After naming his final 23 to take to South Africa yesterday, some of Fabio Capello’s choices proved controversial to say the least. Whilst his squad is undoubtedly talented there are three players that England still could have benefited from going into the World Cup. Here are the three players in order of their importance to England:
3. Scott Parker
The West Ham captain has had a great season for the East London club despite the team narrowly avoiding relegation. The enigmatic midfielder is definitely one of the main reasons that the Hammers stayed up this season and his inclusion could have given more bite to the midfield. Parker is definitely more of a commanding presence than Michael Carrick and Tom Huddlestone and although he would have been deployed as a substitute. He could come off the bench should England either be winning or chasing a game as he is able to make good tackles and close the game up, but can also provide a drive from the midfield.
Michael Carrick is too much of a one dimensional player and just sits in the midfield and screens the back four. Granted he can be a good player when he is given the time and has a good passing ability to his game. However it’s unlikely he will be starting a game in the World Cup and can only really be used off the bench for England to hold on to a lead. This is why Parker is the better option, and the two-time Hammer of the year should have been given at least a bit of playing time in the friendlies against Mexico and Japan to show what he can do.
2. Theo Walcott
Probably the player who has caused the most debate over his exclusion from the squad, the Arsenal winger was the surprise omission from Capello’s squad. Walcott hasn’t had the best of seasons for Arsenal and has had a lot of expectation put on him after scoring a hat-trick against Croatia in the qualifying campaign. Arguably that has set the standard of what he should be achieving, but at the same time if it wasn’t for that feat then surely people wouldn’t really be making such a fuss out of his exclusion.
The 21-year-old was given starts in both England friendlies but didn’t play brilliantly; his performance in the game against Mexico drew some very harsh criticism from Chris Waddle who said:
“I’ve never seen him develop. He just doesn’t understand the game for me – where to be running, when to run inside a full back, when to just play a one-two. It’s all off the cuff. I just don’t think he’s got a football brain and he’s going to have problems. Let’s be honest, good defenders would catch him offside every time.”
Despite these comments Walcott didn’t have too bad a game but is clearly lacking the confidence that he showed in Zagreb all those month ago. However he is clearly a talented a player and coming off the bench would have been much more of a threat to the opposition than Shaun Wright-Phillips, due to his superior technical ability.
1. Darren Bent
Capello’s biggest mistake was definitely not taking the Sunderland striker. Bent has been in terrific form this season scoring 24 Premiership goals, finishing as the third-highest goalscorer in the league and the second-highest scoring Englishman. Yet this still wasn’t enough to convince Capello to take him to the World Cup and it could be something that comes back to haunt England. Although it can be argued that Bent hasn’t performed for his country he has never been given a fair chance and shouldn’t have been substituted at half time in the game against Japan.
With all the expectations on Wayne Rooney upfront, Bent could have been England’s Geoff Hurst in South Africa, and the 1966 hero even had this to say on Bent:
“Emile Heskey hasn’t played all year and hasn’t scored goals, whereas Darren Bent has played all season and scored 25 goals – so if you’re picking on form, it’d have to be Bent.”
However Heskey made the final cut after scoring a pathetic three league goals all season. Yet apparently because he links up well with Rooney gets in the team, but for every good bit of movement he does that leads to a goal there’s a lot of other things he gets wrong. Also with Peter Crouch in the team for link-up play then what use is there for Heskey anyway? As for England’s other goalscorer Jermain Defoe, Bent has scored more goals than him in the past two Premier League seasons and that includes last season when Defoe was much preferred to Bent when they were both at Spurs. Defoe’s international record isn’t the best either; he has 11 goals in 40 games.
Darren Bent is England’s best out-and-out goalscorer and his presence could be sorely missed in South Africa, if England were chasing a game and needed a goal he would be the perfect player to bring off the bench.
Do you think Capello made the right choices with the players he omitted?