Tag Archives: The FA

England’s World Cup Squad – Goalkeepers

With just under 100 days to go until the start of the World Cup in Brazil, and after a very unconvincing 1-0 victory over Denmark on Wednesday, it seems like an appropriate time to assess England’s team. The usual pessimism that surrounds an England team at the time of a major tournament is beginning to kick in, with some going so far as to create an online petition, suggesting that Manchester United midfielder Tom Cleverley be banned from going to the World Cup on the back of some highly unimpressive performances for club and country.

Unfortunately, the match against Denmark did not seem to provide too many conclusions, creating even more selection headaches it seems. Luke Shaw and Ashley Cole are neck and neck for the back-up left-back spot, while Jack Wilshere’s injury now puts his place in the squad up in the air. Jordan Henderson played well in an advanced midfield role, while Lallana impressed after coming on as well.

Goalkeepers

Despite being dropped by Manchester City earlier on in the campaign, Joe Hart is the undisputed first-choice for England. He has recovered well from that disappointment to put in some good performances for his club in recent times and that can only bode well for the World Cup. However, who should be the second and third choices?

Fraser Forster has had an excellent campaign at Celtic and it looks like he will be on the plane to Brazil. The 25-year-old has only one cap to his name but has been breaking all sorts of records in Scotland this season (including keeping 13 consecutive clean sheets in the league.) His form has not gone unnoticed, with England manager Roy Hodgson stating, “I must say I am really pleased for Fraser to break the Scottish clean sheet record. It is a great achievement and he deserves it because he’s been playing very well.” I believe that Forster should be Hart’s understudy in Brazil, something which he has all the qualities for.

It seems as if there is a direct battle between John Ruddy, Ben Foster and Jack Butland for one place in the squad. The latter is still very young and does not have much top-flight experience, which would rule him out if I were picking the squad. However, the likelihood of needing the third-choice keeper at any point in the tournament is doubtful, and so many are calling for him to go to Brazil to “gain experience.” This has not proved so successful in the past (think Theo Walcott in 2006) and so I still would not pick Butland.

Foster has been playing relatively well recently for West Brom, as has Ruddy for Norwich. Foster has only played 13 matches this season because of injury, while Ruddy has played every one of Norwich’s 28 Premier League games so far, conceding 43 goals in the process. For me, there is barely anything between them, but I would go for Ruddy as he has been in slightly better form and has played more this season, meaning his fitness will probably be better. Unfortunately though, third-choice goalkeeper is arguably the most useless in the entire squad, with a very slim chance of playing.

Picked: Joe Hart, Fraser Forster, John Ruddy

Advertisements

Luke Shaw vs Ashley Cole

We already know that Leighton Baines will travel to Brazil as part of England’s World Cup squad, however there is a battle going on for which the other left-back should be. Should Roy Hodgson pick Luke Shaw, the teenage Southampton defender, or Ashley Cole, Chelsea and England stalwart for over a decade but seemingly on the way down?

The players are on a very equal footing, however it is utterly pointless comparing an 18-year-old upstart to a 33-year-old who has been a stallion for club(s) and country for over a decade now. I realise that players shouldn’t be judged on what they have achieved in the past, rather on their current form and fitness, but suggesting that Ashley Cole is past it is somewhat ludicrous. Yes, he has lost his place to Cesar Azpilicueta (a right-footed left-back) in the Chelsea team but when he has been called upon, he has more than played his part. His past three starts in the Chelsea shirt came against Stoke, Hull and Southampton and he excelled in all of these games, even grabbing an assist against Hull.

The idea that he has lost some of his pace is also without proof, and although he bombs forward slightly less frequently than when at his peak, this is a man who Roy Hodgson recently described as having unbelievable stamina and fitness, despite not being a regular for his club side. Despite several off-field misdemeanours in the past, Cole is extremely serious when it comes to his football. The former Arsenal defender is well known to be an extremely hard worker at the training ground (when he’s not busy shooting interns with BB guns) and he will obviously give it his absolute all if called upon for Chelsea or England.

Many people say that we should look to the future if these players cannot be separated on a performance-related level. However the past has shown this is not a brilliant idea. Theo Walcott was taken to the World Cup in 2006 as a 17-year-old, did not play a single minute and suffered over the next couple of years under the weight of enormous expectation. He has in the last few years come into his own at Arsenal, however the World Cup was too early for him and even he has made that clear since. Shaw has played more football than Walcott at that stage, and he is a year older, but he could suffer under the weight of pressure that comes with being an England international. Letting him stay back while Cole and Baines head off to Brazil would be a good idea, while he has many years ahead of him to improve and learn from others. Give him a couple of years and I am sure that he will be 1st or 2nd choice for Euro 2016.

The main reason I would pick Cole over Shaw is his experience. Were Leighton Baines to pick up an injury at any stage of the tournament, would you rather have an 18-year-old upstart with 45 minutes of international football under his belt or a 33-year-old who has won everything there is to win at English club level (including a record 7 FA Cups)? Pressure is an odd phenomenon, and something that can affect people in vastly different ways. Cole has shown in the past that he can handle the pressure of a major tournament, while Shaw has played a very limited number of matches under pressure, and so it is difficult to say how he would handle a match of such importance. This is why I would pick Cole over Shaw every time.