England Need Players Who'll Play.
By Oliver Wilson
Robin van Persie’s £24 million move to Manchester United is great news for Sir Alex Ferguson and his side’s title chances but not everyone at United will be pleased.
Danny Welbeck had an excellent first half of last season and, combined with a solid trip to the European Championships, the Red Devils forward looked ready to carry his form and confidence into the new season.
Van Persie’s arrival at Old Trafford, though, will surely put the England striker down to third or fourth choice forward on Ferguson’s team sheet, meaning that Welbeck’s hopes of regular first team football are in serious jeopardy.
A lack of domestic football could have a knock on effect on his future in Roy Hodgson’s England setup and on the England team’s future success.
The National team boss has already said that a player’s chance of cementing themselves in his squad would be reduced if they aren’t getting regular first team club football, and although the former Baggies boss will not totally rule them out of his plans, a guaranteed starting role for Welbeck and others will come with consistent club football only.
Hodgson said: “ It has to be concerning for the players themselves because they will realise their chances of playing for England increase when they are
playing more regularly for their clubs.
“If those players were not getting in their teams it would concern me but I have to have the courage to see beyond that and pick a player who is not getting in his team, and work on the basis that if he is fully fit and raring to go with a 10-day period next time [for the World Cup qualifiers against Moldova and Ukraine], we might be able to knock that player into shape.
“A guy who is not playing regularly, his chances do diminish but I don’t think we need a rule where therefore he has no chance of being picked.
“I have to take every case on merit.”
The likes of Welback and Daniel Sturridge should take note of Hodgson’s warning and also think about how regular first team football will affect their play on the pitch should they remain in the England setup.
Andy Carroll on Wednesday night against Italy looked off the pace and mentally out of the game. You could tell the forward had had very little game time in the last few months and was a player on the fringe of his club sides starting XI.
For England to be a better side the players need to be turned on mentally, and that will only happen if they’re playing week in week out for their club sides.
The wages at Premier League's top six clubs may be a big lure to England’s young stars but as soon as Europe’s elite players come in and replace them, these players should realise that for the good of their own careers, and England’s future, they need to go in search of first team football.
Peter Crouch did just that, and arguably should have gone to the European Championships this summer ahead of Carroll. Crouch still looks like a international player and has the edge back to his game after a solid season at Stoke.
Jack Rodwell, Manchester City big buy of the summer so far, may have walked into a nightmare situation having taken a contract at a Etihad just – if rumours are to be believed - as they bring in another of the worlds established best in Daniele De Rossi.
De Rossi will obviously be ahead of Rodwell on the team sheet as an older, more experienced and better quality midfielder, and Rodwell’s ‘dream move’ could see him sat on the bench for the next 12-months.
Will this improve his skill set? Unlikely.
Will it get him used to taking on the worlds best in competitive football? Not unless City’s training sessions are ultra competitive.
Carroll, Welbeck and Sturridge should know better having learnt how important regular game time is at club level during their time with Newcastle, Sunderland Bolton respectively.
All three made their names at these clubs and honed their skills in their starting XI’s for at least six-months. A return to clubs of this quality would ensure playing time, even if it meant a cut in wages, but could also see drastic improvements in on field decision-making, positional skill and composure under pressure.
This sort of attitude is of course a total fantasy and would mean a total reversal of how players appear to view the modern game. It would change the face of the game and give the middle ground clubs a chance to make up ground on the top six. Basically it would be great for the League and for the fans, but not for England's top earning clubs.
For now Hodgson and England will be reduced to playing a side where a number of its starters could be benchwarmers at club level and thus not as switched on as the opponents they face. Players should want to play for both club and country, not pick up a check for sitting down. That's why we have jod seekers allowance.