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Martin Samuel: Jack Wilshere and Andy Carroll too tired to play? Oh, do give it a rest

25 May 2011 00:04:34

Martin Samuel: Jack Wilshere and Andy Carroll too tired to play? Oh, do give it a rest

ShareIt is to be hoped Jack Wilshere and Andy Carroll felt well rested on Tuesday, because English football looked increasingly knackered. Therewere instant ramifications from the news that neither player would be on duty for the England Under 21 team at the European Championship this summer (Carroll because he has failed to recover from injury, Wilshere because he is experiencing a bout of exhaustion that has come on in the eight days since it became apparent Arsenal would be pre-qualifying for the Champions League in August). None was positive. Theeffect began immediately as high-profile withdrawals from the Under 21 squad impacted on the age groups below. Privately, other clubs cried foul, and perhaps some egos wondered why they were not important enough to receive the summer off. And as England's best-laid plans collapsed like a house of cards, we were left to reflect on the peculiar penchant our game has for taking two steps forward, then one back, before fallingdown an open coal hole. StuartPearce had no option but to leave out Wilshere and Carroll once presented with numbers that made him look like a plantation slave driverif he pushed them to appear. And then it began. Making the breakthrough: Both Jack Wilshere (left) and Andy Carroll made their full England debuts this year Micah Richards, another potential first-team player, who is scheduled to be captain, having been personally convinced of his importance to the Under 21 team by Pearce, was suddenly having a scan on a hamstring injury that could yet rule himout.   More from Martin Samuel... EXCLUSIVE: Andrew Strauss - I still have years left as England captain23/05/11 Martin Samuel: The day the Premier League clock stopped ticking22/05/11 Martin Samuel: Nine years on, Dons wombling back from the wilderness22/05/11 MARTIN SAMUEL: Don't let them Shanghai this historic jewel20/05/11 Martin Samuel: Life on the road with Gazza when the wheels came off...17/05/11 Martin Samuel: Grant was hopeless but buck has to stop with the Davids16/05/11 Martin Samuel: Staying away from presidential election means sweet FA...15/05/11 MARTIN SAMUEL: Arise Sir Jools Holland, you've got the true X Factor12/05/11 VIEW FULL ARCHIVE Meanwhile, Connor Wickham, the promising Ipswich Town striker, was swiftly rerouted from the England Under 19 squad to the Under 21s. Any more withdrawals and the same may happen to Josh McEachran of Chelsea. Thesignificance of this is that the England Under 19 team are due to play in the Elite Qualifying Round for next season's European Championship tournament in Romania. They travel to Switzerland for a round robin group which includes the hosts, Montenegro and Spain, taking place between May 31 and June 5. Only the group winners qualify. SoNoel Blake, the coach, could really have done with Wickham, who was part of the England team that won the Under 17 European Championship last season. The nucleus of his squad comes from Liverpool, led by promising midfielder Jonjo Shelvey; except he withdrew, too. No doubt if Spain beat England, we will receive predictable lectures on the subject of inferior technique, with no mention of the joined-up thought processes that produce success at international level. SergioBusquets, who is in the party with the latest finish of any major European players, being involved in Saturday's Champions League final with Barcelona, will be representing Spain in the Under 21 tournament. Maybethey don't get tired like we do. And remember Christian Eriksen, the Danish playmaker who so tormented England in Copenhagen on the night Wilshere made his first start? He is going, too. Itis only the English players who come accompanied by the equivalent of anote from mother excusing them from games. Arsene Wenger, having bestowed his bountiful gift of two international class English footballers in 15 years Ashley Cole and Wilshere despite having all the advantages and wealth of an elite standard youth policy, now presumes to lecture on what is good for the England team. Top of the fatigue league: Wilshere had a late-season collapse Arsenalhave produced reams of statistics to prove Wilshere is spent, and have successfully convinced the player of this fact, too. OnMay 15 he claimed to feel 'really good and really strong'. Now he talksas if he has ME. He has collapsed as spectacularly as Arsenal, who he will be required to help save again in August, when Champions League qualification resumes, courtesy of fourth place. Before that, there is a tour to Malaysia and China, also announced this week, which Wilshere would have missed had he played for England. Isn't it a happy coincidence that what is right for Wilshere so often concurs with what is right for Arsenal financially? Next summer, Wilshere, who will presumably have played another 50 games just as he has this season, and should therefore logically stay home and rest, will be expected to turn out for England at the European Championship in Poland and Ukraine. So will Carroll, who will be kicking his first ball in a UEFA or FIFA tournament at any level, having spurned his chance to gain that experience this summer. And when the inevitable happens, we will respond with the usual wails of why-oh-why, and never once consider that in international football a country gets out exactly what it puts in; and with England, for that reason, we should perhaps be thankful we are there at all. THE STRANGE CASE OF PAOLO DI CANIOJeremy Wray, interim chairman of Swindon Town, says he can't wait for his new manager, Paolo Di Canio, to get started. It might be best to see where the fixture list takes Swindon first. Di Canio's passion for the game is legendary and only this week he was declaring it, to the delight of the locals. 'A lion cannot stay in the cage,' he said. 'He has to be on the pitch.' Except Di Canio wasn't always on the pitch. Indeed, his appearance record at West Ham United suggests he was often quite choosy about pitches. Take the one at Newcastle United. During his time with West Ham, Di Canio did not go near it at all. Pitches at Manchester United and Liverpool he visited just once in four seasons. Pitch battle: Paolo Di Canio faces several trips to northern destinations in his new guise This has led to speculation that Di Canio did not much care for pitches in the north, which may be something of a drawback when Swindon's upcoming fixture list contains visits to Morecambe, Bradford City, Crewe Alexandra and Rotherham United. Fortunately, this is not the whole story. It was not so much the pitches that troubled Paolo, but who was on them. Good players, for instance. Di Canio did not seem keen to share the grass with good players at all. His aversion to the pitch at Anfield, say, did not extend to neighbouring Goodison Park. And he conquered his aversion to Arsenal's pitch just once, when Manchester United had already clinched the title. So Swindon, now in League Two, should have no problem at all getting their new manager to Macclesfield Town: unless they turn out to be a bit useful. In which case his unusual strain of hay fever may resurface. How unfortunate that would be. DON'T LET TEVEZ STEAL THE SHOWCapricious: Carlos Tevez Monday was a good day for Manchester City. Carlos Tevez turned up. It may have taken letters in two languages and the further implorations of five people to get him to parade the FA Cup around the city with his team-mates, but he did it. So everybody was happy. By this morning he will be in Buenos Aires where he may speak to a journalist friend or a radio station about his future plans and, if they do not involve City, the whole circus will begin again. The club cannot carry on like this, their peace of mind reliant on Tevez's capricious moods. Is he in, is he out? Who knows? Tevez is football's equivalent of the groundhogs that predict the weather. He emerges from his hut each morning and if he sees a shadow, announces he is off to Spain. If he doesn't, he's staying at Manchester City. This is no way to run a serious football club. Tevez was wonderful for City this year, but this uncertainty cannot continue. If he will not commit, incontrovertibly and without conditions, it is time to go. Do the deal as quickly as possible and move on. That is how Manchester United acted when Cristiano Ronaldo's yearning for Spain became irresistible. It is best for everybody. BOO WHO?The one sour note during Manchester United's end-of-season celebration on Sunday came when Sir Alex Ferguson made a positive reference to the owners and was greeted with the inevitable boos. Even so, the 76,000 inside Old Trafford must have been mighty relieved they did not follow the sage advice of the vanishing Red Knights in giving up their season tickets. They might have missed something, and for what? Ear to the ground: Guus Hiddink HIDDINK'S NICE LITTLE EARNERWhy would Guus Hiddink want to come to Chelsea? He has a perfectly good job at Stamford Bridge as it is. Writing in his newspaper column at the weekend, he admitted that he had spurned recent advances from two Dutch clubs. 'I don't want to be called an official advisor with Ajax or PSV Eindhoven,' Hiddink insisted. 'That role is working very well for me with Chelsea. I have been advising the club since I left Stamford Bridge. They use me as a sounding board on an occasional basis.' What a fabulous brief: power without responsibility. Heaven knows why he wishes to make such a position permanent. Perhaps he just fancies the pay-off. WHY CAN'T CAPELLO SEE THERE'S STILL NOBODY BETTER THAN OWEN?The precise time at which it was known Blackpool were relegated on Sunday was 5.41pm, when the ball fell to the feet of a lightly raced Manchester United substitute striker, with only goalkeeper Matthew Gilks to beat. The score was 3-2 to United at this point but in the maelstrom of the Premier League's final 10 minutes, so much can happen. Until Michael Owen is left one on one, that is. At that moment, even the most hopeful tangerine traveller knew his fate. Seconds later, the ball was in the net, the damage beyond repair and Blackpool had been cut loose. The England squad named by Fabio Capello on Monday contains four strikers, and not one of them would have inspired this same feeling of certainty. Clinical: Michael Owen scores a trademark strike to doom Blackpool So when did it become the consensus opinion that Owen was rubbish? Not merely unsuited to the team shape favoured by Capello; not simply lacking compatibility as a starting striker beside Wayne Rooney. Rubbish. Less suited to international football than Bobby Zamora; less likely to trouble Switzerland at Wembley than Peter Crouch. Owen has given up looking for his name in England squads, just as people have given up asking Capello why he is not picked. He has not played very much for Manchester United this season, but considering David Stockdale, Fulham's reserve goalkeeper, was selected before his withdrawal, the Italians are hardly taking the daily clock-in as much of a guide. Missing the point: Fabio Capello's snub of Owen is baffling Few would argue Owen should start for England these days, but to have him around when goalscoring talent is so thin on the ground? Why not? And if he is not naturally tailored to Capello's game plan, isn't that what the training ground is for? Is every player a perfect fit, straight away? What happened to coaching? The fact remains, if a carbon print of the opportunity against Blackpool was delivered at Wembley this Saturday or next, there are few players the fans would be happier to see over the ball than Owen. For the moment, though, his England career is in limbo. He has never felt sufficiently entitled to retire in a fit of pique and maybe, when Capello leaves next summer, there is an outside hope of international resurrection at the age of 32. It may be, though, that he remains stranded on 89 caps and 40 goals, nine short of Sir Bobby Charlton's England landmark. 'Every time I saw him, I used to think, 'I'm closing in on your record, Sir Bobby',' Owen said at Manchester United's Carrington centre yesterday. 'Now I just see him for the great man that he is. You'll have to ask Fabio Capello why it's come to such an abrupt stop for me. I don't know and I've given up trying to understand. 'He might say I haven't played enough. I know it would help if I was in United's team more often, but I'll never give up on England. 'I was disappointed the first squad I missed, a bit less the next time and after about three or four, I didn't expect to see my name. 'The first couple, I'd look at the players he'd picked, look at what they had done and what I had done, think about everything really. For the last dozen or so I haven't even looked at the squad. It's sad, but I am not going to kid myself. If you get finished with by your wife and you keep thinking, 'I might get back with her, I might get back with her', you'll keep upsetting yourself. Better to just get over it. If I get up for it thinking, 'Right, I'll be in this squad', and then I'm not, I'll just become more disappointed.' And, clearly, from the start Owen was not what Capello desired. I can remember his first conversation about the player. Asked what Owen's role would be in the side, he said: 'Number 12.' Now he is not even that. Finishing school: Owen lashes home his last international goal against Russia in September 2007 Considering the manager is experiencing a minor crisis with Wayne Rooney suspended and Andy Carroll injured, who knows what Owen's England number would now be? He might not even make the top 50. And yet there seems something very wrong in that. Tottenham Hotspur have fallen out of the Champions League because they cannot score goals; yet half of Capello's forward options against Switzerland, Crouch and Jermain Defoe, are Tottenham players. Owen might not make Manchester United's starting line-up at Wembley, but neither would any of the quartet Capello has picked. You would back him to score, though, given the opportunity. And still that sets him apart.  Explore more:People: Alex Ferguson, Andy Carroll, Cristiano Ronaldo, Michael Owen, Peter Crouch, Fabio Capello, Jack Wilshere, Ashley Cole, Wayne Rooney, Carlos Tevez, Bobby Zamora, Stuart Pearce, Jermain Defoe Places: Barcelona, Buenos Aires, Copenhagen, Liverpool, Malaysia, Romania, Montenegro, China, Spain, Poland, United Kingdom, Switzerland


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