Seng Says!

Story by Seng Ton

Roy’s My Euro 2012 Squad.

  1. Joe Hart from Manchester City (GK)
  2. Glen Johnson from Liverpool (DF)
  3. Ashley Cole from Chelsea (DF)
  4. Scott Parker from Tottenham Hotspur (MF) – vice captain
  5. Joleon Lescott from Manchester City (DF)
  6. John Terry from Chelsea (DF)
  7. Theo Walcott from Arsenal (MF)
  8. Steven Gerrard from Liverpool (MF) – captain
  9. Darren Bent from Aston Villa (FW)
  10. Wayne Rooney from Manchester United (FW)
  11. Ashley Young from Manchester United (MF)
  12. Micah Richards from Manchester City (DF)
  13. Robert Green from West Ham United (GK)
  14. Leighton Baines from Everton (DF)
  15. Phil Jagielka from Everton (DF)
  16. James Milner from Manchester City (MF)
  17. Adam Johnson from Manchester City (MF)
  18. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain from Arsenal (MF)
  19. Danny Welbeck from Manchester United (FW)
  20. Jermain Defoe from Tottenham Hotspur (FW)
  21. Kyle Walker from Tottenham Hotspur (DF)
  22. Jack Rodwell from Everton (MF)
  23. David Stockdale from Fulham (GK)

Joe Hart – England’s number 1, but who are number 2 and 3?

It’s been a long time since England fans have felt comfortable about the man in between the sticks (for me it was probably David Seaman).  Previous goalkeepers like Paul Robinson, Robert Green, Scott Carson and David James have all been great servants to the England cause but James aside, it didn’t seem like they were that comfortable on the international scene (or perhaps it’s playing for England and our ridiculously high expectations with the media ready to pounce on you like a predator). But on paper Joe Hart sounds like the perfect candidate coming from a Premier League winning side and will also ply his trade in the Champions League next season.  What you want from your keeper is a confident and loud presence with the ability to command the back four and keep them organised.  And Hart is a great executor of all of these abilities.  It’s always good for a keeper to get a few touches of the ball early on in the game to get a feel for the ball.  But being in a hugely successful Manchester City team means the back four will already be a fortress especially with Joleon Lescott having an outstanding season and their club captain Vincent Kompany, being a very imposing and ever-reliable figure.  So that may mean Hart is only be called upon a few times in a match and in these circumstances it is imperative to keep focus and perform it is most required.  And Hart has definitely done this, with a quite impressive 17 clean sheets in the Premier League season of 2011/2012.

Ferdinand or No Ferdinand?

One of the most recognised and feared centre backs in world football.  Is Roy justified in excluding one Rio Ferdinand? With 81 international caps for England, we can see why it was a controversial decision to leave him out.  After a stop-start season of football at Old Trafford, it also clear to see the fitness worries about whether Rio can handle a game every four days.  His exclusion has opened the door to plenty of alternatives, more notably the two Phils, Jones and Jagielka respectfully. Both Jones and Jagileka have had very successful seasons with their clubs.  While Jagileka offers consistent and reliable displays in stopping the attack of the opposite team and Jones can play in a variety of positions including full back and the holding midfield role quite effectively.  The versatile and consistent traits of these players are able to compensate without the experience of Rio.  And when Gary Cahill was needlessly injured in the final friendly before the European Championships against Belgium, a number of people took for granted that Rio was the obvious replacement, but in fact it was the young Martin Kelly of Liverpool who was inevitably chosen.  Kelly’s natural position is right back, but should Glen Johnson be unavailable for a match, then it can also highly predicted that Phil Jones would get the nod.  But Roy Hodgson has already thrown up a slurry of surprises by introducing the important contribution that Alex Oxlade-Chameberlain has thus provided especially when many people thought he would be a bit-part player at best.  “To Rio Ferdinand or Not to Rio Ferdinand?” that is the question.  I would imagine that everyone will have their own opinions about the big guy from Peckham.

Notable exclusions and our fantastic bit of luck regarding injuries

Gary Cahill, Gareth Barry, Frank Lampard, Jack Wilshere, Tom Cleverley, Kyle Walker, Darren Bent, Chris Smalling and Michael Dawson.  These are just some the names that Roy hasn’t been able to pick for his first England squad.  You would have to feel for Roy when he hasn’t been able to pick some of these star performers.  Especially when England’s arguably best striker isn’t able to play for the first two games. Gary Cahill has had an immense few months with Chelsea, but most notably his fantastic display in the Champion’s League final against Bayern Munich.  Cahill would have also slotted nicely into a back four that consisted of 2 other Chelsea teammates in John Terry and Ashley Cole.  Also making up the noticeable absentees in the defence are Tottenham Hotspur’s Kyle Walker and Michael Dawson and Manchester United’s Chris Smalling.  Gareth Barry is an important player in a title-winning Manchester City side, who is able to pick out a pass and perform his defensive duties with so much determination.  A lot has been said about Frank Lampard’s contribution to the England cause and whether he is able to carry his Chelsea form into an England shirt.  But with a squad that is already hit with so many injuries and experience, it may have been beneficial to involve him.  As he always carries a goal threat and with his many caps it would be useful to some of the younger lads in the set up.  There is little doubt that Arsenal’s Jack Wilshere and Manchester United’s Tom Cleverley will be the nucleus of England’s future midfield.  And it is very unfortunate that these bright players will not be on show for this summer’s European Championships.

Down-ing … when we should be looking up!

Downing finished the 2011/2012 Premier League season with no goals and no assists (so this choice has as much logic as stroking the insides of a crocodile’s mouth with your bare hand).  Other players like Manchester City’s Adam Johnson (with a total of 7 goals in the season just gone, would have been a more positive and well received option).  Even Villa’s Marc Albrighton has 3 goals to his name, in what can only be described as performing amicably in a dismal team with defensive negative tactics (cheers a bunch Alex McLeish).  Finally another option was Tottenham Hotspur’s Aaron Lennon, who could have linked up with team-mates Scott Parker and Jermain Defoe.  Is it right that Roy chose a winger without a single goal or assist to his name over some oblivious better options?

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain isn’t keeping the bench that warm

When Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s name was announced as Roy Hodgson’s England squad was confirmed, there was some optimism.  Although many thought that this selection mirrored Sven Goran Eriksson’s decision to pick Theo Walcott for the 2006 World Cup squad, and never played a single minute of football.  But in England’s final friendly before the start of the European Championships against Belgium, Oxlade-Chamberlain played a prominent role in the match.  Thoroughly impressing on the left wing with his daring runs and troubling Belgian defenders with his blistering pace and urgency to take on back-peddling centre halves.  And our first match against France on Monday saw another positive display from the Ox, imitating signs of the confidence to yet again take on defenders and frighten the life out of them.  Although the quality of opposition was slightly different (compared to Belgium), it meant the Ox had to mostly pass the ball sidewards when he would probably have liked to run it on the wings creating chances for Danny Welbeck.  Are we to be lucky and see more from him later in the tournament? Only time will tell.

Concluding Comments

Could this summer end with the Manchester City players; Hart, Lescott, Milner having both a Premier League winner’s medal complementing a European Championship winner’s medal?  The same goes to the Champions League winning Chelsea core of Cole and Terry, it could be a fantastic year with UEFA’s top two prestigious tournaments accomplished.  We will find out after the Ukraine match, to see if England progress or not.  Let’s hope so.  Come on England!


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