Thursday, 28 October 2010

Should Wilshere join up with the England senior squad?

Jack Wilshere is a player who has had to deal with shooting to fame in a relatively short space of time. A solid performer while on loan at Bolton from Arsenal, Wilshere has broken into the Arsenal first team this season, stealing the limelight away from more established players in most games and showing Arsene Wenger exactly why he can be realistically touted as the ideal replacement for influential captain Cesc Fabregas if and when he leaves for Barcelona. Wilshere will have another chance to prove what he can do in the Premier League in just over a week, and he should impress in a game the Birmingham betting tips suggest the Gunners will win comfortably.

Still, his performances for Arsenal have already caught the eye of Fabio Capello, who is currently preparing his England team for what could be a potential banana skin of against Montenegro at Wembley, and one important decision the England boss will have to get right is whether or not to play Wilshere in the upcoming Euro 2012 qualifier. The football odds suggest the Three Lions should win, but with injuries to key players they could struggle to create chances.

The problem lies in the fact that Arsenal's precocious young talent has been double booked; he is set to feature for the under-21s later today when they take on Romania at Carrow Road in a European Championship play-off, but has also been included in the senior squad. Capello now needs to decide how best to develop a player who could turn out to be a key cog in the England set-up for many years to come.

Stuart Pearce has admitted that it's a tricky balancing act for the young players and is right when he says "if they are not going to play, leave them in the age group where they can actually play 90 minutes". However, Wilshere is a different kettle of fish to other youngsters who perhaps don't have the same level of Premier League and Champions League experience.

If Capello overlooks the youngster for the Montenegro game and England end up struggling to find that deft touch and creativity in midfield that Arsenal fans know Wilshere can provide consistently, criticism will surely be directed towards the England boss. Whatever decision he ends up making, England fans will hope that it turns out to be one that boosts their chances of securing another qualifying win in what has so far been an impressive campaign.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Capello must right his wrongs on the left

For anyone with a memory of England's recent past the current obsession with playing left-footed players on the right and vice versa appears a little bit odd to say the least. The theory is that the players can drift inside on to their favoured foot, giving them the option of a strike at goal.

However the tactic isn't without its drawbacks and to see Fabio Capello jump on the bandwagon is somewhat disturbing and anyone who likes a football daily bet should pay close attention to it.

For years England fans cried out for a genuine left-footed winger who could beat his, get to the by-line and deliver quality crosses.

Steve McManaman, Darren Anderton and Kieron Dyer all piked up numerous caps, not necessarily because of their outstanding individual ability, but because England managers felt they might be able to do a job on the left.

And once we'd become tired of playing right-footed players on the left, we went right back to basics and gave Steve Guppy and Jason Wilcox a try. In fact, for a while, it seemed that so long as you were English and had a decent left foot, you could be pretty sure you'd get a cap.

In last week's game, Montenegro manager Zlatko Kranjcar came to Wembley with the sole aim of grabbing a point, and the simple plan of packing the midfield and defence in order to do so.

This made Capello's refusal to get at Montenegro down the flanks even more surprising, especially considering the aerial prowess and movement of Wayne Rooney and Peter Crouch.

Without a decent supply, Rooney was forced to drop deep to come look for the ball, leaving his strike partner isolated and further compacting the England midfield, something which forced Gerrard to pick the ball up off his defenders, and led to Barry being squeezed out of the game almost entirely. Anyone who placed a football bet on a home win would have been furious.

England fans expect them to beat teams ranked 40th in the world, but as football evolves and the so-called lesser teams become better organised, we shouldn't expect to run riot based on our reputation. If England want to qualify for Euro 2012 this is a fact Capello could do with remembering.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

England fail to impress

England once again suffered the indignity of being booed off the pitch by their own fans, after huffing and puffing to a goalless draw against Montenegro. It wasn't just the lack of a victory that will have bothered the England supporters, but the toothless display by the team. There was more than a passing resemblance to the uninspiring performances shown at the World Cup this summer, as England failed to put together more than three passes at a time and created very few chance of any note in a game the Betfairfootball odds suggested they'd win easily.

The only players to come out of the match with any credit at all were Steven Gerrard, Ashley Young, Adam Johnson and Joe Hart. Gerrard once again showed why he should be given the England captaincy ahead of Rio Ferdinand. The Liverpool skipper tried time and time again to inject some sort of life into his side, only for his colleagues to clumsily give away possession. Gerrard should have been made England captain when Beckham stepped down from the role, as the midfielder is the only player in the current squad who can grab a game by the scruff of the neck and single handily change the outcome. Although Ferdinand didn't have a poor game against Montenegro, he was hardly the inspirational leader that England need.

Johnson and Young switched flanks well and caused Montenegro a few problems, without ever really finding the finishing product. Villa's Young looked lively but still looks a bit away from being international class player, although it's no surprise the transfer rumours have linked him with a move to a big club. Johnson once again showed himself to be one of this country's most exciting prospects but was given no real support from his team-mates.

Glen Johnson once again showed a dangerous lack of any positional sense and was guilty of going walkabout on more than one occasion, leaving massive holes on the right hand side of England's defensive line. Joleon Lescott came into replace the injured Terry and did what he had to without too much fuss, although the Man City man doesn't inspire anywhere near the same confidence as the Chelsea captain.
The less said about Wayne Rooney's latest disappointing performance, the better. The striker once again looked a completely different player from the one who scored 40 goals in all competitions last season and nothing he tried came off.

Capello will be looking at the friendly arranged for next month against France as another chance to experiment with his side, before the next round of Euro qualifiers start in the spring.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Montenegro get a nil - nil draw at Wembley

Rooney's expression says it all....

Wayne Rooney Dejection after (0-0) Draw England 2010/11 England V Montenegro (0-0) 12/10/10 UEFA Euro 2012 Qualifier Photo Robin Parker Fotosports International Photo via Newscom

Friday, 8 October 2010

Rooney's chance to shine

Should Wayne Rooney be fit to play for England against Montenegro next Tuesday, it may be the perfect opportunity for the Manchester United striker to finally put the negative headlines behind him and instead start doing what he does best - finding the back of the net with vital goals for both club and country.

With the Betfair Football tips suggesting Montenegro are likely to provide a stern test to a Fabio Capello side that will be missing several top players through injury, Rooney's presence may be the lift that some of the younger members of the squad such as Adam Johnson and Joe Hart require to give them the belief that they can fulfil the incredibly high expectations that England fans set for their side. Anyone who has placed a football daily bet on England to win want to see the striker firing on all cylinders.

With the crowd likely to be despondent if England aren't leading by the break, Rooney needs to show that he is alert and creating chances on a regular basis in the first 45 minutes and, if he does so, hopefully he can inspire the crowd to get behind him with chants of "Rooney, Rooney".

However, should Wayne once again fall flat this season, then fans will perhaps start to ask the question as to whether he really is still a world-class player or if he is a good player who has been performing at a level he won't be able to reach again, something that Rooney will be desperate to disprove.

With this in mind, a good performance that silences doubters and puts positive headlines back on the tabloids' back pages would do both Rooney and the England team the world of good.