I seem to remember Sven always getting abuse for giving England caps out too cheaply, his policy of making wholesale changes in the second half of friendly games was heavily criticised but I’m not sure that he sank to the depths that Hodgson has.
There seems to be 2 clear camps when picking players for the England squad, class and form. Class players have done it all – been there, seen it, got the t-shirt. Steven Gerrard is probably a good example, he may not have the current form but we’ve seen it enough times in the past. Form players are the opposite, they’re very much in the here and now – pulling up trees in all their recent matches. Think Grant Holt last season. If a manager is lucky, his players are both. Under Hosgson however, England have created a new category, players that have not proven class and are not in good current form – Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Tom Cleverley are prime suspects. Both have the ability but are yet to have a consistent run of form over a period of time and neither has played anywhere near enough club football to be within spitting distance of the England first team.
Perhaps the biggest crime though was having the likes of Raheem Sterling sat on the bench, a player that has so far made just 3 senior appearances in the premier league. Sterling is certainly a prospect, but that is all he is at this stage – he first needs to prove himself in the premier league before being brought into the England squad.
Is it Hodgson’s fault? Well, you could argue that is is, England should be maybe looking at Championship players before they take a punt on players that are completely unproven in the premier league.
The best thing about Paolo, apart from his sublime skills is that he’s a bit of a nutter. We’re chuffed that he’s continuing this into his management career…
Over the years, as England fans we’ve been lowering our expectations – for some it hasn’t even been a conscious decision. 15 years ago many would have been so bold to predict a 5-0 victory for England when they encountered a team like Moldova but things have changed. Years of England not hitting expectations had fans and pundits predicting a much closer score line – I heard many a 2-1 England “we always concede”.
Last night though, without Wayne Rooney, England hit Moldova for 5 and kept a clean sheet putting them top of their qualifying group for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. This is Roy Hodgson’s England and this time he’s had more than a few days to prepare.
If there were one cloud to the silver lining that was England’s performance it would be their reliance on Chelsea’s Frank Lampard. A player who realistically has little chance of being selected for the squad in 2014 – by the time tempe tournament kicks off Lampard will be closing in on his 36th birthday. It begs the question of whether England should be getting what they can from their ageing players or preparing a new group of younger players ready for the tournament in 2 years time. Last night, Hodgson chose both. Tom Cleverley had a good game in midfield as did Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain supported by the experience of Gerrard and Lampard. It would take a brave manager to remove the senior players in favour of a younger team and Hodgson isn’t a brave manager.
RVP hit a hat trick, Swansea and West Brom failed to go top, Joey Barton went to Marseille and it’s an international break that we’re struggling to get up for. Find out what the pod team have been enjoying this week!
England start off their qualifying campaign for the 2014 World Cup on Wednesday with a number of high profile absentees from the squad. Wayne Rooney, Ashley Cole, Scott Parker and Andy Carroll are not included leaving opportunities for players that have previously not had the opportunity to impress in an England shirt.
It seems strange to think of players such as Michael Carrick and Jermain Defoe as players short on opportunities – 72 caps between them suggests anything but. The reality paints a different picture though with both playing understudy to a string of players in front of them.
Wayne Rooney, never short of column inches misses the two qualifying games through injury but some will say this is a blessing in disguise. In his brief appearances this season Rooney has looked out of form and his seemingly untouchable position in the starting eleven is surely up for review following poor performances in the last two international tournaments.