Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Capello's squad to face Hungary is only a token gesture at the changes that need to be made

In case you missed the news, England take on Hungary in a friendly tonight. In the build up to the match the talk has been about most things other than the actual 90 minutes at Wembley.

Forty-five days since England's humiliation at the hands of the Germans, Capello is bracing himself for the inevitably hostile reception in this next match.

The reaction of the fans has received a lot of attention. It will most likely be a mixture of booing and general indifference. The spectators are well within their right to display their discontent with the national side's awful performance in the World Cup. But their booing will not be achieving anything.

The players will surely be expecting nothing less. It is not as if they are unaware of the opinions of the masses. The frustration and disappointment of South Africa ought to be put behind us. Learned from, but not dwelt upon.

What is of more interest for this match is the squad that Fabio Capello has selected. The Italian appears to have made a token gesture at progress but has not gone far enough with his changes in the eyes of many, including myself.

Look at the stance taken by Laurent Blanc and the FFF. They have banned all 23 members of their World Cup squad, selecting instead an entirely new group of players. The situation in France is, of course, very different. As poor as our World Cup was, theirs was far worse.

Nevertheless, there is still something to be taken from their radical decision. It sends the message to all the players, stars and fringe members alike, that they are not infallible. No one is bigger than the team and anyone can be dropped.

Capello's squad for tonight's friendly has been changed from South Africa but retains the same core group of under-performers. Players who featured only briefly have been axed and yet many players who should shoulder the blame remain while those who have warranted a call up are still left in the dark.

If you haven't seen it then here is the squad to face Hungary:

Goalkeepers: Joe Hart (Manchester City), Scott Loach (Watford), Frankie Fielding (Blackburn).

Defenders: Gary Cahill (Bolton), Ashley Cole (Chelsea), Michael Dawson (Tottenham Hotspur), Kieran Gibbs (Arsenal), Phil Jagielka (Everton), Glen Johnson (Liverpool), John Terry (Chelsea).

Midfielders: Gareth Barry (Manchester City), Steven Gerrard (Liverpool), Adam Johnson (Manchester City), Frank Lampard (Chelsea), James Milner (Aston Villa), Ashley Young (Aston Villa), Theo Walcott (Arsenal), Jack Wilshere (Arsenal).

Forwards: Carlton Cole (West Ham United), Wayne Rooney (Manchester United), Bobby Zamora (Fulham).

Were Crouch and Defoe not good enough? Were they to blame? No. Rooney, who was dreadful, stays. Barry, Terry and Glen Johnson, some of England's worst performers, stay.

I am not necessarily saying that we should follow France's example and have a complete upheaval. I can understand why Rooney would stay in the squad, he is probably England's best player. If Capello wants to send a message, however, then it must be done by excluding the big names and not the smaller ones.

Players like Scott Parker have earned their place over someone like Gareth Barry. Moreover, the likes of Rodwell, Shawcross and Onouha should feature sooner rather than later so as to bed the new generation in.

Only through giving youngsters a chance in favour of faltering senior players will the national team become more competitive. The bigger names will still have to perform to keep their place in the side while fresh talent will be given the opportunity to prove their worth.

Capello's token exclusions will do nothing. The inclusion of Wilshere is promising but it cannot be an isolated case, more need to follow and soon.

Thoughts, comments and opinions please...

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