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Wednesday, December 14, 2005

"It's amazing what you can see through Sven's specs - I must get a pair."

ACTION - Sven says he's picked 20 of 23 spots on his World Cup squad.
REACTION - TDH puts on a deerstalker (no, not this, the hat!) to figure out who's in and who's still on the bubble.

Sven's XI: Rooney, Owen; J. Cole, Lampard, Gerrard, Beckham; A. Cole, Terry, Campbell, G. Neville; Robinson

[This assumes Sven really hasn't seen the light (like this guy) about the virtues of a holding midfielder. But if he has, TDH will be first with the hallelujahs.]

Most likely cover: Crouch; Wright-Phillips, Hargreaves (it hurts); Ferdinand, Carragher, Young; Kirkland

On the bubble for places 19 and 20, not mentioned: King, Carrick, Jenas

On the bubble for places 21 to 23, says Sven: Defoe, Bent, Reo-Coker, Richardson, Bridge, Woodgate, and a bunch of keepers.

Carrick and King are the most likely picks for 19 and 20. TDH loves King, especially after seeing photos like this one. (Where'd he get those anti-gravity boots?) But TDH also agrees with the completely unbiased peanut gallery in preferring Parker to Carrick. Too bad Scottie doesn't seem to be on Sven's radar screen.

TDH also has a soft spot for Downing (awwww...) but he hasn't had enough matches to impress Sven this year. Upson may also be in the mix somewhere, if a top-choice defender ends the season injured.

If it were up to TDH, a healthy Dyer might even take over for Wright-Phillips, who hasn't exactly romped in the England shirt. Dyer's a more reliable game-changer. But TDH suspects, deep down, that SWP is the man you'd prefer to have on the team bus. Call it disloyalty on TDH's part, but England expects harmony on that bus.


Recent rumors have Robbie Keane coming to Tyneside and Bowyer departing to Charlton. A worthwhile switch? Probably. Bowyer's got the guts, but Keane is finally starting to produce at a steady rate. TDH bets Souey will pull the trigger if he can, just to put a final stamp on that summer clear-out. And TDH wouldn't mind having a first-class striker on the bench. It's been years.


Blogger the Maradona of Malawi said...

I don't know. For me Parker is just energetic and tidy. He doesn't add anything new to the squad. Except possibly discipline.

He may well prove me wrong, but I just can't see him being an effective bulwark against Argentina or Brazil.

5:46 AM  
Blogger The American Geordie said...

Ah, you neglect the inspirational power of Parker's true grit. Observe Stevie G in the Champions League final. Lead by example!

Anyway, I doubt he'll make it. Ledley has to go to Germany, for his sheer versatility if nothing else, and Sven seems set on Carrick.

It would really be a shame if Downing didn't make it. He's scary when he's in full flow. He doesn't look English....

8:18 AM  
Blogger the Maradona of Malawi said...

yeah, but why do England need parker if Gerrard is already sewn into the line-up? besides, Gerrard's inspiration in Istanbul extended to scoring that all-important first goal. Comparing the two players does Scotty no favours at all.

10:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Er, am I missing something? Surely the general consensus is that England need a holding midfielder. Someone to do the dirty work and be the anchor whilst Gerrard and Lampard maraud elsewhere. It's Englands achilles heel, and Parker on form this season is the best defensive midfield option we have. he doesn't need to 'add' anything offensively. We're not short in that department. We just need someone to plug that gaping chasm between defence and attack. That's all.

It's why Eriksson has been experimenting with King in that position. He knows it, he's not that stupid. gerrard has proved he doesn't have the discipline or inclination to curb his attacking instincts for the good of the team at international level, so you can rule him out of that role.

11:33 AM  
Blogger The American Geordie said...

Okay, but let's make sure we're still counting to 11. When Sven used King as the holding midfielder against Poland in the final qualifying game, the rest of the midfielders were Lampard, Cole and SWP. There's no room for Gerrard in that setup except on the bench. I don't think 4-5-1 would be such a great idea, either.

Would Sven really bench a healthy Gerrard? I agree that it might be the right thing to do, but I'm not sure he'd go for it. Of course, Gerrard could play instead of Joe Cole, as Beckham undoubtedly will in place of SWP. But then England won't have much width on the left.

11:57 AM  
Blogger the Maradona of Malawi said...

or on the right, for that matter, given Becks' inclination to cut inside. I do consider him to be the best player for that position, however.

I take anon's point re: the holding, role however. I would like to point out that the holding role can be performed either by a passer of the ball (in the way Pirlo and Xavi operate) with a decent tackler alongside them, or by a bulldog. Given England's resources, I would prefer the former option to the latter.

Maybe I need to watch Parker more, but I can't help but rate him unfavourably compared to the specialists from Italy, Spain (Alonso, Albelda and Xavi - each controls the game from behind, whether thorugh tackling or possession), France, Brazil or even Holland.

Ditto to AG's point about picking a four man midfield - with parker, where would Stevie go?

12:46 PM  
Blogger The American Geordie said...

But I'm saying that it may be correct to bench Gerrard. England looked more fluid in that Poland match than they had in ages. I'm just not sure Sven has the brass to tell Stevie to sit down. What a sub he'd be, though! We could leave Hargreaves in Munich forever!

12:52 PM  

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