Euro 2012: 6 Talking Points About Roy Hodgson's England Squad
Earlier today, England manager Roy Hodgson named his 23-man squad and stand-by players that will take the field in Poland and Ukraine this summer for the European Championships.
In his first big announcement as manager, Hodgson made some big calls.
He called up the likes of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and John Ruddy for the first time, while leaving out more experienced players such as Rio Ferdinand and Micah Richards.
Only time will tell whether or not Hodgson was accurate in his squad selection, but for now we can only speculate and highlight some of the major decisions made by Hodgson today.
Only Four Strikers
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I'm never a fan of only taking four strikers to a major tournament, especially considering that Wayne Rooney is suspended for the tournament's first two games.
Effectively, we will only have Defoe, Welbeck and Carroll to chose from when we play France and Sweden in our first two games.
While I have nothing against the players that were chosen, I think that one more should be on the plane.
The counter-argument is that some of the players listed as midfielders can play further forward, such as Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, but I don't see why we should be looking at them to fill the void should injuries strike our forwards.
While I like the fact that Walcott and Chamberlain are on the plane, I'd like another forward like Daniel Sturridge, who is a reserve, to join the main group, and perhaps someone like Grant Holt in reserve. With nine midfielders, I'm sure at least one of them doesn't need to be on the team.
And I know just who that is...
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I know a lot of wingers who haven't got a Premier League goal or assist this season.
They aren't playing in the Premier League.
Considering that Downing has failed to score or assist a goal in his position, it makes me wonder just what Roy was thinking when he selected Downing, not just for the stand-by list but actually in the main 23.
Aaron Lennon would be a much better inclusion, but like I said in the previous slide, I think another forward should be on the plane.
With Walcott and Chamberlain rightly going to the Euros, I struggle to see how Downing will fit in, if he will see any playing time, and more importantly how he will cause some of the top national teams in the world any problems, considering that he hasn't done it in the Premier League.
Picture the scene: We're losing to Spain in the quarterfinals, and Hodgson looks to his bench to bring on a winger to cause Alvaro Arbeloa or Sergio Ramos some problems down the flanks. Would you bring a pacey player like Lennon, Oxlade-Chamberlain or Walcott if they've been left out at the start, or Stewart Downing?
Make your own minds up on that one.
Lack of Manchester-Based Players
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Considering the dominance of the Manchester sides in the domestic league this season, both of whom finished 19 points above third-placed Arsenal, it poses the question of why only six of their players were chosen.
While I'm not saying that City or United only have decent English players, the likes of Michael Carrick, Rio Ferdinand, Chris Smalling, Adam Johnson, Micah Richards and Paul Scholes have all missed on a place in the team, while lesser players have made the team.
Perhaps the fact that, with the exception of Carrick and Ferdinand, none of the players I mentioned have been chosen consistently for their clubs throughout the season has caused their exclusion, but I'd still like to see them at least make the stand-by list.
In a team with many inexperienced names, some of the players listed have either international experience during big tournaments or during title races. That would benefit the team in a major tournament—if not on the pitch, then off it at least.
Micah Richards or Phil Jones?
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This was one of the questions that Hodgson would've been debating.
With only three out-and-out centre-backs in the side, Hodgson would've seen one of these two as an ideal player to step in when necessary, while filling in at full-back if necessary.
But he only needed one of Jones or Richards to be this utility player in the summer, and the more inexperienced Jones was given the nod.
It's a tough decision to make, with both players putting in impressive seasons at their new clubs, but personally I would've chosen Richards.
He's played across the back four for City throughout his career, and while Jones has even played in midfield for Manchester United, he wouldn't be asked to do this in a team with nine midfielders.
Plus, I reckon looking at the squad that Glen Johnson will be playing right-back throughout the tournament with Kyle Walker out with injury. But Richards could challenge in this position, and in my opinion, he is a better player than Johnson, so he should've been in the 23.
Steven Gerrard Is Captain
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Hodgson also announced today that Steven Gerrard will be captain of the team during the tournament.
With Ferdinand missing out, John Terry having been stripped of the captaincy once again and Rooney missing the opening two games, the shortlist for captaincy was narrowing.
Gerrard was always the favourite, and having played under Hodgson at Liverpool already in his career, the two have got to know each other well enough before this summer.
The likes of Joe Hart, Frank Lampard, Gareth Barry and Scott Parker were named as potential captains, but I prefer the appointment of Gerrard.
He has been captain of Liverpool for nearly a decade and, with exception of Lampard, is the only candidate with significant international experience under his belt.
Hodgson made a lot of debatable calls today, but Gerrard as captain isn't one of them.
Terry In, Ferdinand Out
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The first headline today regarding the selection of players, and the decision that the media hassled Hodgson most for in today's press conference, was the exclusion of Rio Ferdinand.
The debate concerning Ferdinand's fitness, and whether or not he can play three games in a short span of time as required in a major tournament, has been one of the supposed reasons.
But Ferdinand has played three games in a week consistently for Manchester United this season, and Hodgson himself said that fitness wasn't the issue.
Instead, one of the more legitimate supposed reasons was a rift between Ferdinand and John Terry.
For those who somehow have forgotten why these two don't exactly get along, Terry was accused last October of racially abusing Ferdinand's brother Anton during a game between QPR and Chelsea, a matter which caused Terry to lose the England captaincy.
He even faces criminal charges on July 9th, just eight days after the final of the tournament.
Was it a matter of choosing one but not both players for the tournament, due to issues between the two?
Terry's footballing ability is without question. He has shown strength, experience and leadership qualities for Chelsea throughout the season, at least before his red card against Barcelona.
This is an issue that will be talked about for a while, and Hodgson is unfortunate to find himself making such a decision.
How Well Will England Do in Euro 2012?
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So the question remains: How will England do in the summer's European Championships?
The general consensus is that they'll struggle.
Not primarily because of Hodgson's selections today, but the departure of Capello in February, relatively recent appointment of Hodgson, the suspension of Wayne Rooney for the first two games and off-the-field distractions such as John Terry's racial charges have left the team somewhat under-prepared for a major tournament.
Considering that England failed despite all necessarily preparations being undertaken before the last World Cup in South Africa, the signs look even worse heading into Poland and Ukraine.
But I'd like to think that England can challenge in the knockout stages.
The team faces a difficult group containing France, Ukraine and Sweden, and with Spain likely to play the runners-up of the group in the quarterfinals, it is essential that we win our group.
So basically, progression in the Euros depends largely upon winning the group, or pulling off a major upset against the Spanish.
Can England do it?