Roy’s Choice Selection

Roy Hodgson has been appointed, he’s the man now dog. So now he’s in the job what are the choices he’s going to have to make in the coming weeks? Right from the word go he’s got some tough decisions to make, that will require all those years of experience the F.A was so quick to point to when he was announced. He is after all, the first manager the F.A have ever appointed to manage England with previous international managerial experience.

O Captain! My Captain!

It’s a big call, it immediately sets a tone for the rest of the decisions he makes. There is always the chance that he won’t appoint a permanent captain until after the Euro’s, but that would be getting off to a weak start in the leadership stakes. The implications of his choice will go a long way to deciding the mood within the squad. As we all know from playing Football Manager get the choice wrong and you risking alienating not only the player you didn’t pick but also his friends.

The Contenders:

  • John Terry
  • Steven Gerrard
  • Rio Ferdinand
  • Scott Parker
  • Joe Hart

The captain will provide huge clues as to where Roy is looking to place the emphasis on his team.

John Terry – Pick Terry and it’s a sign that regardless of his problems off the pitch and previous problems in the role Roy is prepared to put his support behind him. Of course this would raise other issues and perhaps add unnecessary pressure, not least with the pending outcome of his court case. I think this makes Terry an outsider for the role, he’s had his chance.

Steven Gerrard – Worked with Roy at Liverpool, this could be a blessing or a massive disadvantage given how things went for Roy while he was there. Gerrard was quick to come out in support of Roy and stated that he should be given a chance, perhaps in return Roy will give Gerrard his chance as permanent England captain. Were he to do so it would signal that he believes Gerrard to be essential to England’s plans, when many are saying that it’s time to move on from the Liverpool captain and start afresh.

Rio Ferdinand – The same could be true for Rio, at 33 he isn’t getting any younger and the chances of him making the next World Cup are slim, it would perhaps be a short term appointment. However Rio has enormous experience and despite his past mistakes, now represents a relatively safe pair of hands to be Roy’s leader on the pitch for the Euro’s.

Scott Parker – Did a good job leading the side for Stuart Pearce, when many felt Gerrard should have got the gig. Parker was unfazed as you might expect from a man of his character. Parker has the advantage of very little baggage, he’s never in the papers and that’s not because of any super-injunction, it’s because by all accounts he’s a sensible, grounded individual, rare qualities for a footballer, especially one of his undoubted talent, he would certainly be my choice.

Joe Hart – An outsider for the role but you cannot doubt his influence. He’s a first choice regardless of how Roy wants to set the team up tactically and it looks as though he’s going to be around for years to come. His influence is growing and he’s certainly a leader. It might be a bit too soon to give him the main role but it wouldn’t surprise me if he was installed as vice-captain.

Terry versus Rio

If they both miss out on the captaincy then there is of course the question as too whether they will play together. I think the chances of that are slim so it might be a case of having to pick one of them, not a choice I’d like to have to make.

Terry brings more non-footballing problems to the table, but leaving him out would alienate a lot of fans. At the same time there are many who believe Terry should not be involved at all. To some extent he’s radioactive and any move you make on Terry is going to end up upsetting someone. If you want to set the England team up like Chelsea, which I think is probably best for England, sitting deep to frustrate teams offering little space in behind and playing a direct style, Terry’s selection makes sense. He’s exceptionally good at blocking shots and winning headers and playing a deeper line means his lack of pace isn’t so easily exposed.

Rio isn’t as commanding as Terry but rarely if ever puts a foot wrong. His speed and timing of the tackle are just what is required of an international centre-back but lingering doubts about his injury record are a worry. Playing with a higher line would certainly aid Rio’s claim as he offers good recovery pace and is happier to be left man for man than Terry.

For my money Joleon Lescott has to start, I think he’s been exceptional this year and is currently the best English centre back which he showed in the friendly against Spain. I don’t think Chris Smalling or Phil Jones are ready to start at centre-back. Michael Dawson has been injured and won’t be fit. Gary Cahill has shown against Barcelona that he can handle the big occasion and has played well for England before so he’s worth consideration. But I think I’d start again and go with Phil Jagielka. Jagielka and Lescott have played together at club level, they have a good understanding and can form a partnership that could take us all the way to the World Cup in 2014.

The Rooney Conundrum

Roy has already said he’s going to take him. It’s obviously worth taking him, even if it only ends being for one game given his talent and ability. It was a bit of a no-brainer, you have to take Rooney.

The bigger problem is how to utilise Rooney in the team. Against Manchester City recently it was clear yet again that playing Rooney as a lone striker isn’t effective. To get the best out of him he really benefits from playing up front with a partner. I think 4-4-2 isn’t a system that suits the current England side. If you were to play Rooney in the hole in a 4-2-3-1 formation, that’s also the role Steven Gerrard would want in the team. So straight away you have a problem.

If you are going to play Gerrard I think it has to be in that free attacking role, as he lacks the tactical discipline to fill another role in the side, often wandering and leading to a lack of balance. So I think perhaps Rooney will fill that lone attacking role for the good of the team if not for himself. In his absence however, who Roy picks to lead the line is a big call, could it finally be time for Grant Holt to get the call? I’m still doubtful. Were it Capello’s last hurrah as England boss at the Euro’s he might have been tempted to take a punt on the in form Holt, but given this is the start of a new era under Roy I think the new boss has actually harmed Holt’s chances.

Roy’s to do list

So here’s what’s on the cards for Roy:

  • Mug off West Brom’s last two games.
  • Pick a captain, big call.
  • Decide on a tactical set up, sitting deep in a 4-2-3-1 like Chelsea and looking to hit teams on the break seems likely although Roy usually favours a 4-4-2.
  • Pick a squad, big choices at centre-back and what to do with Gerrard, Rooney and perhaps even Lampard. Experience? Youth? Or a bit of both?
  • Take a stance on John Terry
  • Get Ben Foster out of international retirement to sit on the bench.
  • Consider Paul Scholes
  • Beg Paul Scholes
  • Defend your selection of Danny Murphy and Bobby Zamora
  • Give Glenn Johnson the bad news
  • Fall out with the media
  • Suffer the usual humiliation at a major tournament with England
  • Consider position under enormous pressure from the press
  • Rebuild and lead us to glory in 2014

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