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Prove us wrong, Roy
I have always considered myself a believer in Hodgsons choices up til now. Since his appointment I thought them to have been considered, logical and sensible. he;s made choices that many have not agreed with, but that’s fine. your never gonna get everyone to agree to everything. He’s made his choices, rarely backtracked without good reason and not over-reacted to things, which in may head is a good thing. But this has all changed with the news that he will make 6 changes vs Slovakia tonight.
I see it as a must win game – we MUST wind the group. Kane and Sterling have to be replaced, and I get replacing Alli, he looked tired vs Wales. I can even tolerate replacing the full backs – Walker and Rose have worked their ars*s off, and we have two able deputies in Bertrand and Clyne. but to drop Rooney as well – from a role that he is still learning, and gelling into makes me very nervous – and then to replace him with Henderson turns that nervousness into outright despair, then to do this ALL in one game……
I can understand if we had already won the group, but sheesh, we need to win this one.
I’m not normally one to disagree with F365, but I’m not worried about the changes which are mentioned in the earlier article.
Those being chosen are in the squad which, in most cases, was deemed a good squad. Yes, the team has played OK in parts, but it could be better. Given that this is a chance to give some players a break and replace them with equally as good performers (most of whom were regulars until injury) seems like a good idea to me.
The squad is decent, use it. Slovakia is possibly the weakest team in the group (close with Russia) and the next round will be much tougher. Yes, there are a few days of grace, but I’d rather have a squad which is match practice fit.
I certainly don’t see it as a risk. My only main question marks are changing the fullbacks who have been brilliant. But I wouldn’t have been saying that a month ago. But then Clyne was first choice until May. The rest seems sensible to me.
Maybe Wilshere will show what we’ve been missing instead of having that lumbering fraud of a midfielder trying to show he can still do it. Alli has looked off the pace, so give Henderson a bit of time. Kane looks a shadow. Sterling has been disappointing. Vardy and Sturridge are more than capable, if not better options.
If this team wins 6-0, who’s to say that momentum hasn’t been grasped, on the back of 4 shaky points. Even if it’s a draw, England qualify and have rested key players, while giving others a chance to shine. In fact, even a defeat, while not great, will probably see England qualify.
The next stage is a knockout, matches could be 120 minutes. Giving players a break in a near dead rubber match could be a really sensible and bold move, especially if we get past the next round.
Obviously if England lose 6-0 then this email will look stupid, but have a little faith in the squad.
Sturridge is ‘Ronaldo lite’
I see my last mail on Sturridge and the way he plays caused a few ripples, I stand by my comments and would like to add a few more, one reply mentioned how well he played when paired with Suarez, that’s because Suarez made him look better than he is, try to watch the guy subjectively he is selfish to the point of Ronaldo parody his decision making is questionable and he shoots far to many times from places where he shouldn’t, just because the odd one goes in doesn’t make him a great player. He takes on players which is great but he then tries to take on 2 or 3 more dribbling into trouble and losing the ball undoing the previous good work, I hope he does turn into an England great smashing them in against all and sundry but it’s a slim hope as Sturridge plays for himself and not the team a bit like Ronaldo lite.
Manchester (what’s the betting we finish 3rd and get Spain)
…and thoughts from Liverpool
…you asked for a verdict from a Liverpool fan on a fit Sturridge.
My personal view is he is a fantastic footballer. He is fast, strong, skilful and has a natural ability to score goals, the goals against Sevilla is a prime example. For me, his most important attributes are his incredible movement, his transitions (1-2’s etc.) and his ability to bring others into the game – overall a team, Liverpool/England, are better for having him in it. And I don’t subscribe to this selfishness tag he seems to have inherited, he does have a tendency to overplay in certain advanced areas but he has an ability to dribble so he tends to use it. Compare him to someone like Kane (very different players I know), who does not have that level of skill but probably has a better finishing ability.
He has scored throughout his career at Citeh, Chavs, Bolton, Liverpool and England. Bolton was his breakout period, where we truly saw what a prolonged period starting down the centre could do for him. I don’t blame Chelsea for letting him go (I will go into more detail about that in a minute) and I am chuffed we have him, plus how cheaply we purchased him for.
Obviously, his biggest issue is his fitness. I went to recent England game versus Holland and was shocked that Barkley has more caps that Sturridge (22 vs 19) and this is down 100% to his ability to stay fit. He has had a myriad of well documented issues but seems to be at his fittest for a long time. That being said, I am always waiting for the next injury. This was probably the major motivator for Chelsea letting him go.
I think a partnership of Kane and Sturridge would be devastating – their movement would be difficult to track and Kane is struggling playing in isolation, Tottenham surround him with players from inverted wingers to advanced midfielders and look at how effective he has been over the past 2 seasons.
In short, fantastic player and could be considered World Class but we might never know due to his constant for injuries.
Jon (Kane and Sturridge up top, Alli supporting makes me moist) Andrews, LFC
Daniel Sturridge is an incredibly talented footballer. If anything at Liverpool, I think he is struggling with missing his chum Luis Suarez. He still shows the intricacy, the touch and the vision, that forged such an excellent partnership between the two (and Sterling, I suppose).
However, he does have an Adam Lallana-esque tendency to over complicate things when it isn’t always necessary. As you say, great when it comes off, hugely frustrating when it doesn’t. Both players seem to subscribe to the school of thought, why play a simple ten yard pass, when I could pirouette and back heel it to the same player instead?
In saying that, you cannot compare their end product. Daniel is prolific. Keep him fit, he is a 20-30 goal a season striker, especially if he is given good support. I think he gets tagged as lazy, which is a tad unfair. I’d rather he was fresh when he received the ball, so he is more ready to come up with something great. Not every striker can be like Suarez.
So all in all, I’d say he’s an 8/10. As good, if not better, than anything we have. Though, I genuinely think we have something truly special in Roberto Firmino. But given his injury record, and the fact that he probably isn’t really a Klopp player (Geggen-what-ing?), if we could cash in on him and sign an alternative 8/10 player, or even two 7/10 players, we really should.
If I were an England supporter, I’d rather see him than a shattered Harry Kane on the team sheet.
Adam, LFC, Belfast.
I think after Aguero, Sturridge is the best striker in the premier league. He can be selfish at times. He loves being the goal scorer.
It would be unfair to call him a selfish player. One of his underrated talents is in picking a pass.
I didn’t see Wales England the other day but I heard Daniel was frustrating as he tried to “do it all himself” but as a player who thinks he should be starting and after watching Vardy equalise I can see why he wanted to ensure he got a goal. He’s a top drawer player bordering on world class. He is England’s best football player. He came on and provided an assist and scored the winner.
He’s a starter….no brainer for me. He loves a big game as well.
Gough, LFC, Dublin
Giggs leaving? Meh
As a United fan, the news that Ryan Giggs is due to leave United and take a break leaves me feeling a bit, well, meh if I’m honest.
As a man who is punching way, way above his weight with a tremendously beautiful woman that could do way better if she wanted, the news that he’s going to be shuffling round Manchester with nothing to do leaves me slightly uncomfortable.
Can we not make him move back to his mum’s till he’s got something to do?
*I can only begin by thinking Switzerland were playing out some sort of satire last night. Having conceded a penalty against Romania for shirt-pulling, clearly they were out to make a point. Shirt-pulling, like wrestling at set pieces, is one of those “speed camera” penalties. If you’re caught, there’s no grounds for complaint about being punished; however, a bit of frustration that others go unpunished for similar or worse offences is natural. While the Swiss players’ jerseys caught the cameras’ attention, it had no truck with the referee.
Other than that, with a draw suiting both teams, this match had a flavour of “Anschluss” and “Gijon” about it.
*Croatia did their best impression of a British tennis player on Friday night, snatching failure from the jaws of glory. As deplorable as crowd violence and flares are, they’re less of a crime than, for example, people shouting “come on Tim!” during an Andy Murray match.
*Republic of Ireland, on the other hand, took an absolute shoeing from Belgium, not helped by the few chances they created largely ending up in the crowd. They were unlucky not to have a penalty in the run-up to the first goal, but the important thing to remember is this. They actually got the ball back off that foul, and then put a very poor cross in. At the time a Belgian foot connected with it, there were seven Irish outfield players on their side of the ball, who were undone by three Belgians.
They need an unlikely victory over Italy to have any chance of progressing to the next round. Anyone got Ray Houghton’s phone number?
*Albeit from a slightly stronger position, but Northern Ireland need something against Germany to be sure of qualification. Of all the games in the tournament, this is one of the toughest to predict, in that it could be a defensive masterclass with Michael O’Neill’s men nicking a goal, or it could be that Germany rip them to shreds and come away with a 5-0 that still managers to flatter Northern Ireland.
*Romelu Lukaku got a brace. Mandatory joke about Daniel Storey and Kleenex.
*There is now an outside chance that Albania will go through having only scored one goal in three games. However, they won’t find out until Wednesday, such is the clunkiness of the tournament format. The waiting is the hardest part, as a wise man once said.
Incidentally someone the other day suggested expanding the Euros all the way to 32. As far as I can work out, there are 55 members of UEFA, including the newly-added Kosovo. Having a 32-team Euros would mean that 58% of teams would qualify; admittedly, that would make it all the more hilarious when the Netherlands missed out, but the tournament would be unnecessarily bloated.
It’s worth pointing out that there were 13 European teams at the last World Cup (41%), which is why a 16-team Euros seemed proportionate. I think a 20-team tournament could work, with four groups each containing five teams, albeit that this will never happen because they need to have all teams playing their final games at the same time.
The literary Ed Quoththeraven
Jonesey from Melbourne took time out from the Euro’s to ponder the reason for Scotland’s absence and in truth there are a few reasons we haven’t qualified for a major tournament since 1998. One of the main issues however is footballs’ evolution over the last two decades from a sport you could play, and play well, after 3 days on the booze with the PFM’s to one where being an elite athlete is a minimum requirement at the top level. We are simply not a nation who produce a fair share of players who have the required level of skill as well as the physical attributes to push on to that next level. At certain age groups Scotland can still perform reasonably well which suggests the talent is still there but more often than not we’re let down by the physical development meaning a chronic lack of pace & power which has become so important in the game.
Is it purely genetic predisposition? Maybe poor diet or perhaps a lack of vitamin D from only seeing the sun for 6 days a year also has an impact.
It’s far from the only reason however and we’ll never truly rid ourselves of the inherit Scottishness that deep down longs for glorious failure above genuine success. In two recent qualifying campaigns Georgia, with nothing to play for, have been the team to end our hopes when we had beaten France home & away (Euro 2008) and were unbeaten in 4 games v Ireland & Poland (1 win and 3 draws) during Euro 2016 qualifying.
As if things weren’t bad enough, we also have an England team who aren’t completely loathsome. Dark days indeed.
As a Scotsman and in response to what is generally a very articulate piece from Mike LFC Dubai I have a more forthright view in that the reason we did not qualify is quite simply we just aren’t and were not good enough. Having watched pretty much all the games so far at the Euros I do not actually believe we would be anywhere near to scraping a point at all and would be heading home with yet another patronising pat on the back as to how great our fans are. That might excite some sections of the Tartan Army but not me.
The Scottish Media seem to love Gordon Strachan and are scared to criticise or lambast his recent terrible decision making and lack of faith in new players, choosing instead to stick with the same failures we have had for the last 10 years or so . Until we can get a Manager who is not afraid to make tough decisions and will pick players in form who actually play for their Clubs then we will have no chance. When your main Striker is Steven Fletcher who couldn’t score on a night out starting EVERY game yet Strikers who score like Jordan Rhodes, Leigh Griffiths and Ross McCormack don’t just because Fletcher suits a “system” tells you all you need to know. Only Scotland could ignore players who actually play and score for their Clubs at a reasonably high level and then bemoan about the lack of Striking Talent later on………
Despite what Strachan might tell the world we do have a lot of Young Players coming though and who have potential but the only way we are going to sort ourselves out is if we rid ourselves of this, and it is very much a cultural issue with Scotland, brave and noble losers mentality. I am sick to death of hard luck stories, no one cares if we once finished 4th in Euro 2008 or 2016 Qualifying or beat England in the one of the last games between the Home Nations at the Old Wembley. We seem to revel in glorious failure when really it should be the exact opposite. Until we stop patting ourselves on the back for failures of this magnitude we can kiss goodbye to ever competing in International Tournaments again.
Paul (Strachan Must Go), Scotland
To provide a break from the Euros and the build up to England-Slovakia (I am pretty sure this is what Nigel Farage said the EU will rename the country if we don’t vote to leave) people might want to cast their eyes to the Copa America Centenario, if they haven’t already done so. It was the quarter finals over the last few days and what a set of quarters it was.
The hosts, USA, got things kicked off with a 2-1 win over Ecuador in front of 47,000 to march into the semi-finals of potentially the most important tournament for football development in the States. The team was not fancied before the group stages as they had a tricky draw but now anything could happen. The onward boost to the MLS and football in the USA cannot be over-stated. While USA 94 led to the creation of the MLS, with that league now established and growing, this competition could really grab the nation’s attention. If the attendances are anything to go by, it already has as next up saw 80,000 (80,000!) crammed in to see Peru against Colombia (80,000 to watch Peru). Colombia came through on pens after a bit of a let-down but the final two quarters were nothing of the sort.
60,000 watched Lionel Messi become Argentina’s all-time leading scorer after scoring (suck that Cristiano) against Venezuela. He also created one for Erik Lamela (an assist Cristiano, it is where you set someone else up) as Argentina cruised through 4-1 to set up a semi-final against the hosts.
However, the best was saved for last as more than 70,000 came to see if the fancied Mexicans could continue in their quest to be the first non-south American side to win the Copa. They were playing the reigning champions Chile and the answer was a resounding, 7-0, no. Eduardo Vargas weighed in with four and Arsenal’s own Alexis Sanchez hit one of five second half goals.
The semi-finals are on Saturday and Sunday and they coincide with games in the Euros between group winners and best placed third place finishers (?). Not really much of a choice is it?
Scotland has already said it will push for a referendum on independence if there is a vote for Brexit.
But London is also, on the whole against Brexit, so why can’t London have a referendum to be an independent City state?
We could also have our own football league with Arsenal, Chelsea, Spurs, West Ham, Palace, Charlton, Millwall, Wimbledon, QPR and Fulham taking part in a 10 team league.
Within the next few years Arsenal, Chelsea, West Ham and Spurs will all have near 60k capacity stadia and that’s before you even mention Wembley.
And if you put a pitch in the O2 and speak to the Rugger authorities about using Twickenham, London could even pitch a pretty good bid for hosting an international tournament.
I’m boycotting the next World Cup but wouldn’t if we managed to win the tournament from Russia.
Never mind Brexit – how about Lexit? I’m sure the EU would have us as an independent European state if the rest of the country fancies fending for themselves outside the EU.
Graham Simons, Gooner, only half joking, Norf London
Harry Kane: Figurative dance pioneer
I’m an Arsenal fan so praising a spurs player is hardly top of my to do list, however, Sean in this morning’s mailbox (and sorry to pick on Sean because plenty of others have said similar) asserts that if Kane gets dropped it would knock his confidence and generally picks up on the somewhat weird idea doing the rounds that Kane is somehow fragile. This is that Harry Kane that pretty much everyone that supports spurs thought would never make it, had the whole world doubting him all the way through his first and second seasons (he’s not real etc.) and has played up front for a title chasing team for about 427 games this season. He’s not fragile, he’s knackered! Give him a rest (and ideally everyone should spend the whole of that time writing him letters telling him how shit they think he is, he seems to thrive off it). Roy can then restore him to the starting line-up for the knock out rounds and he can power us through the tournament all the way to a glorious victory in the final, against the Germans.
Matt, AFC (at which point he announces his retirement from football in order to concentrate on his true passion of figurative dance, adding that the shame of an Arsenal supporter having to play for spurs was too much to bare after the glory he had just been part of…)
Pig in a waistcoat
Excellent article from John Nicholson on the England manager that pretty much sums up my thoughts on the situation.
A bit harsh calling Fat Sam a pig in a waistcoat though!
Adonis Stevenson, AFC