England Squad For Euro 2012 Announced

Goalkeepers: Joe Hart (Manchester City), Robert Green (West Ham United), John Ruddy (Norwich City)

Defenders: Glen Johnson (Liverpool), Phil Jones (Manchester United), John Terry (Chelsea), Joleon Lescott (Manchester City), Gary Cahill (Chelsea), Ashley Cole (Chelsea), Leighton Baines (Everton)

Midfielders: Theo Walcott (Arsenal), Stewart Downing (Liverpool), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Arsenal), Steven Gerrard (Liverpool), Gareth Barry (Manchester City), Frank Lampard (Chelsea), Scott Parker (Spurs), Ashley Young (Manchester United), James Milner (Manchester City)

Forwards: Jermain Defoe (Spurs), Wayne Rooney & Danny Welbeck (Manchester United), Andy Carroll (Liverpool)

There is also a standby list, but I’m not going to bother listing them.

A few random thoughts:

a.) All but two of the players come from teams that finished in the top eight in the Premier League in 2011/12 – although there are no players from Newcastle United. At least John Ruddy plays for a team in the Premier League: Robert Green is still mistake prone.

b.) None of the squad plays outside England. No surprise there.

c.) The only omission that might cause a few raised eyebrows is that of Rio Ferdinand, but there were signs this weekend that he wouldn’t have made the team. I think it may be time for him to hang it up.

On the whole, the squad is not a huge surprise. Only Ruddy and Oxlade-Chamberlain are uncapped and I would imagine that the decision to include the Arsenal midfielder is similar to the one Sven-Goran Eriksson made to take Theo Walcott to the World Cup in 2006. There also seems to be a discrete changing of the guard: I’d be surprised if the trio of Chelsea pensioners (Cole, Terry and Lampard) will be preparing to travel to Brazil in a couple of years time: Phil Jones for John Terry and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain for Frank Lampard looks like the way forward to me. I’d also not be surprised if this is the last time we see Steven Gerrard playing in a tournament for England.

One potential drawback is the lack of alternatives to Wayne Rooney up front. My guess is that Hodgson will be trying out variations of 4-5-1 in the upcoming friendlies with Messers Defoe, Wellbeck and Carroll being given opportunities to audition for the role, but I’d expect Defoe to be in the starting eleven for the games against France and the Ukraine with attacking support being given by the midfield. However, this looks as if it could cause the usual argument about Lampard and Gerrard being the ‘same player’, but if only one of them occupies central midfield then there’s some flexibility on the flanks.

So there you have it. The squad has been announced, the usual nonsense has started on twitter, I don’t like the new kit at all and although I don’t think England will win Euro 2012 I’ve got a feeling that this summer won’t be as much of an anti climax as the last World Cup was. All we have to do now is find the cheapest off licence, the biggest wallchart and we’re off.

I’ll be back next week with a look at the friendly with Norway.

Ferdinand Out, Dawson In…

I’d originally meant to publish this article on Wednesday: although I began it I was unable to get it finished due to a family emergency. Interesting looking back on what I’d written though, so here it is:

‘Nothing more need be said about the Japan game at the weekend. So here’s some very quick thoughts about the final squad that I scribbled at my desk this afternoon:

David James

Got relegated with Pompey, still a bit mistake prone. Last World Cup as a player, next one will be as a pundit.

Robert Green

Hammers got away with being poor last season, like David James he got a lot of practice last season.

Joe Hart

The future. Also takes penalties.

Glen Johnson

Sort of our version of Roberto Carlos.

Stephen ‘not Neil’ Warnock

Wouldn’t expect him to feature much but provides strength in depth.

Rio Ferdinand

You know that Nike advert everyone loves that’s got a Simpson’s version of Ronaldo in it? Should have been Rio. Needs to remember he’s in a tournament, not just a few friendlies.

John Terry

Shouty man. About time we had a defender sent off in the knock out round.

Jamie Carragher

Unexpected selection but should do well.

Matt Upson

Might make an appearance in the 3rd/4th place game. See Tony Dorigo in 1990.

Ledley King

Doesn’t seem that long ago that everyone was saying wouldn’t it be great if he was fit, he’d be a shoo in etc. Will be useful if Rio Ferdinand switches off at any point.

Ashley Cole

Defines ‘unsettled’; hope he doesn’t carry any baggage into the finals. Most likely to be the first to get picked on if everything starts going wrong.’

The midfielders and strikers will be posted soon, but yesterday’s news that Rio Ferdinand has been ruled out of the tournament after being injured during training may not be as worrying as it first appears. Steven Gerrard will take over as captain and Michael Dawson has replaced Ferdinand in the final 23.

On Wednesday I wrote that  ‘we shouldn’t really doubt the fire in his (Gerrard’s) belly, but recently he seems to have mistaken effort for quality – and he can’t do that in the World Cup’. This refers primarily to a reasonable season for a mediocre Liverpool team and I’m sure that he’ll do a fine job replacing Rio. My thoughts on Michael Dawson are that I’m sure he’s got a really promising international career ahead of him, but that on reflection Capello was right to leave him out of the initial selection because Dawson needs another good season with Spurs (especially in the Champions League) before he can be considered a regular. I would expect Dawson to benefit enormously from the experience but would be surprised to see him play.

Before anyone starts panicking about Rio, it’s worth remembering that he played the second fewest league games of his career last season due to a groin injury: I’ve got to be honest and say that I’d rather he was ruled out sooner rather than later as I wasn’t entirely convinced that his fitness was all that it should be. Not only that, we’re not in the same position as Germany are with Michael Ballack, Nigeria are with Jon Obi Mikel and Michael Essien and Ivory Coast may be with Didier Drogba (and yes, they are all Chelsea players); Rio is an important member of the squad, but his replacements are just as good and - unlike the other nations I’ve just mentioned - our chances will not be diminished due to his injury.

Mexico Preview

England play their last game at Wembley before leaving for the World Cup Finals against a Mexican side that most of us will next see playing the hosts in the opening game of the tournament.

This will be the first time we’ve played ‘El Tri’ since 2001 (a 4-0 win at Pride Park in Derby if my memory isn’t playing tricks on me) and the Mexicans don’t have a good record in England: we’ve won all four games played here and they have yet to score. Despite that, we actually have quite a lot in common with them: until about half way through the qualifying campaign they were managed by Sven-Goran Eriksson and in the last four tournaments they have qualified from their group only to be unable to get past the second round. So…umm… actually quite a lot in common then.

It used to be quite rare for Mexicans to play abroad (Hugo Sanchez is the only name that springs to mind) but that’s changed. The provisional squad named by Javier Aguirre contained ten players who play their club football in Europe: captain Rafael Marquez and midfielder Jonathan Dos Santos play for Barcelona, defenders Francisco Rodriguez and Carlos Salcido (five yellow cards and a sending off in qualifying) are team mates at PSV Eindhoven and strikers Guillermo Franco and Carlos Vela play in this country for West Ham and Arsenal respectively.  However, the most intriguing Mexican prospect for years will probably be playing at Bloomfield Road, Blackpool next season: Javier Hernandez (who will only be 22 on 1st June) joined Manchester United recently and is arguably the best striker to have emerged from the country since Sanchez. I’ve not seen him play, but if I was Dimitar Berbatov I’d be on the phone to my agent if Hernandez starts banging them in during the tournament.

Hernandez is more of a long term goalscoring prospect as Mexico don’t really have a dominant striker – the apparently ageless Cuauhtemoc Blanco is 37, neither Franco nor Vela have really done the business at international level and Nery Castillo wasn’t even named in the provisional squad. The short term solution appears to be Alberto Medina, who didn’t play at all in the qualifiers but has scored in two of Mexico’s last three friendlies including the 1-0 win over Chile last Sunday.

I’ll go for an England win, but if we stop the Mexicans from scoring then I think we can look forward to both the Japan friendly and the first game of the finals against the USA with a lot of confidence. Another point to remember is that the Mexicans are tight defensively and have a decent track record in the World Cup – it would not be a huge surprise if they beat South Africa in the opening game – and so we may have to be patient. And no booing Jamie Carragher either.

In other news, Gary Linekerdecided to leave The D**ly M**l as a football columnist this week…Diego Maradona ran a journalist over (as far as we know it wasn’t one from the Mail)…Michael Ballack and Lassana Diarra won’t be playing in the tournament, which is a shame as I really wanted to use ‘Ballack’s Out’, ‘Never Mind The Ballacks’ or ‘What A Load Of Old Ballacks’ as article titles. It’s also a shame that we won’t be treated to a French player running around with ‘Lass’ on the back of his shirt, but you can’t have everything can you 😉

Fab Announces Provisional Squad

OK, pay attention at the back, here’s the provisional 30 man England squad:

Goalkeepers: Robert Green (West Ham), Joe Hart (Manchester City), David James (Portsmouth)

Defenders: Leighton Baines (Everton), Jamie Carragher (Liverpool), Ashley Cole (Chelsea), Michael Dawson (Spurs), Rio Ferdinand (Manchester United), Glen Johnson (Liverpool), Ledley King (Spurs), John Terry (Chelsea), Matt Upson (West Ham), Steven Warnock (Aston Villa)

Midfielders: Gareth Barry (Manchester City), Michael Carrick (Manchester United), Joe Cole (Chelsea), Steven Gerrard (Liverpool), Tom Huddlestone (Spurs), Adam Johnson (Manchester City), Frank Lampard (Chelsea), Aaron Lennon (Spurs), James Millner (Aston Villa), Scott Parker (West Ham), Theo Walcott (Arsenal), Shaun Wright-Phillips (Manchester City)

Strikers: Darren Bent (Sunderland), Peter Crouch (Spurs), Jermain Defoe (Spurs), Emile Heskey (Aston Villa), Wayne Rooney (Manchester United)

Before we go any further, the following players who have been in England squads over the past year or so are missing: Gabriel Agbonglahor, Wayne Bridge, Wes Brown, Gary Cahill, Carlton Cole, Stewart Downing, Ben Foster, Jermaine Jenas, Joeleon Lescott, Gary Neville, Paul Robinson, Ryan Shawcross and Ashley Young.

The main surprise is the inclusion of Jamie Carragher (no, not the bloke from Shameless), who hasn’t played for England for three years after falling out with Steve McClaren. Obviously Rio Ferdinand’s fitness and John Terry’s ‘interesting’ form since his misdemeanours entered the public domain mean that we need cover in defence and Carragher’s inclusion makes sense; he’ll battle it out with Michael Dawson and Ledley King, but to be honest Dawson is the best long term prospect we have in central defence and I’ll be amazed if Dawson doesn’t make the final 23.

Dawson and Manchester City midfielder Adam Johnson are the only uncapped players named in the squad; quite a few of names above have been through this before. Interestingly, Capello also tried to talk Paul Scholes out of his self imposed international exile: he was having none of it.

Our next opponents – Mexico – were in action last night, beating Senegal 1-0 at Soldier Field, Chicago (home of Da Bears!):  the winning goal was scored by Guadalajara’s Alberto Medina.

David Beckham’s injury woes have been documented elsewhere so it’s no surprise that he’s missing: but he’ll be joined by some famous names from our chief rivals: Ronaldinho and Adriano have been left out by Brazil and Francesco Totti (who seems to be single handedly keeping Roma in the race for the Serie A title) won’t be playing for Italy this summer.

Apologies for missing this yesterday – don’t worry Fabio, we’ll be attempting to provide our own player ratings, which will probably appear immediately after each game and may be heavily influenced by one or more of the major breweries.

New Zealand & Japan Name Squads

by on May 10, 2010
in Lists, Squads

While the coaches of the other 30 nations taking part in the World Cup next month are still mulling over their squads, New Zealand’s Ricki Herbert and Japan’s Takeshi Okada have already named their 23 man squads.

New Zealand’s All Whites contains six British based players: captain Ryan Nelsen (Blackburn Rovers), fellow defender Tommy Smith (Ipswich) and strikers Rory Fallon (Plymouth Argyle), Chris Killen (Middlesbrough) and Chris Wood (West Brom). Midfielder Michael McGlinchey plays for Motherwell in the Scottish Premier League.

Interestingly, Japan’s squad – which will be facing England in a couple of weeks so we’ll look at them in depth at that point – includes only four players based outside the J-League.

Quite a few friendlies featuring qualifiers this week: Mexico face Senegal at the Azteca in the early hours of tomorrow morning UK time; they also play Angola on Friday, the same day that Germany play Malta.

Stay tuned: tomorrow we’ll be looking at our 30 man squad whilst trying to watch the second leg of the Nottingham Forest v Blackpool play off semi final. At time of writing it looks as if it will include a middle aged man nicknamed ‘Calamity’ in goal, several injured centre backs and a German with a Canadian accent who has played about five minutes in the Premiership this season. Oh and I almost forgot: our talismanic striker has a groin strain.

It wouldn’t be the World Cup if everyone was fit though, would it?

By the way – Chelsea 8, Wigan 0? That’s a baseball score. Wigan should be ashamed of themselves.