As I watched England suffer at the hands of Chile on Friday and Germany ‘C’ on Tuesday night I wondered who really is behind the team selections. This decision to pick players from fashionable clubs has been happening for many years now way before Hodgson’s tenancy. In recent times we have seen Rickie Lambert, Adam Lallana, and Jay Rodriguez called up to the England side. The latter have only just been noticed due to Southampton’s fantastic form which has seen them rise to 3rd registering 22 points from their first eleven games. Lallana should have been recognised way before now as he has been performing at top level for over 12 months and going back to his football league days where many realised Southampton had a real gem at the heart of their team.
For years now we have looked a side that qualifies for major tournaments with very little optimism of progressing further than the first knock-out round. Euro 2012 is a fine example of this, we had a tough group which contained Sweden, Ukraine and France and managed to top the group unbeaten. This sparked some optimism from many fans across the country but it was all too familiar what happened against Italy seeing us eliminated on penalties. The performance was drab and it was evident that Hodgson was way too negative in his team selection which reiterates his faith in the side to take to the field and outplay their opposition. This competition was well over a year ago and there hasn’t been much progression that’s evident. The one positive has been the form of Andros Townsend who has been a revelation this season for club and country. As Dietmar Hamann has stated however, you could even argue that when Townsend was called up it was unjustified.
Tom Cleverley is a player who I do feel sorry for as he is overly criticised for every pass that he makes. However, this is a perfect example of a player getting picked for England due to playing for a ‘fashionable’ club. His form for Manchester United has been indifferent this season starting just six of United’s eleven premier league games so far this campaign. The centre-midfielder has only participated in two of their four games in Europe but still finds himself playing alongside Steven Gerrard for his country. Tom Huddlestone has been in sublime form this campaign for Hull but many believe he has no chance of an England re-call due to the club he plays for. Scott Parker has 18 caps but after completing a move to Fulham in the summer I’d be very surprised if he adds to this tally. I’m all for developing young talent which Parker and Huddlestone are not but in terms of ability these two are still streets ahead of Cleverley.
During the years of watching England I have never been so stunned as to the decision to call up Wilfried Zaha to the national side. On reflection this call-up looked like it was to sway the youngster to commit to England and not choose his place of birth which is the Ivory Coast. Zaha has 15 championship goals to his name in over 120 games and is till yet to play in England’s top flight. It was common knowledge that United were after the youngster and there is no doubt without their interest he wouldn’t have been flung into the England set up. Thomas Ince, a similar player to Zaha has been putting in more and more top quality performances at Blackpool but still remains firmly in the U21 set up. It seems that it has become so much easier to earn a cap for England in recent times but unless you play for one of the top sides this couldn’t be further from the truth.