Poor old Roy Hodgson. The team have barely touched down in Poland (even though most of their matches are in Ukraine) for Euro2012 and already the brickbats are flying.
His latest crime is overlooking Rio Ferdinand — again. Not content with having done it once he’s done it again following the injury to Gary Cahill.
A quick note on Cahill: it’s a real shame for him and desperately unlucky. Yes, the crude shove by Dries Mertens in the friendly against Belgium was unnecessary but even in a competitive game would have drawn a yellow card, at most. However, from the minute he crashed into the rather robust Joe Hart it didn’t look good. When his jaw swelled to Desperate Dan proportions it was clear he would not be playing much part in the European Championships.
Lots of people (notably ‘the media’) expected Hodgson to go calling for Rio, asking for forgiveness and for the experienced Manchester United defender to step into the breach.
However, Roy, good as his word, went to his reserve/stand-by list and called up Liverpool’s Martin Kelly. Thoughsport feels a fair bit of sympathy for the young Reds defender too. Called up to a big tournament he’s already been written off as he doesn’t have 81 caps (he has one); hasn’t won the Premier League (though three of Hodgson’s defenders have) and isn’t called “Rio”.
Much has been made of Kelly’s utility. Ostensibly he’s now back-up right-back to team-mate Glen Johnson and, supposedly, offers cover across the defence too. Sorry Roy but if that’s the reason you’ve called him up it’s balderdash. Even Liverpool fans would struggle to call Kelly’s a centre-half. Yes, he has played at left-back too — in desperate times at Liverpool — and it’d have to be similar for England to deploy him there.
Realistically Kelly won’t play at all (so where’s the harm in taking a 23-year-old to gain tournament experience?) and it’d take injuries to three of John Terry, Joleon Lescott, Phil Jagielka and Phil Jones for Kelly to get a look-in there.
Yet Thoughtsport are still uncomfortable with his inclusion. (Incidentally, we’re also fans of the growing school of thought that says England’s first choice centre-back pairing should be Lescott and Jagielka.)
Why? Because it’s starting with a compromise. Call us traditionalists but we say “Use the best tool for the job.” If you had a hammer and a screwdriver, you wouldn’t use a Swiss Army knife to bang in a nail and screw up some shelves would you?
Tournament squads are made-up of 23 players. Basic maths tells you that’s two players for everyone position plus one spare. Most teams opt for a third goalie to make up the 23. So why take a player who isn’t even first choice right-back for his club side?
Similarly with Phil Jones — yes, his adaptability is great. If we had to pick a 15-man squad there’d be some sound arguments for taking him. But we don’t. It’s a 23-man squad. We can take two right-backs — full-time, professional, do nothing else but be a right-back right-backs… we don’t need to take utility players!
Mind your nose
We risk over using the “Where is Micah Richards?” drum – especially as we know the answer. Word is both he and Michael Carrick (more on him later) refused to be on the stand-by list. Again, we risk exposing ourselves as the staunch traditionalists we are but… if your country needs you, even if it’s a “we might…” you stand by your bed, ready for the call.
It’s the David Beckham school of thought. ‘Becks’ had his weaknesses but lack of patriotism was never something that could be leveled at him. He’s always stuck to the line (we paraphrase) “I’ll never retire — it’s not for me to decide if/when my country doesn’t need me.”
Richards and Carrick would do well to take a leaf out of Beckham’s book. With Lampard and Barry on the injured list Carrick would, surely, have been a shoe-in for the squad. One would hope too that Richards would have been ahead of Kelly on the stand-by list too.
Still, both chose not to be on said list for whatever reasons they saw fit. We can almost understand it from Carrick. He’ll be nigh-on 31 by the time the tournament ends. We’re family men at Thoughtsport and could possibly, maybe, just about see that, for Carrick, dragging yourself out to Poland/Ukraine to sit on several substitute benches, away from your family and kids for 2-3 weeks may not sound that appealing.
But Richards? He’s 23. It may be a little early for international-career-suicide moves like his fit of pique. Yes, it’s disappointing not to be first choice but we’ve seen 4-year-olds ‘lose’ with more grace than the Richards/Carrick “I’m taking my ball home then…” hissy fit.
If I were either man’s nose I’d be watchful around shaving time… they might be out to cut you off.