As I spent the weekend just gone by unexpectedly being roped into painting the stairs and hallway at my mother’s house, an interesting debate of sorts came up as I listened to TalkSport on the radio. If you could swap one player from the England squad for another player in a different nation’s team at the World Cup, who would it be and why?
Admittedly the show wasn’t a humdinger, and even more gobsmacking was that it was presented by Jeremy Kyle, who even by TalkSport standards knew shockingly little about the beautiful game, not to mention his completely unfounded arrogance and constant plugging of an upcoming book launch which grated to say the least by the seventeenth unsubtle suggestion, but as an idea at least to debate at the pub amongst friends, it’s quite an interesting one.
As we all know, there is no such thing as an international transfer market of sorts and this is all merely hypothetical unless Sepp Blatter has, what I’m sure is known around FIFA headquarters by know upon another inane rambling or incoherent press conference as ‘one of his off days’, then there doesn’t look likely in being one any time soon either.
Success in club football is completely different to that on the International stage, of course it is, and it’s a whole different kettle of fish. Some of the answers on the phone-in were all calling out (rather stupidly and ignorantly in my opinion) for Emile Heskey to be swapped for the likes of Villa, Torres, Drogba et al, but there were at least some interesting choices thrown into the mix such as Klose for his ability to turn it on at the biggest stage of all (only 5 short of Ronaldo’s World Cup goals record of 15) , Maicon for his all-action style in favour of the attacking-minded Glen Johnson and even Yoann Gourcuff mentioned as a decent foil to be used behind Rooney, a prospect not out of the realms of possibility for Man Utd fans in place of Aaron Lennon. One caller even bizarrely gave the answer that Wayne Rooney should be shipped out for Drogba and another rather harshly even went as far as to single out Stephen Warnock, a player who is extremely unlikely to be used in any capacity throughout the duration of the tournament anyway.
There are some interesting sub-plots developing as we enter the final week before the tournament though. Will Barry be fit in time for the opening game against the USA? Who will his replacement be? Who will reside between the sticks? Will Rooney play up top by himself or with a partner? Will it be Ledley King who steps in for the injured Rio Ferdinand and will his knee be able to hold up to the rigours of the latter stages? Will Michael Carrick, if used, ever pass the ball forwards?
Balls out of the bath on this one, if I had to swap one player from the current side for another of our World Cup colleagues players, I think personally that I would plump for Xavi in place of Gareth Barry, a player so short of match fitness that his place in the squad should have been more seriously questioned. For the people that know me reasonably well, that will not come as a complete shock, perhaps barely even registering a murmur of surprise amongst most, but the reasoning behind my choice is simple – England struggle to retain possession against the best sides, the diminutive little genius is the best in the world at this most basic of footballing principles.
I fear England are still a quarter-final side with an extremely good manager at the helm, as soon as we happen to play against anyone considered half-decent in the latter stages, the cynic inside of me has already accepted that we’re likely to be sent packing with our tails between our legs, but with Xavi in the side we’d have an element of control over possession and ultimately our own destiny. The need to rush back Gareth Barry and take a gamble on him proving his fitness in the training camp clearly highlight this.
Here are the rules:
You can’t swap an outfield player for a goalkeeper, as I think that we’ve all learned from North Korea at least, that this isn’t the best of routes to go down and mainly because FIFA rules stipulate that a minimum of three goalkeepers need to be registered for the tournament.
You can only swap one player
And to change it up from TalkSport’s version of proceedings, instead of swapping a squad player that we’re never likely to use anyway for a world-beater, a process which is far too easy, you have to swap someone considered a regular starter for their country for someone who is a regular starter in theirs.
All suggestions are welcome; you know the drill, fill it in the comment space below
Written By James McManus