England selection will always cause debate. As if decisions were not hard enough – Roy Hodgson had to make after leaving his position as West Bromich Albion manager just days before. Despite the obvious hurdles Hodgson faced, he showed what is needed from an England manager – bravery and long term planning. The country cannot afford to look at this summer’s tournament only; it must plan for the future. Newly appointed coach Gary Neville recently said that England will not win a major tournament for the next ten years. No doubt he would not repeat that statement now but he certainly had a good point. In a period of Spanish dominance, England must look to build in hope of replicating their success in years to come.
On Rio… The exclusion of Rio Ferdinand came as no shock. There is no questioning the
defenders talent but he is turning thirty-four this year and with recent injuries it is evident his best days are behind him. Hodgson could not win with this decision, selecting Ferdinand would have triggered fear over the atmosphere between him and John Terry. I believe it was a decision based on only football, and the right one at that. The experience Phil Jones will get from being involved this summer will prove invaluable for our next campaign.
On Sturridge… One shock was the absence of Daniel Sturridge from the provisional squad. He has played a pivotal role for Chelsea this season, contributing eleven goals and five assists in the Premier League. Many will feel he has offered more than a Stewart Downing who, in his first year with a top European club, has failed to score or directly assist a domestic goal.
On the Ox… The inclusion of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain may come as a surprise to many, purely because of his limited game time this season. It could however, be a masterstroke from Hogdson. The teenager has impressed whenever he has been involved and his performances in the Champions League have proved he can handle the big occasions. Again, the experience he will gain in Ukraine will be invaluable come Brazil 2014, although I sense that he will not just be there to take in the atmosphere this summer.
On Caroll… Before the last month of the season, no one would have put Andy Carroll on the plane to Ukraine, including Roy Hodgson. However the Liverpool striker has found late form and this is important at a major tournament. There are always calls for a so called ‘big man’ to fill a forwards place ahead of an England campaign, but this English way of thinking is not at all necessary. You will not see the Spanish adopting this policy. Danny Welbeck can comfortably take on the front man role, whilst offering more quality, and his relationship with club partner Wayne Rooney looks promising for the national team. So maybe this decision is slightly surprising but Caroll is in form and does offer a different dimension to our attacking line up.
Overall the squad looks to have a good balance between youth and experience – a factor which would have been at the forefront of Hodgson’s mind. The manager knows he will have the job regardless of how this summers tournament pans out and because of this is under less pressure for immediate success. He will surely use this small freedom to give younger players, who are already more than capable, experience whenever possible. With slightly less expectation this summer comes slightly less pressure – who knows what this will result in.
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