by Noel Draper
You will probably have noticed that starting this week is a little football tournament called the European Championship or Euro 2012 for short. It will feature all of the really good international teams in Europe, and two not so good ones, in a fight to the death to see who will be crowned “European Champions”.
England, my home nation, my team of non choice, will feature rather heavily for a week or so before disappearing off the radar altogether. Don’t worry as it happens all the time. I’m used to it. So is everyone else. You see, what usually happens, is that the cream of our recent crop, minus the injured, the not picked and the criminally overlooked, will run around looking serious for a couple of games before one of them explodes at a crucial moment leaving the rest to pick up the pieces and ignore the miscreant on the flight home. He will then be vilified for another week or so before the papers fury moves on to the manager. It’s important to realise that this happens every two years. We expect it.
But hold on a cotton picking moment. What if we went into battle with a really poor squad? We would know we were going to lose every game and therefore have sympathy for all concerned. The nation, as a man, wouldn’t feel the small swell of pride followed by the tidal wave of anger and hate. It would, in short, be good for our health.
So, with that idea in mind, here is my alternative England Eleven, who, in my eyes, are the worst players who have ever lucked out and pulled on the famous white shirt.
A tough choice to make as I nearly went for Robert Green but as he managed to get himself picked yet again for the serious squad I decided not to. I don’t care if Dave Beasant did manage to play over 750 club games in his career, or that he was the first to save a penalty in a cup final because he had really big shaggy hair and looked like a horse. Credentials enough.
First up is a player I haven’t admired for some time due to his lack of proper passing, inability to bomb up the wing and complete lack of crossing skills. It’s Paul Konchesky. How he must be kicking himself for leaving Liverpool. His partner in full back crime is Mike Duxbury who played nearly 300 times for Manchester United in 14 years. It could have been more but he was sometimes kept out of the side by John Gidman. Who I hear you ask? Exactly.
My first centre half choice is also going to be my captain. Keith Curle was a player blessed with fantastic pace and that was about it. Still Graham Taylor loved him so much he picked him 3 times. At right back. Alongside Keith I have tried to find a foil. Someone who is the complete opposite. Someone with no pace whatsoever. Someone with the tactical nous of a house sparrow. Colin Cooper is that man.
Despite looking like a crane and Pob’s bastard son, Carlton Palmer picks himself. How could I leave out such a fantastically bad player? One of his managers once said of him, “He covers every blade of grass out there, but that’s only because his first touch is so crap”. Praise indeed. The best thing I can say about Carlton? He had an “engine”.
I have gone for outright pace, trickery and bundles of skill with my next two choices. Oh wait, I haven’t done that at all, sorry. What I have done is pick two players who looked like they had those skills at club level but when they turned out for England they decided to leave said skills at home. The fact that they both played for Crystal Palace might have had something to do with it. Give a big welcome to John Salako and Andy Gray. One was injury plagued and one had a big throw. Lovely credentials. You’re in guys.
Finally we move onto the forwards. I have picked three players who have a combined game time with England of 74 minutes. Yes, you read that right, 74 minutes. Combined.
First up is a target man. A goal getter. A poacher. A man who scored on his only appearance, against Andorra, by tapping in a goal bound shot from Jermain Defoe. Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you, the head goal stealer himself, David Nugent. Alongside him is Jay Bothroyd, a player who once had it all but then lost it. A player who had a temper on the pitch and General Gaddafi’s son as a friend off it. A player who loved the high life. Oh Jay, I once had high hopes for you. Still, welcome.
My final pick for up front is Michael Barrington Ricketts. Yes, THE Michael Barrington Ricketts. After an excellent start to the 2001/2002 season MBR had banged in 15 goals by February. Get him called up and quick came the shout. 45 minutes of running around like a chicken with a major part missing against Holland later and MBR was a broken man. He didn’t score anymore goals that season. In fact, over the next 7 seasons with 11 clubs he didn’t manage to break double figures once. England had drained him.
So there you go, my nightmare team, who won a total of 46 unjustified caps for England. I’d like to think that they would give the Ukraine a run for their money.
1/ Dave Beasant
2/ Mike Duxbury
3/ Paul Konchesky
4/ Carlton Palmer
5/ Keith Curle
6/ Colin Cooper
7/ John Salako
8/ Andy Gray
9/ David Nugent
10/ Jay Bothroyd
11/ Michael Ricketts
Can you think of anyone worse? If so tweet us at https://twitter.com/#!/TheDaisyCutter1