‘Selfish’ or not, Sturridge is England’s best

Date published: Sunday 19th June 2016 10:46

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England are… alright
After deciding to depress myself with how badly my choices for top tournament goal scorer were fairing after Ronaldo decided to declare war on advertising hoardings and goal posts on Saturday night, I stumbled across UEFAs statistics for the tournament. Do you know what? England are okay!

If you read a lot of mails on Friday morning, you might have suspected that England had lost 9-0 to Vatican City going by some of the grumbling and whinging. This was quite an eye opener to me, but maybe I was wrong. Maybe I had imagined that England had dominated both games, and had only conceded a pair of sloppy but flukey rare shots on goal. Then I saw these stats, all up to date as of the end of the 2nd round of matches.

We’re joint 4th out of 24 teams for pass completion, behind Spain (obviously), Germany (obviously) and Switzerland (they’ve not played France yet). England, yes, that team that always give the ball away, are joint 4th on pass completion with Portugal.

We’re 5th out of 24 teams in percentage of possession too. Only Spain, Germany, France and Portugal are higher than us on that score too.

We’re joint second on the shots attempted front with Croatia on 37 attempts over two games. Portugal rank above us again.

In fairness, these stats probably indicate that Portugal are having a great tournament, when they’re obviously not. However, Portugal should be WALKING that group really. It’s the exact opposite of a Group Of Death. It’s the Group Of Having A Bowl Of Sugar Puffs While A Puppy Licks Your Feet Clean.

We, like Ronaldo, need to start improving the only important stat: putting the ball in the net. Sure, tougher challenges lie ahead, but there are better teams playing inferior teams to the ones we have had so far and not getting this level of dominance. Whatever happens from here on out, compared to the last 4 tournaments (5 if you include the one we missed), I think there’s real cause for optimism. Now watch Hamsik slam in a double hat trick on Monday.
Jae (Lewandowski and Griezmann aren’t doing much better), Tunbridge Wells.


The Daniel Sturridge fan club
Paul Murphy seems to be way too keen to judge Sturridge based on one performance. Sturridge has been clearly england’s most talented striker for a few seasons now and that goal is exactly why he needs to be playing. I’m a Spurs fan and I love Kane as a classic number 9. He can create goals out of nothing in the manner of a center forward (movement, shooting back across goal through legs, power etc) but Sturridge brings a bit of cunning and quick feet to the game that’s levels above the norm.

He’s a smart finisher and whilst the finish against wales wasn’t elegant it was exactly what was needed, along with his sniffing out an opportunity to score and going for it. I don’t think either Kane or Vardy would have got their feet sorted out quickly enough to have scored it. Burst of acceleration, quick angles and small movements, this kind of finishing is what separates Messi from Ronaldo for me and if you look through his past goals you’ll see the variation of chips, nutmegs, wrongfootings, weaker foot finishes, near post finishes, toe pokes, drives and curling strikes that are the right finish at the right time.

He is selfish at times, but has great link up and interplay as well, and provided the cross for the Vardy goal. I’d love to see what him and Alli could conjure up in a burgeoning partnership.

As a quick inb4, no i don’t think Sturridge is as good as Messi or better than Ronaldo.
Indie (Sturridge to Spurs, on the cheap of course cause of his injury problems), North London


Paul Murphy’s summary of Sturridge is way off the mark. I am firmly of the belief that Harry Kane is not a myth (unfortunately!) and therefore has deserved his starting role in the side. But Olly Cole is right – the guy is knackered. It’s not easy playing on your own up top and he’s done it in every single game this season for Tottenham. He clearly needs a break.

The issue I had in Paul’s email was the following lines, “shooting from everywhere when colleagues are in a better position, no awareness of the play going on around him…” What?!

Of all our options, Sturridge is our best link guy – his glorious year alongside Suarez made him a better player in that respect. Kane is world class at finding the bottom corner, but Sturridge is a better footballer than both Vardy and Kane. Rewatch the game – Daniel is everywhere. He plays so deep because he wants to be involved in everything, trying to make a difference. It’s stark contrast to Vardy’s performance I think, though it’s probably a tad harsh to say he ‘went missing’ after his goal.

Speaking of his goal, guess who drops of the play that he’s so unaware of to clip the ball back into the danger area? Sturridge. And for his own goal, who picks the ball up deep, feeds Rooney before making the run past Alli and getting the ball back to score? You’ve guessed it.

To say Rashford deserves a chance whilst at the same time slating the man who changed the game is just strange. Rashford I also like by the way, but he’s far too raw to be anything other than what Roy used him for on Thursday.

Hopefully Sturridge gets another chance to shine against Slovakia and proves (once again) what a good footballer he is. I would also rest Alli, Kane, drop Sterling completely and give Wilshere and Stones some minutes.

Joe, AFC, East Sussex


Poor England, having to put up with Daniel Sturridge coming on and being a selfish glory hunter. Sure he set up the equaliser and scored the winner but as Paul Murphy points out, his presence on the pitch obviously was detrimental to the team’s performance. England would be better off without him, goals are overrated.

In all seriousness, the level of criticism Sturridge gets for his mentality and perceived selfishness is astounding. People really have a problem with a hugely talented and confident young black sportsman. He’s a striker and it’s his job to score and create goals, both of which he did in 45 minutes yesterday and the team won. If you don’t think Sturridge was clearly the best player, and knew it, on the pitch during the second half yesterday, or in most Liverpool games he’s played this season, then we can’t be friends.
Matthew, Belfast


Is Euro 2016 turning managers off players?
You know how they say that it’s probably best to sign a player before an international tournament, just so you don’t have to pay an inflated transfer fee if said player plays well for their country.

There is also the warning thrown out to avoid buying a player on the back of a good tournament, and ending up with a Poborsky.

What I’ve been wondering while watching the Portugal v Austria match is whether or not Euro 2016 is knocking a few 00’s off the Portuguese players. When I seen the line up for their first game, in my head I immediately looked at the midfield up and thought ‘this is a great team, there’s a few of them worth 50 million as well as one or two more valuable players on the bench’. Watching the game tonight reminds me of the problem I have with the Portuguese transfer market, and the fact that so many of the players are represented by Jorge Mendes, so their values are inflated way beyond their actual worth.

Like William Carvalho? We’ve been constantly bombarded with transfer rumours linking him to English clubs for around 40 million. I mean the guy looks like a 2016 version of Papa Bouba Diop. Then there’s Joao Mario, whom I really don’t know a whole lot about to be honest, but he doesn’t look that great, though I’ve heard of him being linked with a big money move to United. Then we have Renato Sanches, who has signed for Bayern Munich for a massive fee and doesn’t make it off the bench when Portugal are chasing a goal, while another young lad, Ruben Neves, can’t get into the squad and is supposedly worth north of 40 million too?

We’ve seen how cack players coming from that league for large fees can be, most notably Mangala at City, while his former Porto partner, Fernando, has also been pretty crap(though he cost substantially less).

I know that in the past, the Portuguese market was attractive because of their work permit regulations allowed them to bring in young south American players quite easily when English clubs couldn’t, but nowadays it is just bog standard European players that are being bigged up by agents and clubs so they can fetch a quick buck.

I’m just wondering if the Portuguese under performance in France might show the true value of some of these players, who really look no better than some unknowns playing for the likes of Albania, Hungary et al.

I suppose you can’t blame Portuguese clubs or agents for bleeding money from cash enthused clubs, I just find it puzzling that clubs actually pay the fees for such players.
Paddy(how does Kevin Wimmer not start for Austria? He’s class) Ireland


Restoring some Italian pride
Being an Italian brought up in England, i’ve had my fair share of ups and downs with the national teams I support (yes i support both, take that Farage!). Even watching other teams fight out penalty shoot outs sends shivers down my spine…

However this tournament really has turned things on its head for me. For the first time in my life time I looked at the Italian squad with and found myself disappointed (and if i’m honest, saying “who??” and “what?” a fair bit). Italians have been spoiled for the last 30-40 years, with stars liberally sprinkled through the squads throughout the decades. This one only has one true (aging) star, the keeper.

But a crazy summer in Germany aside, those squads of the past, full of quality, only lead to some of the most bitter disappointments I can remember. Under performance, blaming referees, histrionics and tantrums. Dour, negative football. Hard to beat but often competing in games which are hard to remember. Only doing the bare minimum.

This year, I went into the tournament expecting literally nothing of Italy. With a tough group I was just hoping we wouldn’t be embarrassed, win a game and maybe score a goal some how. Watching the team with this belief of Italy as underdogs (against a Belgium team probably worth 3 times as much as the Italian squad! Seriously, what the hell?) has been very unique and very enjoyable. There are no under performing stars, just relative unknowns playing out of the skins. It has really made me more proud of the national team than ever before.

I don’t care how far they go, I just hope they continue playing with the same spirit. Someone once told me that the Italian national team is like a novice on roller blades. Unstable, slow to start and as soon as they pick up any speed they fall flat on their faces. Maybe they’ll get up this time when that eventually happens.
Gez Errico


What has happened to Scotland?
I’ve been watching and reading a lot about the Euros recently and it’s pretty obvious to me that, whilst it’s good that England, Northern Ireland and Wales have all qualified, there’s been no mention that I’ve seen about the absence of Scotland. And, no, I’m not Scottish myself but it just bothers me a wee bit that there’s been nothing said about them not qualifying. Is it now the common feeling that they won’t be qualifying for any tournaments in the foreseeable future so we just don’t mention them anymore?

I’m hoping that someone (and I don’t care if they are Scottish or not) can tell me why things are so bad north of the border in footballing terms and, more importantly, where have all the really good to great players gone? It used to be common that, whilst they struggled to put eleven great players together, they were always good for the odd star individual or two. The list below is in no particular order and was prepared with about thirty seconds thought:

Denis Law
Kenny Dalglish
Billy Bremner
Peter Lorimer – one of the hardest shots I’ve ever seen.
Joe Jordan
Gordon McQueen
Martin Buchan – one of Manchester United’s best ever captains.
Archie Gemmel
Alan Brazil
Brian McLair
And even Steve Archibald and Gordon Strachan

As I’ve said, this was done with no real thought and I’ve no doubt there are others that I will be embarrassed not to have mentioned. Compare this with Scotland’s current best in Darren Fletcher and, when you’ve stopped laughing, you will see a clear difference. I notice five on the list played for my own Manchester United and Denis Law is in my top three favourite United players ever (Harry Gregg and George Best, since you asked).

Maybe instead of playing, they’ve all gone into TV commentary because it seems like most games I listen to there’s a Scot either in the commentary box or in the studio for the pre-game, half-time and post-game gabfest.

And good God, Oliver Dziggel, did you see what you did, man? You proposed a poll – Have you ever met somebody from Iceland? – and F365 took you up on it and put it on their homepage word for word. This is completely unprecedented so well done!

I’ve never formally met an Icelander myself but I suspect I walked past one once. He was wearing a really, really thick sweater over another really, really thick sweater, two parkas lined with fur and full-length fishing waders lined with sheepskin. It was a bit of a giveaway, I thought. So was the cod he had hanging over his shoulder.
Jonesey, Melbourne


Football on TV
It is a shame that John Nicholson is not in India to comment on the TV coverage of Euro 2016 here.

The presenter, Joe Morrison, kind of looks like he is a CG character, there is something not quite right about him (does have a nice line in waistcoats though). The pundits have been, Robbie Fowler, who looks constantly disheveled, a bit like a drunken uncle at the end of a long wedding, although to be fair has been in the studio for every single match (broadcasts start an hour before the first game and finish about after the final match – out here that is around 2.30am), India soccer legend Sunil Chhetri, who seems very neat & polite and Deco, who seems to have developed into a Hollywood version of an Eastern European hitman.

The highlight so far have been Robbie Fowler talking about Australia (rather than Austria) and, after the trouble in the Croatia v Czech Republic match, Joe Morrison asking Deco “How could people get flares into the stadium Deco? How? How?”.

Even so I am not missing Robbie Savage

JR (Nice to see business as usual, a non story about a Man Utd squad player making it to the top of your website during the Euro Championship, you really don’t feature Utd enough) Chennai

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