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Capello faces Euro 2012 squad dilemma

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Phil McNulty | 09:45 UK time, Monday, 10 October 2011

England will not have to wait long to find out what they have let themselves in for by qualifying for Euro 2012, as European champions and World Cup holders Spain come to Wembley next month.

The good news - and coach Fabio Capello and members of the Football Association hierarchy were correct to point this out - is that England qualified top of their group and unbeaten after Friday's tempestuous draw in Montenegro.

Yet this appeared a small mercy as Wayne Rooney once again proved he cannot be trusted to control his temper and England were given a good old-fashioned going over for 45 minutes before securing the point required.

England's task of turning themselves from convincing qualifiers to genuine contenders in Poland and Ukraine next summer was arduous enough before Rooney took a kick at Montenegro's Miodrag Dzudovic and was rightly sent off by referee Wolfgang Stark.

Wayne Rooney kicks out at Montenegro's Miodrag Dzudovic and is sent off

Rooney's notoriously poor temperament let him down once again on Friday night. Photo: Getty

If Rooney only misses one game in Euro 2012 he can consider himself fortunate because he has previous for this behaviour and any plea for leniency is undermined by the very nature of his dismissal in Podgorica.

Capello's approach to the tournament was altered in an instant. He must now pick two very different teams - one without Rooney and one for his return. Those are two very different sheets of paper.

Capello has not exactly sounded happy that Spain will provide England's first opponents as he hones a line-up without Rooney, who will not figure against them and, in all likelihood, will remain on the margins of England's plans until he is eligible to return.

Spain's visit, however, will provide the sternest measure - albeit in friendly competition - of where England stand in the months before Capello and his players attempt to prove lessons have been learned from the debacle of the 2010 World Cup campaign in South Africa.

England's qualifying campaign has been satisfactory without ever suggesting rampant optimism should accompany them on to the plane for eastern Europe. This may be the pessimist's view but it is also the realistic one.

Capello has made it clear he will be conducting experiments between now and then but he could have done without England's most influential player proving once more that beneath the genius can lurk a liability.

There was certainly plenty to ponder as Capello and his players filed on to their team coach through a Podgorica downpour close to midnight on Friday for their flight back to England.

England looked alarmingly vulnerable once serious pressure was applied. Nor was it being applied by one of the big players of European football such as Spain, Italy or Germany. They looked short of pace in defensive positions and suddenly the midfield looked pedestrian and lost control.

Crucial months lie ahead for Capello and the England squad as the jockeying for places and positions starts - and there remains plenty of time for change.

Joe Hart is a certainty to be in goal, barring accident, while John Terry and Ashley Cole will fill two of the defensive positions, even though they were as lacking in authority as their less experienced colleagues when England came under siege from Montenegro after an opening 30-minute cruise.

Capello does not do smitten, but there is little doubt that even "The Iron Sergeant" can barely suppress his excitement about Phil Jones when he says: "Phil Jones is born to this. Absolutely. Like Jack Wilshere. Talent is talent. You can't create talent. You are born with talent."

Jones looked exactly what he was - a teenage central defender playing at right-back - on an England debut that demonstrated both promise and understandable naivety.

Capello's eagerness to get such a special talent into his team is understandable, but his development towards Euro 2012 must now come with games alongside captain Terry in central defence.

Gary Cahill has not let England down but Jones is the future and that future must start now.

Whether he is a success or not has ramifications for his United colleague Rio Ferdinand, who faces the growing prospect that the youngster will unseat him for club and country.


 England lost their 100% away record in qualification after being held 2-2 by Montenegro. PHOTO Getty

The resulting gap at right-back will occupy Capello's thoughts between now and the summer and this promises to be quite a scrap. After a wasted journey to Montenegro, Micah Richards could be forgiven for a growing conviction that his England career will only restart when Capello departs.

Tottenham's Kyle Walker will get his chance to force his way in and has a real chance given that Glen Johnson, never one to excel for England anyway, is troubled by injuries. The answer may yet lie at Anfield, however, if Martin Kelly can stay clear of injury. He can also expect Capello's call.

Capello will also hope the medical teams at Arsenal and Liverpool can do him a favour by returning Jack Wilshere and Steven Gerrard to full fitness as they will surely form the midfield, along with Scott Parker.

Wilshere has looked made for international football in every minute he has played for England, while Gerrard will provide experience and authority. Gerrard, like Frank Lampard, has been a lightning conductor for criticism throughout his England career but if anyone has a compelling case to prove the national side is better for his absence they have yet to present it.

Manchester United's Tom Cleverley caught Capello's attention sufficiently earlier this season for him to pencil him in for England's November friendly before injury ruled him out. Expect to see him before Euro 2012 starts.

So to attack, and who will play instead of Rooney and then partner him.

Manchester United's Ashley Young now looks every inch an England player and will start.

Theo Walcott's effort in Podgorica was his England career in microcosm, a brilliant cross for Young's first goal followed by too many wasted opportunities.

Capello will give opportunities to Bobby Zamora, Andy Carroll, Jermain Defoe and Danny Welbeck in the months ahead, while Darren Bent scored again on Friday.

There may be intriguing late developments, with Chelsea's Daniel Sturridge another name mentioned with increasing frequency by Capello. And then perhaps the wildest card of all - Arsenal's Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

All logic says Euro 2012 will come too soon for Arsenal's teenage talent, but there is genuine excitement in England circles about Oxlade-Chamberlain, encouraged by his hat-trick for the Under-21s in Iceland last week.

The shadow of Rooney, his temperament and his uneasy relationship with major championships will loom over Capello between now and June. But at least he has time to devise his strategy.

Phase one of Capello's mission to renew England after South Africa was completed in Podgorica. Phase Two will take shape in these defining months that will eventually determine Capello's legacy. 



Joe Hart: Still rough edges to be knocked off but an outstanding goalkeeping talent in the making.

Kyle Walker: Micah Richards is ruled out of the equation by Fabio Capello's apparent mistrust of the Manchester City defender so Walker gets the nod - with a glance towards Liverpool's Martin Kelly.

John Terry: Best days may be behind him but still Fabio Capello's leader and automatic choice.

Phil Jones: Huge talent. Still naive and can be pulled out of position by opponents and his own sense of adventure, but maturing rapidly and can see off contenders before next summer.

Ashley Cole: England's best left-back and one of Fabio Capello's easiest selection decisions.

Scott Parker: The anchor in midfield and the preference ahead of Gareth Barry, who struggled at the World Cup and also against Bayern Munich recently.

Jack Wilshere: Wonderful natural talent worthy of his place when fit. Will not be daunted by any opposition.

Steven Gerrard: An inspiration and England are never better for his absence. Must play if fit.

Ashley Young: Provides pace, goals and creation. Ready to mature at Manchester United in time to fulfil all his potential with England.

Theo Walcott: Infuriating but capable of carrying real threat. Not a selection made with 100% confidence. I remain a confirmed Adam Johnson fan but will plump for Walcott.

Darren Bent: Bent may miss chances but also scores goals and with Rooney absent England may need them. Often criticised for what he doesn't do without enough attention paid to what he does do. Capello's admiration for Manchester United's Danny Welbeck may still mean he is edged out.



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  • Comment number 1.

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

  • Comment number 2.

    Presuming Wayne Rooney gets at least a two game ban I wouldn't consider him for selection until the 2014 World Cup qualifiers, but given his poor attitude for England I would advise him to quietly retire and concentrate on his club career.

  • Comment number 3.

    he was stupid to kick out, and let us all down. But he must go to Poland/Ukraine. Against the best teams, you need your world-class players. And he's the only world-class centre-forward England have. (I would use Zamora or Welbeck in his absence)

  • Comment number 4.

    I wouldn't take Rooney.

    Its not a knock on his ability, that's highly debated enough in various places, it is just the way I see it.

    Even if we make it out of the group (and I cant see that happening to be honest, just about everyone pass's the ball around better than us for a start) then you have to disrupt a team to get Rooney back in there.

    Lets be honest even if we get past the group we will be coming home pretty much straight away anyway.

    Capello has 5 games, he has said Rooney wont start, so why not try and build a team and leave him out completely.

    Hey we may even be able to string 5 pass's together without out 'star' player

    Well stranger things have happened.

  • Comment number 5.

    Why are you only looking at the first XI, Phil? The problem in South Africa was that Capello had only done the same and ended up having to take unfit players like Rooney and Barry because he didn't have a plan B. We need 2 comfortable players in every position before we get to Euro 2012. It's no good chucking in unknown backups should the inevitable metatarsal injury hit one of our stars.

  • Comment number 6.

    Would mainly agree with your selection. I would probably swap Walcott for Downing though and have young just dropping off Bent in an old school 4-4-2.

  • Comment number 7.


    I believe Capello has said he won't start Rooney in any of the friendlies. But he will play apart. Agree though, it's still a good thing for Man U.


    Agree with your team apart from Walker. I'd start with Richards.
    Also, I'd keep and eye on Welbeck. If he has a good season, I'd pick him over Bent.
    I suppose you could say the same for one or two others though.

  • Comment number 8.


    against the better teams , the players will get in his ear even more instead of lasting 70 mins on the pitch ,he will only last 30 mins before doing something stupid yet again !

    the portugese, italians , germans will all be rubbing there hands in delite , saying the old rooney is back , where infact he never left !

  • Comment number 9.

    And what about Agbonlahor? If he keeps his incredible goalscoring up, he must have a chance of making the squad at least?

  • Comment number 10.

    Presuming Wayne Rooney gets at least a two game ban I wouldn't consider him for selection until the 2014 World Cup qualifiers, but given his poor attitude for England I would advise him to quietly retire and concentrate on his club career.


    Let's hope he does, all the better for United.

    Back to topic, surely it's time for Andy Carroll to show why he's supposedly worth £7 million more than Rooney?

  • Comment number 11.

    Rooney has to go, even if he can't play 2 games we can get by with Bent, Welbeck and Carroll especially if as would be sensible he plays 433 with Gerrard in advance of two midfielders.

    Quite like the look of Phil's team but would have Smalling at centre half with Jones on the right.

  • Comment number 12.

    Doesn't matter who Capello picks. England will lose against the first good team they play.

    Spain are miles ahead of England as are Germany and Holland.

    France, Italy and Portugal are also superior and England will be at roughly the same level as the rest.

    Quarter Finals would be a very good achievement for a mediocre bunch of players who lack the technique, discipline and intelligence (as always) to compete with the best.

  • Comment number 13.

    You're all daft. Rooney is integral to the current England set-up. Ask any football manager in the world whether they would include Rooney and they would say yes.

    He got a red card. Big deal.

  • Comment number 14.

    Phil, your team is very well-judged in my opinion.
    I was thinking about yesterday and I see the Euro 2012 team lining up thusly:
    Walker Jones Terry Cole
    Parker Wilshere
    A Johnson Gerrard Young

    Carson, Green, Smalling, Cahill, Baines, Barry, Lampard, Milner, Walcott, Wellbeck, Carroll, Bent

    So if Rooney is out for the first 2-3 matches it could perhaps be an ideal opportunity to put Walcott in his correct position of Centre Forward.

  • Comment number 15.

    I can't see how anybody could agree that Rooney not playing would be better for England. I think England's hopes in the Euros is pretty slim, but without Rooney, they're non-existant.

  • Comment number 16.

    Yes Rooney was idiotic to get himself sent off but England need to look forward and see what we can do without him. Personally, I'm very excited by the potential of Danny Welbeck and would love to see him given a chance for England. I'd much rather see A. Johnson ahead of Walcott and Richards ahead of Walker as well. It'll be interesting to see who Capello starts in CB if everyone is fit, Terry is looking past it to me but the likes of Cahill, Jones and Smalling are all very inexperienced at this level.

  • Comment number 17.

    I'm pretty sure that team's not good enough to win 2012.

    It could be a Euro 2000 job, with Kyle Walker to give away the Phil Neville-esque penalty in the final group game and Wayne Looney to get sent off for a two footed challenge on the referee.

  • Comment number 18.

    Yes Adam Johnson for Theo Walcott every time.. I despair with Capello when he doesnt even have him on the bench

  • Comment number 19.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 20.

    But why take him, if he gets a 2 / 3 game ban ?

    Lets play fantasy football here.

    Say England win all their remaining friendlys and the three group games. I dont just mean wins, I meant outstanding, mind blowing, OMG is that England! type wins (Ie. 1 - 0 and four pass's strung together)

    Then what happens ?

    Does Capello change the system to accommodate Rooney ?

    Say he does that and England lose, he is then slated (more than usual) in the press.
    Say he leaves Rooney out and those wins stop and we lose, he is then slated (more than usual) in the press.

    Its a no win.

    If Rooney is banned for 2 / 3 games then I would say leave him out of the friendlys and the squad for Euro 2012 and try and build a team that is not over reliant on one player.

    However if he is left at home I am sure we will hear how will win the trophy for us.

  • Comment number 21.

    Watching Walcott makes me ill.

  • Comment number 22.

    Forgot to add - insert flavour of the month - in the final sentence.

  • Comment number 23.

    In our position it's not enough to just pick the best names and hope we can beat the likes of Spain, Germany, Italy etc - because it simply won't happen. We need to devise a game plan that's more suited to being underdogs because frankly, that's what we'll be when we come against such teams.

    I mean just think back to Greece in the Euro's, South Korea in the WC and so on. They got through by strategy, discipline and hard work.

    We should try and pick players that compliment eachother in a solid, compact first XI with a couple of 'mavericks' in the more forward positions who are capable of producing match winning moments single handedly (the likes of Rooney, Gerrard/Lampard; even the much maligned Darren Bent always has a goal in him in Rooney's stead).

    The other thing is that we are terrible at keeping possession, so why not play counter-attacking football? We need midfielders who are capable of springing an offensive quickly and, more importantly, pace in our strikers. This is something that we DO have.

    That's the only way we have any chance of causing any real damage in the Euro's. We have to accept that we simply aren't as good as many of the other teams and play accordingly.

    With that being said, i'd start like this:


    Richards Jones Terry Cole

    Parker Wilshere

    Sturridge? Young


    With that we have an incredibly big, strong and athletic defence. Terry has height and strength, Cole pace and stamina, while Jones and Richards have all 4 in abundance. Both full backs are more than capable of bursting forward in well timed counters.

    Parker holding, while Wilshere and Gerrard are also capable of putting their feet in. A midfield 3 will give us greater protection defensively while also increasing our chances of winning the ball higher up the pitch. It also gives Gerrard greater license to drive forward which is crucial, because let's face it, for his faults he's always capable of a moment of brilliance. He'd be excellent at springing a counter too (Torres thrived off his service for instance at Liverpool), and Parker also is capable of some good penetrative passing.

    For the forward line Ashley Young should be on the left as he's quick, good on the break and always capable of a goal/great delivery. Rooney is an obvious pick up top and in his absence i think Bent would probably be best suited to the system we'd be playing being a fast poacher that he is.

    Sturridge may be seen as a wildcard at the moment but i'm positive that he'll have had a few chances come next summer and i'm sure he'll of impressed. He is lightning quick, can pick a pass and is very clinical in front of goal. Walcott is profligacy defined and cannot be afforded in the team.

    That'd give us some good options on the bench with match winners like Lampard etc to come on too.

  • Comment number 24.

    Just play Ashley Young in Rooney's position and play either Walcott, Downing or Oxlade-Chamberlain on the left with Aaron Lennon returning to the right hand-side or even David Beckham but please UNDER NO CIRCIUMSTANCES bring back James Milner because he is rubbish when he puts an England top on.

    Also why does Capello not pick Micah Richards? He is tall, mobile, athletic, has a wicked shot on him and can cross the ball well. He also doesn't get caught out of poistion too often as he is quick to get back.

    I would go with: -

    Ferdinand/ Jones (depending on fitness)



  • Comment number 25.

    @ 18.At 13:32 10th Oct 2011, claytop wrote:

    The problem is that Adam Johnson is not a regular started for his club. He is more often used as a sub in the last ten minutes to use up time. I’d say that one criteria for getting into the England team is that you are capable of holding down a starting place for your club side.

  • Comment number 26.

    I thought this was a football article, the people on here who say they would not take Rooney clearly have no idea about the game I doubt they even watch it they probably just like a good old moan about somet.

    Rooney will miss 1 game, UEFA want top marketable players at the tournament, Rooney is one of them so 1 match will be the most he gets.

    As for options, Sturridge is the one to look out for upfront, he has scored goals and played well for Chelsea and I was surprised he didnt get a call up.

  • Comment number 27.

    People criticise Capello but the problem he faces is that no matter what personnel and formation he employs, he will always be confronted by the fact that the English players he has to choose from are deficient in both technique and tactics when compared to their counterparts from Spain, France, Germany, Holland and Italy. One of Englands biggest problems, the inability to retain possesion of the ball, was glaringly on show during the second half of fridays match. Any team worthy of considering itself one of the worlds major players should be able to defend a 2-0 lead against a team like Montenegro but the fact that such a limited side could put England under pressure like that was due mainly to Englands failings and deficiencies, which are long standing, rather than anything special they did. The second half was a nightmare of misplaced passes, hit and hope balls and tactical disorganisation that even a manager of Capello's standing found hard to rectify.

  • Comment number 28.

    Picking Walcott are we? Why? He's useless! Doesn't understand the difference between when to shoot and when to pass. Unless I'm mistaken Sturridge seems to be playing on the right side of the attack for Chelsea atm so I don't see why he can't be picked.

    Normally I'd pick Adam Johnson over Walcott but I'm afraid that with City's Summer signings he's going to get almost no game-time this season. They should loan him out for the season. Would be the best option for his career and development.

    As for the "experienced" players I'd argue that the only ones that deserve to stay in the team are Gerrard and Cole. Terry's past his sell-by date and Lampard is currently in the process of "fading away"... just that he's decided to try and make one last desperate effort to prove himself before he does.

  • Comment number 29.

    The result will be the same when It matters. England come up against a better team and Rooney will go missing during the match leading to elimination

  • Comment number 30.

    If Capello wants to play 4-3-3 then we're probably better off without Rooney.

    His best position is playing off a quick centre forward partner like Welbeck or Agbonlahor, although he could be put into midfield as the link up player.

    Although he's done it before, he really isn't that good at leading the line. It takes too much away from his passing and goal scoring. Plus as we all saw, he hasn't got the temperament.

    It's not really going to help much anyway, unless we can get greater pace into the defence because England are too vulnerable to counter attacks.

    If we're going to get out of the group stages, imo the only chance is if someone does to Terry what happened to Ferdinand at the last world cup!

    And I'll take Micah Richards & Adam Johnson over Kyle Walker & Theo Walcott any day of the week. Not easy to say for a Utd fan.

  • Comment number 31.

    We all follow united: Let's hope he does, all the better for United.

    Back to topic, surely it's time for Andy Carroll to show why he's supposedly worth £7 million more than Rooney?


    As much as I agree with you that Andy Carroll was incredibly overpriced, I do feel that comparing two transfer fees with 8 years between them is pretty pointless.

  • Comment number 32.

    not another load of boring old drivel about the shambles that is english football and the spud head rooney


  • Comment number 33.

    28.At 13:46 10th Oct 2011, Upham wrote:

    "the only ones that deserve to stay in the team are Gerrard and Cole"

    Cole??? Are you right in the head? You cannot be serious! He is a massive underachiever who never gets a starting place no matter what team he plays for.

    He is useless. He… he.

    Oh, are you talking about Ashley Cole? I thought you meant Joe Cole

    Sorry, rant over.

  • Comment number 34.

    It doesn't matter what team he picks, ultimately they will fail after being hyped up and then spectacularly fail. When people see an England fixture they expect England to play like Barca with the grit & determination of Man Utd, instead what you get is a team like Stoke with the grit of Arsenal.

    Phil, considering it was the main article yesterday why have you ignored Neville's view on England?

  • Comment number 35.

    Simple really.

    Sturridge in for Walcott in Phil's team and I think most of us would probably settle for that 11.

  • Comment number 36.

    not another load of boring old drivel about the shambles that is english football and the spud head rooney


    Although it's obviously interesting enough to make you comment. As you always do on England blogs.

  • Comment number 37.

    How far away is the first game of Euro 2012????? Why is Phil boring us with an article about this, hasn't he already said enough about Rooney since Friday? Get some new material!

  • Comment number 38.

    Phil, considering it was the main article yesterday why have you ignored Neville's view on England?


    Probably because it was absolutely spot on with nothing to argue against.

  • Comment number 39.

    "When people see an England fixture they expect England to play like Barca with the grit & determination of Man Utd, instead what you get is a team like Stoke with the grit of Arsenal."

    That is so true, and brilliantly put!

  • Comment number 40.

    2012 should be the tournament where the majority of the squad are young players who have experience of playing in u21 together complimented by the 'old guard' who still have mobility i.e. Gerrard, Rio but not JT, Barry etc

    It should be a good run in 2014 that we are aiming for. As most are saying anyway, we have little chance of winning next year's euros.

    Germany know how to do this and are brave enough to trust the younger players that have undoubted talent.

  • Comment number 41.

    I also notice that Cahill - the player McNulty said finished Ferdinand's England career - isn't in the starting XI, he on the bench is he Phil?

  • Comment number 42.

    England have to pick Rooney for Euro 2012, even if he's banned for the first two games (although England will only be playing 3 matches at the tournament, anyway). The back up strikers in England are, by and large, pub standard.

  • Comment number 43.

    Also, Phils descriptions of terry and Gerrard are pure comedy - Terry "past his best but still automatic choice" - excuse me??

    Gerrard - captain inspiration - remind me how he inspired his side at WC 2010, or what he's done in any summer tournament? The guaranteed start has been either injured or anonymous for 2 seasons. Stop living in the past Phil

  • Comment number 44.

    My team would be.

    GK Hart
    RB Richards
    CB Terry
    CB Jones
    LB Baines (Much better going forward than Cole in my opinion.)
    M Gerrard
    M Parker
    M Wilshire
    LF Young
    RF Agbonlahor
    CF Rooney/Bent

    Foster, Baines, Smalling, Lampard, ,A.Johnson, Bent/Welbeck

    The team would play counter-attacking football, as we obviously cannot pass it. Richards and Cole can get forward and with the pace of Agbonlahor and Young (who played that way for Villa together) the team suits the system, not the other way round. No player is bigger than the team or the system and the quicker Rooney learns that the better.

  • Comment number 45.

    Pretty decent line up although it will depend on replacements if any of the starting eleven get injured.

    Rooney is still a threat and should be a guarantee on the plane if UEFA dont do the usual of punishing the English by giving him a 3 match ban. Someone has got to sort his temper out though. It did seem as though he had started to calm down a bit and then he goes and does that on Friday!!

    Once Euro 2012 i would like to see the end of Terry, Lampard, Ferdinand, A Cole, Barry and maybe even Gerrard.

    Baines should be replacing Cole at left back and Smalling and Walker going for the right back role.

  • Comment number 46.

    Far too many things can happen before even considering a squad to take to the European Championships but one thing I thought was interesting was that Capello has now stated he needs to try new things without Rooney. My concern is for far too long England have relied on Plan A and being overly reliant on the same key players. I struggle to recall too many influential and inspiring performances by Rooney in an England shirt and would question why alternatives haven't been pursued already! Rooney has scored 3 goals for England since March 2010 and has a significantly poorer goals to games/minutes ratio over this time than Crouch, Defoe and Bent for example. Rooney continues to be labelled as being able to produce the extraordinary, the game changing moment; but when was the last time he did this (for the positive that is)?

  • Comment number 47.

    Mostly agree with "potential team" but Walker not so sure! I can not understand why Richards keeps getting overlooked...he has it all and is playing great football at the moment! Rooney is a huge dilemma...only world class player in that position (arguably in the team) but what an idiot! wouldn't want to be making that decision

  • Comment number 48.

    Time to drop Rooney from the squad completely as he is so unpredictable and certainly does not show the same form for England as he does for MU. Younger players tempered with a couple of older players that still have energy and want to have the honour of wearing an England shirt.
    Capello has made one decent decision in dropping Ferdinand, time to think about Terry and Cole as they are too slow.

  • Comment number 49.

    43. At 14:22 10th Oct 2011, Kapnag wrote:

    Terry "past his best but still automatic choice"

    I think that's a perfectly reasonable comment from Phil, and highlights the dearth of talent in England.

    Terry - always overrated anyway, but a reasonably decent player - is past his best, but is still the best of a bad bunch when it comes to English centre-halves.

  • Comment number 50.

    He will get the minimum one match ban as even though uefa / fifa are anti-england in the extreme, the sponsors run the tournaments and they need their top 3/4 stars playing.



    6)Johnson A


    12)Robinson 13)Gerrard 14)Lampard 15)Dawson 16)Ferdinand 17)Lennon 18)Zamora 19)JohnsonG 20)Baines 21)Stockdale 22)Huddlestone 23)Beckham

  • Comment number 51.

    I would also bring Carson, Cahill, Walker, Barry, Milner, Downing, Defoe and Sturridge in the squad

  • Comment number 52.

    #46, minus penalties, Rooney's scored more times for England than Shearer!

  • Comment number 53.

    Germany know how to do this and are brave enough to trust the younger players that have undoubted talent.


    Germany were also willing to accept though that blooding the youngsters would be beneficial for the future and that whatever happens happens in the World Cup. As it was they were very good.

    If we did the same thing and say lost in the quarter finals, the media and England 'fans' (as in those that go to games) would be calling them rubbish and that they should never play again. Whichever one emerged as the standout player, say for example Sturridge or Cleverley, would then have the entire nations hopes pinned on their shoulders for the next ten years whilst the rest of the team's ineptitude's are glossed over.

  • Comment number 54.

    This blog explains why England, irrespective of whether they are good enough or not, will NEVER do anything at international level.

    Did those perennial underachievers Spain, whose lack of a major trophy was greater than England's pre 2008, tell me did they overnight turn into the team they are ? NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

    This article is short term, typical of the thinking in english football.

    Put 2012 into perspective ?


    Will we win in Brazil 2014 ?

    What about France 2016 ?

    The likes of Hart, Jones, Wilshire, Wellbeck, the central spine will be 4 years the better, add on others and look 4 years on NOT 9 months on and we might just progress but no the usual tripe and hysteria will gradually increase as we near Euro 2012......................... and then the blog at the end of Euro 2012 will be lamenting why england are still a square peg that cant fit into a round hole at international level.

  • Comment number 55.

    #46, as for saying crouch has a better record of scoring against the likes of Jamaica and Whereonearthisthisehstan than Rooney - hahahahahahahahahahaha, I can't imagine many people tottering off to read yet another cliche filled insipid blog. Just what the world needs, eh?

  • Comment number 56.

    Personally, I think that Rooney is a must for England.

    Looking at alternative leaves to him leaves you with a massive headache as there are no other England forwards even close in comparison to what Rooney has to offer. Whilst I think that Rooney was extremely petulant in lashing out, this is exactly what makes him the player that he is - passionate, hungry and an automatic if fit.

    As a Liverpool fan, Carroll is miles away from being the finished article, Bent always seems to flatter to deceive, Agbonlahor has never fulfilled his potential, Defoe is not prolific enough but fits the mould and Crouch, while his record speaks for itself, leads to a lazy England whom constantly lump the ball forward in an attempt to feed of the scraps. Therefore leaving out Rooney would be sheer suicide.

    Personally, I think the team should start as follows for the opening game:

    Johnson (if fit) Terry Smalling A.Cole
    Wilshire Lampard
    Defoe Bent

    Rooney to return for Bent when his suspension is served.

    I have always thought that England play far better when they have 2 up top and with Defoe playing on the line, this enables Rooney to drop back between the oppositions defence and attack to pick up the ball with Gerrard and Lampard bombing forward to offer a 3 pronged attack with Defoe - I think counter attacking is our only chance as we have proved that our ball retention is awful in comparison to our European counterparts.

    I don't hold out much hope as we seem to constantly get decisions against us but one thing I am pleased with is Capello taking chances on players like Jones, Carroll and Wilshire as they are the future of English football. Would like to see Kelly get a chance as well as he looks promising!

  • Comment number 57.

    It seems to me that with most of the best players in the world (the superstars) there appears to be a bit of a Jekyll and Hyde side to their characters. Whether this to do with the pressure of fame and expection, or just part and parcel of genius, I just don't know. As well as Rooney's infamous dark side we have the ongoing Tevez saga, the meteoric fall from grace of Ronaldinho, Zidane's world cup final headbutt, and Cantona's drop kick to name but a few off the top of my head. By no means are such moments restricted to football though. Many great people in many different fields have had to contend with a dark side or loss of control. And oddly we admire many of them for precisely this reason.

  • Comment number 58.

    Capello mis trust Micah Richards he's better than Johnson and Walker and while i also enthuse about Jones he's still behind Richards at the moment
    I also think Richards could play in front of the back four and offers so much more going forward
    please Mr Capello find some trust

  • Comment number 59.

    there appears to be a bit of a Jekyll and Hyde side to their characters


    It's not that, it's because nobody cares what an average footballer does

  • Comment number 60.

    #52 I fail to see your point I'm afraid. I don't expect Shearer to get a call to come out of retirement to fill the gap left by Rooney.

  • Comment number 61.

    #60, the point is, how many people said Shearer's goal scoring record was woeful? You make it sound like 28 international goals is a feeble return for Rooney, but then I suppose he wasn't hammering them past the likes of Jamaica, like Crouch

    This blog explains why England, irrespective of whether they are good enough or not, will NEVER do anything at international level.

    Maybe because summer tournaments are once every two years and full of teams capable of winning it? 2010 was the first time Spain got to the final!

  • Comment number 62.

    52.At 14:27 10th Oct 2011, Kapnag wrote:
    #46, minus penalties, Rooney's scored more times for England than Shearer!

    And Michael Owen has scored more than both and is available for selection but Capello will never pick him even if he plays every game between now and the end of the season for United and wins the Golden Boot

  • Comment number 63.

    I can't believe this clamour for Micah Richards to be selected! I've seen better right-backs turn out for ''The Red Lion'' on a Sunday morning.

    Yes, he's quite good when he bombs forward against joke teams like Stoke or Fulham, but how good would he be against decent opposition? And - call me old-fashioned - but I consider the primary role of a right-back is the ability to actually defend. At least Richards is a notch above Glen Johnson - I saw a player just like him turn out for ''The Dog and Duck'' only last Sunday.

  • Comment number 64.

    #62, he probably would though

  • Comment number 65.

    #63 The_soul_patch_of_David_Villa

    In your opinion, and nothing more.

  • Comment number 66.

    @53.At 14:28 10th Oct 2011, We all follow United wrote:

    It is worth mentioning that the Germans did not expect to get much from the 2010 WC and were pleasantly surprised just how well their youngsters did.

    They went into the tournament with the attitude that "We will write this one off but prepare for the future". They look well placed for Euro2012 but I would still plump for Spain as my favourites.

  • Comment number 67.

    Good blog, agree with the team you've recommended Phil. Think Smalling is very much in Capello's mind for right back if he keeps playing there for his club. I personally would prefer Walker and Smalling. Not because they're the best two but Johnson, Richards and Walker are all very similar and Smalling be a centre back by trade will provide a useful defensive full back option.

    Not sure if it's just me but I'd like to see Micah Richards at centre half alongside Terry. Cannot understand Capello's dislike of Richards as I think he's an awesome player.

  • Comment number 68.

    For me:





    Young team, plenty of pace, plenty of United players who know each other's game inside out (see Spain with all their Barca players). Most importantly, our central players all have a decent degree of technique and can all control and pass the ball - defenders and midfielders both. Our defence would be quick, strong and mobile. The front three all have a good eye for goal, are all quick and technical and are versatile enough to switch around. Finally we've got Parker in there to do the dirty work.

  • Comment number 69.

    you would hop - Owen had a great striking record at Real Madrid and if we could keep him fit then he would be a much better option than Defoe or Zamora

  • Comment number 70.

    65. At 14:44 10th Oct 2011, MrBlueBurns wrote:
    #63 The_soul_patch_of_David_Villa

    In your opinion, and nothing more.

    I refer the right honourable gentleman to the reply that I gave some moments ago.

  • Comment number 71.

    It is worth mentioning that the Germans did not expect to get much from the 2010 WC and were pleasantly surprised just how well their youngsters did.

    They went into the tournament with the attitude that "We will write this one off but prepare for the future".


    Exactly my point. But that's not how it works here, we go into every tournament as either the favourites or second favourites and if we don't win all the players should be dropped, the manager should be sacked and the media must conduct a witch-hunt against the player they deem most responsible (missing the point of it being a team game).

  • Comment number 72.

    I think I've decided that I'm in some sort of Groundhog Day with the subjects being:-

    1) Rooney's discipline
    2) Who's over-rated
    3) Who's under-rated
    4) How the Germans approached the last international tournament
    5) What Phil's blogs are worth

    Can't we progress rather than having to fill in the same mis-information?

  • Comment number 73.

    These dull and dreary blogs don't write themselves. We must scrutinise everything about the England football team, because we have space to fill.

  • Comment number 74.

    I would have Smalling over Jones, IMO he's a better CB.

    Also, what about Joey Barton? I know he can be a bit excessive, but he deserves to be picked over Parker, Barry and Milner.

  • Comment number 75.

    #61 I see what you are trying to say; my point is that I don't see what Rooney is offering the team at the minute... and when I say minute... I mean the last 2 years. I'm not saying he should be omitted from potential recognition, I'm saying that over the last 2 years there appears to be players who may be performing better than him and I am surprised it has took a sending off for the matter to even be raised.

    My point about Peter Crouch (who to be fair was one of three players I named) I think is valid as it was about making a comparison on goal ratios. The 'Peter Crouch only scores goals against poor opposition' is a tired and lame response (and by the way, I am not avidly campaigning for Crouch to lead England's line, I feel it necessary to defend his record as it was one I put up for comparison against Rooney's); if this is the case, should we therefore omit the 3 of Rooney's 28 goals he scored against Kazakhstan as well as the two against Andorra and the brace versus Iceland?

  • Comment number 76.

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

  • Comment number 77.

    #75, how about just removing goals from friendlies? I wonder how many times Crouchy's scored for England in a qualifier/tournament? The goals scored ratio is an absolutely meaningless stat when you include games where 15 subs are being made at half time

    And when you say "performing better", you just seem to be talking about scoring goals. Rooney's all round play up front is key to England. Crouch and Bent or whoever else, why do you think they're playing in the mid table and not in the champions league?

  • Comment number 78.

    #77 Kapnag

    Though in fairness, if there are that many subs, perhaps the player in question has played less minutes in which to get those goals?

    Truth is, I don't care. It's plain to see that Rooney offers more than Crouch.

    Also, on your second paragraph, hasn't Crouch played in the Champions League for Liverpool and Spurs and maybe it's just time that's caught up with him now? Also, Spurs having the relative riches to get Adebayor? (We can argue the toss over the merits of Adebayor another time.)

  • Comment number 79.

    It was only last season he was playing in the champions league, got sent off in the first 15 minutes against Madrid, can't think of what else he's achieved in the Champions League. 30 years old is hardly finished for a player either. We can both see Spurs are clearly more of a threat with Adebayor up front, opposed to Crouch. It is a total mystery how so much money has been spent on bringing crouch to their club.

  • Comment number 80.

    "Wayne Rooney once again proved he cannot be trusted to control his temper"

    Utter drivel.

  • Comment number 81.

    #79 Kapnag

    I mostly agree. And his goal scoring record is around the 1 in 3 to 1 in 4 mark. Not great. But, to coin a phrase 'he does a job'.

    Anyway, comparisons or no comparisons, we are better served up front than with having Crouch now.

  • Comment number 82.

    Capello is a fool. He may aswell not play anyone who's not in his 1st 11 in these friendlies.

  • Comment number 83.

    The main problem with Crouch is that as soon as his names on the teamsheet, England resort to long ball regardless of the opposition or how the games going. Crouch, considering how tall he is, isn't even that good in the air. The likes of Wilshere, Cleverley and to a lesser extent Parker know the importance of keeping posession, even if it involves a backward pass. The midfield we've had for years (Gerrard, Lampard et al) still haven't yet grasped this simple concept and would rather try the speculative 60 yard raking pass that inevitably goes out for a goal kick than knock it to an unmarked team mate 4 yards away.

  • Comment number 84.

    #83 We all follow United

    I do sympathise with what you say about the midfield's use of the ball. However, and I'm not trying to open a can of worms here, a long ball out to the wing is sort of bread and butter. If only we had a right winger who could control the ball (Walcott?) or a left winger that, well, stayed out on the left wing (Gerard?).

    Oh the conversations we could have....

  • Comment number 85.

    #77 I think you're missing my point.

    Firstly, I am not saying we should choose Peter Crouch to lead England's line (I thought I made that clear in #75).

    Secondly, my point is that, in my opinion, for too long England have often selected players on name rather than merit and have not considered alternatives. The issue with Wayne Rooney is, as long as he is fit he has been an automatic starter and the issue is no different to discussions around the merits of inclusion for Ferdinand, Terry, Gerrard and Lampard.

    You are right, I have referred to goalscoring as a barometer of comparibility (without delving into the reams of statistics that Opta provide then I see no other method), and to be fair, he is a striker, and often used as a lone striker, and therefore I think it is reasonably fair to judge contribution by goals scored over a period of time; he has scored in two of his last 16 games for England amidst a series of poor team performances.

    You say that "Rooney's all round play up front is key to England"... this is not fact, this is your opinion. I would completely disagree with this. When Rooney is playing well he is an excellent asset; when he's not, and I would argue he has largely not been playing well for England for two years, I believe we would be better considering alternative options... and that's my point. Why has it took a sending off for us to consider alternatives to Wayne Rooney?

  • Comment number 86.

    "[xyz player] often criticised for what he doesn't do without enough attention paid to what he does do" smirked the english football media hack.

  • Comment number 87.

    Hopefully(but I know it won't happen) Rooney is banned for the whole tournament! We sadly spend too much time trying to build a team around Rooney rather than looking at what we could achieve with a more balanced side without him. We all know he is a good player but I don't believe he brings enough to the England setup that he has become indispensable!

  • Comment number 88.

    It's an interesting idea, that without Rooney the team has a different formation completely. But you don't really explain this. Are we to understand that the lineup you've provided shows 4-3-3 without Rooney, whereas with him it's 4-4-2? It seems to me that England could manage a 4-3-3 with Rooney, in place of Bent.

    As a neutral observer (American, erstwhile Leeds supporter), once again it baffles me how England can have such a strong theoretical squad, but in reality fails to perform at the highest levels. There is obviously some kind of inferiority complex. Maybe this time will be different, but it needs to be a younger group to overcome this problem.

    By the way, Richards needs to be your right back. Leaving him out reflects very poorly upon Capello's decision-making abilities. Also, what is going on with John Terry? His positioning for Montenegro's first goal was awful, but not entirely inconsistent with his overall play in recent times. Capello ought to develop the Cahill-Jones partnership for 2012.

  • Comment number 89.

    I fail to see why this is as big a talking point as it is. Rooney has a troubled past, sure and he gets sent off but suddenly all the knives come out for the guy? Why the excitement? He'll miss one game and given a reasonable draw for the group stages of the Euros, he may not even be essential to a win. It strikes me that the english media has 'chosen' to make the story as big as it is. Has Rooney publically come out and say, at any time 'I'll never be a bold boy again'? No, he has not, so leave the lad be. Think of Rooney's sending off as a gash on the leg. The gash will heal all on it's own, but, as all our mother's would of said to us as kids '....if you pick it, it'll never heal!'. Let it heal y'all!!!

  • Comment number 90.

    85 because he is undoubtedly the best player and he hardly ever gets sent off?

  • Comment number 91.

    #78 I used Peter Crouch as an example as it was one I looked into as he is one of the names the media inevitably throw up when discussing who should be leading the line for England; and again, I'm not suggesting that Crouch is better than Rooney, I have merely used him as an example in terms of his role as striker and that role dictating that he is one of the primary sources for goals. The point you raised about minutes on the pitch is exactly right. Since March 2010, Rooney has played 1,301 minutes for England (that's 76.1% of the total available) and has score 3 times. Crouch has played 184 minutes and scored 4 times... thats roughly one goal every half. Again, not saying that Crouch should be wearing England's number 9 shirt, but I think it is a useful reference to show that, in my opinion, Rooney is not contributing as much as Kapnag says.

  • Comment number 92.

    Is Danny Wellbeck that good??? Poor touch and looks better than he is as he plays up front for United.

  • Comment number 93.

    55. At 14:32 10th Oct 2011, Kapnag wrote:


    On very rare occasions, I sometimes question where the stereotype of the average English person being an arrogant xenophobe comes from, then I read remarks like this and I suddenly remember.

  • Comment number 94.

    88 micah richards is a powerful athlete and half decent going forward. he still remains a very poor defender though so that's probably why the manager doesn't prefer him in his defence.

  • Comment number 95.

    So, Englands leading goalscorer for the qualifiers for the World cup isn't a key player for England.

    Euro 2012 qualifying scored 3 set up and as for his all round play, just read the match reports linked on this page to see the influence Rooney has going forward -

    What alternatives are there for England who is always capable of scoring, and puts in a significant contribution going forward??

  • Comment number 96.

    Moving on then, let's say Rooney is out for two games. England win their 3 group games, and are playing well.

    So, does Rooney start in the next game or does he only make the bench?

  • Comment number 97.

    Richards Jones/ferdinand terry cole
    Wilshere Gerrard
    Young Welbeck A Johnson

  • Comment number 98.

    92. At 15:36 10th Oct 2011, Savva123 wrote:

    Is Danny Wellbeck that good??? Poor touch and looks better than he is as he plays up front for United.

    Danny's practically a pub player. Of course the agenda-driven United ''fans'' will big him up as the new Pelé, but he's only ''proved himself'' against some of the joke EPL defences. I don't remember him pulling up any trees while on loan at Sunderland.

  • Comment number 99.

    #94 TheTrawler

    Might be a fair point. But, hasn't Capello picked Johnson before? Is that's true, and we assume your opinion of Richards is right, aren't they quite similar?

    So if Capello has picked one but not the other, is the question 'why not Richards'?

  • Comment number 100.

    I realise that the traditional Rooney bashing must go ahead but could try a slight amount of objective evaluation?

    He should not have played. His dad has been arrested for a very serious crime and it would have been a miracle if this had no effect on the man. Regardless of Wayne saying he was ok to play, Capello should have left him out. To be honest, I'm more worried about the fact that a manager of Capello's experience would have played him based on the sole advice from the player in question.

    Also, why don't we try giving the lad a bit of understanding for a change? Here is a guy from a very poor and anonymous background having his entire character routinely chastised every week. His dad is facing some prison time, getting sent off was always going to happen. Let's not forget that it was Rooney that made our two goals and Montenegro's equaliser (which had been coming) was down to poor defending.

    Seriously though, we all know how good Wayne is, remember how good he is when he has the country behind him?


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