BfB Goes To The World Cup 2010 (Without leaving the front room)

The England squad announcement should never have been the big news that it dragged into being with the FA’s media management skills and the veracious appetite for the public via the media to have any and all information as soon as it becomes a fully formed thought once again coming into conflict.

The day – as it panned out – was about Darren Bent and Theo Walcott on the whole and the speculation about both and in a way it was about Shaun Wright-Phillips and Jermaine Defoe and the fact that they are in the squad. These seemed to make easy calls for the unfolding drama and looking at the seven names who would be left on these shores: Leighton Baines, Michael Dawson, Tom Huddlestone, Scott Parker, Adam Johnson, Theo Walcott and Darren Bent; the majority of times the England manager was picking between like.

Wright-Phillips or Walcott? Defoe or Bent? Warnock or Baines? These are straight selections.

Huddlestone on the other hand represent a choice not taken by the manager. Gareth Barry and Owen Hargreaves are England’s two natural holding men able to win the ball in midfield and use it well. Scott Parker and Michael Carrick – in my eyes – represent something similar with both able to play the role but more box-to-box midfielders able to be paired with a similar player or with a more defensive man but ultimately lacking the ball if paired with an attacking player.

All of which serves to nail Gareth Barry into the side – if he is fit he plays – but considering he is England’s sole injury worry one has to wonder what would occur if he is not. A Frank Lampard and Michael Carrick midfield shows little signs of being better balanced than Lampard and Steven Gerrard unless the Chelsea man can finally grasp the idea that he needs to knuckle down to defensive discipline.

However while injury can throw unexpected problems in leaving Huddlestone at home Capello foregoes the option to create a midfield of two holding men either in a 442 with Gerrard and Cole wide or more interestingly in a 4231 with a back four being Huddlestone and Barry and Cole, Gerrard and Lampard behind a lone striker. Capello is an addict of 442 – I am too – and the merits of the 4231 which Portugal deployed he chooses to ignore.

England go to South Africa without the ability to play that formation – or at least to play it with the best personnel we could – and as such cross off possible shapes the side could form into. One hopes that Capello does not rue reducing the flexibility of his squad.


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