TSF: Life's A Bitch For Team Rivals

Leighton Baines may be frustrated at not being in the England side, but at least he knows Ashley Cole is at least his equal. That's not always the case in football...

Last Updated: 19/10/12 at 09:26 Post Comment

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This is a preview of The Secret Footballer's weekly column. The full version will appear on his website - The Secret Footballer.com - on Saturday...

You might not think it but jealousy is something that most footballers can claim to know a lot about, and not just because they are exclusively on the receiving end of the green-eyed monster brigade.

Within football, there is plenty of rivalry and, as a result, bitchiness between members of the same squad. It is greater still when those players are vying for the same starting place.

The ease with which commentators and pundits alike laud Ashley Cole as the best left back in the world owes a fair amount to the fact that world-class left backs are not available in any great profusion right now. Not that he isn't a great player because clearly he is; he has the medals to prove it and is about to earn his 100th cap for England.

For years, England fans have lamented the lack of left-sided players available to play for the national team but, finally, we now at least have two left backs who, in my view, are both capable of replacing the other. Much like the "Shilton or Clemence" debate all those years ago, I am particularly fascinated to see how this battle between Leighton Baines and Cole will turn out.

In theory, Cole is so reliable that he could play on for his country for another four or five years, but the form of Baines so far this season has not only eclipsed his rival for the England slot but that of nearly every other player in the Premier League.

But should Baines find himself stranded on England's bench indefinitely, he can at least draw comfort from the fact that the man keeping him out is at the very least his equal. Let me tell you, there is nothing worse than watching a fellow professional selected ahead of you who isn't fit to lace your boots. This is where the politics start ...and this is what I will be speaking about in my column on The Secret Footballer.com this Saturday...

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