Mails: Barkley in; Drinkwater out? Farce

Date published: Wednesday 1st June 2016 9:31 - Matthew Stead

Lovely work. Now keep those thoughts coming to


How is Barkley there?
The selection of Ross Barkley is for me the most controversial decision in Hodgson’s squad. I remember reading about how he heroically inspired England’s U-17s to European Championship glory in 2010, on the way defeating Paul Pogba’s French team in that tournaments semi-finals and the then invincible . Whereas Pogba lines up for the hosts in Euro 2016 as one of Europe’s finest midfielders, what on earth has happened to Barkley? And more to the point, for what reason is he in the squad?

Barkley has hardly stood out in a misfiring Everton team this season, and continues to flatter to deceive, with a career likely veering into Jack Rodwell territory. He seems to have quietly got a seat on the plane without doing much in particular, not even hustling, huffing and puffing like Milner and Henderson. The rise of Alli further illustrates the kind of player Barkley should be, a genuine all action box to box player. I can only assume he fulfils the old Stewart Downing role as a bringer of bantz.


Drinkwater would have been handy
Nice of Sarah Winterburn to belittle the talents of an integral player in Leicester championship winning side. To put it in context we’re in the Quarter Final stages of Euro’s we’re 1-0 up with 20 minutes to go. Hodgson Brings on Henderson who proceeds to run around like a headless chicken, loses the ball from holding onto it too long and show us a master class of over hit passes in the final third and wayward shooting. Oh no the opposition score and we lose on penalties as usual.

Same situation but Drinkwater comes on to be selfless, disciplined and tidy in possession, winning the ball and getting it forward quickly to our fresh pacey subs like Vardy, Barkley, Rashford etc. We manage to score another or hold out for the win.

Yes Drinkwater isn’t the best midfielder England have but he’s shown this season he can do a specific job very well and is of great benefit to the team he does it for. He knows his limitations and certainly doesn’t think he is the new Steven Gerrard just because he was made to look better than he really was in Liverpool’s nearly season. All seasons either side of that and in the 25 games in a England shirt he clearly just isn’t good enough but just like Cleverley and Jenas before him managers just seem to keep on picking them when they offer nothing to the team.

Better to have a limited player who knows their job and plays for the team than a player who offers nothing but promise and never delivers. The same could be said about Barkley being picked over Townsend. Hodgson seems to care more about the potential negative press fallout rather than picking a potentially effective squad.
William, Leicester


Absolute farce that Drinkwater has been cut ahead of players like Henderson, Lallana, Barkley. He’s been immensely better than them all season. Then you have players like Wilshere who have played no football all season yet walk into the squad. What a message to send out the rest of the aspiring English footballers.

Obviously I’m a bit biased being a Leicester fan but the only English midfielder that is as worthy of a call up is Alli, who is rightly going. Hell he should be in the starting 11, never mind the squad. The only argument I can see for Dier over DD in the 11 is his linkup with Alli. Never mind that it’s looking more and more like Vardy will have a part to play and DD could be just as effective in linking up with him.

The decision has sapped a load of my enthusiasm as we look to be reverting to type and picking players on reputation and club rather than performances. Looking forward to another lacklustre tournament.

Shame for Townsend too. Never really thought he was England quality and much less convincing than DD but if you take the past few months he must be gutted to miss out.
Ben (Had some good words in brackets but decided to cut them too), LCFC


Or would he?
I’m in agreement with most of Sarah’s article, particularly re: Townsend and Barkley. As good as Barkley can be on occasion, I’ve yet to see him make a proper case for his inclusion at International level. His performances for Everton last season were woeful, partly (mostly?) due to Martinez, but also partly due to his apparent free reign to do as he pleases. He is still young and in need of guidance; all players with an apparent natural gift are. Without it you get unfocused glimpses of what type of player he could become. But the England squad, at a major tournament, with the nation and his faithful dog backing you then bashing you the moment you do something to irk them, is not a finishing school. He will be used sporadically, if at all (5 strikers!), with his spot going to Alli, Wilshire or just as likely, Rooney.

Without Townsend, we’ve lost, if not a Plan B, certainly a Plan C. We have no one else available to do what he is rather good at. Given how well he responds to Roy and being in the squad, his omission is surprising. I understand that playing narrow through the front 5-6 to allow the fullbacks to push on will be our initial gameplan, but without that adaptable (for us) and unpredictable (for them) element to the squad, we’ve lost an edge which gave this squad a slightly more dangerous look.

It’s also understandable why Drinkwater was left out as opposed to say, the recently returned Henderson. There is a level of trust Roy with Henderson that Drinkwater doesn’t currently have. It doesn’t make the decision to include Henderson any less galling given his still ongoing recovery to match fitness, but when a nation’s hopes for success rests on your shoulders, there is only so many wildcard decisions you can make before someone questions whether you are taking this managing business seriously. Including Rashford may well be his Owen at France ’98 moment.


Sturridge AND Rashford is clearly a big, and somewhat uncharacteristically bold call from Woy, and there’s a lot being made of Wilshere getting in ahead of Premier League Champion Danny Drinkwater. I think, however, when you analyse the squad as a whole, and consider how England have set up in friendlies/the last few qualifiers, a clear picture emerges.

Hodgson is going to play a diamond. We have one ‘out and out’ winger in the squad, who’s best perfomances for England have arguably come in the hole (Sterling), with an assortment of players who can ‘do a job’ out wide, but are more comfortable in the middle of the park (Vardy, Lallana, Barkley, Rooney?). Not only this lack of width, but when you look at the central midfielders selected, he’s clearly gone with energy and dynamism, which brings me to Drinkwater.

Dier is clearly our best holding midfielder, so has to go. Hodgson clearly envisages Wilshere playing in that position, and he was outstanding there in our last 4 qualifiers, so he goes too. In a diamond the 2 centre midfielders have to be energetic, able to take the ball wide and also burst through the middle. They have to be able to combat the opposition centre midfield while also being diligent about the threat on their flank. Henderson, Milner, and to a lesser extent Barkley and Lallana (who changed the game when he came on and played there against Slovenia) all offer this mobility. Drinkwater, outstanding as he has been, is more of a ticker, keeping the ball and holding his position while Kante covers every other blade of grass on the pitch. In this formation he would be a perfect holding man, but Dier’s superiority and Wilshere’s ability mean he would be one too many. Indeed, Wilshere arguably possesses the necessary quick thinking and change of pace that he too could play as a CM.

To conclude, he’s had a wonderful season, is clearly a quality player, but dropping him is not the sacrilege it’s being made out to be. Also, Henderson isn’t good enough. Get mad at him instead.
Sam, Gooner (What do we think of Tottenham? Gratitude for the English Spine!)


Average England
When Andros Townsend is your big What If…surely you all understand how bang average this squad actually is?

It’s sort of hilarious though, as it always is with you lot at the start of any tournament, it’s been a lifelong source of hefty laughter for me.

The form Midfielder of the season amongst English players cannot get a squad place but perma-crocked Wilshere can. (yes he so utter world class F365 I know I know, save your preaching about your English Xavi, your wonderfully hopeful opinion whom one outside of England agrees with)

As can perma-average Hendo. And Milner whom offers Roy what exactly other than a seat on the bench, if that?
What an average, go-out-at-the-first-knockout-round squad selection.
Manc in SA (Well don’t believe me, just wait for the lack of any quality service to Kane to start driving home reality to you chaps)


James f***ing Milner
Let’s face it, this Euro’s is wide open. France at home are obvious favourites, but Denmark and Greece have proven that this is a tournament with shock potential.

Clyne, Smalling, Cahill, Rose
Wiltshire, Barkley, Rooney, Alli
Kane, Vardy

With a Rashford option from the bench (you just know he’ll score in the 1st 5 mins of his competitive debut, it’s what he does).

That side has more than enough resilience and quality to beat anyone. Could they win the Euro’s? Yes. Will they win the Euro’s? No. Why not? James f***ing Milner. He’ll start for England and I would fight any man who can name me 5 positive things he brings to any team. He’s a nothing player, a worker who runs around a lot and does very little. Without the balls to pick the form players, the 11 listed above, instead sticking Milner in as ‘he is solid’, England will win f*** all.

France win it, beating 1 of the shock teams in the final, shock teams being Croatia, Russia, Ireland or Austria.
Shinji Out


Silly Roy
I feel Hodgson has chosen this England team based on the same old favoured clubs. What on Earth have Wilshere, Lallana, Barkley, Henderson, Sterling and Rooney done this season to justify selection.

We could have built the team around Spurs and Leicester players. The two best sides for large portions of the season, but we have ended up with players from an average Liverpool side and a good number who don’t even get into their teams starting 11. I’d also have taken Mark Noble, as he has been brilliant all season.

Our midfield could have been a diamond of Dier at the back, Noble/Drinkwater in the middle and Alli behind the strikers. Kane could then have occupied the Okazaki role with his high work rate, to give Vardy the space to make his runs onto the balls from Alli/Drinkwater. You might laugh, but that midfield is certainly a lot better than Wilshere/Henderson/Lallana/Barkley.

Building a squad around mid table teams instead of the champions of the country is utter nonsense.
Toby (Champions) Mitchell


The worst team possible from the 23
Heaton (harsh),
Walker, Cahill, Smalling (a little harsh), Rose (harsh),
Barkley, Henderson, Wilshere, Lallana

Milner comes on for Wilshere after 15 minutes, no other substitutes used.

(4-4-1-1 obviously)
Matt Atkinson


Ireland squad reaction
Not many surprises in the Irish squad last night. I’d like to have seen Damien Delaney brought back in, for his tattoos if nothing else, but since the reason Martin O’Neill gave for not giving him a second chance (“he’ll be too old after the tournament”) made no sense, I assume it’s a personality issue and let’s leave it at that. Harry Arter would more than likely have made it if he hadn’t injured himself in training this week, and I would have liked Eunan O’Kane instead of David Meyler or Stephen Quinn, but really this squad is about what we have right now. Decent starting eleven, no depth. Our back-up defenders in particular give me nightmares. If we were a Premiership team, we’d be perennially bottom-half but never in any real danger of relegation. West Brom probably.

The real question is can we get out of the group. I think we’ll do okay but probably fall just short. Sweden are pretty much us with a Zlatan upfront, Italy either win the thing or go out in the group, and Hipster-gium (that’s Belgium, I couldn’t think of anything better) lost and drew with Wales so that gives you hope. It’ll need a lot of things to line up, but if Costa Rica could do it, we can as well.
Stephen O’S, MUFC


Mourinho and youth
Tyler Coate asked yesterday if there were any youth players who have gone on to prove Mourinho wrong. Lukaku and De Bruyne spring to mind as young players who were somewhat written off. Neither of these are academy players though.

In terms of academy players, maybe there are none who have gone on to prove Mourinho wrong. However, isn’t that the point? That in the key period of their footballing development, none of these players saw enough first team football to develop sufficiently. Obviously we’ll never know what these players could have been but the exclusion of them from first team football surely will have stunted them.

The argument isn’t that players have been ignored by Mourinho then flourished elsewhere, it’s that no players have flourished under him at all. Now maybe in the 10+ years since he joined Chelsea he’s just never had any players with the potential to be good enough. Seems unlikely though.

However, I don’t blame him. He’s hardly alone amongst top clubs these days (especially in England). 20 years ago, squads were small. Players like Owen, Gerrard and the class of 92 could break through because they were naturally on the fringes of the first team. Clubs couldn’t afford a squad of internationals. Things have changed.

Imagine this. You are a manager. Your job is on the line if you don’t win trophies. You have a big game coming up. Some one gets injured. You have a youth player who is a 6, with the potential to be a 9. Or you have a 28 year old who’s in your squad who is an 8. Who do you play? Not much choice. That’s the way of modern football I’m afraid. That’s why the model is now, players develop down the league then make their big move later.
Mike, LFC, Dubai


Tyler Coate. Aside from Lukaku, KdB, Salah, Ryan Bertrand, Robert Huth, Marco Van Ginkel, Scott Parker (sort of), Jack Cork, Patrick Van Ahnholt, Lassana Diarra (who Pompey sold 18 months later for a 300% profit to Real Bloody Madrid).

Your question only looks at 1/10th of the players who COULD have come through. This isn’t just about those that managed to move on and succeed. It is also about the amount of potential that wasn’t allowed to flourish. The ones that moved on early enough to develop somewhere else like KdB and Lukaku were lucky. What about the ones who haven’t been able to move on and are/were languishing after multiple loan moves where the loan club didn’t prioritise them (why would they) and stagnated their development. The players unable to move into the Chelsea first team even as backup whilst Jose preferred £20million flops such as Yuri Zhirkov and Filipe Luis or even free transfers like Jiri Jarosik, Alexi Smertin and Alcides (TWICE!!). He spend millions on them over players with potential like England U21’s such as Michael Mancienne, Josh McEachran, Carlton Cole. How about Franco Di Santo, Oriol Romeu, Thorgan Hazard, Miroslav Stoch, Scott Sinclair, Patrick Bamford, Victor Moses, completely changing an attacking midfielder into John Obi Mikel and Gael Kakuta who we risked a 2 year transfer ban for?

Whilst not all these players were going to be world beaters, they could have provided decent, cheap, dedicated depth to the Chelsea squad. Freeing up cash on the second string, allowing us to prioritise our funds for true quality in the starting 11. Looking at Jose’s youth record, for every Rapha Varane and Zouma who he did play, for every KdB who moved early enough there are 10 promising players who were not looked after whose talent needed nurturing and were not given the game time to be able to do so. Jose has always been a spend first, “low risk” manager. He wants a full squad with a player and an experienced cover in every position. He said he’s changed, this season he signed Falcao, despite Chelsea only playing with one striker and having Costa and Remy on the books. He then shipped out Championship player of the season Patrick Bamford and never played Bertrand Traore. Bamford needs games and Traore has proven under Hiddink he can do a job, was it really necessary to ignore these for another £100k+ a week striker, who is injury prone and hasn’t played well for 3 years?

I don’t know Man Utd’s team well enough but do you think Jesse Lindgard will get time whilst he has £200 million burning a hole in his pocket, how about Rashford (not a Jose Player) with Ibrahimovic batting his eyes?
Aston Taylor (CFC)


The Irish Michael Carrick
I was just thinking about the whole is he terrible is he amazing argument that’s going on at the moment and another player popped into my head.

He has a large number of league appearances, is an ever present for his club in the premier league, has survived and kept his place despite his club starting to splash the cash and he goes mostly unnoticed.

The man in question? Glenn Whelan of course. No one has much tome for him, he doesn’t stand out but he played 40 games for a club that finished 9th in the league this season.

I’d be interested to hear others thoughts on this.
Mark, Tipperary, Ireland.


An Arsenal fan who doesn’t like Bellerin
I know I’m in the minority but I am one of the few Arsenal fans that doesn’t like Bellerin.

I can see the boy’s undoubted ability but he’s left poor Per exposed on way too many occasions and the BFG paid for it through losing his place.

Metersacker has no pace but his positioning is the best among all of our defenders. People forget it was he that came in and steadied our terrible defence, providing the backbone for an Arsenal team that finally landed some silverware.

But now people are calling for Per to be sold whereas I really think some loyalty needs to be shown to a player, who let’s not forget gave up international football to concentrate on his club career and is only 32 – not that old for a centre back who never had any pace anyway.

I could just about forgive Hector for leaving Per exposed but then came his comments about Barca and for a guy, who’s barely had two season in an Arsenal shirt, to be firing the starting gun on yet another Barca transfer saga – well it just smacks of being an ungrateful little sod – particularly as Jenks and Debuchy have been sent out on loan and Chambers has been benched.
Graham Simons, Gooner, Norf London


What is easier to coach?
Well-played to Winterburn for writing a balanced article on why Bellerin might not be entirely sh*te (and this is coming from someone who will happily cop to a deep antipathy towards Arsenal, so she beat my intellectual instinct). There was one line that stood out to me as not obvious and something worth debating in the mailbox, though, because there isn’t a clear answer to me having played but never coached, and also having another admitted bias towards thinking the opposite, given where I’ve played:

“defending is easier to coach than either attacking verve or pace”

As I said…I’m not sure she’s wrong, but it just isn’t obvious to me. Having admitted my positional bias, I would think two things point the opposite direction: first, the precipitous decline in the quality of defending in the FA leagues (tellingly, particularly in the top flight), and second, the recent mails on Gerrard/Pirlo/etc. on what makes a good future manager, all of which on both sides invoke the idea of “instinctive” marauding forward players. At least in my admittedly limited experience, there is no such thing as instinctive defending, because it is inherently reactive by definition, and defending takes not only conditioning into the body what might not be natural to it, but a degree of match preparation (foot preference shifting, weight balance, etc.) that has to be adjusted every game, as opposed to “instinctive” attackers (not that all attackers are instinctive). Maybe that is her point and I am just reversing it – that defenders are easier to coach because they cannot but be coached, and so require less de-conditioning. Vardy may be his own little miracle, but no amount of coaching will ever make him Neymar. On the other hand, I can think of a number of young PL players over the past decade who may never have been a Baldini, but might have been at least have become a Zambrotta (and that is nothing to sneeze at) if well coached, and yet have turned out dicey at best.

I would welcome contributions from anyone with coaching and not just playing experience on this question.


The gravest Mourinho to United consequence
It’s only just dawned on me that my favourite homemade trivia question ‘Which are the only two players to have played under both Sir Alex Ferguson and Jose Mourinho?’ – delicious because everyone says “Well, Ronaldo, obviously” before frowning for an age about the other – is about to be made worthless. Damn you, Ed Woodward.

Karel Poborsky, by the way, (although I haven’t actually had it verified by the trivia bodies that may or may not exist, so maybe somebody can make me feel really silly for using it to feel smug all this time).
Joshua (hope this is more coherent than my sleep-deprived, alcohol-inspired ramble on Saturday/Sunday) Madrid

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