Tuesday, 1 June 2010

23 champions or 23 chumps?

As I sit in my apartment penning these words Fabio Capello and the FA are merely moments away from announcing the squad that will be tasked with regaining the holy grail of International football. It has taken them all day to announce the conclusion that Capello had already come to just hours after the teams Friendly game against Japan. However as the dust settles it is already becoming clear who the unlucky 7 are. Theo Walcott wasted little time in letting everyone know exactly what his world cup fate was when he boarded a flight to Barbados with his WAG in tow. That left just 6 to be accounted for.

Before those 6 are discussed though it must be said that Walcott's omission is by far the biggest shock of the squad cull. Not so long ago he scored a hat rick against a terrified Croatia who couldn't deal with his pace. He certainly didn't put in dreadful performances in the latest combo of friendlies either. I do though have to agree with Capello's judgement on the Walcott dilemma. Yes he is quick, however as the Japanese highlighted, when faced with a tight and technical space to operate in he is predictable and his threat easily neutralised. Indeed Walcott is suited to open flowing football, but this is not the type of game that England will be engaged in, in South Africa. Moreover they will require technically gifted players who can maintain possession whilst also being able to provide a killer pass, cross, or finish. All these qualities are vacant from Walcott's resume. When you also consider the competition he faced you can further understand the Italian Maestro's judgement. SWP is very quick but also has superior link up play and plays better box to box. Lennon again is pacy and can deliver quality into the box.

Wow sorry Theo you took a bit of a beating there, I'm sure Barbados will be nice this time of year though! Now that issues dealt with, another must be hastily addressed . Centre Backs!
Paying particular attention to the fact that it has just been announced that Mathew Upson will be boarding the plane at the expense of Michael Dawson and that in all likely hood Ferdinand and Terry will be the teams foundation yet again.

I'm not certain what Micheal Dawson has done to offend Mr Capello? Maybe he was caught spitting on the bosses schnitzel at their Austrian training base or maybe there is a pregnant teenager walking around that Capello knows about and we don't. These are the only far fetched theories that could possibly explain why a West Ham player who has leaked goals all season has been selected ahead of the inform centre back of the year. Upson's experience has been highlighted as the reason for him being favoured. Surely though with a rear guard that is hardly in its hay day and that has the speed of a Vespa scooter on an incline, Dawson would have been the better choice.

The seemingly immovable pairing of Ferdinand and Terry also worries me deeply. At club level both these players have excelled but they play for teams that are so well drilled in their defensive tasks that they rarely have to deal with a crisis. They are also old and lacking in speed over a short difference and I wouldn't fancy their chances of halting say the Argentine, Brazilian or Spanish advances. For me King and Dawson would be the best pairing with either veteran ready to step in if either got injured.

The best piece of news to come out of today's announcement is that Joe Cole is to be winging his way to Africa. The reason I highlight his selection is for the following reasons. Many of our top stars are tired and mentally drained from what was an even more gruelling domestic season than normal. Players like Gerrard and Lampard have carried their teams hopes on their shoulders all year and then are lumbered with trying to provide for a nation. Therefore it is up to players such as Joe Cole, Emile Heskey and SWP who have not been so burdened, to come out and shine. Cole is also one our few players with a genuine world class touch and guile on the ball.

All in all then how do these selections bode for our chances in the World Cup? We have a chance as always as all English pundits have come out and aimlessly stated. Well yes everyone has a chance! Normally 'Nicks sport rant' holds a somewhat pessimistic view on our nations sporting chances but in this case I will climb the other side of the fence. Don't ask my why too much, but I think this team has more than a good chance. Our group is the weakest by a stretch, the Germans have lost Ballack, Argentina have a coke addicted midget for a manager, France are already looking to the future and Laurent Blanc, and Brazil look below their usual standard. This only leaves Spain and Italy who look like truly formidable foe's, but England might just have it in them to kick them up in the air often enough to emerge victorious.

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