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Has Roy dropped a bollock? Absolutely NOT!!
I've just waited for the squad (though I think we all knew who was in...) and I'm really happy with the good balance and exciting young in form players. Its obvious that Roy has done what he promised and picked players based on form rather than through nostalgia or 'big names.'
I'm particularly happy that Luke Shaw and Rickie Lambert are on the plane. Luke Shaw is not an untried youth (as the press would like us to think) having played FIFTY NINE (yes that 59) premier league games and consistently turns in great performances. Yes he's hardly played international, but it's not like experience has helped England players over previous tournaments.
Equally how could Andy Carroll with his 15 appearances and 2 goals be considered over Lambert (37 appearances 13 goals)? It would have been an utter indefensible joke.
Great to see Sterling and Henderson recognized and I'm just happy that Roy has delivered exactly what he promised and I literally cannot wait to see how we do.
(Tom - Tom Cleverly has actually been dropped .... I'm in shock!)
Praise For Demichelis
So, City won the league. Moments after, I saw a post which said "Martin Demichelis has more Premier League winners medals than Steven Gerrard. There's something wrong with that sentence..." and also, reading Adam Bate's piece earlier, where he states that "his presence proved rather less disastrous than might have been anticipated". This is doing a huge disservice to a brilliant defender who, according to whoscored.com was City's 4th best performer this season, behind Aguero, Silva and Toure. Tellingly, Kompany lags behind in 9th. He comes top of the pile in clearances made and interception stats, and with him in the side, City kept 16 clean sheets.
This is a guy who is 33, had no pre-season, a newcomer to the Premier League, spent the first few months of the season out injured and has featured consistently (27 league appearances) in a defence that conceded the second fewest amount of goals. He has only been made to look silly twice this season. Firstly, by no less a player than Lionel Messi (following a positioning mistake from Kompany, I recall), and the second time, done for pace against Wigan. Whenever I have watched City, he has looked assured, commanding and always in the correct position. He hasn't resorted to yelling at referees, hasn't broken anyone's legs and has quietly gone about doing a superb job. This is Demichelis's 7th career league title, and to paint him as some sort of oaf and a buffoon is just unquestionably incorrect. The big man deserves it after taking a huge amount of flak from people who ignorantly wrote him off based on two unfortunate errors in the same week.
Richard (great smile, brilliant footballer), Cambridge
I like to think of this season's title race as a modern interpretation of The Tortoise and the Hare: Liverpool's premature ejacucelebration, their nap against Chelsea and Palace and City's quiet, steady progress to get over the line. Even the protagonists Rodgers (arrogant, full of it, cringe-inducing) and Pellegrini (humble, measured, unassuming) play into this.
Thanks to John Oates earlier today for the best laugh I (and countless others, I'd imagine) have enjoyed all season. Astoundingly bitter and ungracious.
At least the same cannot be said about Stevie G, whose congratulations to City on a 'deserved' title win were most welcome. I enjoyed his misfortune a fortnight ago but he remains my favourite non-City player by far. Let's hope he's got his head back in gear for the WC; he was excellent at Euro 2012.
Peace and love,
Big Monst (MCFC)
'Why Isn't Shelvey Going?' Is All We Can Hear
Like many, I think not taking Ashley Cole to the World Cup is a mistake. But I'd be half as bothered by it if it wasn't for the (currently probable) presence of Frank Lampard in the squad.
If Roy Hodgson's intention is to use this World Cup to blood the next wave of internationals, then I understand the Shaw-for-Cole decision. I don't agree with it - it's the World Cup: if you're not going to maximise your chances of doing well in the competition, you're wasting everyone's time - but given that we have a 1% chance of winning the tournament, I can see the justification. But if that is his idea, why on Earth is Lampard on the plane?
I like Lampard, and think he's been a great player down the years, but basically he's now Jonjo Shelvey. Go and have a look at the stats at WhoScored.com; they are unbelievably similar, with the only significant differences showing that Shelvey gives the ball away more, but has assisted twice as many and played twice as many successful long balls (which, given England's traditional style of play in these tournaments, would be useful, though I'll grant you that Wilfried Bony will play a big part in that disparity).
If experience isn't enough to give England's best defensive left back the edge over a young understudy, why is it enough for a player who is two years older and offers nothing that the almost completely unheralded Shelvey doesn't? Frankly, Roy, it doesn't stack up.
PS - Just to be clear, I'm not saying Shelvey should be in the squad; I'd pick Gareth Barry over both of them, because Phil Jones being Gerrard's cover is as terrifying as the close-up of his boglin face when he's pilloried on the back pages for doing something inevitably, monumentally crap.
A lot of fuss in the press this morning about dropping Ashley Cole, which seems a lot of hype about what is essentially the right to sit on the bench and watch Baines play.
More surprised by Roy's decision not to take Michael Carrick (if you believe the press) who for me is perfect for the conditions in Brazil where we need to keep the ball and not chase it. We are taking an unfit Wilshere, to pick up the ball, run 10 yards, overrun it and then injure himself diving in 2 footed Gazza style. Henderson will press high up the pitch, Liverpool style, then realise running around in the jungle at 40c is harder than doing it at Anfield in the rain. Gerrard will pick up the ball off the back 4, spray 40 yard passes to Sterling of which 1 in 6 will come off, and we will be told by Clive Tyldesley that it was a world class ball and mumble something about a quarter back. Rooney will end up dropping deeper and deeper to make up for the complete lack of CM, and our inability to retain the ball, eventually getting sent off for a tackle made in frustration. Lampard won't play, but he is a nice guy and good to have around the camp. Luke Shaw will benefit having an experienced player like Lampard around the camp though (and they can sit and talk together on the bench).
Probably easier just to pick and play Carrick, keep the ball slightly better, scrape through the group, move into the QF's and lose on penalties (with Lambert missing a penalty having converted his last 34)
Terrance (definitely blinkered, but not uneducated) Turner
Rankings Based On Expectations
Well that was a thoroughly entertaining season, and as the dust settles before the world cup hoo ha kicks off I have been mulling over how fans up and down the country must be feeling. As a Chelsea fan before the season started I wanted to challenge for the league and win a trophy. So I guess we are somewhat disappointed, even if we had some hugely entertaining wins along the way (Gerrard slip is priceless).
Anyway, it got me thinking, if every club could rank their finishing position based on their pre-season expectation, what would it look like?
Here is my take
1. Palace: expected relegation, finished just a few points off 10th! Amazing effot
2. Liverpool: even the most myopic of fans can't have thought they would challenge for the league, well done
3. Everton: After "Moyesiah" left they probably expected the worst. Instead, better football, double over United, and a nice 5th place.
4. Man City: Expected to challenge for the title, and duly won it. Can't really complain, apart from poor European show again
5. Southampton: Really good football, core of English talent, good times at St Marys
6. Stoke: Probably nervous about Hughes coming in but he got them a record points total.
7. Hull: Tailed off a bit in the league but were never really in danger, and a cup final to boot
8. Chelsea: No silverware in the end but a good CL run again and some big league wins mean we can't complain
9. Swansea: Never likely to repeat last season's highs, this year was about consolidation, plus Cardiff got relegated
10. Sunderland: Hoped better at the start of the season, but after the disaster that was Di Canio they did well
11. Arsenal: If they win on Saturday they should finish higher on this list, but pre season they wanted more than 4th. They got 4th... again
12. Newcastle: They may hate Pardew but played some good football and did well to finish top 10
13. West Ham: Pretty solid if uninspiring in the league, shining light was the treble over Spurs, but really the fans want more than 19th century football (boom boom!)
14. West Brom: Definitely did not expect to be in the relegation dogfight. Did well to survive on only 36 points
15. Spurs: After spending all that dosh they had expectations of top 4. Generally were pretty average all year (and lost 3 times to West Ham)
16. Villa: This team doesn't seem to be going anywhere. Probably happy about Lerner putting them up for sale
17. Cardiff: Always knew it would be hard but probably banked on doing better than the other promoted teams.
18. Fulham: It's all the statue's fault
19. Norwich: What looked like good investment last summer led to the championship. Poor old Delia
20. Man United: Needs no explanation
That's my 2 pennies worth.
Xander, CFC, London
Thoughts On McClaren
I watched Derby make the play-off final over the weekend and began wondering what the Rams fans think of Steve McClaren. I'm a Boro fan and admit to having a soft spot for Schteve (he won us our only trophy and we came close to winning a European trophy after two amazing games to make that final), but his reputation was ruined by the press when he drank from the poisoned chalice that is the England job. But watching an amazing Derby display made me wonder if they like him too, or do they believe the credit should go to Clough (the younger)?
Good luck at Wembley Derby, I'll be wishing you well.
There are a few small and very large decisions that were made in relation to this season that had HUGE impacts on the way things played out. I think these are the most interesting.
9. What if Pulis had stayed at Stoke? Would they have done better or worse?
8. What if Di Canio had not been fired? Would he have kept Sunderland up with his charisma?
7. What if Vincent Tan was not a twat? Maybe Cardiff would have actually put up a fight.
6. What if Fulham had kept Jol? I think they would have stayed up with a few games to spare.
5. What if Moyes had stayed at Everton? How well would he have done?
4. What if Chelsea had kept Lukaku, would he have won them the league?
3. What if Liverpool had sold Suarez to Arsenal?
2. What if Arsenal, Chelsea and Spurs had done some real transfer business instead of buying injured midfielders, aged strikers and players with good ratings in video games?
1. What if Fergie hadn't retired? This was the season that Man Utd started a new era, Jose went back "home", Pellegrini got a second shot at a money club and Arsenal and Liverpool flattered to deceive. Now imagine what would have happened if all that had remained the same, except for Fergie's retirement. He would have had to deal with the return of old foes, the revival of Arsenal and Liverpool and a Man City that was run by a level-headed manager. Do you think he would have got more out of the squad or perhaps he would have done some real transfer business and fixed it. Whatever the case, I think it would have made this the best season since ever.