria showing was that he wasn’t atrocious – merely very poor.

3. Ashley Cole – The only England player other than James to have sustained an acceptable level of performance in South Africa.

4. Michael Dawson – He possesses qualities that England desperately need at the moment, the most vital being that he would clearly run through fire to wear the shirt – not something that could be said for many others. Playing Matthew Upson would guarantee elimination.

5. John Terry – Seemingly now disliked by his team-mates for over stepping his brief with the media, but there quite literally is nobody else that can be selected. The biggest positive from Algeria was Jamie Carragher’s yellow card and suspension.

6. Steven Gerrard – Gareth Barry is not good enough to be playing international football, and Steven Gerrard is wasted out wide. End of discussion.

7. Aaron Lennon – Mystifyingly awful in both games. Lennon probably more than any other player has seen his confidence evaporate, looking to get rid of the ball as soon as he receives it. Gone are the probing runs and the searing pace that make him such an asset to his club, he needs to stop hiding and actually play.

8. Frank Lampard – His very last chance. If England fail to progress on Wednesday, it could mark his last appearance for England. Now a much-maligned figure for the disparity between club and country performances, Lampard is another clearly paralysed by fear. A truly great player hidden inside a shell of anxiety, his omission will only lead to a plethora of ‘what-ifs’ should England lose.

9. Jermain Defoe – A decision made because despite his obvious merits, Wayne Rooney is not fit to represent his country – in both senses of the phrase. His limp, ghost-written apology for the incident on Friday was unacceptable, and his original comments were an embodiment of the detachment of professional athletes from the real world. Coupled with the most disgracefully inept performance by an England player in my lifetime, only reputation can save him.

Empty Shirt

10. Peter Crouch – Emile Heskey’s purpose in the England team is to bring the best out of Wayne Rooney – now that this theory is at best, devalued, there should be no opposition to the Villa forward’s exclusion. Crouch brings a menace that can’t be contained, and Slovenia is exactly the kind of team that he should be able to ‘flat-track bully’.

11. Joe Cole – Almost certainly short of fitness, but through the ashes of implosion around him, he has emerged as a potential saviour. Drastic measures are now needed, and the game-breaking qualities owned by Cole could resuscitate England’s form.


England vs Mexico – Our XI.

24 05 2010

England’s first World Cup warm-up game is upon us, and regardless that the Wembley pitch will be more of a foe than the Central Americans, here’s how we think the home team should line-up…. and why.

1. Joe Hart

Eligibility for number one jersey is hypothetical without some game time before South Africa.  Premiership form unrivalled amongst fellow countryman, if not all, but International football is a steep learning curve… and up until now, Hart only has 45 minutes under his belt.

2. Glen Johnson

Winger masquerading as a full-back.  One of his chanced to show he can develop a defensive awareness within his game.  On paper, his combination with Aaron Lennon could give England the most threatening right side in the tournament, but also one of the most fragile.

3. Ashley Cole

The best left-back in the world.  End of discussion

4. Rio Ferdinand

Needs game time badly, and a full ninety minutes without a howler would also be welcome at this point.

5. John Terry

Not much value in debating his place, right or wrong he’ll be starting.

6. Tom Huddlestone

Most likely the answer will be no, but must be given the opportunity to show he can play at this level.  At this point it would be prudent to assume that Gareth Barry will not be fit to face the USA, so other options should be tried and tested.  A horrible, nagging feeling suggests that Capello will revert to playing Lampard and Gerrard alongside each other – and we already know how effective that is.  Doubters suggest that the Huddlestone should struggle against mobile and technically astute opponents, interesting to see then how the Tottenham man will fair against club mate Giovani Dos Santos.

7. Arron Lennon

Only doubt is fitness, is must – and as such requires a full ninety minutes.

8. Steven Gerrard

Obviously.  Intriguing to note if removing the Liverpool shackles ignites his form.

9. Peter Crouch

The critics will never be silenced with regards to Crouch, but goals to games ratio is still impressive, and remains the only England forward possessing the ability to hold the ball up.

10. Wayne Rooney


11. Frank Lampard

Much the same as Rooney, but must actually show up to a major tournament this time around.

Tedious Inevitability

19 04 2010

We begin our World Cup blogging action with a slightly facetious look at who Fabio Capello will select for South Africa… don’t worry though, tomorrow’s ‘Who should be on the plane’ will be much more interesting.

1. Wayne Rooney

No explanation necessary, not worth going without him.

2. Steven Gerrard

Has become tediously undroppable, despite those under the age of 16 never having seen him play well for England.

3. Rio Ferdinand

More name than ability as of late, but still a marquee centre-half in world football.

4. Frank Lampard

As with Gerrard, consistently underwhelming in white – further discussion is always redundant as seems to be another member of England’s untouchable.

5. Ashley Cole

Awful human being, outstanding player.  Although now a hate figure of comic book proportions, it should never be forgotten how frequently he muted Cristiano Ronaldo during the Portuguese’s stay in English football.  Hate him you may, but a world without him as left-back would be extremely bleak.

6. John Terry

Form and body are now loudly creaking, but the deposed captain remains a huge figure on the pitch for England.

7. Gareth Barry

His prominence on this list says more about the calibre of English holding midfield players than about Barry himself.  Consistently anonymous against high-class opposition, nothing more than adequate in many areas of the game rather than excellent in any.  His appearances for England do little more than make the heart grow fonder for Owen Hargreaves.

8. Aaron Lennon

Worryingly hasn’t been seen near a football since the end of 2009.  However, should he be if he brings the one quality that can’t be nullified – raw pace.  Ironically, aside from Ashley Cole there isn’t a left-back in world football that can deal with him comfortably – England could do a lot worse than simply giving him the ball on the touchline and letting him play.  Absence would be far more of a problem than is yet fully appreciated.

9. Emile Heskey

Favourite of Capello’s, he’s going – deal with it.

10. David James

Probably the English goalkeeper we all trust most at the moment.  A reality both hilarious and disturbing

11. Glen Johnson

An attacking threat who sees the defensive part of his game as fairly irrelevant. Enormous liability, but benefits from playing for a big club and being valued by Fabio.

12. Jermain Defoe

Most natural goalscorer in the English game.  Pedigree at International level remains suspect, but a real luxury as an impact player.

13. Theo Walcott

Attributes of a world class athlete rather than a football player, but has existed on the back of his hat-trick in Croatia for 18 months – and will also be on the plane on the back of this.  A poor man’s Aaron Lennon, but capable of fireworks.

14. Stewart Downing

Ineffective for club and country, but inclusion is a tedious certainty.

15 Matthew Upson

Much the same as Downing, but replace ‘ineffective’ with ‘error prone’. Has a disgraceful number of caps for someone of his abilities.

16. James Milner

The poster child for making the most of what you have.  Versatility is a huge asset to England, and is an ideal squad player for Capello.

17. Peter Crouch

Goal record at International level flatters him severely, but his size and technique make him the most obvious ‘Plan B’ at England’s disposal.

18. Robert Green

Average, but good enough in the current goalkeeping climate.

19. Michael Carrick

Continually, and unfairly, pilloried by the English press.  Keeps possession better than any other English player – and has the ability to dictate the tempo in a World Cup game.  And can take penalties.

20. Jolean Lescott

Another to benefit from versatility and the most over-inflated transfer fee in British football.

21. Joe Hart

He’s not going to play, so might as well go along for the ride.

22. Wes Brown

Utterly rubbish, would never have played for England if he’d played for a different club side.

23. Adam Johnson

History will treat him as Capello’s ‘Walcott’ moment.  No international experience, a non-event against top-half sides in the Premier League, but will be seen as an unknown quantity.  Predictably will not see a minute of action in South Africa.