England’s Euro 2012 squad in full – A Scot Writes
With Euro 2012 just around the corner, all of Europe is taking its mind off impending financial meltdown and civil war to settle down and watch the first of two glorious sporting festivals/military occupations taking place on our fair continent this summer. The Betfair Euro 2012 odds don’t seem to suggest England are exactly clear favourites, but let’s see if they’re right with a detailed analysis of their squad.
(Disclaimer: My nationality, and the associated fact that I have a deep and intense hatred of England, it’s sporting teams, culture, history, people, and identity does not preclude me from presenting a fair and unbiased analysis of their chances. With Scotland not at the tournament, I’ll still be supporting my other cultural kin, due to my uncles Sven, Pierre, and Oleksander. Anglophiles all.)
Goalkeepers: Joe Hart, Robert Green, John Ruddy
Hodgson probably received an early boost to his career with the departure of Manuel Almunia from Arsenal, the bleached-Derren-Brown-lookalike reminding everybody of his existence, and by association the time when he was mooted as a potential England number one. “Well, at least we’re not considering abandoning all notions of nationality and identity for the sake of having a below-average error-prone goalkeeper who’s only marginally better than our other choices for the sake of making the Quarter-Finals” isn’t the greatest rallying cry of all time, but it’ll do.
Prediction: A Hart injury in the third and crucial game, thus prompting Rob Green being sent on the pitch with the pep talk “Whatever you do, forget what happened against the USA! Erase it from your mind, because that’s the one thing you can’t be thinking about! And if you do, it’ll be a disaster! A disaster!”
Defence: Glen Johnson, Ashley Cole, John Terry, Phil Jones, Leighton Baines, Joleon Lescott, Gary Cahill
Several bombshells and potential howlers here, as Rio Ferdinand failed to make the squad in place of ‘The New David May’ John Terry. The potential reasons have been speculated on – whether it was because Ferdinand was the brother of an alleged victim of racist abuse from his potential defensive partner, or whether he was scuppered by Ferguson’s claims that he was unable to play every few days (preceding season where he played every few days notwithstanding.) In a way, it’s a shame. The two provided a perfect partnership, with Ferdinand leaping onto the shoulders of any goalscorer to get his mug in the frame of the celebration shot, and Terry providing a similar service onto the back of Xavi when he inevitably hoisted the cup.
Another surprise is the exclusion of Micah Richards, whose exclusion presents a mystery to which the only answer can be that Hodgson, like his ancestor Hoddle, is a strong believer in terrible crimes committed in previous lives. As evidence, Martin Kelly has been called up for England‘s friendly against Norway, with fellow hopeful Danny Simpson providing more astute analysis than we ever could: “What a load #actuallyfunnynow.”
Prediction: John Terry becomes the new Geoff Shreeves\Robbie Keane in the ‘tiresome overused joke’ stakes.
Midfield: Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, Scott Parker, Ashley Young, Theo Walcott, James Milner, Stewart Downing, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Gareth Barry
You see, this is where it starts to look a bit dodgy. The names alone – Barry, Downing, Milner – are enough to bring out the cold sweats, but there are deeper structural problems here. It’s the typical England midfield: you could pick any four or five of them in any positions and it would sort of look alright and make sense, but would be a catastrophic failure in action. The lack of Wilshere, Carrick, or even Cleverley means that there are only very specific types of passers in the squad: The sideways-two-yard-cowardice of Milner and Barry, the ponderous, deliberate futility of Parker and Lampard, the opponents-shin-favouring stylings of Walcott and Downing, and the vision-so-good-he-sees-passes-outside-the-field-of-play heroics of Gerrard. Fitting these together will be key.
Prediction: ”No, all those guys who did it before must’ve made a mistake. Gerrard and Lampard HAS to work.”
Forwards: Andy Carroll, Wayne Rooney, Jermain Defoe, Danny Welbeck
Simplicity itself, a perfect blend of four forwards, each with a specific role in the team. Wayne Rooney is there to play, the others are there to sit on the bench and hope he doesn’t get injured, or be hurled on late doors for the sole purpose of at least showing people that you were actually trying to win the game.
Prediction: Rooney’s suspended, of course, and none of the others look like forming a reasonable partnership or playing up front on their own, with Carroll likely to turn any team he features in into Stoke. Actually, this has really put things into perspective. I mean, Carroll being called up for endless offsides and fouls as he stomps about, dragging defenders down, elbowing full-backs, vainly trying to get on the end of hopeless hoofs from Lescott, Gerrard, and Milner. Christ.
Callum Hamilton has kindly donated his fee for this column to putting it on an England group-stage exit.
Get in the spirit of Euro’s with Ladbrokes football slots games over at ladbrokes.com. Check out the great Soccer Safari.