England National Team: Shaping the Team of the Future
Another tournament, another quarterfinal exit after being routinely outplayed for 120 minutes before fluffing a couple of penalties.
This time around, not many of us England fans were surprised at the dismal performance put forward by one man's definition of our best 11. We, as a majority of the fanbase, expected England to get this far and no further.
There is one reason for this lack of ambitious expectation. The team had hardly changed from the team that didn't qualify for the last Euro, or the one that underperformed at the last World Cup.
Now, we can all blame the manager, the players, the coaching staff and so on. What must change is the pressure put on them to field the infamous Lions of English football. Whilst Terry, Ferdinand, Lampard and Gerrard are top players, they are predictable and often too slow to react at this level of football anymore.
We, as long-suffering fans, deserve to see a change in time for the next world cup. Our qualification is a given, we just need the team to justify our inclusion in the hilariously scored FIFA World Rankings. As such, I present my future starting eleven, for your consideration.
This one is a given. Joe Hart is England's best man between the sticks and I'm an avid fan of Robert Green.
Hart is composed, able and young, qualities that can only be improved through experience and continued service.
Right Back/Right Wing Back
How was Micah Richards not our first choice right back?
He is strong, athletic, has a good read of the game and is proven at a high level, having been a solid part of a dominant back-four for Manchester City.
There are some theories as to why he wasn't taken to the tournament, most to do with the ongoing race row involving John Terry, though I'll give Hodgson the benefit of the doubt and put it down as an oversight.
Every fibre of my body wanted to put James Tomkins here, even though he's not faced a lot of high quality opposition in his currently short career. Instead, I shall rule with my head as opposed to my heart and select one of the best young defenders to grace the game in recent years.
Phil Jones had an outstanding season with Blackburn, making fools of many experienced strikers and helping them maintain their Premier League status. When he went to Manchester United, he had to contend with Nemanja Vidic, Rio Ferdinand and a resurgent Johnny Evans. As such, he showed his versatility in providing cover for an injured Michael Carrick in a holding midfield role.
Skill aside, his ability to play multiple positions should make him a sure thing for the next World Cup in 2014.
Chris Smalling is, like Jones, a player of multiple positions, mainly across the back four. He can play at right back should Richards and Kyle Walker not be available, but we should play him in his strongest position to get the best out of him.
Smalling and Jones are the future of Manchester United's defence—why should we break up what will be a successful and solid partnership?
But...but, he's a right back, are you mad!?
Nope, so hear me out before hitting the comments section.
The modern full-back is many things, pacey, a winger and a crosser of the ball, as well as the last line of defence. They have to be good with their feet and sharp with their eyes.
It would follow, then, that a modern full-back should be ambidextrous with his feet and able to play on either side of the back four. I would put Kyle Walker there as I rate Micah Richards to be the better player but Kieran Gibbs is not ready, due to a lack of playing time and injuries. Also, Dan Potts has only played four games in the Championship, so far. Okay, I'll stop putting West Ham players forward now.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has the pace of Theo Walcott, the sharpness of Ashley Young and he must have stolen Stewart Downing's ability to cross the ball and shoot whilst Downing was still in the womb.
Ox is relatively young and he proved his worth in short cameos in selected games during the Euros. He should be on the plane in two years time.
Central Defensive Midfielder
Damn you injuries!
If Jack Wilshere had gone, Gerrard could have played in a more advanced...Okay, take a breather, it's not his fault.
Jack Wilshere is a solid player, able to pass with ease and his presence is a reassurance to any behind him.
Central Defensive Midfielder
Yeah, I lied and I'm not even sorry. Not one little bit!
I've followed Mark Noble's career for its entirety. He is a solid player who can command a midfield and boss opposing strikers all day long. He deserves to be at a top-six club, though I'm glad that his loyalties are to the claret and blue of East London.
Good pace, good feet and a good shot when cutting in from the left, Lennon must have been tied to a chair by Downing when Hodgson called.
Central Attacking Midfielder
I had to go through six pages on Getty Images before I found a picture that wasn't of that penalty.
Ashley Young is a high quality player who can put defenders in a spin and can link up with the lone striker, whilst tracking back to provide cover for a stretched defence. Let's forget about that penalty and move on.
He scored one of the best goals of the tournament and was a constant threat, whilst Andy Carroll made superb passes to the opposition and Wayne Rooney combed his hair.
Welbeck is fast, accurate and hungry, whilst Rooney is just hungry.