A pretty shocking headline there I know. I’ll get better at it. Hopefully.
As I type Capello is apparently making phonecalls to the unlucky seven members of his provisional 30-man squad who will not be on the plane as part of the final 23. Obviously much hinges on the results of Gareth Barry’s fitness test which took place first thing this morning, but assuming he makes the plane, here’s the seven I’d leave at home, and why:
Steven Warnock gets the nod as cover for Ashley Cole. Baines actually had a better season, as Warnock did what all Aston Villa players do after Christmas, i.e. pretty much stopped trying, and if this were just about football would be in the final 23. However his comments last week that suggested he might struggle representing his country at the biggest tournament in world sport because he gets homesick like a big Jessie mean he misses out. Now he can spend the next six weeks wondering what might have been, but at least he’ll have his mates and a decent cup of tea.
Because everyone assumes that because his knees are fucked he must be basically Paul McGrath without the alcoholism. Whenever I read football writers bigging up King there’s an undercurrent of misty-eyed nostalgia, recalling those halcyon days when footballers were joiners during the week, too busy beating their wives and chainsmoking to train in between games. But no, his knees are fucked, he has the turning circle of a routemaster bus and was dumped on his arse twice by a 50-year-old Mexican striker who even West Ham think they are too good for. Plus, he’s fucking Tottenham.
I actually feel a bit bad about this as he was such a mainstay during qualification. But while England have won nine of the 11 games under Capello in which Upson has featured, only two of those wins were achieved with clean sheets, against Andorra and Slovakia. Having endured a tough season for West Ham, Michael Dawson gets the nod thanks to a consistently excellent season for Fucking Tottenham.
While I’m happy to be corrected, no-one’s ever won a World Cup passing exclusively sideways, turning really slowly and just sort of lumbering about the place with the look of a man who would rather have a nice sit down and a sandwich.
Almost made it because of the marked decline in Carrick’s form over the second half of the season, but being the best player in the worst West Ham side for a decade is no great acclaim, and a lack of experience at this level combined with a poor disciplinary record – ten bookingss and two red cards last season – mean he stays at home.
England are currently so well stocked for small wingers with tremendous pace and no final ball that this was a tough decision. Adam Johnson looks like he might just have the lot, so SWP stays at home for looking like he dribbles in his sleep, and also to piss off his Dad.
Easy one, this. Bent might have been the second highest-scoring English striker last season, but always looks completely lost in an England shirt, like Sam from Quantum Leap just jumped into his body and has to spend 80 minutes running around pretending like he knows what he’s doing, a little run here, a hopeful flick of the boot there, a series of skied and skewed shots into the crowd in between.
So, my final 23 looks like this:
GK: Hart, James, Green
DEF: Carragher, A Cole, Dawson, Ferdinand, Terry, G Johnson, Warnock
MID: Barry, Carrick, J Cole, Gerrard, A Johnson, Lampard, Lennon, Milner, Walcott
FWD: Crouch, Defoe, Heskey, Rooney
Now let’s just hope Capello hasn’t announced his final 23 while I’ve been writing this….SUCCESS! Do let me know your thoughts in the comments below. Am I taking enough defenders? Is it too soon for Adam Johnson? Is Crouchie having his nachos? And so on.