Monday, May 08, 2006

Gambling is rife in English football: Sven chooses England squad. [England article]

When I was 17, one of my prouder moments as a footballer came when i was called up to my school's first team due to a last minute injury. I think Theo might have, just maybe, surpassed that today. Even if the situations are, obviously, eminently comparable.

So, oddly enough, after his numerous liasons, Sven surprises us all by growing a pair of balls. The gamble this world cup squad represents is something approaching that of Hitler's in 1941. Sure, invading Russia with a massively superior army sounds easy; but is Sven setting up his own Stalingrad? [BTW, I'm not saying Sven is comparable to Hitler as people, lest any confusion about Sven being a neo-fascist surfaces tomorrow. Just, y'know, logic, gambling and reality are often quite different, like in 1941.]

Only four strikers get the nod. Of which: Crouch, who can't score; Rooney who has multiple fractures in his foot which, at best, will not recover until the knock out stages; Owen, who hasn't played since january; and our very own Theo, who, er, hasn't played in the Premier league.

To call this a small gamble, would be like calling Russia a small country [analogy continues!]. But, logically, there is sense in the decision. Defoe has been dire for most of the season, and Bent, whilst a solid player, doesn't really look international quality. Nor do Beattie or Johnson. Theo will be better than all these players within 3-4 years: why not give him a chance? If Rooney and Owen were both happily skipping along to the tour bus, I'd see no problem in this. But, as it presently stands, if we were to play 2 up front, Theo could start as Owen and Rooney would still be injured. That is a step too far in my book.

In Sven's defence at least he has allayed our fears of Heskey returning to the fold. Shudder, NO!!!!, shudder. Theo is the future, Heskey is the gloomy mire-ridden past. The call up is also great for us: Theo can only come back a better player from this experience; I do wonder whether Arsene's calls for him to be included were altruistic or based on this consideration.

I completely agree with Lennon getting a chance because he's been excellent for Tottenham this season. It must be terrible for SWP, especially given as if he'd signed for us - or indeed anyone but Chelsea- or stayed at City he'd be in the squad. Yet, he dug his own grave going to Chelsea, and you have to say, based on form and performances this season Lennon deserves to go before him. He was, eurgh it pains me to say it, great at Highbury, and repeatedly skinned Phil and Flam. He can also score - a pertinent consideration in our striker crisis. What has happened to Shaun is tragic. This must be his lowest ebb here if he is to recover and become the great player I think he's capable of becoming. To do this 1) leave Chelsea. That's it. And take self-confidence lessons at your new club. Realise you've made a mistake and this is a chance for renaissance.

The biggest surprise for me is Ledley King's ommission. I know this is probably based on injury, but he's a solid squad member who could fill in in defence - he certainly deserves to be higher up the CB pecking order than Sol - or even, in an emergency in midfield, although i would not start him as the holding midfielder after his performance against Argentina.

Elsewhere, Owen Hargreaves, again sneakes into the squad. How? and why? Jermanine 'mediocre' Jenas also scrapes in.

Aside from that, the rest of the squad was fairly predictable. Leaving me with the following teams to start the first game

Scenario 1) Rooney doesnt make it; Owen does.

Neville Ferdinand [although I would pick Carragher] Terry Ash
Beckham Lampard Gerrard

Neither Owen or Rooney make it, or the, 'Auf wierdersen, England!' scenario:

Same, but with Crouch up front, to be interchangebale with Theo. Possible more of Christmas tree stylee:

Nev, Ferd, Terry, Ash
Becks, Carrick, Lampard
Gerrard, Cole

Should all be interesting. Congratulations Theo.


Anonymous said...

I like the squad and I agree with Sven. King is not fit and 3 injured players is too much of a gamble. Hargreaves is a very good player and he's been great for Munich this season. CL winner at the age of 18 and loads of experience. Sven should play him more in my opinion

I dont think that Walcott and Lennon and SWP if he was picked would play much so maybe Sven is just picking Walcott and Lennon to get them involved as they look like future England stars. I feel sorry for SWP but he made the wrong move. He is 24-25 now and hardly has any experience and you have to go with the future. I hope that Theo can cope maybe he will get an appearance against Trinidad to ease him in and go from there.

Anonymous said...

Unless Theo gets injured -- and face it, he could stay home and fall down a flight of stairs -- just the international experience will be invaluable even if he never plays a minute.

Theo's shot in Germany is a HUGE boost for AW, who was stuck in the last few weeks of the season aiming at fourth place and coudn't get the boy into a game.

Ironically, when Walcott COULD have gotten some time, he'd picked up a couple of minor knocks. I know Wenger was frustrated by that as he clearly rates Theo as a future superstar.

But now Theo gets bumped up to the "advanced class" and it's a massive, massive help to Arsenal for next year and beyond.

Fabulous news!

Anonymous said...

i think this formation would be the best.





even if owen is fit, that forward 3 would be too small. play gerrard in a more withdrawn role and have lampard bombing into the box. with the extreme pace on the flanks it would give us alot of opportunities.

this formation would allow us to play on the counter attack - therefore utilising our pace AND defence (the best back 4 in the world by far)

Anonymous said...

Carrick is not a defensive midfielder, he is a playmaker. Sven does not have anyone to do that job.

Moomz said...

We would be too exposed with that formation. Like the idea of Lennon and Walcott playing at the same time though..

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Anonymous said...

As someone else said, two cripples, a beanpole and a schoolboy. But great for Walcott. I imagine he and Lennon will (or should) play a big part in the friendies to see which combinations of players work best.

Yeah, it's really sad what's happened to Shaun but suppose he's no one to blame except himself - and his step-dad, of course, whom I'm beginning to find a pain in the neck. I got the impression Shaun quite fancied coming to us before he was persuaded Chelsea would ensure him more trophies.

Suppose it's inevitable we're discussing the England squad today with Walcott being in it, but this is an Arsenal site, and lots of Gooners couldn't give a toss about England - some of us aren't even English and therefore support other sides. If we do turn our attention to the World Cup over the summer, let's talk about other teams teams too, especially those with our players. Ivory Coast v. Argentina looks like a really interesting game.

Goonerboy said...


I was unsure whether to publish this on the site as it's about England.

During the world cup the site will be more World Cup and England orientated than Arsenal.

As you may have noticed, in the headline today it has '[England article]'in brackets. All articles specifically about England will carry this moniker - the more general articles I do about the World Cup will have [World Cup] after the headline. Arsenal headlines will be as normal

Hence, if you see a headline, you can know without reading it what its focus will be, and hence decide whether to read it or not. Just a little prior warning.

I am English, and I do love debating the national side: I can't be bothered to set up a new site for England, so I hope you'll all indulge me over the summer and every once in a while.

And, coming soon, the great Goonerboy world cup prediction game...honour will be at stake.

Anonymous said...

Whose that madman sayin Gerrard should play up front. NO DISRESPECT but c'mon!

Id say


Neville Ferdinand Terry A.Cole
Beckham Carrick Gerrard J.Cole
Owen Crouch


Neville Ferdinand Terry A.Cole
Beckham Carrick Gerrard Lennon

Gerrard has to be pushed forward in my opinion. Him and Rooney seem to just have that footballing brain.(if that makes sense). He's one of the best out there and a MUCH BETTER playmaker than Lampard and Crrick. And Carrick playes defensive mid for spurs while still setting up plays.

Main subs could be:
Walcott for Lennon(J.Cole to left Walcott up front)
Lamps for Carrick- More attacking.

Bet Sven does something no-one has predicted. Finally grown balls.

Anonymous said...

Fair enough, it's your space, but I for one will regretfully have to defect to another Arsenal site to escape the wall-to-wall England discussion, progress-of-metatarsal discussion, to which we'll be subjected day and night from now on. The World Cup in general, OK, it could be interesting to think about the less familiar teams (their players, their tactics, whether there's anyone we might want to buy), but two months of debating who the single striker should be when Owen's hamstrings seize up, or whether Lampard and Gerrard really play well together . . . Not for me, afraid. I've reached saturation point when it's barely begun!

Anonymous said...

Do you think there's a little bit of vanity mixed up in the Theo decision? I mean, Rooney and Walcott are probably England's strikeforce for the next ten years, and this way, Sven's remembered as the one who gave them both a start. If it pays off, Sven's lauded as a genius. If it doesn't, when the next world cup rolls around in four years time, Walcott wil be a star, and Sven still comes off looking like a visionary.

Anonymous said...

Fabio Capello has just 9 days, 13 hours and 11 minutes left to learn English for his first meeting with the England squad! Pledge your support now and help Fabio Capello learn English!