BBC BLOGS - Phil McNulty
« Previous | Main | Next »

Phil McNulty Q&A blog

Post categories:

Phil McNulty | 09:30 UK time, Wednesday, 3 February 2010

The transfer window is closed and the jostling for position at the top and bottom of the Premier League continues. Can Manchester United overtake Chelsea? Who has done the best business in the transfer window? Time for another Q&A blog.

It will come as no surprise to learn that one topic has dominated the questions I've received - and that's the England captaincy and John Terry. It is impossible to answer them all, so I plan to tackle this issue in a stand-alone blog if and when England coach Fabio Capello makes any decision.

Anyway, once again loads of questions via Twitter and Facebook - again I have tried to address as many as I can but it is just not possible to answer them all. Please keep sending them in and there will be another Q&A soon.

Wayne Rooney's wonderful form for Manchester United has provided plenty of interest - so we will start with him.

Olanrewaju DonCashy Sonubi on Facebook: What would be the fate of England should Rooney suffer an injury?

Having watched Wayne Rooney regularly this season, I think an injury is the one thing Fabio Capello dare not contemplate. I was at the Emirates on Sunday and noticed even the Arsenal fans were relatively hushed when he went down in the second half holding his knee.

England are not a one-man team, but the removal of Rooney for any reason would represent a devastating blow because he is in a different league to any other attacking players Capello has at his disposal. He is now, unquestionably, world-class.

His current performances also give the lie to the suggestion he needs the help of a big target man (Emile Heskey to you and me) to flourish. He can work without one and I would love to see Capello play James Milner on the left and push Steven Gerrard in behind Rooney.

But to answer your question, if Rooney was missing from England's World Cup team, they would have no chance of winning.

fluffyskg on Twitter: Other than Wayne Rooney, who is England's most indispensable player for WC 2010?

I know I will have to don the tin hat for saying it, but the other player I would not want to see missing in South Africa is Steven Gerrard, despite his disappointing form this season. I stand by my belief that he is one of England's few world-class players, and the rush from some to write him off this season has been hilarious.

I also think Ashley Cole is pretty much indispenable because he is a world-class left-back. Frank Lampard is another close to being untouchable, but, for me, it would be Gerrard.

Hopefully this also answers the question from Mirzat Sarcevic on Facebook.

Chris Smith on Facebook: With Wayne Rooney's amazing form, is there really such a thing as "peaking too soon" or is he just getting better and better?

Rooney should actually be coming to his peak in the next couple of years, so I do not think he is peaking too soon. He could be even better come the World Cup and continue this development in coming years. Great news for Manchester United and England - not so for their rivals.

Bcodings on Twitter: Who should be first choice right-back for England at the World Cup in South Africa?

Given the lack of options, I would go for Glen Johnson, providing he is fit in time. It is not a choice I make with a huge amount of confidence because, while Johnson is an excellent attacking player, I believe there are huge holes in his defensive game that could be exploited by the elite players he will face in South Africa.

This also takes care of a question from Bolarinwa Olajide on Facebook.

Tome Obaro on Facebook: Do you think because Niall Quinn is a true football man that's why Steve Bruce isnt under a lot more pressure considering the money they spent in the summer and their perilous league position?

Niall Quinn is a genuine football man who has been involved in the game at the highest level for club and country, so he will be well aware of the delicate margins involved. He will also know there is little mileage in entrusting a manager with so much money and then losing faith within a matter of months.

I have been very surprised by Sunderland's slump in form because they showed so many good signs earlier in the season, drawing at Manchester United, and beating Liverpool and Arsenal at The Stadium of Light.

I rate Bruce very highly as a manager. Teams can often go through these periods of struggle and I would be amazed if Sunderland were relegated.

Darren Bent has proved an excellent signing, as had Lee Cattermole until he started suffering injury problems. Of course, poor results bring inevitable pressure, but I do not see Sunderland taking any panic measures over Bruce, nor should they. They are in safe hands.

So there you go Tome...I've answered one of your questions.

Andy Kypri on Facebook: England's goalkeeping situation for the World Cup. Calamity James? Ben Foster? Robert Green? Paul Robinson? Do you think Joe Hart's stock has risen to the point that he is seriously being considered by Capello as first choice?

I think David James is still the first-choice keeper as far as Fabio Capello is concerned, but there are so many questions over his fitness, his future and also his inconsistent form. West Ham's Robert Green will go, probably as deputy to James, so this leaves one place available.

Has Ben Foster fallen down a large hole at Manchester United? Capello could not possibly contemplate taking him now, which leaves Paul Robinson and Joe Hart.

I like Robinson but suspect he is not high in Capello's thoughts. The Italian, though, is a big admirer of Hart, with his only reservation being a lack of exposure at the highest level.

I have seen him for Birmingham this season and he has been absolutely outstanding. I suspect he might be sneaking into that third position behind James and Green. Not first choice, though.

Steve Parker on Facebook: Newcastle's Steve Harper for England goalkeeper, surely a topic for discussion?

Had lots of questions in previous Q&As on this. I have had to sit on the fence because I do not see Steve Harper play. You tell me - and I do not just mean Newcastle fans. I am happy to take opinions from supporters of other Championship sides. Is he good enough for England? The floor is yours.

Robert Clark on Facebook: Do you think Chelsea have made a huge mistake not signing young English talent like Victor Moses, Adam Johnson and even Chris Smalling?

No, I don't. They have an incredibly strong squad, and I am sure they were well aware of all three.

Moses has been touted as a great emerging talent for some time, but, in the final reckoning, none of the major Premier League teams showed serious interest and he ended up at Wigan. This might sound disrespectful to Wigan, but there must have been doubts among the top clubs to prevent them making a move. Is he actually good enough for Chelsea? How long would he, as a very young player, have had to wait for a chance?

Chelsea might have taken a punt on Johnson, a really promising young player, but they have the likes of Florent Malouda and Yuri Zhirkov, so probably felt they were well covered.

Smalling is a bit of an unknown quatity to me - and he obviously has something to attract such attention from Manchester United and Arsenal - but Chelsea have John Terry, Ricardo Carvalho and Alex, so they are not exactly short.

Time will tell, but I do not think they will have cause for huge regret.

Raj Nihar on Facebook: Do you think Liverpool needs a change in management now?

As in today, Raj? No, I don't. And neither does Liverpool managing director Christian Purslow if an interview in Spanish sports newspaper AS is anything to go by.

I repeat my recent assertion that Benitez's position will come under huge strain if Liverpool fail to finish in the top four this season. This was an almost unspoken clause in the new contract he signed - the very least he should be achieving with the squad available to him.

He should be given the chance to try to fulfil that "guaranteed" aim. If he doesn't, then I think his position should come under serious scrutiny.

Jaypreet Hothi on Facebook: You were critical of Barry Ferguson moving to Birmingham, suggesting he wasn't the right player to lead them from relegation. Given their over-achievement this season, which he has been at the heart of, do you retract that statement or do you still feel Birmingham could have performed as well without him?

On the evidence of what we have seen so far, then I would have to agree he has been a far better signing than I thought he would be. I was not impressed with him at Blackburn, and I have to add not hugely impressed when I saw him play for Scotland either. He looked too ponderous for the Premier League at Ewood Park.

The key may well be Alex McLeish, a manager who knows him well from Rangers and Scotland. Perhaps he has handed him a role and responsibility that suits him. Can Ferguson maintain his form for the rest of the season? We will see, but you are correct that he has been excellent so far and I am happy to give credit where it is fully due.

Darren Vincent on Facebook: Do you believe, with regards to recent managerial changes during the season, that there should be a manager transfer window within the Premier League?

Great idea - but I am not sure clubs or fans would go along with it. I do think there has to be scope for clubs to change managers, although not with the indecent haste some do. When managers are sacked after weeks and months, then this is where your idea has most merit.

What I would like to get rid of is the transfer window. It is a complete nonsense. Clubs should be allowed to strengthen where and when they can, when they wish. Tony Pulis called it "a circus" - I hate circuses so I am in full agreement with him.

coulsontom on Twitter: I would like to know who you think will finish 4th and why?

Not predictions again. I have officially semi-retired from predictions after tipping Liverpool for the Premier League title, although obviously this is still mathematically possible!!

If you pushed me into a corner, I might just go for Manchester City based on the Premier League table and games in hand. Big week coming up for them when they face Liverpool at Eastlands on 21 February then travel to Chelsea on 27 February. Could shape the battle for fourth place.

The great thing about this season is that Spurs and Aston Villa are also right in there - so this is a prediction made with zero confidence, thanks to the excitement and unpredictability, literally, of the Premier League.

Hopefully that helps to answer Tony Glenholmes and Usman Hyder on Facebook.

Mark Ellison on Facebook: Can you see Everton finishing in a European spot with the return of all the injured players, notably Arteta and Jagielka, or have they given up too much ground mainly caused by the earlier injuries?

Everton have shown great improvement in the last few weeks, getting players like Steven Pienaar and Mikel Arteta back, as well as seeing signings like John Heitinga settle in. They have given themselves a chance of making the European places, but they will need to continue the excellent form they have shown.

I saw their recent win against Manchester City and it was a top-class performance, so the quality is there.

The injuries to Arteta, Phil Jagielka and the slow return to full fitness of Yakubu hit them right down the middle of the team, and I believe the bitter saga of Joleon Lescott's move to Manchester City affected them and, in particular, manager David Moyes at a crucial stage of pre-season preparations. What a great deal that looks at £24m now, though.

So yes, I can see Everton in the shake-up for the Europa League places. They are still in that of course, but, to also take the question from Ged Jennings on Facebook, I think fourth place will prove well beyond them. See my previous hedged answer for who I think will take fourth place.

Neil Rate on Facebook: England have an abundance of wide players - Cole, Wright-Phillips, Downing, Young, Milner, Walcott, Beckham, Lennon. If it was your choice, who would you take to SA?

I would take (if fit) Aaron Lennon, Theo Walcott and James Milner. I would love Joe Cole to come back to form and fitness, too, then I would be tempted to find room for him.

Walcott needs to show more of his real self, and stay fit, in the closing months of this season. He has had a tough campaign. Now there are worries over Lennon's latest injury.

I've already made my position clear on David Beckham. I would not take him, but I think Capello will. Beckham will be inked in even more indelibly if those who might be rivals continue to suffer injury problems.

HugoScheckter on Twitter: What future do you see for Landon Donovan?

I think Everton would like to extend his current three-month loan to the end of the season if they can. There has even been talk of a permanent deal, although I am not sure LA Galaxy want that as he recently signed an extended contract.

He is already very highly-thought of at Everton. He has impressed in the games he has played so far with his work-rate, intelligence and ability. I know David Moyes feels he has the capacity to be a real goal threat.

It suits him to sharpen up in England ahead of the World Cup, so I think he may try to extend his stay at Everton if he possibly can - but a talented player.

Sasha Pejkovic on Facebook: The "Big Five" failied to make any noteworthy signings this transfer window. Is this a notion of squad satisfaction, complacency, or are funds drying up?

By the "Big Five" Sasha, I am guessing you mean Manchester City as well as the usual suspects. They did sign Adam Johnson from Middlesbrough, but I take your point. No big blockbuster signings.

I think there are various forces at work here, although complacency will not be one of them. Chelsea and Manchester United are notoriously, and correctly, reluctant to spend big in January because the calibre of player they want is usually unavailable or over-priced, and often still playing for teams in the Champions League or Europa League.

Carlo Ancelotti and Sir Alex Ferguson have also made it very clear they are happy with their squads.

I think the same applies to Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, although he has a reluctance to part with big-money unless he feels he is getting absolute value for money.

I think Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez would have loved to have spent more, but there is not a lot of cash around at Anfield, so, yes, finance would have dictated his January policy to a large extent.

There is not the same amount of cash around as in previous years, but I do think, if the right players had been available, at least four of those you mention would have found the cash. January, however, is not a great time for top clubs to be trying to sign good players.

SherlockyHolmes on Twitter: Could you explain Liverpool's decision to sell Chris Buchtmann to Fulham for a derisory fee? He seems a fantastic talent.

Had a couple of inquiries about this one since he left. Sadly, I know little about this player other than that he is a German youth international who came from Borussia Dortmund in 2008 and helped Liverpool reach the FA Youth Cup final a year later.

Roy Hodgson is a shewd operator and has seen something. I would be very interested to hear from any Liverpool fans, or anyone who has seen Buchtmann, who can fill us in on just how good he is.

John S C Simpson on Facebook: Why won't Arsene Wenger buy a couple of players of quality and experience? It is so obvious that they just can't compete with Man Utd and Chelsea any more. So what is his reluctance in spending money to fill key positions?

This is a real bone of contention among some Arsenal fans and joeman4ever on Twitter was also concerned by Wenger's lack of transfer activity.

Wenger simply refuses to pay over the odds for players and has huge faith in the squad he has. Hence he has to feel it is a really special case, like Sol Campbell, or a very obvious upgrade on his squad. Also, in his defence, January is not the best time to be making top-quality additions. Those players who can instantly improve sides like Arsenal are rarely available. Who do you think he should have signed?

I can only comment on what I have seen in recent times, and I believe he needs to invest in a top-class goalkeeper. Manuel Almunia is not a quality last line of defence and was awful against Manchester United.

Arsenal were also desperately lacking physical presence against Manchester United. Even the Arsenal fans who are not convinced by Nicklas Bendtner were calling for his introduction. A striker of stature is required, although the loss of Robin van Persie has been a big blow.

I would also like to see the addtion of a Patrick Vieira style-powerhouse in midfield to support Cesc Fabregas. The team is simply too lightweight, but Wenger has faith in Abou Diaby and Alexandre Song to fulfil this role. I'm not so sure.

Chikere Asogwa on Facebook: What is wrong with Harry Redknapp? Why would he get rid of Robbie Keane and bring in Eidur Gudjohnsen? Not sensible in my opinion.

Must admit I was puzzled as to why he would want Gudjohnsen. He has shown signs of being past his best in recent years, although maybe it was becoming clear behind the scenes that Robbie Keane wanted regular football elsewhere. There was also continued speculation about Roman Pavlyuchenko.

Keane's career has taken a very odd path since joining Liverpool, the first of two boyhood, not to mention lifelong, dream moves.

It was almost as if he returned to White Hart Lane as damaged goods after his ill-fated spell at Anfield. Was he ever really a proper fit in a strike duo with Jermain Defoe? Once Peter Crouch and Defoe reformed their partnership, he was always going to be struggling.

Redknapp's had successes with surprise deals before, so I will be intrigued to see how Gudjohnsen fits in. Agree, though, it's a strange one.

In brief

randomanomaly on Twitter: Rooney, Drogba, or Fabregas. Who has been player of the season so far?


Mary O' Shea on Facebook: If he stays fit, will Sol Campbell be on the plane to South Africa?

No Mary, not a chance. Sorry, if you're a Sol fan.

Ibraheem Oladimeji Sulaiman on Facebook: Any stand-out goal keeper this season?

Two or three actually. Joe Hart at Birmingham, and to him you can add Shay Given at Manchester City and Pepe Reina at Liverpool. All three are top-class. If only Spain could spare Reina for England seeing as they already have Iker Casillas.

Adama Sallah on Facebook: Do you think David Beckham coming back to Old Trafford will be favourable to the United fans? Do you think United fans will welcome him nicely?

I am certain he will get a rapturous reception. In fact, it could be quite emotional. And he will deserve it after playing such a wonderful part in the successes Manchester United enjoyed while he was at the club.

andrewlow on Twitter: Who should/will play on the wings for England in South Africa?

I would, fitness permitting, like to see Aaron Lennon and James Milner on the flanks, with Steven Gerrard just playing off Wayne Rooney in support of the striker, as he does for Liverpool when Fernando Torres is available.

Wootzeh on Twitter: What do you think of Stoke's Ryan Shawcross and Matthew Etherington. What are their chances of getting a surprise call-up?

None, to be brutally honest. Good players but not England class. Shawcross could be one for the future, but not this time around.

You can follow me throughout this season at and join me on Facebook.


  • Comment number 1.

    Good blog Phil,
    there isn't a great deal i disagree with the answers you gave.

    The only interesting answer you gave is why you would tip Joe Hart to take 3rd spot behind Green?
    In my opinion Hart is a far better keeper than Green; who himself hasnt had much experience.
    I think Hart should definately be the 2nd choice keeper behind James; he is the guy i would want in goal if James is not up to the task.

    Also, a tiny bit off note, but i saw Florent Malouda mentioned as a winget available instead of Johnson. Why do Chelsea fans dislike him so much?
    Hes had a good run of form; and tends to get in dangerous areas for goals; and has his fair share of assists. I'd just like an opinion from people why they dislike him.

  • Comment number 2.

    Don't agree that we can't win the world cup without Rooney. It will be easier with as he is an amazing player but i think we have other threats & can beat anyone.

    I hope his there though!

  • Comment number 3.

    Good blog.

    As mentioned by "A" I would put Hart higher up the pecking order for England. If his fine form continues he has to be battling James for number 1.

    I don't think experience will be a problem for Hart - He has played in for England in under 21 tournaments and he is playing against some of the best players in the world week in week out in the Premier League. He comes across as quite a cocky young lad so I don't feel that he would be scared of playing against the top players int the world.

    Do you think that Owen Hargreaves can force his way into the England set up?


    Moving on - Phil would you agree that Manchester United play better as a team without Berbatov, instead Rooney playing as a lone striker. Would you agree the team looks more balanced with 5 in midfield?

    Do you think SAF will bring Berbatov back into the team or will he have to settle on for a place on the bench? Will he be sold in the summer?

  • Comment number 4.

    When gerrard plays 'behind' Rooney for England hasn't the problem been that they both like to roam around and therefore leave us with nobody up top at all times? I accept that Rooney has upped his game even further this season and is now more disciplined but surely it would still be a problem.

    I can see downing sneaking into the squad and being a strong candidate for left wing, wasn't capello quite keen on him before his injury?

  • Comment number 5.

    Apologies for all those typos above, its been a long day.

    I dont think we could win without Rooney. We might do fairly well, but when we come up against the elite squads in the world, we wont have enough creativity and raw talent upfront to beat them.
    Rooney provides so much more than just goals; which is his main difference to our other strikers- Defoe is equally prolific on his day, and Crouch does give us another dimension- but Rooney has determination, great vision, creativity, strength, pace, great fitness and some great finishing.
    I dont think we could win without him.

    The Kuz:
    I believe we play better without Berba as essentially he is a wasted player in his current form. Had Berba been playing his best football im sure he would have complemented Rooney in the same way Rooney and Tevez did on their day- but on a more consistent basis.
    Either way, I believe you are correct, and with Hargreaves set to be back soon, I think United have a fantastic abundance of talent in the midfield; so as for having more midfielders on the pitch, the more the merrier!

    As for your last question, personally i don't think Capello will risk Hargreaves; he wont take any injury worries with him, and Hargreaves has had many blips in his fitness, usually for long periods of time.

  • Comment number 6.

    Spot on, Phil. Couldn't agree with you more.
    Which begs the question, what to discuss... what to discuss?

  • Comment number 7.

    I am not a new member:(

  • Comment number 8.

    As we have seen in the past with England club form doesn't translate into International form and the truth is most of the England team (Rooney included) let themselves down badly at the last world cup with sub-par performances. Indeed we looked more dangerous against Portugal after Rooney had been sent off and replaced with Crouch.

    If you are telling me we have to have one player in a team to win it, then the truth is we don't deserve to win it! England can win it without Rooney, but they probably won't win it even with him.

  • Comment number 9.

    I also wouldn't pair Gerrard with Rooney. Rooney needs someone who will stay forward, draw attention from the central defenders and create space farther back. Heskey has done well, but I think Defoe would be even better. Anyone who also likes to hang back, like Gerrard or Crouch, isn't an ideal partner.

    I think I'm getting Capello's plan, and it seems in some ways very simple: put the most dangerous players in places where they're both comfortable and won't get in each others' way. On that theory, I'd put either Walcott or Gerrard on the left, I can't make up my mind.

    I still tend to think Liverpool will grab fourth. The others have let them hang around. If not, then Man City.

    As a Yank, I'm very interested to see how Donovan pans out in Everton. He's been the best US player by some margin for some time, and quite aside from hoping he does well, I'm glad to be able to finally see how he really stacks up against top players. I tend to think he'll do well, I have to say.

    Finally, I wonder what the chances are of England winning the cup are WITH Rooney? I'll grant they look very good this year, and that if everything goes well, the semis aren't out of reach. But, England winning? Really, honestly, hoisting the cup away from home soil, after having beaten, oh, let's say Brazil in the final and Italy in the semis? You can't be serious.

  • Comment number 10.

    Rooney makes a big difference to the England team, he is our main striker, it is very vital that he stays fit for the World Cup, Jermaine Defoe will be second in line but he dosent carry the same strength and quality as Wayne Rooney, we do also have the likes of Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, John Terry, Aaron Lennon etc who are fantastic players, but we DO need a goal scorer and Rooney is the only man for England.

    Spain will win the World Cup in my opinion, the quality they have, Casillas who is 1 of the best keepers, Puyol, Raul Albiol, Joan Capdevila who is a great LB, Xabi Alonso, Xavi Hernandez who is the second best player in the world, Andres Iniesta, David Villa, Fernando Torres, there are other players i havent mentioned from the A Team who are outstanding players, you also need to look at their bench, it's far superior than Englands and Brazils

    If England lose some of their main players to injury they WONT win the World Cup.

  • Comment number 11.

    "If you pushed me into a corner, I might just go for Manchester City based on the Premier League table and games in hand. Big week coming up for them when they face Liverpool at Eastlands on 21 February then travel to Chelsea on 27 February. Could shape the battle for fourth place."

    Thanks for tipping City for 4th. I was beginning to fear they had a chance!

  • Comment number 12.

    I have to say I think Rooney and Gerrard would be a great pairing so long as Gerrard is instructed not to drop deep. I would play him on the inside right of midfield of a three man midfield, Lampard on the left and Barry or Carrick in a holding role with Lennon on the right wing. I think most teams would struggle with the pace of Lennon and the strength of Rooney and Lampard and Gerrard should be able to exploit the space that creates. Would probably play SWP on the left although I should know better after the huge difference in performance between a right footed winger, Nani, playing on the left and his recent scintillating displays on the right. Beckham could easily play holding midfield.

  • Comment number 13.

    When Gerrard and Rooney play together they seem to only want to pass to each other. It is annoying as they usually lose the ball trying to do so ignoring better placed team-mates.
    Also for all of Rooney's ability and form for Man U I don't think he has really shone for England anywhere the same level. He also seems exempt from criticism. He was awful against Brazil but the players who got most of the criticism were Brown and Wright-Phillips (deserved but it wasn't just them).
    Gareth Barry has been outstanding for England and gets no attention. The player who makes Capellos system work is the one who is irreplaceable. Why people think Carrick should be in the squad after his string of dire performances befuddles me.

  • Comment number 14.

    A few good points raised all round but here is the starting 11 for the World Cup (if all fit)


    Johnson Terry Ferdinand Cole


    Carrick Cole

    Gerrard Milner


    Plenty of graft, industry and a bit of genius - most of you (phil you included) will be going "swap Gerrard and Cole" - nah - this is the starting 11 that will rule the world....

    Unless Cristiano plays

  • Comment number 15.

    Hi Phil,

    Everytime I've read you talk about the England right-back spot you've not mentioned Micah Richards. As a United fan I thought he was class in the League Cup and had Giggs in his pocket, as well as rampaging down the wing. Do you not rate him?


  • Comment number 16.

    Generally agree with most of the points you've made on this one Phil.

    Word of warning though, you really aren't doing yourself any favours for the future by not Blogging on Terry till after Cappello makes a decsion. You will get castigated either way now. If you agree with Cappello's decision there will be many who say you are only agreeing now its a done deal and that you are somehow trying to curry favour. If you disagree you'll be accused of bandwaggon jumping, trying to pull down the england team, a lack of patriotism etc etc.

    Not that I think either is true, but as predictions go the above happening is a pretty safe bet.

    So tin hat on from now to the world cup then!

  • Comment number 17.

    Keane's career has taken a very odd path since joining Liverpool, the first of two boyhood, not to mention lifelong, dream moves.

    I'm glad you posted this, because I was starting to wonder if I just imagined the saga 18 months ago when he decided he wanted to join Liverpool because they "were the club he always supported". Suddenly Celtic have that mantle. Now, I can well understand as a young Irish boy, that both those clubs might be important to someone, but its a little puzzling that we get the same story for both moves...

    That said, I will welcome him back to the Lane, if he does return in the summer. Robbie has given Spurs more than enough quality over the last 9 years to get sniffy with him now because he wants first team football every week.

  • Comment number 18.


    I don't think the majority of Chelsea fans dislike Malouda now. It is true that under Mourinho, Grant and Scolari his below par performances made him unpopular (I couldn't understand why he made the bench, let alone the first team). But since Hiddink came in his performances improved dramatically, culminating in a MOtM performance in the FA cup final last season. This season he's been one of Chelsea's best players

  • Comment number 19.

    I completley agree with your answers Phil with the exception of Milner.
    I too would love to see Gerrard playing off Rooney where they can both be devestating, I would however prefer Joe Cole, fitness providing to play LB.

    One quick question regarding slightly to the Terry saga. Do you think Bridge should be anywhere near the England squad? Having seen him fairly reguarly I think he has had a shocking season and would be out of depth in the World Cup.
    Lets hope Capello does not allow morals to mix with football, because there is no doubt England are a better team with Terry as captain than without.

    Anyway cheers, great blog.

  • Comment number 20.

    Hi Phil

    You state that Rooney is one of England's ''few world-class players''. Are you implying here that England have relatively few such players when compared to other international teams, and if so which sides do you have in mind?

    I happen to believe that England have amongst the most 'world-class' players of any international side; perhaps only Spain have more, but I would even strongly contest that. This is partly why I believe England should certainly not be simply written-off as title contenders, as you suggest, just because Rooney is absent.

  • Comment number 21.

    I cannot, for the life of me, understand why anyone would still think England stood the remotest of changes of getting even beyond the quarter finals of WC2010 without Wayne Rooney.

    England won't win the World Cup anyway, but if luck were to shine in every respect and they got to the final...they'd not win without Rooney throughout the tournament.

    I agree entirely with Phil. It's often difficult to accept the short-comings of the nation you support, but you also have to be realistic and accept the fact that we have won top world class player in Rooney - and a couple of other very good players. Gerrard hasn't been world class this season, far from it. Lampard has been okay. Ferdinand has been injured. Defoe is a good finisher. Crouch is a back up. Barry is good (but no Hargreaves when he's fit, if he ever is again) and Ashley Cole is a superb player that possibly rivals Rooney in terms of world class ability (in his own position).

    Terry is just a disgrace so I'll not even get into his footballing ability because I don't want to see him Captain my country.

  • Comment number 22.

    Jose #20: The reason we can't win the world cup without Rooney is that we don't have a world class striker without Rooney (please nobody try and argue about Defoe or Crouch etc). The example you mentioned, Spain, have Villa and Torres and much more world class players in total (the GK being another key one there). In fact I would say that Italy, Germany and possibly even Argentina have more world-class players in their teams even though Argentina had a shocker of a qualifying campaign.

  • Comment number 23.

    Jose, I suppose it depends on your definition of 'world-class'. Going by my own understanding of the term I would currently consider only Rooney and Ashley Cole to be world-class from the England squad. Let's face it - the left back isn't going to single-handedly win games. Terry and Ferdinand haven't had great seasons (injuries blighting the latter), Gerrard has always given the ball away far too much to be considered world-class, ditto Lampard and Cole (and Rooney if I'm honest). Glen Johnson is woeful defensively, strong though he is going forward, and Lennon, Barry, Milner et al are very good players but not quite at the top level. The less said about James et al the better. Spain on the other hand have Xavi, Iniesta, Fabregas, Torres, Villa and Casillas who almost everyone would consider to be amongst the very, very best players in world football. Sergio Ramos and Silva are up there too.

    Oh, England do have a world-class manager though. No doubt, and he is probably your greatest asset.

  • Comment number 24.

    ever since david seaman england have failed to full the void he left.i personally think david james has lost the right to be number one with his poor form and injury, although the most experienced of all the england keepers rob green and joe hart come before him and i feel robinson should go to SA and not foster. foster makes too many mistakes.

    i agree with u phil, i am supporting england in the world cup but england are hopelesss without rooney...he is too imprtnt to england...england have been living off owen and beckham for years and now its rooneys turn to carry the burden...

    and as for terry being england captain he shud be dropped as captain...its shameful behaviour by him, he should be leading by example...only other england captain posibilties has to be ferdinand, gerrard and rooney.

    i have to disagree with you thought about liverpool...although i am a man united fan and i get great pleasure seeing thier failure...they have to change management...possibly hiddink?

    wengers reluctance to buy players is becoming a joke...i wonder y he isnt spending money? is he a secret share holder? haha

    england team: green/hart
    j.cole on left wing, barry holding midfielder, wright phillips on right winger, gerrard attacking midfielder, rooney, heskey

  • Comment number 25.

    Here-here that man who says Capello is world class and our greatest asset!

    If there were such a thing as the internet in 1966, and if there were such a thing as blogs, do you know what the journalists would be saying in the lead up to the World Cup?

    "England don't stand a chance of winning without Jimmy Greaves."

    Now there is a magical element of hindsight at play here, but hopefully it'll illustrate the point that football is a collective - and as such, regardless of a person's genius/ability, the group can recover and succeed. France were missing Laurent Blanc in the 98 final, and then had Desailly sent off in the game itself. They also had NO strikers of even vague note, let alone world class stature.
    Yet they won.
    Yes, circumstances around Ronaldo played into their hands, but still they beat the long odds to win.

    Why does everyone assume that to win the World Cup you A) Need your best players, B) Need absolutely everyone to be playing at the top of their game, and C) Will almost certainly have to overcome a virtually indestructible Brazil (I'm being ironic with this one).

    There are no fortune-tellers. Rooney's form might fizzle out before June. Messi might be burnt out. Cristiano Ronaldo might hate playing at altitude. Spain might not be the hedonistic picture of footballing perfection everyone expects.

    Anything can happen, that's the beauty of it.

  • Comment number 26.

    nice blog again i agree with much of your answers but i am afraid some are a bit off.with mr rooney good premier league player but world class i dont think so yet.there are still a few players who can keep him out of any teem in the world,he is not yet a messy or for englands chances at the world cup,they can be competitive but they have the same chance of winning as the reggae boys,lets face it gerrard lamps terry,ferdie are journey men not cup winners, past there prime,best to take a few good young players(were to find them i dont know)and blood them for 2014.rooney and co will look like boys against lucio and other big win a world cup a team have to find at least 4 players who can walk into any team in the world,england cant find 1.force the FA to try to develop english football and not only the premiership

  • Comment number 27.

    Phil, i am amazed that you would still include Walcott on the plane to SA. He has been very dissapointing this season and will need a massive turn around in for in the second half of the season to get on the plane IMO. Infcat if you take away his hattrick against Croatia I would argue he has done very little in the past year and a half to justify a place in the England squad.

  • Comment number 28.

    @25 - France were missing Laurent Blanc in the 98 final, and then had Desailly sent off in the game itself. They also had NO strikers of even vague note, let alone world class stature.


    I have to take issue with that when you consider they had a man called Zinedine Zidane running rings around everything other player on the planet at the time. They had a top form Petit in midfield too and both of them were able to deliver goals on tap. If you look through their team they had an incredibly strong line up in the final and even left Viera off the pitch until the last 15 minutes!

    Missing Blanc in defence wasn't a huge blow when they had Thuram, Desailly (he wasn't sent off until 22 mins remaining), Lizarazu and Lebouef - all of whom were at their peak (it could be argued Lizarazu went on to be much better actually).

    They also had a certain Deschamps in midfield.

    France in 1998 were the strongest team, without doubt. You don't beat Brazil 0-3 in a final by being weak.

  • Comment number 29.

    I agree on taking Walcott for one reason only - we lack pace. He's worth the wildcard.

  • Comment number 30.

    For me Beckham has to go. He offers a plan B, can be relied upon to give his all and he lifts the players around him and injects some urgency and determination into their play. You can afford to take a player like him if the rest of the squad is chosen astutely. If Hargreaves comes back from injury he can play anywhere across midfield and fill in at right back. Milner can do the same. Defoe is a decent enough striker but when you look at his goals scored this season it is a bit misleading. Is it 20 goals but 11 of them have come in 3 games. He can still be quite wasteful and sometimes cant be relied upon in one on one situations but when he is on fire he is a great player. He also has an excellent partnership with crouch which could be useful.

    With regards to Englands chances i think we have a fair chance. All but Brazil and Spain had dodgy qualifying campaigns and wont be carrying the same confidence as England. Spain are capable of choking on their day especially in the latter stages. An above par England and a below par Spain is possible and in football it is how you play on the day that counts.

    The other thing to consider is that of all the International teams from outside of Africa, England will be the best supported. On matchday with all the flags out and the passion coming from the fans can lift the England players and intimidate the opposition.

    My prediction is we will go out in the semis after playing out of our skins but with a manager who knows what he is doing and the pressure of the day, it could be the difference betweeen making the final and not. If we can get into the final anything can happen!

  • Comment number 31.

    ok ok Rooney is peaking too soon and he is already the best player in the planet blah blah blah blah,,,, isnt the british media peaking too soon, stepping stone to another disatrous WC ,cant u all wait until the time comes.

  • Comment number 32.

    Good blog Phil but lets be serious - there is no chance England are going to win the World Cup even if Rooney is fit and starts every game!

  • Comment number 33.

    Mr McNulty...

    Against united...Denilson, clichy and Almunia were pathetic and thats enough to lose to a team as clinical as United !

    Arshavin guilty of being selfish and maybe unlucky as well !

    And ofcourse Arsenal played upfront with 2 strikers who were each 10feet tall !!!

    These SIMPLY are the reasons United beat Arsenal...

    because Arsenal did create clear-cut chances and they were much before United did...

    Even the games that Arsenal win - you would rarely see them being flawless in defence and you would rarely see the opposition not having created a couple of chances...

    Song was good...but him and cesc were undermined by a Zidane-esq performance by Denilson...

    Diaby and Bendtner are not 4foot players and therefore will add something to the team that was missing against united...and unless Wenger is mad - Denilson and one of NAsri/Rosicky will have to be chopped off...

    Clichy you only have to hope that he'll be fitter but he wouldnt face the quality of players like Rooney,Nani,Ashley young over the next 2 matches...Joe Cole may be but not as threatning !

  • Comment number 34.

    @ 29, yes walcott adds pace but lennon this season (up until injury) was in much better form and has shown over the past 2 seasons to have a better end product (able to supply decent crosses as well as carying a goal threat). IMO walcott has not yet shown that he can pick a man out in the box with enough regularity to be classed as an international level winger.

    On the left wing for pace i would take downing as he is having a good season for Villa.

    I would then take Milner and Joe Cole so that on each flank we have the option of one pacy winger and one winger who has a higher level skill and can bring something different to the side.

    Walcotts pace alone is not enough to include him on the wings at this moment in time IMO. Maybe you could argue he should be taken as one of our strikers but Rooney is deceptivly quick and Defoe carries a greater goal threat along with having pace to burn.

  • Comment number 35.

    Talking about the very first points you make regarding John Terry, why does it appear that the English press has been very lenient on John Terry? Why are we not seeing headlines like "Disgraced Terry scores the winner against Burnley", or "Terry's fall from Grace".

    In the past, BBC editors have been happy to launch into an incisive analysis of scandals (especially when the culprit was not English), however in both the cases of Steven Gerrard punching someone in a bar and John Terry's affair with a mate's ex, both events have almost been waved away as 'normal'. Comments like 'it's his private life' etc are commonplace yet the same press was happy to slaughter Woods for the same sin, lesser sin if you ask some even though there were more women but none which could be regarded as a crossing the 'guy decency code' and most of which still remain unsubstantiated.

    I am happy with whatever the standards are, I just want to see the same standard applied to every case and in this case I don't think it has. It's either infidelity is acceptable or not. Lets take one position and stick by it

  • Comment number 36.

    "Mary O' Shea on Facebook: If he stays fit, will Sol Campbell be on the plane to South Africa?

    No Mary, not a chance. Sorry, if you're a Sol fan."

    Thats's me down the bookies to put a grand on Sol making the plane then.

    (In light of your recent prediction failures)

  • Comment number 37.

    I tried reading this but frankly, I couldn't stomach it after a very short while.

    I read it because Phil can be quite good and there is the link of the homepage. However, what is said is so flawed that I feel, to paraphrase Phil 'it's hilarious'.

    Terry has been done to death recently but to bottle it and not come up with an opinion at this time is poor.

    Also, why can questions only be put via Twitter and Facebook? What if I don't want to register to those sites but still want to converse with a BBC journalist like the others? How can I do this?

  • Comment number 38.

    Phil, some insight please? I know your forte is stating the obvious, but could you at least branch out a little?

  • Comment number 39.


    "and as for terry being england captain he shud be dropped as captain...its shameful behaviour by him, he should be leading by example...only other england captain posibilties has to be ferdinand, gerrard and rooney"

    Oh the Irony of that one statement. Terry is tainted but Ferdinand (Missed Drugs Test) Gerrard (Assault) and Rooney (cheated on partner with old lady's of the night) are squeeky clean and fit to lead us??

    if we are going on players off field lives then you'd be giving Heskey the armband..........

  • Comment number 40.

    Phil, ROONEY IS NOT UNQUESTIONABLY WORLD CLASS, if he returns back from the World Cup with a string of top performances then we can refer to him as world class, but certainly not yet, he has let England down too often over the past five years. The recent hype following performances against the lamentable defences of Hull City, Manchester City & Arsenal are way over the top. He often disappears against world class defenders (has he ever come out on top against a world class defender since Euro 2004?), such as John Terry, Puyol etc., and he was anonymous in both Champions League finals. The signs are good and hopefully he will rediscover his Euro 2004 form for England, but there is a national amnesia about his poor performances. Please don`t forget the chasm between defences in the Premier League and the top eight international teams, I know its your job, but you are setting yourself up for a fall and we have heard it too often in the past.

  • Comment number 41.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 42.

    LeedsUniFC 4 life - Good shout on Richards, as with Johnson not an amazing right back but we are not exactly blessed with talent in that position. Whenever I have seen him play there for England he has done pretty well, worth considering at least.

    Phil - Agree with most of what you said but have to say I would take Beckham. Im sure that ones been done to death, but i just feel with the other wingers he is the only one that gives us something compleatley differant. i.e if walcotts playing and we have 10 mins left, need a goal and cant break through, why bring on lennon who is the same type of player. Bring on Beckham and try and grab a goal from a set piece. I know we have other players who are good on free kicks but this just that air of expectation when Beckham steps up to the plate, and lets face it, its worked alot in the past.

  • Comment number 43.


    you mention he must come back from the world cup with a string of good performances, but messi is undoubtedly world class, yet he has never really done it for argentina. by your defintion messi wouldnt be world class.
    rooney sits just below the likes of messi etc. but he is one of the in form strikers in europe and believe it or not he sits at the top of the European Golden Shoe (formerly golden boot) awards stands. if he keeps it up to the end of the season, and barring injury i cant see much stopping him, it'll be very hard argue against him being world class

  • Comment number 44.

    tom2391 - don't agree that Rooney needs a good world cup to be considered world class - other players classed as 'world class' such as kaka, ronaldo and messi have failed to deliver in the world cup and are still world class. All these players have been consistently good in the top european leagues for a period of time. Therefore considering the success players like Lampard, Gerrard, Ferdinand, Terry and A. Cole have had in the past 5 years then these should be in the same class. The one thing that they all have in common is that they all play in strong teams. What makes Rooney stand out at the moment is that, like Gerrard has done for Liverpool in the past, he has helped carry a weaker than usual ManU.

  • Comment number 45.


    Your comment is spot on. People are commenting on john Terry and his captaincy but to be honest what has it got to do with leading our country at the world cup?

  • Comment number 46.


    my point exactly.

  • Comment number 47.

    Good Blog Phil !

    As an England footie nut (If I was talking as a City fan I would be booed!) but ROONEY is absolute class at the moment as much as it pains to admit being a BLUE !

    I rate him on a par with Messi and I think Messi is as good as a footballer you will ever get. Elite of greatness.

    I speak to many Utd fans of the era where they were fortunate enough to see George Best play. They all agree that Rooney is the BEST player since Best (better than Cantona and Ronaldo!).

    I think England's squad boasts the most talented since the WC in 1998.

    Rooney is the leader in that class (followed by Stevie G and Lampard!)

    England will win the World Cup this Summer !

    Just wish the JT saga had not come to light this side of the championships.

  • Comment number 48.

    As some of you guys/gals have put your favoured England 11 on display here' is mine (please note I would not Take Beckham to South Africa!)

    A Cole
    Carrick (over Barry as Barry has been shocking for us since signing!)


  • Comment number 49.

    Oh Yeah. Lampard as Captain !

  • Comment number 50.


    for me what matters is whether he has lost the dressing room, cos at the end of the day that is what matters for our world cup chances. if he hasnt lost it, then he should be captain, if he has lost it, i dont think he should even be on the plane

  • Comment number 51.

    Scoobs 43, and Redsthemadsheep 44,... I think Kaka, Ronaldo & Messi have played enough matchwinning performances against world class defenders to be regarded as world class, but Rooney hasn`t. Take for example Messi in the Champions League Final compared to Rooney, no contest (i know he he was out of position but he couldn`t do the basics, maybe the occassion got to him). My main point is that Rooney usually comes off second best against the top defenders (and other than Vidic Terry & Ferdinand we haven`t many in the Premier League)and has excellent performances against the likes of Bolton, Wigan and Hull. Against Chelsea earlier this season he had two one on one situations against Terry and failed to do anything. These examples in themselves don`t mean much but this has been going on for five seasons(and rarely reported particularly his performances in the Euro 2008 qualifiers which were dire). Obviously Rooney is enjoying a great spell, probably his best since his superlative Euro 2004 performances(a mystery why it has taken so long), and is looking in excellent form, but not yet World Class. Perhaps he justs needs the opportunity at this moment and the AC Milan matches will gives him the ideal opportunity to impress. I was in Germany for our World Cup defeat against Portugal(another Rooney no show)and vowed never again to believe the 'our players are great' hype without some justification. Greatness follows achievement.

  • Comment number 52.

    #45 Cheers Shane,

    just think we don;t need all this tearing the England team apart this close to the world cup. We need all of our lads with clear heads not being a part of a withc hunt. So that they can go to SA and give there best to win the tournement for us.

    Bobby Moore was unsettled in 1970 when he was arrested and that upset our preperations in the same way this could.

  • Comment number 53.

    phil any chance you can get the mods to go faster on this?

  • Comment number 54.



    fair enough, but for united rememeber rooney's versality meant he was shunted out to the left to accomodate ronaldo. this season the team is focused round him, and he's showing what he truly capable of. this season he is expected to do the business in eurpoe, and fingers crossed he will show it.

    im not saying he world class yet, just simply saying he is much closer to messi ronaldo etc than people give him credit for, and better than the likes of aguero

  • Comment number 55.


    Have the England football team done any altitude training yet? Ask the BBC rugby reporters how much work the British Lions did to prepare for playing in the high veldt. Although the Lions lost the series, they did beat the Boks in Jo'burg which was some feat.

    There are not many players in the England team that you can call super fit are there? The ball also performs differently at altitude which is another area of adaptation that needs attention. Do the FA get it? As far as I can see most friendlies between now and the World Cup are at sea level, so the countries that played last year in South Africa have a huge advantage over the rest.

  • Comment number 56.


    i though that was why capello chose rustengburg as the england base?

  • Comment number 57.

    redthemadsheep2001 post 54.

    I would agree Rooney is knocking on the door of the worlds top players, lets hope he knocks it down in South Africa, not long left to wait now, I think he needs a good one to get up there.

  • Comment number 58.

    #51 - tom2391

    Agreed Messi had a good game in the champions league final but this was because Xavi and Iniesta controlled the midfield and stopped united getting the ball to ronaldo or rooney. Messi benefits from being part of a squad that is possibly the best in the world and has been for at least two seasons - although he was also ineffective in the last two champions league semi-finals against manu and then chelsea when up against the same defenders that you say rooney struggles against - and only got to last years final due to inept refereeing. Then if you look at his senior international record it is no better then Rooney's.

    It would be interesting to see how Messi and Rooney would do if they swapped clubs.

  • Comment number 59.

    Good blog response Phil to some decent questions.

    Concentrating on the England World Cup aspect - in fact a few people have named their preferred starting line-up for South Africa - I think the side pretty much picks itself apart from maybe the right/left side of midfield as well as Rooney's strike partner.

    But you could argue the majority of squad places outside of the first XI are up for grabs. Who do you think will take the deputy full-back spots behind Ashley Cole and Glen Johnson? Even before Terry-gate I fancied Warnock or Baines to go ahead of Bridge, who hasn't been the player he was a few seasons ago.

    Owen Hargreaves looks set to miss out so who will go as back-up for Gareth Barry - Carrick, Rodwell, Huddlestone, Cattermole?!

    Then there are the wide midfield berths. Does Downing warrant a place because he has a left foot? Dare I say David Bentley has had a few good games for Spurs and with the injury problems both Lennon and Walcott have suffered this season, is he seen as a possible shock inclusion?

    Phil - I know Capello has player preferences and journo's claim he's already decided around 75% of his squad, but who DO YOU think he should take?

  • Comment number 60.

    Tom you're talking rubbish.
    Rooney is clearly world class(I'm a Liverpool fan) Why does anyone need to have a good world cup to prove that?
    El-Hadji Diouf had a great world cup not so long ago and he is rubbish.
    Who are these (Non English) world class defenders that everyone talks about? Who do they play for? Do they play for the same teams that get knocked out of the Champions League every year by English teams? Granted those teams arent all English/British players but their best/main players usually are. eg. Rooney, Ferdidnand, Scholes, Wess brown(Played most games last year) Giggs, Carrick, Lampard, Terry, J' Cole, A' Cole, Gerrard, and even Carragher has been amazing in Europe for the last few years. Take away Barcelona and the rest are not that great and even they should've been beaten by Chelsea last year coz frankly they were rubbish in those games inspite of their great performance in the final.
    Some of you need to take off your rose tinted glasses that non English players are so great, yeah there are some but England has great world class players too; not just Rooney.
    Yes Rooney didnt have good games against some of the top teams, so what? Torres/ Drogba/ Messi/ Villa has had rubbish games against the likes of Stoke, Wigan, Burnley Hull etc(the first 2 anyway) does that make them not world class???
    Lets not forget Ronaldo was crap against the top teams in the premiership for a good few years. Is he unproven too?

  • Comment number 61.

    56. At 3:01pm on 04 Feb 2010, redthemadsheep2001 wrote:

    i though that was why capello chose rustengburg as the england base?


    Assuming that the squad leaves after the UEFA Champions League final 22 May, they will spend just under 3 weeks at their base camp in order to acclimatise. That is cutting it fine. Brazil in 1970 spent over a month in Mexico.

    My reference to the British Lions is that the players trained in the UK prior to the tour by cycling on excercise bikes/running on a tread mill breathing an atmosphere akin to the high veldt ie less oxygen. By contrast the England cricket team did not, and in the last Test there was the unedifying spectacle of Ryan Sidebottom puking out his lunch after a bowling spell. At altitude your heart and lungs need to work harder than at sea level.

  • Comment number 62.

    61. At 4:11pm on 04 Feb 2010, excellentcatblogger wrote:
    56. At 3:01pm on 04 Feb 2010, redthemadsheep2001 wrote:

    i though that was why capello chose rustengburg as the england base?


    Assuming that the squad leaves after the UEFA Champions League final 22 May, they will spend just under 3 weeks at their base camp in order to acclimatise. That is cutting it fine. Brazil in 1970 spent over a month in Mexico.

    My reference to the British Lions is that the players trained in the UK prior to the tour by cycling on excercise bikes/running on a tread mill breathing an atmosphere akin to the high veldt ie less oxygen. By contrast the England cricket team did not, and in the last Test there was the unedifying spectacle of Ryan Sidebottom puking out his lunch after a bowling spell. At altitude your heart and lungs need to work harder than at sea level.


    i understand that, i would have thought 3 weeks would be enough time though?

  • Comment number 63.

    62. At 4:22pm on 04 Feb 2010, redthemadsheep2001 wrote:

    If all the players are fot and have no injuries possibly yes. The problem is that most of the players need to rest a bit after the season has ended but to acclimatise they need to do circuit training as if it were the start of the season. That means there is a danger of burn out and further injury. Using a tread mill now and breathing a high veldt atmosphere would preclude the need for intensive training at Rustenberg.

    England should at least be used to the weather as it will be winter there and frosts are common. Believe it or not the addition of a doctor to an England World Cup squad ia a relatively new phenomenon!

  • Comment number 64.

    good blog phil!

    when i read the link to the blog "Rooney crucial to englands world cup" i was about to sign and say something sarcastic like 'really...u figured that out all by yourself!' but having read on u answered an obvious question very well.

    I only read the england questions as i'm bit short of time but I agree with you on practically every point! - apart from beckham but we can't agree on everything.

    the point about rooney being able to play upfront on his own (or as the main target man) is one that i coming round to...and if it the case then it is very good news as that opens up all manner of possiblities for england (chief among them putting gerrard in behind rooney as u alude to in the blog). Only reservation I have is that i don't think capello (despite what he may say) has total faith in englands passin and i think he would still lean towards playing heskey or crouch or whoever, just to give us that outlet when things get a bit sticky.

  • Comment number 65.

    excellentcatblogger wrote:
    62. At 4:22pm on 04 Feb 2010, redthemadsheep2001 wrote:

    If all the players are fot and have no injuries possibly yes. The problem is that most of the players need to rest a bit after the season has ended but to acclimatise they need to do circuit training as if it were the start of the season. That means there is a danger of burn out and further injury. Using a tread mill now and breathing a high veldt atmosphere would preclude the need for intensive training at Rustenberg.

    England should at least be used to the weather as it will be winter there and frosts are common. Believe it or not the addition of a doctor to an England World Cup squad ia a relatively new phenomenon!

    ah ok thanks for clearing that up for me!

  • Comment number 66.

    "Niall Quinn is a genuine football man who has been involved in the game at the highest level for club and country"

    Ah yes, I remember well the hatrick he scored in the European Cup final against Milan. How could anyone forget all those goals he scrored in Rome, Madrid and Newcastle.

    As for David James being first choice, on what basis? Form? Age? Hart should be the man, if Foster cannot be, because they're the best two keepers we have. Green and Robinson are good, but not good enough. James is a liability, and always will be.

  • Comment number 67.

    "It would be interesting to see how Messi and Rooney would do if they swapped clubs."

    I think both would struggle! Messi would not appreciate being in a side so relatively inept at keeping possession. Barcelona have 70% of the ball in many games in la liga. The challenges coming at him would also be fiercer, and the players less concerned about whether they get the man or the ball. I couldn't really see him forming a partnership with Berbatov, who is basically a poor man's Ibrahimovic (shorter, weaker, slower, scores less, same amazing touch and passing), and you couldn't play him as a lone striker. Even Rooney has only very recently shown any sort of aptitude for the lone striker role.

    Rooney, meanwhile, would not receive the same admiration in Spain for his incredible work rate, which is what he tends to fall back on when he suffers from a lull in form. And despite his recent performance against Arsenal, his tendency to give the ball away a lot would be highlighted far more in a team (and country) that emphasises possession football. In England, he receives praise for losing the ball and then running back 80 metres to recover it (or foul the opponent). In Spain, this would still be seen as poor play. Messi also has terrific work rate, but this is not an area people in Spain rate so highly.

    From this, there are no conclusions to be drawn about who is the better player; it simply serves to highlight the vast differences in style between two great leagues and two great teams.

  • Comment number 68.

    Phil- 'January Transfer Window' -I know its something of an old chestnut now, but since you raise it in your blogg I think its fair game for me to raise it too.
    You have made the point that none of the top clubs have made any 'block-buster' signings ( for a few years now) and again the point that SAF, Ancellotti, Wenger etc all seem to think its not 'good business' to try to do any important tranfers deals at this time, especially in a World Cup year!
    Also today on the Radio (Radio 5 of course!)Steve Bruce was bemoaning the 'Transfer window system' - perhaps because of his problems with signing Bengani- Steve's point being its restraint of trade.
    Can you (or anyone) remind me why this system was introduced origninally and has it been tested in the Courts?
    By the way someone has told me it was supposed to stop clubs buying success i.e. whether thats avoiding the drop, or winning the league -does'nt seem to have worked at Stamford Bridge or more recently Eastlands, does it?

  • Comment number 69.

    I'd like to know why it is questions are being answered from people on Twitter or Facebook, but none from those posed on this very blog, or your prior blogs?

    Are BBC website users less important than those on Facebook or Twitter? Is the BBC pushing you to look super-trendy by "interfacing" with Facebook and Twitter in this way?

  • Comment number 70.

    @68 - 'January transfer window'


    The transfer window wasn't introduced to stop clubs buying success.

    It traces its origins back to The Bosman Case and the European Commissions investigation into football contracts in general. UEFA was challenged by the European Commission (they were to have action taken against them) in respect of the fact that its transfer rules breached freedom of movement laws and other minor laws. It was a compromise by UEFA to stop them being sued to the hilt by the EC.

    I think it works reasonably well but ultimately it's all about contract and employment law above anything else.

  • Comment number 71.

    I'm chiefly wondering why you chose to put in questions which you didn't even know the answer to, surely as chief football writer its your job to watch Steve Harper play for example?

    On a different note, England will only go far in the WC if the first XI are fit and firing, otherwise the squad depth just wont be good enough.

    Also, I find it very hard to believe that Capello would now suddenly 4 months before a WC change the whole attacking setup of the team (leaving out Heskey as you alluded to) that won 9 out of 10 qualifying games?

  • Comment number 72.

    I agree Rooney is England's best player by a country mile. He performs for club and country and has done for many years.
    Unlike Italy in 1982 who initially missed Roberto Bettaga, we don;t have players to fill his boots. However I can;t see him being anything but burnt out come the World Cup at this rate.

    Ashley Cole is a stand out left back.

    As for the midfield - sorry but England will do as well with or without Gerrard and Lampard - they have rarely performed for England. Co-incidentally Gerrard's recent improvement for England corresponded with a dip for Liverpool. Seems like a lack of adaptability to me which I have always thought to be the case with him and Lampard. Hence the 30-40 games together and how many good performances? Not many - that's a fact. I can remember many rubbish ones - 5 in the last World Cup for starters!

    Ideally one of them would get injured prior to the tournament and would have other central midfield options Milner, Barry, Hargreaves (hopefully). All would bring better balance.

    As for David James he has never been the best English keeper option he had his chance 7 years ago and blew it. He is no better now than he was then. This is a simple percentage pick. None of them are really any good. Green is the best penalty saver so he should go because there haven't been many recent winners of the world cup who didn't win a penalty shoot out.

    In amongst all you pro-Liverpool ramblings I have to agree on the Reina part - easily Liverpool's best player this season.

  • Comment number 73.

    How can people claim rooney isnt world class? is it only messi and ronaldo that are worldclass? Surely worldclass is the few people that are the best in that position, and ronaldo and messi dont play where rooney plays. Rooney is world class without a doubt you dont need a worldcup to prove this the champions league proves this and being the best player in the premier league at the moment shows he is world class.

    Walcott is well worth taking to the worldcup, when he is back up to full fitness and get a run in the arsenal team he will be a nightmare for defenders, that in mind my england 11 would be:


    Johnson Terry Ferdinand Cole

    Gerrard Lampard Carrick

    Lennon Rooney Walcott

    the pace and quality to unlock any defence.

  • Comment number 74.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 75.

    Oh, and Sol Campbell - we only have 2 classy central defenders in the country to we should take another one with the most internation / campions league expereince as we can - even if he 35.

  • Comment number 76.

    70 # WhitelyBayWonTheVase
    Phil McNulty seems to have deserted his post??
    -However thanks for the info on the 'January Transfer Window'.
    If its employment and contract law then I can now understand what Steve Bruce is on about!
    You learn something everyday -thanks

  • Comment number 77.

    In concurrence with (#4 and #42 comments) I envisage Richards do a Thuram at the World Cup if given the opportunity.
    Richards, England's U-21 Captain, has been quality since Mancini tookover City's helm. Micah, undoubtably has power and pace and should be included at LEAST as cover for England's defense corp and an understudy for next WC.
    The scenario hasn't played out yet regarding the fallout from Terry's alleged fling with his England's teammate's ex-GF bearing in mind "US '98 WC fiasco".
    Lastly, I predict if City clinched a berth for CL spot, its because of contribution from the likes of Richards indefagtible enthusiasm. To wit let me remind BBC readers of his captivating goal against Blackburn -
    Reminds me of the classical and clinical hockey goal via 1-2 with the centre forward, and going for his rebound on an end-to-end rush. Summarized by this quote
    "Richards the Megaforce'- what an end to end rush ala NHL hockey. Told not to hoof by Mancini, Micah burned the rovers and turned the turf into a racetrack, exhorted by 40,000 thoroughbred fans, with a 70 yd. dash! An exhilirating goal that merited a photo finish for his football nous!". (mancityblueplan).

  • Comment number 78.

    It annoys me people seem to think Rooney is England’s only world class player, and that without him England cannot win the world cup.
    Rooney is in great form this season, but at international level Peter Crouch has an excellent goalscoring record! (16 goals in 17 games started!) Darren Bent is a proven premier league striker with lots to his game, and with Defoe and Heskey the options available to Capello are numerous.
    Playing for England isn’t about picking the best players necessarily (just ask Matt Le Tissier!) it is about getting a winning team. Greece won the Euros a few years back – but I doubt you would swap any of their players for that of the England side at the time. They won it because they were a united team, and played to their strengths.
    Rooney is definitely an option for Capello, but the truth is he isn’t ‘the answer’ as there is no player that is. The manager should pick the best team he can, not just the biggest names and try to fit them in somehow.

  • Comment number 79.

    The Sun news paper headline writer is going to be busy now that Capello has capitulated to the gutter press; Maybe it will be

    'The world cup' it was the Sun wot lost it !

    Or on the Ferdinand appointment it could be;

    'lions led by junkies'

    Still as an earlier poster pointed out we get the government's and the media we deserve. They exploited our tribalism and we all fell for it. We England fans are the daft ones.


BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.