South Africa 2010: And then they were....less with 7
So Fabio Capello has released his final choices of 23 players to take to South Africa for the World Cup 2010.
David James (Portsmouth), Joe Hart (Man City), Robert Green (West Ham)
Rio Ferdinand (Man United), John Terry (Chelsea), Ashley Cole (Chelsea), Jamie Carragher (Liverpool), Glen Johnson (Liverpool), Stephen Warnock (Aston Villa), Ledley King (Spurs), Matthew Upson (West Ham)
Frank Lampard (Chelsea), Steven Gerrard (Liverpool), Michael Carrick (Man United), Gareth Barry (Man City), Joe Cole (Chelsea), James Milner (Aston Villa), Shaun Wright-Phillips (Man City), Aaron Lennon (Spurs)
Wayne Rooney (Man United), Jermaine Defoe (Spurs), Peter Crouch (Spurs), Emile Heskey (Aston Villa)
Now, the question is, is this squad sufficient enough to win the World Cup? I think any side England puts out is full of eleven players capable of matching most in the world. But on the match day, where will their focus be? England was expected to give a good show against the Mexicans, which more or less they did, but they were expected to humble the Japanese, which they didn't. Relying on two splendid own goals, England were saved from a battering of its own from the press.
My quibble is certain players have been left behind who shouldn't be. Out of Adam Johnson (Man City), Scott Parker (West Ham), Michael Dawson (Spurs), Theo Walcott (Arsenal), Tom Huddlestone, Leighton Baines (Everton) and Darren Bent (Sunderland), for me Parker, Bent and Dawson SHOULD be going. They would replace Warnock, Upson and Carrick. Dawson has been a tough tackling, heading defender for club throughout, more so than King. Parker has been fighting like a soldier for West Ham, and the season they had showed it. I'm not a fan of Bent, but I think he can latch onto a chance when none seem to be coming, and deliver for us. Might have been lost out there in Graz' UPC Arena somewhat, but he still has the ability to link up with the main striker or second striker.I also think Bent can hold up the ball as required by Heskey, and yet also be a striker who can score, unlike Heskey.
SWP hasn't shown enough for me to be going to SA, I wonder if his father's constant speaking in the media over Shaun's omission under Sven Goran-Eriksson had any influence in his selection. Ashley Young should be going instead of him, clearly. I felt Baines had done enough to be A Cole's understudy, and certainly not Warnock, but there you are. Strange decision.
King is reliable for a game at a time, had a tough time against the Mexicans, didn't feature against the Japanese, and is lucky to be still chosen, especially over Dawson, just to make up the second XI defensive quartet. Upson hasn't had a good season for me and there is one goal that typifies him, a high ball that he had time to deal with but didn't, allowing the striker to run onto it and score. David Nugent for Burnley, at Turf Moor, February 2010, score 2-1. And yet Upson is selected.
Another reflection on who should go to SA is putting the players into two teams, a first XI and a 2nd one:
First XI - James; G Johnson, Ferdinand, Terry, Ashley Cole; Lennon, Gerrard, Lampard, J Cole; Rooney, Defoe.
Second XI - Green; Carragher, Upson, King, Warnock; SWP, Carrick, Barry, Milner; Heskey, Crouch.
Man left over: Hart
My preference for the second XI - Hart; Carragher, Dawson, King, Baines; Milner, Parker, Barry, A Young; Crouch, Bent.
Man left over: Green
So much was made about Walcott, all because he went, controversially, to the 2006 World Cup as a young player. Remember Eriksson said, regarding Walcott's inclusion for that World Cup campaign, that despite not using him, it was good to bring him to the tournament as experience for upcoming World Cup campaigns. It would appear at this junction that that has clearly happened to the contrary. The fuss over Walcott has helped him to not be chosen for South Africa. He made way for something promising after finishing the Croatians with his hat-trick, but he hadn't surfaced well since then for club nor country.
So let's dwell on what is, rather than what one thinks it should be. First game kicks off against the Americans a week Saturday, the 12th June. We know of a few of the U.S. players (Donovan, Dempsey, Howard, skipper Bocanegra, Spector, Onyewu), and we know they have good players. The onus is on us to start hard, quick, and thorough to keep the Americans on the back foot and hopefully pressure them into opening up for goals. Make it a date.