England Squad Reaction

Earlier today, Roy Hodgson finally announced his final selection of players who’ll represent the country in the forthcoming Euros. A lot of opinion has been circulating across social media and if the reaction is to be believed, it’s the worst ever decision in the history of human civilisation, managing to overtake the decision of the German people to elect a new chancellor in 1933. Has Roy lost the plot? Has he made the right decision? For me, it is the latter. Here is why.

The first selection issue that has aggravated a selection of supporters is the exclusion of Danny Drinkwater. The main argument for his inclusion for most people is his exceptional season for the Champions Leicester. Jack Wilshere has been included and Drinkwater has been dropped, and for me that is the right decision for a selection of reasons. Firstly, natural talent. Jack Wilshere does apparently have knees made of soggy Weetabix and ankles made of glass but on his day you’d have to go a long way to find a more naturally talented central midfielder than him. I voiced my opposition to the suggestion of his inclusion whilst he was unfit. However he seems to have got over the injuries that have plagued him this year. He’s been more consistent in the warm up games and has looked like his old self. An interesting point I saw earlier on Twitter is this: can you see Robert Huth being included in the German squad over Mats Hummels because of one exceptional season? When you take this into consideration, his inclusion does seem a lot more reasonable. In fact if anyone deserved to be dropped for Drinkwater I’d cast my vote for either Lallana or Henderson. Each of whom have hardly set the squad alight in the last couple of games (incidentally neither has Drinkwater.)

The second major story is the inclusion of both Sturridge and Rashford. Again, I’d agree with this decision from Roy. I’ve explained in previous posts why I think Rashford is worth the risk (https://mattjoyblogs.com/2016/04/18/why-rashford-may-be-worth-the-risk/) and again for me Sturridge fully fit is a huge threat going forward. Fitness is always an issue, but you just have to look at the goal Sturridge managed to bag in the Europa League final. Not many people in English football could have not only the audacity but also skill to score a goal of that calibre. A lot of people have argued that Michail Antonio could have been taken instead of one of these players. I agree Antonio has had a truly exceptional season. But unfortunately for him Hodgson doesn’t play a wide formation normally, and thus selecting Antonio may have been a bit of a waste of a space. Certainly I can see Antonio being in Hodgson’s plans after the Euros, but you can’t really change your tactics to accomondate a single player so for me – good call Roy.

The last question really is the midfield. Although no inclusions aside from the one in the first paragraph have been raised you do have to wonder how we will line up in the centre of the park. For me you do have to have Wayne Rooney in the middle of the park. His experience and quality is obvious to me and anyone who believes he’s not a threat any more for me is incorrect. I think Eric Dier has to be in there to provide the steel protecting the somewhat questionable back four. I’d then have Jack Wilshere (fitness dependent) alongside Rooney in the centre of the park – and then Dele Alli in the number 10. Alli for me provides a freedom and creativity we haven’t had at such a tender age for a fair number of years. Not to mention Alli has already established a fantastic link with Harry Kane, who I’d hope will be our main man in France.

That’s all from me today – expect a lot more posts in the coming weeks ahead of the big kick off. COME ON ENGLAND!

 

 

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Why Rashford *MAY* be worth the risk.

With the European Championships fast approaching, speculation is beginning to grow about who is going to fill those spaces on the short flight to France. One name that seems to be popping up more and more is that of youngster Marcus Rashford. Should he really be taken to the Euros at such a tender age however? Well – the jury seems out on that issue, however if he manages to get a couple more in the remaining games – here are 3 reasons why I’d CONSIDER taking him.

1 – OTHER OPTIONS

You’d of thought that at the moment, most people would have three forwards already in their minds for who they’d select for the Tournament. Vardy and Kane seem certainties, and Daniel Sturridge seems to have overcome persistent injury issues for the moment and appears to be playing much like his old self. The last place on the plane is one of debate. The main player who seems to dividing opinion is all-time record goalscorer Wayne Rooney. Would I take Wayne? Well, it’s all dependent for me on how he finishes the season. You cannot criticize his record for the national side, or for United for that matter – but is “reputation” enough to go by? For me, it has to be combined with current form and how he’d fit into the squad. Rooney wouldn’t be the sort of player you’d want to come off the bench to make an impact – he simply isn’t that sort of player. Rashford’s energy and style of play would suit being an ‘impact’ player more effectively. As for Danny Welbeck – I’m sorry, but he hasn’t done enough this campaign for one reason or another to take. I know his record for England is very respectable, but you can’t take him based on that alone.

2 – “Bursting” onto the scene

When you look at some of England’s most successful strikers in the last 15-20 years, two of those really made their name at a tender age in a big international tournament. Michael Owen terrorised defences in the 1998 World Cup, and only an unfortunate injury stopped Wayne Rooney in his tracks at the Euros 12 years ago. Rashford has that opportunity this year. He doesn’t seem intimidated by the big stage, he has similar confidence levels to the aforementioned players – and given he’d probably be fourth choice striker, pressure on him wouldn’t be too overbearing. He’s definitely a player for the future, should he keep up the form he’s shown so far in his United career, but why not give him a go to demonstrate his potential? He’d certainly play with a lot more freedom than Rooney for example, who’s performances at major tournaments is always scrutinized beyond belief. Rashford could give it his best shot, knowing full well the expectation will be on others to get the goals for the side.

3 – Quality

Contrary to the more cynical footballing supporters, I genuinely believe Marcus Rashford does have a natural ability and eye for goal that could well be developed with good management to make him a top class player. His strike against West Ham in the FA Cup showed not only his self belief to attempt it in the first place, but also genuine striking ability to finish with such class. One or two goals can be seen as a flash in a pan, but the consistent high level of goals he’s scored so far could well be rewarded with an England call up. One thing is for certain, if his call up for the Euros isn’t – and that is his ability to be in the right place at the right time, his ability to run and finish and a run of form he’s shown since his first call up – is no accident. I’m not trying to say he’s the best thing since.. Well, Harry Kane? But I do believe he’s shown excellent ability so far – and I can’t see how you’d call up Welbeck or Rooney over him BASED ON CURRENT FORM.

The question on everyone’s lips is whether Roy Hodgson will indeed pick a player based on form or on proven ability. If it was form, Rashford should be in the squad. However, given the fact Hodgson has hinted his hope that Jack Wilshere will be fit for the tournament, I’d expect it to be on reputation. If he doesn’t get the call up, a follow up of this run of form next season may well build up his reputation so even Roy can’t ignore him for Welbeck.

 

 

This seasons most underrated stars.

Hello everyone! I hope you’re well. This is my first post for a few days because, unless you’ve been living under a rock, there was a certain day that fell a couple of days ago which you’ll be fully aware of. I hope everyone had a fantastic Christmas and are continuing to enjoy the festive period as much as I am.

Soppiness aside, let’s talk about this blog. Following the boxing day football, I noticed a number of players really haven’t been getting the recognition they deserve this year. Therefore, I felt a blog post was in order on this topic. Here is my top 5 unsung heroes of the season so far in the Premiership in no particular order.

Nemanja Matic

In a Chelsea side who appear to be blowing away all in their path so far this season, it is very hard to pick out one individual star. Hazard and Costa appear to claim most of the plaudits and for good reason, they’ve been absolutely outstanding all year. However one man who I don’t feel has got the recognition of some of his peers is Nemanja Matic. I think Matic has been one of the stand out players for the club this year, and is so much more than a player who breaks up play. He has a fantastic engine in him, his tackling is up there with the best in the league and he sure can place a pass or two. He may not be in the most glamorous positions on the pitch but my oh my, Mourinho’s team are a much better side with the Serbian on the pitch.

Jose Fonte

Everyone has been surprised by two teams this year, and one of them are Southampton. Given how little were expected of the Saints in comparison to how they are now performing, you could make a case for a host of Saints players to be included in this list. One man who I think deserves his place more than anyone arguably is Jose Fonte. At the heart of a defence who have been rather consistent throughout the year Jose Fonte has proved himself as a more than effective centre back in the whole which was left by Dejan Lovren. Fonte has demonstrated great athleticism, tackling, leadership and agility in the heart of the defence throughout the year and that’s why I’ve included him in this list.

Gylfi Sigurdsson 

There has been a fair bit of discussion about the Icelandic midfielder but I think even despite this he hasn’t got the credit he deserves. Okay, so he is the star man of the team admittedly. But you cannot take away what Gylfi brings to the Welsh side. Linking up brilliantly with Bony up top contributing with nearly double figures in terms of assists. He also brings a real shooting prowess to the team, demonstrating but some of his sumptuous free kicks which have contributed to his handful of goals this year. You just have to look where Swansea finished and how they were performing last year, you can see just how much Gyfli gives to the Swansea starting eleven.

Aaron Cresswell

It is never easy to make the step up from the Championship to the Premiership but a man who has made this transition almost seamlessly is West Ham full back Aaron Cresswell. Much has been said about West Ham’s brilliant start to the season and a man who I think sums it up is Cresswell. Perhaps not the most glamorous of players in one of the least glamorous  positions on the pitch who has been quietly and efficiently going about his work in an effective manner. Solid at the back and a real alternative option going forward, Cresswell should be very pleased at how he has performed at the start of his top flight career.

Michael Carrick

Last on my list is Michael Carrick. It cannot be considered a coincidence that Carrick has returned from injury just over a month ago and the Red Devils have won 7 out of there last 8 goals looking considerably better at the back despite the lack of experience in the defensive areas. Carrick has been a quietly calming influence and has continued the form that has surrounded him for most of his career. Never one to set the world alight and claim all the headlines, Carrick has been hugely impressive wherever he has been asked to play. One stat that really sums up this is Carrick has a passing completion ratio of over 90% despite playing in a whole host of different positions.