England’s Fantastic Four

There are contrasting views on England’s National Team nowadays, apparently the hay-day is past with, as Rio Ferdinand, John Terry, Frank Lampard and Scott Parker amongst others get no younger. However, aren’t those who take this view overlooking such unprecedented young, prodigious talent on the doorstep of England’s domestic clubs?

The ascent of many players including Phil Jones and Chris Smalling – who both appeared to be ridiculous purchases initially have risen to give Rio Ferdinand a run for his money in the Manchester United first team – has been unstoppable, both, Jones – a £16.5 million buy from Blackburn – and Smalling – a £10 million purchase from Fulham – have appeared for England’s first team on their impressive climb to the top of Britain’s domestic scene.

When the figures were found out publicly through the media, there were question marks that hovered above the players, being so young with such a hefty price tag and the failure of Sir Alex’s previous young buy, Bebe. Particularly with Jones, as Blackburn’s owners kept raising the sum until a price was agreed, but Sir Alex Ferguson’s eye for a player was proved right once again and both have progressed to become two of the best young players in the Premier League. Keeping some of the Premier Leagues finest attackers quiet, along with Europe’s Elite on their way.

These two, along with others including; Danny Welbeck, Daniel Sturridge, Jack Wilshere, Tom Cleverley – all of whom had been on loan the previous season have risen to become regular starters with impressive performances that, in some cases, have ended up in foreign superstars like Fernando Torres having to make do with the bench.

Another young star is Micah Richards, the bold, physically imposing Manchester City right back is having an impressive season so far and Fabio Capello only knows why he has not been picked for the recent Euro Qualifiers and friendlies. Holding a starting position in a City side packed to the rafters with pricey talent whilst pumping out consistently high level performances is no mean feat.

Capello admitted he picks players based on their form, and so, along with Smalling – considered mainly a right-back, Jones – a flexible defender, who plays at right back for United, and Richards, Kyle Walker of Tottenham has also had a season to remember in which he has staked a great claim to be considered for England’s 23 man squad for the Euro 2012.

There has not been such a great wealth of choice for a position in England for quite a sustained period of time than now, with the considerable amount of young talent on offer for the right back position. It is reminiscent of Spain’s Goalkeeping choice; Iker Casillas, Victor Valdes and Pepe Reina – if only a formation allowed three Goalkeepers! Any of those three ‘keepers could waltz into any national team, but the fact that Casillas is the “Golden Man” of Spanish football with a record equalling 125 Caps at the age of 30 leaves Valdes and Reina in the shade.

The difficult thing for Capello is, that, all four of these players offer the same options. They all enjoy to push forward on the overlap to offer support and attack. Micah Richards proved his abilities in the recent 3-1 win over Newcastle, many a time he was in front of James Milner at Right Midfield and managed to find himself a goal in the midst. Walker has also been impressive in this style of play and has been influential in Tottenham’s climb up the league to third through both solid attacking and defending roles.

Fabio Capello should realise that with these four assets at his disposal he should utilise them to give an ultimate farewell.

This is the style of right back England have been needing for a while now, and for three right backs and one who can play in that position easily, to come along at the same time is typical luck for a nation who seem to find the World stage, a stumbling block, like at the 2010 World Cup.

Yet, perhaps this is what they need, a group of youths, experienced at the highest domestic level. It is a risk, that is granted, but perhaps they will carry a bit of “No fear” mentality that has been lost in recent years. The willingness to attack and be more free in their play like the Germans, with their wealth of youths like Mats Hummels, Mario Gotze, Marco Reus – the list could go on. The risk could pay off, as it has for Germany!

With Jones, Smalling, Richards and Walker, the pace and attacking flare is guaranteed. As the motto goes; “The best form of defence is attack.” England need to lose the reservations they may have and Capello should realise that with these four assets at his disposal he should utilise them to give an ultimate farewell.

But can they all play together?

The relief for Capello is that most of the foursome are flexible, Smalling is a capable Centre-back, just as Phil Jones is a capable Defensive Midfielder – shown in his “brilliant” performance in the 1-0 friendly win over Spain. That leaves, presumably, Richards and Walker to fight it out for the Right back spot.

It is important to remember to get the balance right in the defensive department. An experienced head above young shoulders can do no wrong. Personally, there is a back six (in the 4-2-3-1) that I would like to see played by England that would include three of the four in improvised positions. Richards(RB), Smalling (CB), Terry (CB), Gibbs (LB) then in front of the back four; Jones (DM) and Parker (DM).

It is early doors though; injuries may occur, form may alternate, dip and peak but Capello can rest at ease with deep satisfaction in the knowledge that their is a fresh line of talent for his successor to choose from, but also for him to judge and use to his advantage as he takes his final bow for England in the dugout.

Author Details

Kieran Buxton

FC Barcelona & Arsenal fan.

One thought on “England’s Fantastic Four

  1. Jones was completely lost at RB against Montenegro, for my money. No positional awareness in that role.

    The result being the proof of the pudding. Plus the fact that the equalizing goal came from his part of the pitch, as he stood flat-footed.

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