Wednesday, 6 June 2012

England's Euro 2012 Squad: Analysis, hopes & expectations

England's Euro 2012 Squad: Analysis, hopes and expectations

I must make it clear that I wish England all the best at Euro 2012.  However, with Gary Cahill's injury over the weekend and Martin Kelly's call up, the England squad for Euro 2012 now consists of 6 Liverpool players.  That is more than a quarter of the squad from a dire Liverpool team that sacked their manager after finishing 8th in the league.  Don't get me wrong Martin Kelly is definitely one for the future. But as for the present they should have picked a suitable experienced replacement, i.e. Rio Ferdinand.  In my opinion he was the next best pick for "football reasons", regardless of what Hodgson says.  Yet ultimately this was not the case, in part due to the John Terry saga.

It is a shame to think that Rio Ferdinand, one of England's best ever centre backs, will never have played in a European Championship (not picked in '00, suspended in '04, didn't qualify in '08 and unfairly not picked in '12).  The 2012 squad is probably one of the weakest England squads at a tournament for generations.  Even Keegan's Euro 2000 squad puts the 2012 bunch to shame.  Apart from Steven Gerrard and Andy Carroll, I believe that the four other Liverpool players have in effect stolen their places from other talented alternatives.  If I had it my way I would make the following changes:

Glen Johnson (out) / Micah Richards (in).  Richards won the league with City in May and was also unfairly snubbed by Capello.  Sure he wasn't a regular for City through out the season, however he is more of a better choice than Johnson who had a mediocre season at best and still carries the defensive baggage of World Cup 2010.

Stewart Downing (out) / Joe Cole (in).  Joe Cole avoided Liverpool's poor season and instead had a fantastic time on loan at Lille.  He bagged 9 goals to boot as he rediscovered his form.  Instead of picking him, Hodgson overloaded on wingers and picked Downing who has never shown true class at the international stage.  Joe Cole could have provided the spark to change a match with his creativity, sadly Downing doesn't possess such an attribute.

Jordan Henderson (out) / Paul Scholes (in).  Capello missed a trick by not speaking to Scholes early enough ahead of World Cup 2010.  It appears that Hodgson has done the same.  Scholes came out if retirement and almost steered United to another Premier League title.  Despite his age he showed that he still has the hunger and passion to succeed at the highest level.  Alas, Henderson hasn't done the same this season, despite his glints of promise at Sunderland during the 10-11 season.  Barring anymore injuries, Henderson will be a backup in the squad, a role that Scholes could have fitted into perfectly with his experience.

Martin Kelly (out) / Rio Ferdinand (in).  I accept that Rio Ferdinand has been suffering from regular bouts of injuries since 2010 and is passed his best.  But in truth he has had a relatively satisfactory 2012 and as a result should have been picked in the squad at the very least.  Martin Kelly has not had many starts for Liverpool, in fact he only has a few minutes of international duty to his name,  Hodgson should have brought Terry and Ferdinand together in the hope of forming a temporary truce for Euro 2012.  At the very least he should have spoken to Ferdinand, alas this doesn't appear to be the case.

In terms of England's performance, I believe realistically we can expect the following:

GS: France 1-1 England
GS: Sweden 1-2 England
GS: England 0-0 Ukraine

(England finish 2nd with 5 points and face Spain in the quarter finals, provided Spain finish 1st in their group)

QF: England 1-1 Spain
(Spain win 5-4 on penalties)

Unfortunately, I believe that the above is realistic hope that borders on inflated optimism.  Thus don't be surprised if England's weakened squad end up doing the following:

GS: France 2-0 England
GS: Sweden 1-1 England
GS: Ukraine 0-0 England

(England finish 3rd or 4th with 2 points in their group and get knocked out)

Probable final:

Germany v Netherlands

(If so, Germany to win it on penalties of course...)

Don't worry.  The above is mere speculation...  

England could yet still do a Denmark '92, Greece '04 or an England '96!

Let's hope for the best!

Come on England.