Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Capello's Selection Dilemmas

Well we are now into a World Cup season for domestic leagues around the world and although it is ten months away, let's hazard a guess as to what is going through England coach Fabio Capello's head.


Still remains a problem position for England with the error-prone David James and the inexperienced Ben Foster seemingly battling it out for the starting berth. Someone worth keeping an eye on though is Robert Green of West Ham. Although not as widely recognised as his compatriots he remains a good shot stopper and of rational mind, something that is priceless in big games, not least a World Cup.


It seems that three, if not all, players are assured of a starting place when South Africa rolls around. Glen Johnson, Rio Ferdinand, John Terry and Ashley Cole are all regulars with their club and continue to perform consistently enough that most people aren't talking about anyone else to take their place in the England back four. I would expect Lescott, Upson and Richards to receive call-ups but only as replacements as the defence (ten months before the tournament begins) seems set in stone.


Where to begin with this one? Can Gerrard and Lampard play together? What role does Joe Cole have to play? Who can replace Beckham's quality on the right and at set-pieces?

In my opinion Gerrard and Lampard cannot play together in the centre of midfield but that is no excuse to push Gerrard out to the left to accommodate Lampard. However Gerrard has been playing well from the left, cutting inside and given the freedom to roam as Ashley Cole bombs on out wide.

Gerrard isn't a natural left winger though and in a 4-4-2 formation (which Capello will more than likely adopt) width is a key component as it allows another supply route to the two strikers up top.

My suggestion would be to deploy Gerrard in the middle alongside Michael Carrick (who I think is severely underrated). Yes Gareth Barry and Owen Hargreaves are options too but it is Carrick's passing ability that sets him apart from his Premier League counterparts. This would allow Joe Cole (assuming he is fit and performing consistently for Chelsea) to return to his left flank with Aaron Lennon adopting a position on the right.

Many questions have been raised about Lennon's performances at club level and whether he is consistent enough, but if he maintains the level he has begun this current campaign with he will most certainly find himself in the starting XI in 2010.

This all depends on the form of Theo Walcott throughout Arsenal's season. Not much has been made of the former Southampton man but once he recovers from injury and is fully fit he will give defences all over the world a torrid time, just ask Croatia.

Other options that can be considered is Ashley Young on either wing, Shaun Wright-Phillips on the right or even David Beckham but I feel Beckham will be included for experience purposes although the man does still possess undoubted quality. And then there's Arsenal's Jack Wilshere, but that's for another post...


Many a name will be banded about over the course of the season and when it comes to selection time I still feel we will not really know who is going to South Africa.

Wayne Rooney, Jermain Defoe, Michael Owen, Peter Crouch, Emile Heskey, Gabriel Agbonlahor, Darren Bent, Carlton Cole.

All of the above names will be in contention come the end of the current season as it is evident that they will all score a considerable amount of goals for their club. This is where Capello's real selection headache lies with only Wayne Rooney virtually guaranteed a place on the plane to South Africa.

There is a lot of football to be played between now and June 2010.

Here is my personal selection for England's starting XI for their first game of the World Cup.

Goalkeeper - Green (West Ham United)

Defence - Johnson (Liverpool), Terry (Chelsea), Ferdinand (Man Utd), A. Cole (Chelsea)

Midfield - Walcott (Arsenal), Gerrard (Liverpool), Carrick (Man Utd), J. Cole (Chelsea)

Forward - Rooney (Man Utd), Defoe (Spurs)

Obviously this is a 100% guess and is based on the overall ability of the players in their position and how well I think they will do for their club over the coming season. Only time will tell if these players want it enough over the course of the 09/10 campaign.

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