Five players England shouldn’t take the the World Cup

Ashley Young

A decent call for the worst Premier League player of the season and without a doubt the worse player in the Man Utd Squad. Watch Young play and there is a better than evens chance that he will give the ball away every time he touches it.

England struggle to keep possession at the best of times. Playing Ashley Young at the World Cup would

be like voluntarily handicapping ourselves. Plus there is that whole diving thing.

Michael Dawson


It’s hard to believe Dawson spent so long playing with Ledley King. A centre back who conquered his own lack of pace by being able to read the game becoming something of a master at the last ditch tackle.

I can only presume Dawson wasn’t paying attention because he has managed to combine two major flaws.

Dawson combines being slow with sudden and dramatic loses of concentration. If he was lightening quick then his pace would rescue his lack of awareness. Alternatively, if he was able to concentrate on his positioning for 90 minutes his lack of pace wouldn’t be disastrous.

As it is Dawson combines both. Opposition strikers would queue up to play against him at the World Cup.

Gareth Barry

Barry is enjoying something of a renaissance at Goodison Park this season. So much so that it seems unfair to include him here. In the end he has been. Although this is more because, of the weaknesses that Barry’s presence would compound than because, he is undeserving.

Never the quickest Barry seems to have lost perhaps another half a yard of pace over the last couple of seasons.

In an England central midfield that is already lacking pace Barry’s presence simply makes the engine room of the team to slow. At Everton this isn’t too bad as Martinez has surrounded Barry with younger legs leaving him to play the anchor man role. For England though he would likely be lining up with the post-30 somethings Gerrard and Lampard.

Imagine a midfield three including Barry, Gerrard and Lampard playing together in the humidity and heat of Manaus against Italy. It doesn’t bare considering.

Andy Carroll

In theory the presence of Andy Carroll in the England squad has a logic to it. The argument in late April/ early May will go something like this.

“Carroll’s been in good form in the second half of the season. His 13 goals were pivotal in keeping West Ham up. On his day he is unplayable, look at what he did against (insert a team who Carroll played fantastically against). You wouldn’t necessarily start with him but he offers a different dimension. He gives the team a ‘plan B’ for the last twenty minutes or so when you need to mix things up.”

Despite the rampant use of footballing cliches there is something to this. On paper. Unfortunately the history of watching England in the modern era shows that the gap between theory and reality is like that between a vicious hungry lion and a squashed tangerine.

The moment Andy Carroll, or any tall centre forward, comes onto the pitch all other English players will cease to attempt to pass the ball or get the ball wide. Instead the centre backs will launch a series of long diagonal balls up field aimed at Carroll. The opposing centre backs will quickly cotton on to this tactic and ensure they win every second ball.

Consequently, all the introduction of Carroll will do is offer England a quick and ugly way to lose possession. Even worse as England come under pressure for giving the ball away the long balls up to Carroll will increase in both frequency and inaccuracy. This will naturally increase the pressure even more. Until the inevitable happens and England concede. Bonus points are available for a frustrated Wayne Rooney getting himself sent off.

Joleon Lescott

When filthy rich foreign owners come into a football club there is a window of time where money is spent ridiculously on players who aren’t even conceivably worth the fee. Abramovich had Shaun Wright-Phillips for example. Man City’s owners have Joleon Lescott. The millions they have spent on Lescott in transfer fees and wages is hilarious but not actually funny.

There is a reason why both Mancini and Pellegrini have both seemed less than eager to feature the ex-Evertonian. It is because, at top level, International tournaments and Champions League games, Lescott’s lack of pace and game awareness are painfully exposed. If Lescott gets onto the pitch for England we will really be in trouble.

The Ashes

In under twelve hours one of the oldest and greatest rivalries in sport begins again. England v Australia will cross bat and ball in the Ashes. England are seeking to win a mind blowing four consecutive series. As an Englishman who grew up watching Messrs Warne and McGrath munch their way through the hapless England team like a hungry lion the reversal of fortunes between the two sides is something glorious to behold. Do I think England will win the series then? Yes but I predict it will be much much closer than last time. With this in mind I thought I would preview the key areas of the upcoming Ashes match.

1)

Starting with my dear old thing Henry Blofeld. The Doyen of commentators with the most unique style of oratory that I have ever heard. Even if your are not a cricket fan I would highly recommend youtubing this picture postcard image of an Englishman whose father’s surname apparently inspired Ian Flemings Bond villan. Listening to his commentary never fails to put a smile on my face. His enthusiasm is infectious as he fills the listeners in on the local birdlife, the progress of the number 10 bus, the working habits of nearby cranes and Oh look he’s been bowled for a duck. Top quality entertainment that is not to be missed.

2)

Watching sport late at night is a very strenuous activity it is important to stay well carbed up as if one was running a marathon. I’m a personal fan of the late night sandwich. The key decision then is whether to go for a beer or a strong cup of coffee. I say if there is brown sugar then plump for the coffee.

3)


Preparation is vital remember there are no heroes where tiredness is concerned. Warm up for the night with a long afternoon nap so you can feel refreshed and awake come 3am.

4)

If there is one area where England outclass Australia it is in the spin bowling department. Last summer England exploited this preparing a series of pitches designed to favour spin bowling. This worked magnificently with Swann taking more wickets than any other bowler out of both teams. The pitches in Austrailia are unlikely to be so turn friendly so the question what role will Swann play. He will not be expected to bowl out the Australian team but with all the left handers in the Australian batting order he’s a good bet to chip in with important partnership breaking wickets. Australia need to keep Swann quiet if they are to have a happy series.

5)

But wait that’s two pictures are you just being lazy and not wanting to do a number six. No. Not at all. These pictures represent two sides of the same coin. On the left Australia’s pace attack and England’s top order. In the last series England’s top order underperformed. Whereas Australia’s pace attack stayed fit and were comfortably their biggest plus. The thought amongst pundits is that the same low slow turning pitches that so helped Swann worked against English batsmen such as Cook, Trott and Pieterson who enjoy pace on the ball. If this analysis has anything going for it (and I would tend to think so) then the conditions down under should be ideal to get back into form. Here’s hoping.

I’m off for my pre-match nap.