So Woy has selected is final squad for the Euros. It’s a bold squad, packed with 5 plenty of pace, five strikers and one with the youngest overall age (25.8 years) at the tournament.
Mr Hodgson chose the same route as Glen Hoddle in 1998 – selecting a larger squad than required and before whittling that down to the 23 names that will travel to France.
So what are we left with then? The great thing that Roy Hodgson has achieved since taking over in 2012 is to make players want to play for England again, we have a 100% qualifying record and healthy competition for places.
Smalling celebrates his winning goal against Portugal
During qualifying it has felt that we have a team rather than a group of individuals. However, with the final squad selection and the game against Portugal, it seems like the ‘big name / square pegs in round holes’ debate has surfaced again. This is for two reasons:
- Whilst Danny Drinkwater is never going to throw a Gazza-esque tantrum and was extremely humble with his good luck message for the lads, in my view, he should have been selected above either Wilshere or Henderson, neither of whom can be match fit. Drinkwater has been one of the most consistent players of the season and is the best option for the second holding midfield spot alongside Eric Dier in a 4-2-3-1 formation.
- Glenn Hoddle made a huge call to drop Gazza. But what should Roy do about the England Captain? Rooney is an integral part of the squad, he is the Captain, an experienced leader, and a true England legend… but on current form, is he good enough to be in the team?
I trust Roy Hodgson, he knows a million times more about football than me, but looking from the outside in, it seems like he is desperately trying to shoe-horn Rooney into the team. In my view, Deli Ali has to play at the tip of the diamond – it’s his best position and he is bang on form. I am a massive Rooney fan and his leadership qualities, record, and attitude make you want him to be in the team. The fact is, in this moment, Kane & Vardy are the two highest goal scorers in the Premiership, Sturridge is the most talented, and Rashford is the man in form. So Roy is left with a choice: – drop your Captain?…. or play him in midfield?
Rooney is a great all-round footballer but despite his experience, I’m not sure he has the discipline to play holding midfield? The other midfield options are:
- Jack Wilshere – Leeds have had 6 managers since Wilshere last played 90mins for Arsenal
- Jordan Henderson – not match fit
- James Milner – reliable without setting the world on fire (maybe that what we need)
- Danny Drinkwater – not an option, dropped for bigger names
- Ross Barclay – not holding and doesn’t dominate games. Sub at best.
I firmly believe that you should not criticise without offering a solution. I would have included Drinkwater in the squad at the expense of Wilshere – whilst I’m a fan, he is just not going to be match fit, and when was the last time that a player that was injured pre-tournament smashed it on the big stage?
The biggest criticism I have of this squad is that whilst it’s ‘nice’ to have a selection headache because we have some evenly matched players, we are yet again approaching a tournament with the manager not knowing either his best starting eleven, or his best formation. I have been using the BBCs website to select my favoured team but it is completely different to every friend I have talked to.
As the ‘Tinkerman’ proved this season with the exceptional performance of Leicester, team spirit and familiarity with your team mates can transform good players into an exceptional unit. Bearing in mind qualification was a given – why didn’t we experiment in the remaining qualifiers and finalise the team with 5/6 matches to go. After the Portugal game, Kane commented that the understanding between himself, Vardy and Rooney wouldn’t come overnight. But we have had two years since Brazil. We need to make the starting England eleven feel like a club team, and give them the opportunity to build a strong understanding and great team spirit.
There are 24 teams at the Euros and three wins from the warmup games against teams of similar standards to the group should not be scoffed at. I can’t wait to jump on the Eurostar on Thurs night, but whilst I have a half decent knowledge about football, I honestly can’t predict what this England squad will achieve. I’m excited for the Euro 2016 and whatever we achieve, we’re off to France to enjoy another great tournament of football. Beach holidays are fun but nothing quite beats the buzz you get walking into the stadium for the first game, standing alongside your mates and watching your country play football. #followenglandaway.