So… he doesn’t help us qualify, he retired 3 years ago, his side has their worst season in club football for 16 seasons and he declared that he wasn’t all that fussed about representing his country in his autobiography and yet now he has a chance to go to the World Cup. How on earth does that work? Are England really struggling that much for defenders? Many people argue that Carragher is versatile. And? So what? He’s not the only versatile English defender – what about Micah Richards? He was always available throughout the qualifiers and he can be considered to be versatile.
What about Matthew Upson? How must he be feeling? He helped the country get to the World Cup in the first place! While Jamie Carragher was sitting at home with his feet up, Matthew Upson was out there working hard to make sure that his country got to South Africa. Why? Because playing in a World Cup is the most important thing to some people and it is these people who should be contenders to be picked. Naturally there are going to be ‘guarantees’ to go to South Africa. Players like Rooney, Lampard and Ferdinand etc can consider themselves picked already but others, like Upson and Richards, have had to work as hard as they possibly can just to even be considered. Sadly for the pair – it was to no avail. The position went to somebody who didn’t even want it.
Don’t get me wrong. I respect and like Capello. But here it looks as though he’s just like every other England manager. If your name is big enough then you’re in the squad. If England require a holding midfielder and an attacking midfielder – sadly it won’t be a case of: ‘Sorry, it’s either Frank or Stevie for the attacking role.’ It’ll be ‘Well we’ll put Frank in there and then we can try and cram Stevie in somewhere else like Left-Midfield. We can’t not pick him – it’s Gerrard.’ Yes Fabio. You can ‘not pick him.’ In the exact same way that you can rely on English players from clubs outside of the ‘Big Four’. If Carragher played for West Ham – begging him to come out of retirement wouldn’t have even been an option.
When we go out in the Quarter-Finals and everyone is walking around the country feeling very glum and confused as to how the mighty England didn’t manage to ‘bring it home’, I ask them to look Greece’s win in the Euros in 2004. What do you see? Do you see a strong team of players, or a team of strong players? And yes – there is a difference.
Written By Stephen Rudd