England, a new start?
So tonight is England’s first post World Cup match playing Hungary at Wembley and, not for the first time, a nation expects.
This time however, rather than expecting something like a great run in a major tournament or even a thrashing of a smaller team, England expects a team to be rejuvenated, to be able to play football like the better teams in the World Cup did to at least try and make up for the poor attempts they made 2 months ago. The problem’s though are never ending with some sections of the media calling for a total change in the squad and some sections of the media saying that the manager is running on limited time and needs to go. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the problem does not lie with Capello the problem is with the players, or more specifically the same old players that will continue to turn out tonight and carry on trundling along till the next major tournament, capitulate against the first big team they encounter and we will go through this all again.
Sadly for Capello it seems every where he turns people are out to sabotage him. Paul Robinson should be hung out to dry for the way he’s treated an England call up but instead Sam Allardyce has praised him saying it’s the right thing to do. I don’t know whether ‘Big Sam’ still has issues with the fact he was never considered for the England job (and rightly so in my opinion) but aren’t managers supposed to want international players in their team? Wasn’t this the same Sam Allardyce that before the World Cup was saying Robinson should be called up? The fact is that Paul Robinson is pretty much in the same class as Rob Green & David James, he was in the international team by default not because he deserved to be there as a world class keeper. After that howler against Croatia he never really seemed the player he once was and sadly when you can only have one goalkeeping spot available he will be moved aside, however to be given a second chance should be seized rather than sulking because his experience and knowledge in helping people like Joe Hart and Ben Foster in the England team would have been invaluable. Instead though, like a kid who’s had its favourite toy taken away for being naughty, he’s sulking and refused the call up. Capello has been bold enough to admit that he made a mistake calling up Rob Green & David James by overlooking them (even when he’s calling up U-21’s instead) and asked Robinson to come in and help the team but clearly his pride is irreversibly damaged and he can’t be the bigger man and come back. Considering Robinson last played 3½ years ago you’d have expected him to either get in to the squad, knuckle down and try and break in to the team or retire when he wasn’t included in the world cup squad, but clearly he was making a point and this quote ‘Only now have I been able to make this decision as previously I haven't been in contention for selection’ kind of shows this. You don’t have to be considered for selection to retire you just have to do it to try and prove a point, and if Joe Hart suffers an injury or dip in form Robinson may well regret his rash decision. England doesn’t need someone with that kind of attitude, so he can carry on playing at mid table mediocrity under a manager who has an over inflated opinion of himself and how good he is.
Wes Brown is another one who was called up and then retired although he did his slightly better than Robinson. Brown wasn’t in the world cup squad because of his injury problems and lack of games although having a player like Jamie Carragher called out of retirement before you is a bit of a kick in the teeth. Brown could also have retired after the world cup squad was announced but instead he left it and only once he was selected did he decide to retire. However he did his the proper way, he went to the England hotel, met with Capello and explained his reasons why he didn’t want to play and that was that. Whilst highly rated as a youngster two cruciate injuries & a broken ankle seriously hampered his development as a player and his pace and whist he’s a solid back up he’s not an international class of player that England need. It also wouldn’t surprise me to see that Sir Alex Ferguson had a word in his ear telling him to prolong his club career by cutting his international career short which is understandable for an outfield player
Some press areas are reporting that this is Capello’s fault for not communicating with his players but why should it be his responsibility to call up and ask them if they fancy playing for their country? To a man like Capello being called up to your national team is seen as a huge achievement and if you haven’t made yourself unavailable for selection then why shouldn’t you be selected? Carrick is another one there was some confusion over with the player being declared injured and out for 2 weeks before making a miraculous recovery and playing 90 mins in the charity shield. According to Sir Alex Ferguson (not the biggest England fan around) Carrick turned up on Friday and said he was fit and ready however just failed to mention this to Fabio before the squad was announced on the Saturday. I suspect however that he was told by Sir Alex not to tell Capello as he didn’t want one of his players playing a needless friendly if he’d just been injured and it wouldn’t surprise me if the injury Carrick suffered was slightly exaggerated to keep him from the England team. However after an international career littered with mediocre performances it’s no great loss for England and if Carrick didn’t make the England team again I don’t think too many national fans would be disappointed.
Capello has done as much as he possibly can with the Premier League managers & players conspiring to undermine Capello doesn’t help him. It fascinates me as to what the sections of the media that are criticising him think he could do better however none of them seem to be forward with any other ideas. Instead of their constant moaning and criticising they should be supporting Capello and backing him, in the aftermath of the world cup people suggested we needed to be more like Germany and call up youngsters that have come through the ranks (something that Germany had to do not through choice but through injuries) however we can’t just call up a bunch on inexperienced youngsters as we need some balance in the team. A few blogs ago I suggested that we needed a blend of youth and experience and whilst this is what Capello seems to be doing I still feel that people like John Terry & Gareth Barry shouldn’t be in the squad it’s good to see Jagielka, Dawson, Cahill, Gibbs, Wilshere & A. Johnson being given the chance they deserve. It’s also good to see Young back in the squad and with Darren Bent withdrawing I think Agbonglohor should be given a chance, his pace could be a valubale asset to a counter attacking style that I feel would suit England seeing as we can’t keep the ball for very long which is the flaw the Germans soon exploited in the world cup.
Another interesting problem in the England team is the goalkeeping problem, with Robinsons sulk and Foster’s injury and the realisation that Green & James aren’t good enough Capello has been left calling on the U-21’s in Scott Loach & Frank Fielding. Whilst I’ve seen Scott Loach a few times playing for Watford I don’t know a huge amount about Fielding who is a reserve at Blackburn. Loach is a very solid keeper who made a sensible decision in not moving to Spurs (or at least not demanding a move) to take a place on the bench instead staying in the championship and learning his trade which will be beneficial in the long run along with this England call up, which I think will help him further as well. Fielding I don’t know if he will make a break through any time soon, Robinson won’t be leaving Blackburn anytime soon so I can’t see him getting a breakthrough. However it doesn’t really matter who the backup is as Joe Hart will finally get his chance at number 1 and I fully expect him to make it his own. Capello’s decision to leave Green & James behind hasn’t received much coverage but I think it shows the ruthless streak we expected from the Italian and with any luck this will be a sign of things to come