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Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Rooney can make can England

Having suffered from another broken bone in the same foot on Saturday in which he broke a bone during the England v Portugal match in the Euro2004 tournament, Wayne Rooney was exactly six weeks away from England's first World Cup match against Paraguay. That could be enough time for his foot to heal, not so much that he will be able to play in that game. But if Rooney remains on course for recovery, then selecting him for the squad for Germany is good enough, where he can continue recovery and fitness under the national squad's medical staff and potentially come into contention for the last game with Sweden on 20th June.

I don't think pitches and particular boots, or even boots in general, are to blame, otherwise we would have an epidemic of metatarsal injuries. To date the likes of Danny Murphy, David Beckham, Gary Neville, Steven Gerrard, Ledley King, Arjen Robben, and David Nugent of Preston North End have suffered identical injuries. Nugent injured his right foot on March 14 and has been mentioned recently as his diagnosis at the time was he would be out for the reminder of the season, but he was on the bench for Sunday's game, almost seven weeks later.

Eriksson announces his squad on 15th this month, with a preliminary list next week Monday. My choice for Germany:

Paul Robinson
David James
Robert Green

Gary Neville
Jamie Carragher
Ashley Cole
Wayne Bridge/Paul Konchesky
Rio Ferdinand
John Terry
Sol Campbell
Wes Brown
Ledley King

Frank Lampard
Steven Gerrard
Michael Carrick
Shaun Wright-Phillips
Joe Cole
Aaron Lennon
David Beckham

Michael Owen
Peter Crouch
Darren Bent
Wayne Rooney/Marlon Harewood

IF Rooney is considered not suitable to travel, then Marlon Harewood should be considered. I think he has pace, strength and has been in good form for West Ham goals wise. While Jermaine Defoe looked very good last season, this season he has been fazed by the presence of Ahmed Mido and the Egyptian's partnership with Robbie Keane, considered more successful than any other upfront at Spurs. Against Bolton Defoe struggled to get into the game with his talent of pace and eye for the most acute of angles to shoot through, and on occasion couldn't hold up the ball long enough to be a major threat, therefore he is not in my squad.

The usual suspects of David Beckham, Joe Cole, Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard appear and all four have been impressive for their teams. Shaun Wright-Phillips could be a doubt for some but we know what he can do and I hope he chooses any opportunity in the tournament to really prove something to Jose Mourinho. Michael Carrick can play a holding role in midfield, pass, tackle and attack, and has been doing that very well for his club. I said before I felt Aaron Lennon's inclusion would be one too soon but in reflection, with Rooney possibly not travelling, Lennon could provide a great option with his pace to race down the wing and cross low for players to tap in, something which our forwards are more than capable of doing.

I have been impressed with Paul Konchesky, although of late he has turned in an average performance. My first choice to deputise for Ashley Cole would automatically be Wayne Bridge but I feel both players are now as good as each other. If pushed, I would go for Bridge. Jamie Carragher is Mr. Versatile and can cover for Gary Neville if need be, so too could Wes Brown. Ledley King still recovers from his broken foot but should be OK by the time June comes. When you mention King, John Terry, Rio Ferdinand and Sol Campbell, none of these should be left out, and when you add Carragher and Brown into the central defensive equation, England has that area solidly secured, partly why I see we can win it.

Finally, Paul Robinson has established being England's no.1 keeper. Nuff said. David James has had his comical moments but he does have the experience and know-how to pull great saves, though if Chris Kirkland wasn't injured, James would be third choice. That would have rendered Robert Green omitted from the squad. I haven't seen him play to determine his current playability but English keepers in the Premiership are very very limited other than Nigel Martyn (injured or unfit) and Wigan's Mike Pollitt.

This squad is as strong as before, if not stronger. For the first time in a while we have looked to the holding player possibility. Rooney's possible absence is not the be-all and end-all, other players in the squad are very capable of winning matches for us. Instead of looking to one player for mass inspiration, the players should look at the World Cup itself and think about winning it. With Paul Robinson in good form, a marshalled defence with Terry, Campbell and Ferdinand, Carrick to hold with Lampard and Gerrard attacking, Beckham, Lennon, Wright-Phillips and Cole using their skill down the wings, crossing, passing, and Owen, potentially Harewood and Bent put through with Crouch giving good height advantage and touch on the ball, we can give a damn good performance out there.

I think England fail to link up strongly defensively, something they are better at in attack, and as such concede silly goals that an English defence is not renowned for. A number of teams in the competition specialise on the one player who breaks through on the pass, like Thierry Henry who edges on the shoulder of an opposition player and then sprints in time to collect the pass. Rooney is classic at doing this, and in his absence Owen or even Bent can do this too. The only thing with Rooney is he is confident of creating a route for himself pass three players, prepared to take on players, whereas I cannot say the same for any other striker we have. One thing we do too often is play the ball around the opposition's box with no one willing to take the step to strike at goal, as if we are looking for the perfect ball into the box, so we should encourage less passing and more practice on shooting.



Blogger T said...

Add Clichy and Cole to the sorry broken-foot-brigade Redsman. I personally feel that the new lightweight boots are the cause for the increase in such injuries- and I did notice on Monday that Gael Clichy was wearing a pair of old-school black boots which looked a lot more solid than the type of boot that Rooney was wearing last Saturday.

Redsman, your selection for the World Cup looks good. I would try to find room for Boro's left-winger Downing- especially if England are going to be employing Crouch at the World Cup (18 months ago if you told me that Crouch would be England's starter at the World Cup I would have been totally shocked!). I would include him at the expense of either Lennon or SWP because I don't think both should go as they are practically identical players. It's a tight call for me which one should be left out- and I must say that at the moment I am tempted to leave out SWP.

I would also leave out Brown because there are enough centre-back cover in Terry/Rio/Carra/Sol/King. I would instead add an extra stiker- and I definitely see the argument for Harewood's inclusion. A lot of pace and power- plus he is at the top of his confidence. But for me we should not take both Bent and Harewood as they are v similar. I need to think more about which one of these two should go and come back to you!

Brown's place should go to Defoe. He has the talent to do the business, and for me is the closest swap for Owen if the Newcastle striker were to get an injury (which you have to say is quite likely).

I heard this morning that Rooney's break is not a clean one- but is in 'clusters'. I'm not sure if this affects the prognosis for his recovery- but it doesn't sound good to me. What a shame his injury is!

5/03/2006 5:42 pm

Blogger SKG said...

england can still have a decent world cup without rooney. lampard was spot on when he said that all the players now have to pull their socks up and take on greater responsibility. england still have great players and should at least get through to the quarter-finals.

5/03/2006 8:49 pm

Blogger RedsMan said...

Yes, Clichy and Cole. Even former Spurs left back Erik Edman has suffered recently. I see what you mean about SWP and Lennon being similar - mainly on the right side. If either of them were to be left behind, it would be SWP. I wouldn't bring in Downing, someone said he is one of the best crossers in the league but against Steaua he was good, but not enough for England. Instead I would be tempted to include one you mentioned before, T, Matthew Etherington. I feel he is yet to mold into a senior England player but cant help but ponder over his pace and runs down the left, crosses and shooting power. Having Joe Cole means the Chelsea man could go either left or right.

Lampard was spot on, for if the squad suddenly feel dejected because of Rooney's injury, it will set the tone for preparations in a bad way. Sir Alex was right in saying too much is pinned on Rooney. Now that he is confirmed to have broken more than one bone in his foot, his recovery time potentially increases, meaning at the least he won't be fit for the opening games at all.


5/04/2006 12:48 am

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think we have to accept that Rooney won't make it. In his absence there is only one player who can produce the spontaneus moment of genius that can turn games, that player is Steven Gerrard and Rooney's injury means we HAVE to give him the freedom to attack. This would probably mean playing Carrick as a holding player or alongside Lampard in the centre with Gerrard playing behind Owen. I think Lennon should get the nod over SWP as well. As a late substitute this guy will work to great effect (he's basically this World Cup's Vassell only he has skill in abundance and would suit the Gerrard/Lampard tactic of arriving on the edge of the box). Lennon and Cole with Owen central could be a good option with the aforementioned two CMs and either Becks or Carrick....Have to say I've been taking the piss out of Liverpool fans who claim Carragher should play for england over Rio but where the flippin eck has Ferdinands form gone????

5/04/2006 10:47 am

Blogger RedsMan said...

Thanks, Anon (10.47am), I guess you are a Man Utd fan? First choice central defence for England is Ferdinand and Terry, no bones about it, coming from a hard Liverpool fan. Carragher has been one of a number of reasons why Liverpool have enjoyed 34 clean sheets thus far this season and he is just right to bring on as cover. Ferdinand has looked slightly (with an emphasis) nervous but he is experienced and alongside Terry should not have a problem.

As I said above we have a great selection for central defence I cannot see us going wrong there. It is now key to deploy a good attack plan. Darren Bent has cried out for a chance to shine, Owen should be very keen, and like you said, Anon, sprints down the wings by Cole and Lennon can aid a stronger attack surge. Gerrard behind the lone striker is another option, though I can't disguise my liking for two strikers. But with Carrick holding and Lampard and Gerrard going forward, it sounds very good. Good enough to be Plan B!!

If Andy Johnson is in the form he was before relegation, it's another good option.


5/04/2006 5:15 pm

Anonymous Nturtle said...

Another good piece Redsman.

I think you've done a fair job there with the England team, and it is definitely good to NOT pin too much on Rooney.

At the end of the day, the World Cup is not set in stone...and the form book can easily go out the window. Individual players will carry teams, but so will TEAM efforts, so I predict a fair few surpises.

Well, my only addition to the England squad is Dean Ashton or Andy Johnson....they have done alright as well, so should probably fight Harewood for his place.

As for Rooney and boots...well spotted eagle eye T!! Never saw that game so the insight on Clichy is very interesting.

5/04/2006 5:47 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with T that England should actually include Downing in the squad as it will increase the attacking options. Redsman you have listed the following players as strikers:

Michael Owen
Peter Crouch
Darren Bent
Wayne Rooney/Marlon Harewood

If Rooney doesnt make it...that would leave only Owen (who also has his fitness problems, with world cup & Euro cup experience for England.) Here;s my suggestion...since you have included Bent and Crouch who dont really have much International experience...why not give a wild card to Robbie Fowler? He can come in from the bench and use his experience...and help the team. Preety much like he is doing with Liverpool at the moment...whatcha think?

5/05/2006 3:04 am

Blogger RedsMan said...

That's a good call, Anon (3.04am), for my colleague SKG said the very same thing. Some dissenting voices will say he is not fit pace wise, is in his 30's and is not as sharp as previous, but then again we have seen Sheringham in action and while he didn't have abundance of pace, his positioning and passing and being in there with a little deft touch had been vital for club and country.

At the risk of being stoned, Fowler is another option, but not a realistic one because he hasn't featured prominently for Liverpool. Then again, that argument could be turned on Owen's inclusion, and he would take time to come into a game after injury, as he did at St Andrews. But a fit Owen is renowned. A fit Fowler, really, isn't that much different from Owen in terms of current team participation. Fowler has been scoring, but people would say he is far gone from that required for Germany, that sharper, fitter players will be there.

Personally, upfront, despite being a stern Red fan and would like Fowler to be there, I would stick with those I mentioned.


5/05/2006 10:09 am

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mate Fowler is soooo far from being the answer!! Bent is a better bet as a striker to come off the bench IMHO. Redsman I'm no Man Utd fan!! I'm spurs through and through (hence the advocation of Carrick and Lennon!) but a little apprehensive about Defoes form at the moment. The thing is he has actuall worked hard to become a better 'strike partner' as opposed to an out an out goal scorer and I don't think he gets enough credit for that, his goal scoring form is a bit worrying though I admit. I think Downing may make sense to take but only as a sub/backup: Joe Cole is definitely the best player to start on the left and I'd rather release Gerrard and Lampard forward than move Cole inside.

5/05/2006 10:29 am

Blogger RedsMan said...

Whichever way you look at it, while Rooney's injury is a serious kick on the teeth, we still have excellent capabilities to win the Cup, not merely progress into QF. We were ever so close in 1986 when we went out to Argentina, close again when we were beaten 2-1 by Brazil, we've been darn close for time and its now we can rectify that. And you know something, the likes of Mourinho and maybe even Benitez have injected a nerve into the Premiership that hasn't jolted English players before. Prime example of Joe Cole, who was jiggling and entertaining at West Ham, when so much was made about him, then he was crowd pleaser, was bought for Chelsea and Mourinho then clamped on him and got him to perform for the team, either that or he realised he needed to conform in order to be seen and he has been excellent overall this season.

Carragher and Gerrard have been excellent too overall, someway from Houllier and the rest under Benitez. Then Crouch is not preferred because of his frame but he has been good for England and has been better because of Benitez. Before, when foreign players were becoming prevalent, English players and up-n-commers were slightly resigned to not featuring in the first-team but suddenly English players have realised they are as good as foreign players and the vitality is up. Since WC2002 and Euro2004, thelikes of Terry have become stronger, the likes of Cole have emerged more, Ledley King, Michael Carrick is now in contention, young Lennon, we have an excellent crop of experienced and young players and I think it's how the other nations develop.

OK, no Rooney, have to deal with it, we can give a big performance, if only the players could actually feel that vibe.


5/05/2006 9:32 pm

Blogger RedsMan said...

Fowler may not look to be an answer but then again the answer can come from the strangest of avenues!


5/05/2006 9:33 pm

Anonymous Nturtle said... never know! Fowler just might make it! Experience DOES count sometimes, but personally...Bent or Ashton (if he gets fit for UEFA) are my choices. Defoe never struck me as the dynamic type, but he is very pacey...a bit more like an Owen.

It sure is tough for England without Rooney...but it's a funny game.../Crouch could end up being top scorer or something!

5/06/2006 4:22 am

Blogger RedsMan said...

That's it. Before people would count on events they expected to guarantee would happen, but lately, say coming into the 21st century, averse occurrences have happened where you would expect the usual. Who would have wagered on Milan Baros top scorer in Euro2004 and the Czech Republic getting so far? A draw at OT between Utd and Sunderland? Liverpool's comeback in Istanbul? We should plan for what expected and be cautious of the unexpected. Anything can happen from anywhere through anyone.

But for me, the winner isnt as clear cut as either Brazil or France, though they are strong contenders. The other thig is England do not have enough collective belief in their own ability, which is why we falter when we push forward and get through but fail to shoot or score. Of late we have been good but that was from last time against the Argentinians in a friendly.


5/06/2006 9:26 am

Anonymous Striker said...

Hi Guys:
Thanks for the support & great reading.


5/06/2006 10:01 pm

Anonymous Ntrtle said...

Oh my...Walcott is in!!! And also Lennon...good for him! It's a huge gamble from Sven's point of view, considering Defoe, Beattie etc have been left out...

It's going to be interesting!!

5/08/2006 4:15 pm

Blogger T said...

Thanks Striker. Your site is also going great and we are proud to have you as an affiliate!

Nuturtle, I think me or Redsman will post something later today about the England squad announcement. But I will say now that I'm delighted - if also shocked - to see Walcott in the squad... He has my full support!

5/08/2006 5:39 pm

Blogger RedsMan said...

I certainly have something to say about it. I think T will produce an article on today's announcement.


5/08/2006 6:30 pm


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