Mails: Who will start for England in 2018?

Date published: Thursday 30th June 2016 2:14

Keep those emails coming to


LVG for England?
If Cozzy (Chelsea fan/Irish) hasn’t watched Man United more than twice over the last two years, he probably shouldn’t be commenting on van Gaal to England.

I was going to go through each numbered point to reply but it turned out I’d just written ‘b*ll*cks’ next to all of them.

He refused to drop Rooney however bad he was (sorry Guy), destroyed confidence of most of the players, refused to play to the strengths of the squad in order to shoe horn players in to his ingenious systems which didn’t work.

England typically have good players, and can’t get them to perform well. Out of a squad of 20 odd, You could argue that van Gaal had perhaps Smalling playing to his potential (Rashford didn’t have time to be ruined by LvG), with everyone else playing well below their ability. Doesn’t sound to me like it would solve much.

In short, he’s sh*te, he’d be sh*te for England, and the suggestion this morning was also sh*te.
AS Camden


There were plenty of times during England’s 4 matches that I was convinced that LvG was managing England. Slow build up, loads of posession but unable to break down a packed defence. Roy just needed to sub a few more full backs.
Dave B


Part-time Poch
I’ll keep this short and sweet: the FA should offer the England job to Mauricio Pochettino on a part-time basis.

It just makes loads of sense.



Maybe Michael O’Neill?
This whole picking an international manager lark isn’t easy is it? We’re hearing everything from Sam Allardyce and Steve Bruce, to LvG and Wenger. Apart from LvG, none have proven international management experience. With that in mind, why don’t the FA open their frigging minds a little bit? Who out there has performed minor miracles with an international team by utilising the annoying ‘sum of their parts’ cliché better than anyone? Ladies and gentlemen I bring you: Michael O’Neill.

Northern Ireland have just performed well above expectations at the Euro’s. No they’re not firebrand; no they’re not fashionable; no they’re not attractive to watch. But we’re talking about a squad of players who unified and performed above ALL expectations. I am sick to the back teeth of successive England managers trying to fit the ‘gold standard’ players into a system that does not work and will never work. What we need is a man who understands international football management and knows how to bring players together, away from their day-to-day millionaire lifestyles, and work as a unit and understand the assignment they’re given. Namely, representing their frigging country. Not show-ponying around and annoying the p1ss out of everyone.

Hodgson has, rightly, taken the lion’s (by the way, what was WITH that stupid cuddly lion?) share of the blame for the pile of toss served up recently. It was anaemic. It was embarrassing. But the idea behind football management is to start at the bottom and work your way up. With respect to Northern Ireland, O’Neill isn’t going to take them any further. At the start of this tournament his epic work with the Northern Ireland team had them at 25th in the world rankings. I find this incredible. Above such teams as Croatia, Poland, Russia and even ROI. He has an international win percentage of 27.5% – with Northern Ireland!! Ok so his previous managerial experience of Brechin City and Shamrock Rovers doesn’t exactly get the pulses racing, but who f*cking cares? Look who Hodgson had on his CV prior to England (excluding Liverpool where he got it horribly wrong).

My final point on this: everyone always talks about ‘managing egos’. Oh please. If they don’t leave their egos at their clubs then they don’t play for England, it really is as simple as that. Might sound simplistic and old fashioned but playing for your country, whichever nationality you are, should be an honour. No egos allowed.

So, Michael O’Neill for me. He’s earned his chance. Give him his chance.

Andy (probably going to get howled at for suggesting this) Lampard


Time to do an Iceland/Germany
Currently the media and every football fan in the country is obsessed with who will be the next England manager but when will the FA realise that it doesn’t matter who is the manager is if nothing is done to improve the quality of players our country produces. The current trajectory is downward and its the FA’s job to turn this around. Premier league teams (bar Southampton and possibly Man City who’s youth develop program is in its infancy) seem to be only really interested in buying ready made first team players mostly from abroad and the riches from the new tv deal will only make matters worse unless really change is implemented.

The FA needs to start by looking at the country who embarrassed us so badly just a few days ago. Iceland, a country with a great interest in football but had never really achieved any of note until now. This is exactly not exactly surprising considering their much quoted population size but how did they get to this point? Starting over a decade ago the government and FA began huge investment in the game at a grassroots level, created strict guidelines on the qualifications coaches at every level had to possess and started a program so people not just ones with a football background could attain these qualifications. There are now 600 qualified coaches, 400 of those have UEFA B Licences. Every coach is also given a salary for their valuable work. Even under 8’s coaches need half a UEFA B licence and under 10’s a full UEFA B licence. Coaches with a UEFA A licence are not uncommon at such young age groups either. Instead of paying FA officials exorbitant salaries invested in land, top class facilities and even built indoor heated pitches so children could train all year round. After over a decade of top quality coach and facilities the players who make the grade usually move to clubs in Europe to continue their footballing education. It took just one generation of footballers raised in this program with the guidance of experienced national coach Lars Lagerback to go from qualifying no hopers to a WC playoff (losing to Croatia) and then the European Championship quarter finals. It wasn’t passion and luck it was patiently and meticulously planned by the people in charge who have a real love for the game.

Critics will point to the size of Iceland being a reason why this kind of project would not work in England. This of course isn’t true as Germany after their embarrassing flop at Euro 2000 and lack of quality young players coming through embarked on massive changes to their own footballing framework from top to bottom. It wasn’t hard to see the improvement in their national sizes fortunes in every following international tournament with a team that regardless of the players on the pitch had developed a clear identity. 14 years later they won the WC in Brazil.

While Iceland and Germany were busy doing the above our English FA were experimenting with foreign managers, building an overpriced stadium and concentrating on using the ‘England’ brand to make money for themselves at the expense of the actual football, grassroots players and the fans.

Blaming the manager and the players is all fine they are culpable in their own way but the real villains here are the FA who ignored the warning signs and let it get this bad in the first place.
William, Leicester


A hypothetical England team for WC 2018
Will this be a good team in 2 years time (given England reach the WC)?

Clyne, Smalling (c), Stones, Shaw
Alli, Barkley
Sterling, Kane, Rashford

Few things that need to happen – Sterling must come good again and regain confidence. Barkley must become consistent and reliable. Shaw must recover from the horrific injury and become our main man (possibly the only World Class player there, as of yet). Kane must realise who he is and he isn’t (CR7?).



And a hypothetical team for their next game
I think this should be the England team for the next game:

Simpson Smalling Shawcross Shaw (if fit, Cresswell if not)
Antonio Noble Drinkwater Albrighton
Carroll Vardy

This would play to England’s strengths with a very solid back four, all adept at defending and therefore unlikely to constantly run forward leaving gaps. A hard working central midfield pairing, Dier could also fit in here for Noble if needs be. Two proper wingers who have just come away from immense seasons. Albrighton being one of the best crossers of the ball last season. Leicester didn’t score many from them due to lack of heading ability until Ulloa comes on late on. However, Albrighton crossing to Carroll will guarantee goals. Vardy can then feed off Carroll knock downs or Drinkwater passes through the middle.

I think this is a very exciting team, and would signal a completely new direction to Hodgson’s era. I imagine f365 and the pundits would hate it, but it can’t possibly play any worse than the team against Iceland. I’d also retain the likes of Alli, Kane, Sturridge, Lallana in the squad. Players would only be chosen if they were playing regularly for their club team, which would mean call ups for Sterling/Wilshere would be unlikely.
Toby (Champions) Mitchell


England are Liverpool
If England had never won the World cup 50 years ago, would the general expectancy before every International Tournament still be there?

I asked a similar question to a scouse mate – would scousers always think next year is their year if they hadn’t won so much in the past?

Expectancy should be based on current players ability, and not the teams previous success under previous players.

England are the international version of Liverpool. They DON’T have the correct quality of player, but will be expected to be the best team forevermore because some past teams done well.

It was a shambles losing to Iceland yes. But on current ability, England should have beaten Iceland. then lost to France. So in terms of expectation, they played one game less than they should have.
Gary B (Utd could also be England in a few years time)


Stand up for the Boys in Green
Who are the winners in the journey so far:

Wales have had to play Slovakia, England, the awful Russia and Northern Ireland. They were objectively sh*te in all those games. A couple of Gareth Bale free-kicks and an own goal to get them where they are today. Untested as yet. Good luck against Belgium.

England – jesus, they played the same teams except for Iceland. One won match in injury time. Untested by a good team for the whole tournament.

Northern Ireland – losing matches to Wales, Poland and Germany by a solitary goal while beating Ukraine 2 nil. Can be proud.

Republic of Ireland – played FIFA ranked No.1 Belgium, tournament favourites Italy, host nation France and Zlatans ‘I-scored-4-in1-match-against-England’s Sweden. We dominated Sweden, conceding no shots on target, missing some glorious chances, hitting the woodwork, then scoring a wonderfully worked goal through Wes Hoolahan before conceding a cruel own goal that levelled the scores. Against Belgium, we were heartened by the nil nil at half time, but then some defensive howlers led to a complete collapse. We beat a weakened, but champions league playing Italy team by playing for each other. And I’m sure you’ll agree that although we were the better side in the first half against France, we succumbed in the second through some outrageous defending.

I put it to you that of all four of these nations, it is the Republic that deserves the plaudits for playing with heart, desire, togetherness and adventure against very talented teams. If it wasn’t for the glorious Iceland, we should be the story of the tournament so far. Some in the media have had the temerity to scoff at our inclusion from the outset and our eventual performance. To them i say, f¨¨k off!
Keith, Galway


Ed’s thoughts
A few random thoughts for people to get weirdly angry about.

*At the risk of making myself unpopular, I want Belgium beat Wales. I think Wales stand a reasonable chance of winning, even though Belgium have a better spread of elite talent throughout their team. However, the quarter-finals are the last round when the less-heralded teams can lose and have a positive outlook; losing in the semi-finals or the finals is arguably more of a disappointment because of a) how well you’ve done to overcome the odds and make it that far, and b) because of how close you’ve come to winning it.

*Of course I want Wales to win, they’ve got three Crystal Palace players. They’ve already won best beard and best dancer. I realise this makes the Euros sound like a nightclub.

*That Icelandic commentator is going to overstay his welcome soon, isn’t he? A bit like the Spanish-speaking (I think Mexican) commentator who manages to make the world “Gol” last about half an hour.

*Any reporter writing a piece following a tournament exit about either players going on holiday, or spending money, should be banned from football, in the same way hooligans are. These pieces are nothing short of spiteful and designed to drum up hatred towards a public figure.

There are a disproportionate number of these hatchet jobs carried out on Raheem Sterling, but I can’t work out whether it’s down to his age, his ethnicity or his heinous crime of believing the grass was greener away from Liverpool.

*Likewise, any reporter running a piece about a “gaffe” by an England coach, where information enters the public domain via a newspaper article about a photograph clearly taken by someone hiding in the bushes using a telephoto lens, should be locked in a room until they have learned what self-awareness is.

While I’m not so naïve as to ignore the fact that anger = clicks and sales, no one in football would be bothered about constructive criticism. Pick any newspaper and there will be at least one person there writing something thoughtful and insightful about the big stories of the day, and yet they are drowned out by morons and g0bsh!tes complaining about money being spent on cars and watches.

The culture surrounding English football and the England football team is in dire need of detoxification, and until this happens we stand no chance of finding a manager willing to take the job and/or able to make them good enough to reach the business end of a major tournament.
The literary Ed Quoththeraven


Mane (w/ Firmino) vs Mkhitaryan (w/ Martial)
I see the logic in comparing Mkhitaryan and Mane due to the fact they’re both signing at the same time, but given Mane will likely play wide left and Mkhitaryan through the middle is it really a fair equation?

Seems comparing two players would help here, maybe Firmino and Mane against Martial and Mkhitaryan?

Both pairs come signed in the space of a year and will play 10 and wide left (Firmino will play anywhere, and likely might not be 10 due to Coutinho, but clearly that is his best position). United fans will very quickly shout that Martial trumps this one very quickly and use the Mkhitaryan stats to prove they’ve got both the superiors here, and unless you delve deeper it’s very easy to see it that way.

Firmino’s 11 goals and 7 assists came from a similar amount of games as Mkhitaryan and so you would say that Mkhitaryan is a clear winner here. Martial and Sane’s stats were broadly speaking similar over the season. But what is Mkhitaryan actually adding to United? He’s not particularly quick, and will only further force Mata away from the first team, who in my opinion, can perform the same role just as well as he can.

Mane on the other hand adds a total new element to the Liverpool team that none of Lallana, Firmino or Coutinho have, great pace and power. Overall I see the Martial/Mkhitaryan combination scoring a similar amount of goals to Mane/Firmino, however I think Mane will improve the team dynamic whereas Mkhitaryan seems to be an in form version of Mata, likely to score less but press more this season forthcoming.

Personally for the prices quoted for the pair it’s hard to distinguish who will be the better pair, and likely depends on who’s playing up top. I can’t really split them, but think Mkhitaryan would suit Sturridge better whilst Firmino might suit Rashford and Ibrahimovic better, Sturridge preferring to have things made for him and the others playing in a more offensive system.
KC (would however take Sane over Mane)

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