x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Roy Hodgson's England Euro 2012 squad not picked on form

It is not a party picked on the basis of excelling for England. And it is not a particularly futuristic selection.

Roy Hodgson explains a few selections of his at the news conference to announce his Euro 2012 squad.
Roy Hodgson explains a few selections of his at the news conference to announce his Euro 2012 squad.

It is customary to preview any major tournament by declaring that England expects.

It may still, but the expectation has been diminished before a ball has been kicked. If some of the damning verdicts on Roy Hodgson's appointment were excessive, his Euro 2012 squad has an underwhelming feel and leaves him open to rather fairer criticism.

This is not a group selected on form. How could it be when Stewart Downing, the £20 million (Dh117m) winger who ended a dismal season with no league goals and no assists for Liverpool, was chosen?

Or, when one of the division's two outstanding right-backs, Kyle Walker, was ruled out, the other, Micah Richards, was omitted? Or when Rio Ferdinand, who has been terrific in the second half of the season, was also ignored?

It is not a party picked on the basis of excelling for England. If it was, then Phil Jagielka's defiant display against Spain, the finest by any central defender for the national team in years, would have brought not just a place on the standby list.

Daniel Sturridge, named England's man of the match in the defeat to Holland, perhaps should have made the cut, too.

And it is not a particularly futuristic selection. With the exception of Ferdinand, the core of the inaccurately-named "golden generation" remain. The four main central midfielders are all in their 30s and as it would be unrealistic to expect dynamism from them, retention of possession - a traditional English weakness - becomes more important. So the absence of Michael Carrick, who has enjoyed arguably the best of his six seasons at Manchester United, is all the stranger.

It is frankly inexplicable that Jordan Henderson, Liverpool's other expensive underachiever, is on the standby list ahead of United's metronomic passer.

The boldest pick is that of Arsenal's 18-year-old midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain even if, after only six Premier League starts, there are unwanted echoes of the choice of Theo Walcott for the 2006 World Cup.

But, like Danny Welbeck and Phil Jones, the teenager has the potential to become an automatic choice for major tournaments over the next decade. So, if he can realise his potential, has Andy Carroll, whose end-of-season rally made him the preferred target man.

Without the suspended Wayne Rooney for the first two games, the composition of the attack is a concern and the selection of the squad complicated. By naming nine midfielders and only four forwards, Rooney included, it suggests a lone striker will be fielded for the games against France and Sweden, supported, perhaps, by Steven Gerrard.

While the Liverpudlian was an obvious and uncontroversial choice as captain, perhaps the most contentious issue involved two of his predecessors.

But there is a sour taste that John Terry in and Ferdinand out, given the Chelsea captain faces criminal charges for allegedly racially abusing the United defender's brother, Anton, even though Hodgson said both moves were purely footballing decisions.

Terry, however, has hardly flourished on the field of late. But having inadvertently finished off the last England manager - Fabio Capello resigned after the FA removed the captaincy from Terry - he seems likely to start for his successor.

But, as Hodgson said, in some respects it is Capello's squad. He has been parachuted into the job, having to pick a squad without as much as a training session, let alone a match.

Understandably then it becomes a process of trial and error, but the initial impression is that too many mistakes have been made in choosing this squad.

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