Monday, March 28, 2011

Better late than never for Scott Parker

Wales were so abysmally poor on Saturday it is hard to give too much praise to England but considering so many are quick to criticise when they lose they perhaps deserve positive word when they win.

For Capello he finally seems to be picking a formation that suits his players. Gone is the 4-4-2 and in comes a fluid 4-3-3 formation that suits the roving tendencies of Wayne Rooney and Ashley Young. In midfield Frank Lampard, not before time, plays in an attacking role he is comfortable with while Jack Wilshire – who was more defensive minded in his last England appearance – looked a better player in a more advanced role.

But it was Scott Parker who caught my eye. The West Ham midfielder is a talisman for his club and has been putting in consistently excellent displays for years, as anyone who has bet on Premier League action will know.

But whether it is because he plays for an 'unfashionable' club I don't know, but England managers have been reluctant to give him a run in the side, a move that has baffled those looking to bet on Premier League winner.

Instead the endless, tedious Gerrard/Lampard combination is forced upon us even though we know it will never work. Gareth Barry then briefly stepped into the breach, providing a barrier in front of the back four that allowed others to attack. But his decline has been stark, in fact he appears half the player, especially at international level, since signing for Manchester City and his dreadful World Cup (he wasn't alone) confirmed my thoughts that he just isn't up to international football anymore.

So I was delighted for Parker to finally be rewarded for his patience. His commitment to the cause is well known but his tenacity and measured defiance in front of the defence gave the platform for Rooney et al to wreak havoc at the other end.

I seriously hope Fabio Capello doesn't revert to the Gerrard/Lampard combo upon the Liverpool man's return. The past two games against Denmark and Wales suggest he has found a system that works, but only with the right players. Now he seems to have found them it a disaster if he went back now.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Bale injury a blessing in disguise?

Here in England, even the neutrals seem to have a quiet affection for young Gareth Bale, a man who seems to have emerged from nowhere to become one of the best players on the planet. So talented is the Spurs man that even Arsenal fans have had no choice but to send plaudits his way, watching him rip apart the best teams in Europe and become a prime transfer target for the continent's elite and the football rumours reflect this.

It is, therefore, tempting to forget that Bale isn't actually English. A darling of the Premier League he may well be, but this is a man who represents a side fighting against England for Euro 2012 qualification. With England taking on Wales this weekend in Cardiff in a crucial group match, Bale is now set to miss the clash through injury. No doubt the player himself is upset at this but could it be that missing the game has saved him from adopting a slightly different place in the hearts of us England and Premier League fans?

With Bale stating earlier this week that the Welsh team are "quietly confident" as they prepare for the game, and with the Welsh players well aware of the need to secure a result after finding themselves bottom of Group G, the 21-year-old clearly believes that the England team could be in for a shock this weekend when the game comes around even if the international football betting suggests otherwise. The Spurs man was light-hearted in his descriptions of the banter that has become the norm over the past month or so between him and the English contingency at Spurs but those England fans still desperate for their side to continue their post-World Cup recovery without any unexpected interruptions may not have been quite so forgiving if the Welsh star had been the driving force in a home victory at Cardiff.

With England distracted by the captaincy issue rearing its ugly head again, it could be that Wales do take full advantage of their raucous home support and cause a group upset that threatens to derail England's hopes of making Euro 2012 their opportunity to prove they can taste success under Fabio Capello. Bale, though, through his forced non-involvement will still occupy a special place in the hearts of Premier League fans, at least for now.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Will Wenger finally lose the fans if he fails again?

Few managers are able to get away with defeats in crucial games as well as making the same high-profile mistakes time and time again, but Arsenal fans seem to forgive Arsene Wenger no matter what he does or how he does it, a fact that often leads to rival fans scratching their heads at the manner in which the club's loyal fans appear to tolerate such failure despite the stature of the club and its place in English football.

With the Gunners chairman Peter Hill-Wood a man who clearly has nothing but reverence for Wenger, and the rest of the board seemingly terrified at the prospect of being responsible for firing a man who has brought the club glory in the past as well as a worldwide following, it appears that only a sustained and vocal lack of support for Wenger from the fans would lead to any real chance of him being dislodged. It would be a shocking piece of football news if he did go.

However, with fans of Arsenal obviously desperate to see the club achieve the success that has been promised over the past five or six years, they have so far publically done everything they possibly can to stay firmly behind their manager, despite the fact that in private many Gunners fans are wondering whether their manager will ever learn from his own mistakes and start to copy the likes of Real Madrid and Manchester United by spending money on players who can benefit the club in the future, but also improve the squad significantly in the short term and although the football rumours link Arsenal to big names, they never seem to buy them.

As well as this, Arsenal fans are beginning to wonder whether or not their manager really believes in his side after so much failure, or if he is now just using the club as a means to pick up a final paycheck as he looks to end his career in England. With the club needing a trophy soon if it doesn't want to risk losing its status as a big club in the global context of football, Wenger either needs to deliver or else leave the club.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Finding the domestic and overseas balance

After watching the talent on display between Manchester United and Chelsea this week , I noticed that only Seven English players featured at the Stamford Bridge out of a total of 28, with only two of those came in under the age of 29.

As a football nation, we are proud of being able to boast about having the greatest league in the world with the world's greatest players providing the entertainment.

However, despite the talent we love so much, it is a great shame on the international front that English players in the Premier League are certainly a minority.

Despite turning our concern to the lack of home grown talent being present in the Premier League after every England failure in a major tournament, the excitement of the league quickly clouds over the serious matter of developing young English players and goalwire live score fans should remember this.

The issue has been attempted to be met head on this season however, as the FA implemented the home grown quota at the start of the campaign where clubs have to name at least 8 home grown players in their squad of 25.

This is a great idea to urge Premier League clubs to nurture home grown talent, although the defining of home grown players as being registered for at least three seasons at an English or Welsh club between the ages of 16 and 21 whether you are indeed English or foreign – is a clear contradiction of what the quota suggests It is aiming to do and those who follow the latest football scores will realise this.
This doesn't at all prevent clubs from going overseas to nurture talent and it is difficult to see how so the quota will increase the number of English players in the Premier League and in turn an improved national team.

As a football fan proud of our fascinating elite league, I am also desperate for some International success. I fear as football and the premier league continues to develop as a business, driven by money and profits, the FA will find it difficult to implement a system which will balance both.