Which one of YOUR clubs can save OUR country?
By Rod Brazier.
Speak to any West Ham United fan and they will tell you that their team won England the World Cup in 1966. Obviously certain clubsides can have a big influence on their national teams, and it is often an advantage to have a number of players who are familiar with each other at club level to be in the same eleven when it comes to tournament and international football. So, on that basis, which club will we be rejoicing or cursing come the end of the World Cup? Chelsea, Man Utd, Liverpool, Spurs or the rest – which of you will make yourselves heroes?
Nine clubs have supplied the England squad with players for this World Cup, with Tottenham responsible for the largest number – 5. Each one of their players is of very good Premier League calibre, but how many are good enough to make a lasting impact in a World Cup? Aaron Lennon is the one who could stake a claim to being a ‘first-choice’ England player, but this is largely down to the lack of form for Theo Walcott and the injury to David Beckham. However, Lennon does have the potential to produce moments of magic. He does seem to panic when it comes to delivering that killer pass into the box, but pace and trickery are dangerous attributes. The other Spurs’ players will have to bide their time. King appears to be crocked once more, leaving England with a real selection dilemma as Dawson was thought not good enough to make the initial squad. Defoe and Crouch will be slaves to the fortunes of others’ as Capello looks keen on either Heskey in a 4-4-2 or Gerrard tucked in behind Rooney. They’ll look for a role as an impact sub, which may or may not arrive.
Liverpool lend Johnson, Gerrard and Carragher to the squad – a big contribution. Two of the three are certain starters and Carragher is working himself into the team through the back door. Whether he has the commitment or hunger to be part of this side is questionable and many would argue that he should never have been recalled having previously turned down opportunities to play for his country. However, his ability at club level is surely better than Dawson or Upson’s so Fabio may view that as an easy decision. As for Glen Johnson, his berth at right-back is assured, and rightly so. His foray’s forward are becoming a big part of this England side’s play and he also adds a goal threat. Gerrard’s qualities are vital. If England are to do well in this tournament he surely has to play a part. He led from the front against the USA, not only with a goal but with ferocious tackling and a willingness to run all night. He needs to be the inspiration for country that he is for club. We have never seen enough of that in an England shirt.
Manchester United only contribute two players to the squad. One, Michael Carrick, a squad player at best, particularly now that Gareth Barry has regained fitness, however the other is one who hardly needs mentioning. Wayne Rooney – talisman, goalscorer, megastar. With every game the pressure builds on his young shoulders ever more so but he seems to thrive on it. Big moments require big players. If anyone can stand up to the plate it would be Rooney. He will be heavily marked throughout games but still expect some exhilaration along the line.
Chelsea are the other top four team to contribute to this England squad, and what a contribution it is. They have, arguably, the potential for the biggest impact on England’s world cup chances. John Terry, Ashley Cole, Frank Lampard and Joe Cole may have all been morally scrupilized over recent months and years but they have the look and sound of a quartet who can have a huge influence. Joe Cole is getting ever nearer to joining his team-mates in the starting 11 and once that happens Chelsea, current Premier League champions will have their chance to affect English chances. All four of them have been questioned at international level – Terry has been in and out of form, Lampard used to shoot from anywhere in an England shirt and the two Cole’s have been error prone in the past. However, things look different now. John Terry has a bee in his bonnet and something to prove, Lampard is mature, unselfish and a fine foil for Gerrard, Ashley Cole is regaining his form and could yet again be seen as the world’s best left-back come the end of the tournament and Joe Cole has always had more to give. His flashes of brilliance have always been there – he just needs to get them out and put them on the pitch more regularly. It’s not beyond him.
Of course, it takes eleven men to make a team and far more to make a succesful squad. Gareth Barry and Emile Heskey are just two of the players who will play a part in England’s fortunes – whether they be prosperous or downcast. But who will step up to the mark? Will we be cursing a club for letting down the country or will someone take West Ham’s bragging rights as the World Cup winners? Personally, I put all feelings’ for clubs and individuals aside when it comes to England but I know many of us differ here. What are your views? From where will the lasting impact come?
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