• One Love/ People Get Ready (Reprise)…

    In Feb 2011 I talked about creating space for different club teams to co-exist alongside the mesmerising and wonderful football of FCB. This was a plea for inclusion and diversity all around the football pitch at every level (i.e. different styles of play and sustainability for the whole pyramid - not just the top few teams). It’s now time to look at a different slice of football and support national team - COME ON, ENGLAND!

    Here are the young men (class of 2012):

    Goalkeepers: 1. Joe Hart (Manchester City), 13. Robert Green (West Ham), 23. Jack Butland (Birmingham City).

    Defenders: 12. Leighton Baines (Everton), 5. Gary Cahill (Chelsea), 3. Ashley Cole (Chelsea), 2. Glen Johnson (Liverpool), 14. Phil Jones (Manchester United), 15. Joleon Lescott (Manchester City), 6. John Terry (Chelsea), 18. Phil Jagielka (Everton).

    Midfielders: 19. Stewart Downing (Liverpool), 4. Steven Gerrard (Liverpool), 8. Frank Lampard (Chelsea), 16. James Milner (Manchester City), 20. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Arsenal), 17. Scott Parker (Tottenham), 7. Theo Walcott (Arsenal), 11. Ashley Young (Manchester United).

    Forwards: 9. Andy Carroll (Liverpool), 21. Jermain Defoe (Tottenham), 10. Wayne Rooney (Manchester United), 22. Danny Welbeck (Manchester United)

    I have mixed feelings about this. On one level, I would have preferred to see players like Ferdinand, Carrick (no - I don't support Man U) and even Joe Cole included. If international tournament football is about ball retention, rhythm and timing then it seems to me that we might have more of a chance with players who are better at keeping the ball; players who can then give it to Rooney (though not in the first two games - thanks again, Wayne!) and Young to create goal scoring opportunities.

    It seems clear that Hodgson has a different thing in mind and I don't get the sense that it's going to pretty, but will it be successful? Our formation will be more like 633 (squadron) and the aerial assaults by wing commanders Downing and Walcott might yet create a Top Gun out of Andy Carroll in the first two games. Not convinced by Downing? We all think we know best, but remember that Downing's excellent technique can be devastating, so it's curious why he appears to struggle at this level (and has done at Liverpool to date). How would you cope in these high pressure situations, though - with millions of people watching you?

    Next time you are voicing negative thoughts consider if you have ever experienced the psychological impact of performance at this level? My own reservations about our chances arise from my thoughts about the skewed relationships in football:

    - how do the players feel about playing for England now?

    - Premier League and Champions League ker-ching is king

    - FIFA appear to be set on a course to punish the home nation FAs for their 'wretched handling of International Relations' down the decades (Mahir Bose's comments - not mine) - why would the players bother with these politics?

    - looking beyond the FA Marketing spin, what does it really mean to them and what does this say about the evolution of the future game?.

    Personally, I can't see how the current situation lends itself to any kind of in-game flow (the purity of mental state, which cancels out any external noise or thoughts).

    For now, though, let's sacrifice our own beliefs for the good of the group. Let's have the questions after the tournament, or at least after England's involvement in it has finished. Before then - I think we should all get behind the team and unite in our great love for this great game - COME ON, ENGLAND!

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