None of Roy’s boys would make Euro 96 XI

Date published: Thursday 2nd June 2016 2:30

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England 96 v England 16
Hart as second or third-choice keeper ahead of Ian Walker; Cahill or Smalling in ahead of Steve Howey; Alli ahead of Barmby; and there’s a case of Kane ahead of Ferdinand or Fowler, but not a very good one.  I can’t see how anyone else from the current squad would get anywhere near the Euro 96 squad.  None of them would get near the first 11.

As a final note before anyone suggests Gareth Southgate should be replaced, asides from the penalty (it still hurts) he was a thousand times more composed than Smalling is and much better at reading the game than any of the current batch of central defenders so he still goes.

International football used to be so sexy….
Matt AFC (Steve Howey really does stand out in that squad)


Let’s get positive
Roy isn’t the messiah, but he’s also far from the inflexible boring dinosaur it seems popular to brand him as either.

He took over a month before Euro 2012, topped a group including France & Sweden, and got knocked out on penalties to Italy.

WC 2014 was pretty disappointing we all can agree, although taking a step back to look at it, we narrowly lost to Italy & Uruguay, and were the only ones to take a point off a well drilled Costa Rica side who topped the group, I don’t think it was good by any stretch but feel the context is relevant. In that World Cup we didn’t have a great squad, I think most can see it was still very much a transition side (and still hangovers of it now) but I think it was promising Hodgson tried to give youth some experience with future tournaments in mind, Sterling (19), Shaw (18),  Barkley (20) Oxade Chamberlain (20) all making the cut and the first 3 getting game time

2016 Hodgson qualifies with 10 out of 10 wins, yes it was against mediocre to poor opposition, but you can only beat who is in front of you, and I don’t think many sides have done that in European Championship qualifying full stop….4 or 5 I think. In friendlies we’ve lost to Spain & Holland, beaten France & Germany, and drawn with Italy….expectation wise that’s par, at least.

This squad, lets face it largely picks itself, he gave Alli a look in back in November after what a dozen top flight appearances? Vardy, Rashford etc inclusions have shown he will pick form players. Some begrudge him picking players like Henderson or Milner (or was once upon a time Welbeck) but why not, he’s worked with these players for a few years now, they know how he works, and he them, they’ve proved themselves in his eyes in qualifying, it’s as much of a punt to take an unproven player as it one lacking game time.

Personally I’d have taken Drinkwater (at the expense of a striker) but that’s his call to make. The only major question for me is over the fitness of Wilshere, so that compounds the need for cover there (especially as Dier is the only other like for like player in that role I feel) but if Roy feels he’s worth the fitness risk i can see the logic in him taking him at least.

The tactics, he’s not reverted to a default 4-4-2 every game, mixing between a 4-3-3, a diamond, and occasionally something resembling the setup at Spurs (who may provide half the side anyway at some stage….some would call that logical) and has clearly decided that being weak at the back he’ll try and play a more attacking style of football, play to our strengths I guess.

So in a nutshell, whilst we can disagree with certain decisions Roy has made, I think there is at least an obvious logic & case behind them. I think he’s earned a fair crack at this tournament, think he’s shown an open mind & flexible approach to tactics & selection, and I think if the draw is kind to us we could get to the semi finals, so don’t really understand the over the top criticism directed at him. Why not get behind him & the side and enjoy the experience.

If not, who is the next scapegoat who would be both available and willing to lay themselves down for the England job?

(I’ll save the Rooney argument for another day!)
James Smith/Cappo Smiffy


…It’s been a quiet day in the office and I’ve spent most of my day reading the mailbox getting super excited about next Friday. But I can’t take the pessimism around England’s chances at Euro 2016 anymore. I can’t even stand the cautious optimism. Every pundit seems to be backing France (except Le Tiss who’s gone for Austria… bold but I like it). It’s time we just embraced it.

Lads. We’re gonna win it.
Toby (Engeeerrrland), Dubai


Drinkwater debate
As the brouhaha about Drinkwater’s omission continues, it might be helpful if aggrieved Leicester fans considered Hodgson’s squad, system and plans, rather than small club chippiness.

It’s reasonable to assume, from the balance of Hodgson’s squad (attacking full-backs ball-playing midfielders and attackers), group stage opponents, and general tactical state of play in tournament football, that England will spend much of the group stage with ample possession, trying to break down deep-set and organised opponents.

In these circumstances, midfielders who play for clubs that typically have high levels of possession and play against deep-lying opponents are more valuable. Wilshere, despite his fitness record, is an exceptional passer, Henderson an able facilitator of others (albeit tainted with shades of Cleverley), and Alli and Barkley both create and score a lot. Dier has impressed all season as the holding midfielder anchoring a creative, dynamic midfield.

However impressive a season he has had, Drinkwater offers little help for England in comparison to the above. He hasn’t the technique or passing to break down organised defences (Leicester played direct and on the counter, and relied on Mahrez heavily for goals), and lacks the pace or experience to play as a lone holding player (he played most of the season with Kante alongside, whose mobility and workrate is exceptional).

And assuming they progress to the quarter finals, England will then be facing equal or superior teams, where there will be as much emphasis on ball retention as on discipline. There’s an argument for Drinkwater as one of a holding two against a team with a vastly superior midfield (France, Germany, Spain), but there’s a vast difference between winning 1-0 against PL teams, and beating Pogba, Kroos, Modric, Rakitic, Iniesta etc.

As well as Leicester have played this season, most of their squad were playing in the lower leagues for a reason, and one exceptional season doesn’t make a player exceptional, any more than a bad or injury stricken one makes a good player bad.
Chris MUFC


…As it’s the pre-Euros lull and there’s only so much to say about the England squad, a response to Thompo who asks why Drinkwater is a journeyman when he has only played for two clubs.

A journeyman historically described a worker who had completed an apprenticeship in a profession or craft, so was able to charge a daily rate for his skills – from journée, talking about the day rate that their qualification enabled them to charge. American sports parlance took this on to distinguish elite players from journeyman players, who were good enough to make a living, but never likely to reach the pinnacle of their profession.

In British sports parlance, people not being familiar with the term and hearing about say, Marcus Bent being a journeyman (accurate in the original sense) started to associate it with having loads of clubs. Quite a lot of crossover between the definitions is likely as a player who is competent but never going to excel is likely to hop around from contract to contract. But on the original definition, two-clubs-in-twelve years Glenn Whelan could accurately be described as a journeyman, but eight-clubs-in-twelve-years Nicolas Anelka probably couldn’t.

So an American talking about a journeyman is probably talking about a different thing to a British person talking about a journeyman. But it’s the latter who has misunderstood the usage rather than the other way around.
Dave (tomorrow, why “stonewall” is being used incorrectly), Bath


England experience
Interesting stuff from Joe(LFC) this morning on the level of experience of the England squad compared to previous tournaments.

My own personal view on it is that England have generally been utter arse water in every single tournament he mentions, so sod it, Roy may as well line the squad up, muss up their hair, spit on his hanky, wipe it on their cheeks and then send these inexperienced little scamps out for a good old go as far as I’m concerned. It can’t be any worse than it has been in the past.

PS – I do really appreciate the effort that people go to when it comes to researching their letters to the mailbox. It comforts me to know that so many others spend as much time at work cocking about on the internet as I do.
Tim, EFC


…Joe (LFC) seemed perplexed that Joe Cole made the 2010 England squad. Almost as if he was part of a team that had just done the double eh?

(Current NASL player of the week after this display, by the way!)

But my main point is that he’s banging on about experience. Surely experience only matters if it’s good experience. You know, winning, playing well, etc. So what value does Rooney offer in experience other than being totally sh*t at major tournaments since 2004?
Adam Corbett


Against all odds
Apologies to Dan in Greenwich because I don’t want to look like I’m picking on him, but it really annoys me when people use bookies’ odds to assess England’s (or any team’s) chances.

Although there is a lot of science to bookmaking, there’s more than a bit of artistic licence too – sometimes they’ll increase the odds to entice people to bet, or lower the odds when they know that people will bet on a team no matter what the odds might be.

They know that lots of people will bet on England, so they offer reduced odds as there’s no need for an incentive – it also decreases the payout they’ll have to make in the unlikely case of England winning.

So yes, England may have short odds but I’d take that with a pinch of salt…
Dan Wardle (MUFC since 1983)


Jose’s first job
All this stuff about potential transfers of players I’ve never even heard of into Manchester United and yet the biggest of all new contracts at Old Trafford  should be a massive pay increase for David De Gea.

We must, I mean we really, really must keep this man. It’s been so long since United have has a world class player yet just look at David.

I’ve always loved great goalkeepers, probably going back to Manchester United goalie Harry Gregg  (the absolute hero of the 1958 Munich crash. Look him up – he was safe and clear but he  heard a baby cry and he went back into a burning aircraft and came out with a baby in his arms). This man was the genuine article. Look him up and you’ll love him like I do.

Goalies are different. De Gea is special. We have to keep him. Simple stuff, eh?
Jonesey, Melbourne


Swede dreams
Today was a sad day of realisation for me. I have been awaiting the Football365 Transfer Guide so I could see what your view on my teams dealings will be this season…and then was starkly reminded that we’ve be relegated so don’t get to be in opinion pieces anymore (understandably).

On the plus side, I drew Sweden in the office sweepstake so I can now refer to myself in the third person and make outlandish and egotistical proclamations. Paul, Newcastle is the greatest at not winning the sweepstake, just ask your sister.
Paul, Newcastle


Storey is on holiday. Sort of.
Where’s this week’s Portrait of an Icon? I was waiting for it yesterday …. now nothing today?

I need to read and reminisce and get goosebumps! Please!
T, London.

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