by Tom Exelby
So much has happened since my last piece. Games seem to be coming from all over the place so please forgive me if this week anything is overlooked. One thing which I definitely didn’t overlook was the steady march of United towards their 20th league title, although a rather rotund female opera singer was seen heading back to her dressing room having been deprived a chance to perform after last night’s results. Even so United remain firmly in the driving seat and so this week then is a Manchester United special.
United have dominated England squads for the last 15 years and have contributed some fantastic players such as Beckham, Scholes, Rooney and Ferdinand but a criticism which has credibility is that too often managers have selected United players simply because of the club they play for. Phil Neville and Nicky Butt, two decent Premier League players amassed 98 caps between them. Would that have been the case had they been plying their trade at a less illustrious club?
This year United have a whole host of possible England squad members. In defence they have Ferdinand, Jones and Smalling. In midfield, Young, Carrick, Scholes, Cleverly and up front Rooney and Wellbeck. Each of these players have been important to United this season, and each will deserve their Championship medal, but the question is how many of them deserve a seat on THE PLANE and I must admit I don’t believe many of them do. The last 2 Euro squads (2004 and 2000) were dominated by United players not only by sheer numbers but also by the inclusion of huge characters like Neville and Ferdinand. The fact that the 2012 squad will be more balanced is surely a good thing.
I believe that the squad will be made up of roughly the same number of United, City, Tottenham, Arsenal and Chelsea (3 or 4 from each) about 2 from Liverpool and then a couple of other players from outside this select group. Let’s hope this club diversity can lead to greater unity within the squad. Several ex-players have spoken about the various rifts in England squads be that United- Liverpool or United- Arsenal or United- Chelsea. Surely a greater balance in clubs represented will be a good thing, forcing the players together into one big group rather than Scholes, Beckham the Nevilles and Butt scowling over the room at Gerrard, Murphy, Carragher and Owen.
Rooney and possibly Ashley Young are the only two United players nailed on for a trip to the Ukraine this summer and that is no bad thing. My squad has changed very little from the last time I stated it but I have decided to place it below to prove my point of how different clubs will be represented.
CITY- Hart, Lescott, Richards, Milner
UNITED-Ferdinand, Jones, Young, Rooney
CHELSEA-Cahill, Cole, Sturridge
ARSENAL- Wilshere, Walcott, Oxlade-Chamberlain
TOTTENHAM- Walker, Parker, Lennon
LIVERPOOL- Gerrard, Carroll
OTHER- Green, Carson, Baines, Andy Johnson