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Tuesday, February 15, 2005

England Squad Woes

Now that the holidays are over and Arsenal has virtually lost the Premiership title, let's talk about something less depressing - the England squad. It is strange that the 23 member composition of this team can stir so much controversy and debate all over the world, and especially by third class bloggers half a world away that have never even set foot in the British Isles.

Over the past 2 years, the two positions that have been the most problematic for Sven Goran-Eriksson would be rightback and left wing.

Let's talk about the left wing position first. It is ironic that England has a shortage of good leftwingers. Most of the world's best players in that position play in England. Pires, Kewell, Duff, Giggs earn their keep in the Premiership week in and week out. More painful for Sven and all England is that Giggs could have easily turned out for the three Lions, but now proudly wears the dragon of Wales. Ditto for Duff, but that's a long story.

So Sven has 2 options on the left wing. Either play a good right-footer in that position (either a right winger or central midfielder) or, play an inexperienced leftie. He has tried the first choice before, the list of players trudging uncomfortably down that left passage include Gerrard, Scholes, Wright-Phillips, Jenas, Joe Cole, etc. If he plays option 2, it would be Wayne Bridge. It speaks volumes when in some games Ashley Cole plays left wing better Bridge. Stewart Downing has recently emerged as another choice. However, Downing is not in the same class as say, Pires or Giggs, and it is only by a twist of luck that he can wear the national jersey. Perhaps he may grow to be into a great player one day, who knows. But left wing is too important a position to gamble on a greenhorn. But too bad for Sven, he has not many options. Some people are touting Lee Hendrie of Aston Villa, but I don't think he'll get a chance.

Now on to right back. I can understand why left wing is difficult to fill, there are more righties in the world as compared to lefties. Which makes the rightback situation baffling. Currently Gary Neville plays for England, backed up by either Jamie Carragher or Matthew Upson. Neville is way past his sell-by date, Carragher does not play regularly in that position, Gunner-reject Upson is not experienced enough to play in the World Cup.

Again the problem is the lack of English rightbacks in the Premiership. As the EPL gets more and more popular and cashloaded every season, more and more foreigners are flocking there, which means less and less Englishmen playing regularly. Ironically Sven has no such problems for left back, Ashley Cole probably has that position locked for the next 8 years or so. As for centreback, the are at least 8 good players lining up to fill the 2 slots - Campbell, Ferdinand, Terry, King, Southgate, Brown, Woodgate, etc.

So until the next qualifier for Germany '06, the debates will still go on.


  • You have some points there about the 2 england's position woes. Okay, true enough, perhaps that the quality of left wingers of the england players might not be at par with some of the well established foreign players the likes of Duff,Giggs, Kewell and etc. However, in my opinion they still have quite a selection to pick from. (more than 5)
    If that's not the option, like you said, filling in a more experienced player on to the left side - in that case, they have much more choices.

    i can understand that playing at national level, everyone would certainly expect the "best" players to represent their nation. However, that is not always the case, true? To me it doesn't matter if england has a wonderkid on the left wing or not, as long as these players are pick, they go in and do their job. That's all it matters. :) you should be looking at the keeper position too :p

    By Anonymous t2k, at 2/23/2005 05:37:00 am  

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