Two great things have happened in the past few hours. Firstly, Capello has been backed as the England manager for the foreseeable future, and secondly, he has stated his desire to blood newer players into the England first team to replace the underperforming ones.
“I can assure the fans I am now fully focused on our European qualifying fixtures, starting with the friendly against Hungary in August,” he stated.
“We will look to introduce new players to give the team new energy and I will use all my experience to take England forward.
“I am extremely proud to be the England manager, it means so much to me and I am determined to succeed.”
This is great news on a few different levels. Firstly, I believe that Capello is a great manager, despite the goings-on of the World Cup, which should be blamed far more on the lack of drive and ambition of the players that took part. Simply look at his club level record and you can see why he was hired. Over the next few years his English will get better, and his connection with the English squad will improve, and according to his statement will look to get rid of the England players that consistently perform poorly (finally). Whether this is to be believed entirely is up for debate, as I am pretty sure he said this when he was hired, but regardless, why is this such good news for Tottenham?
Well, primarily, because it means the man who helped us to 4th place, and into the Champions League for the first time in our history – and most probably the prime candidate for the England job – will stay with us. Harry Redknapp had previously said that Tottenham will be his last club, yet recently stated his desire to lead England. Thankfully, someone took away this dangling carrot from him before he got too vocal and silly. Secondly, it may mean the chance for some of our emerging talents to finally prove their worth for England.
Players such as Michael Dawson and Tom Huddlestone, who have been called up to the squad on numerous occasions, yet never allowed a game, may be given the chance against a weak qualification group to prove themselves on the international stage. Dawson has been at the heart of a defence that has had the best home defensive record for the last two seasons in the Premiership, and it seems absurd that he has not been called up sooner (especially after watching the abysmal Matthew Upson play against Germany). Huddlestone too is a player who has not been given a chance, despite showing good form. He has been overshadowed by bigger named such as Gerrard, Barry and Lampard and will perhaps not see immediate first team action, he looks like a decent successor to Barry at least, who again, had a dreadful World Cup.
So what of the other English players that we possess? The younger players such as Danny Rose and John Bostock will not be in the mind of Capello for a good many years yet, as they have yet to fully develop their game to the levels needed, nor have other youth prospects. The youngest of our potential players, if indeed he is even a Tottenham player as of next season, is Jamie O’Hara. He has been the best player by far for a very poor Portsmouth side this season, and if he is given the chance of another loan spell, or even sold to another club, could stand an outside chance of being picked, yet again, will be overshadowed by the immense amount of choice England have in the centre.
Then we come to the English players that did take part in the World Cup. Messrs Crouch, Lennon and Defoe. Up first, Peter Crouch, who did not get to see much action in South Africa. His 10 minute showing was not enough to declare him a bad player, nor a good one, and so it is unfair to judge him on this. What is fair to judge him on is his phenomenal scoring record for the national side though, with 21 goals in 40 games, better than Wayne Rooney, the man Capello has been trying to build his team around, even more so when you consider how many of these goals came in starts and the figure is almost 1 in 1. What used to be true of Crouch was that he only scored against weaker national sides, such as Jamaica, Andorra, Macedonia and Trinidad and Tobego. Yet since his goal against Croatia in 2007, he has also managed to score against the stronger oppositions of Ukraine, Mexico, and scored two against a strong Egyptian side. So for now, let us assume that Peter Crouch is safe.
Aaron Lennon and Jermain Defoe did get the chance to shine in the World Cuo though, so their place may perhaps be moreso under threat, especially with the talent that is creeping up behind them. To their credit, they did not enter the World Cup in the greatest of form, with both coming back from injury recently (Lennon came back only weeks ago), and Jermain Defoe not having found his scoring legs in the 8 games he played since returning. Their club form has been very good this season, with Defoe netting 18 goals and 5 assists in 34 games, and Lennon scoring 5 and setting up a further 10 from only 22 games, yet is that enough to get them into the England squad easily? They may have been picked based on previous England experience, as other English players had performed as well if not better than them. Milner made 12 assists last season, and had a good World Cup, which perhaps has already pushed Lennon back to second-tier, and Ashley Young (who was not picked for the squad), made the same number of assists and grabbed the same number of goals as Lennon, though from more games. Adam Johnson too is another winger who played well, and is one for the future, with 9 assists made from only 15 games, better than Lennon’s form (yet he was also not picked, perhaps for being too young).
Jermain Defoe is too being pushed to up his game against competition from the rest of the English players. Darren Bent tucked away 24 goals in the 09/10 season, and if that form continues will no doubt be given more of a chance for England, and the pace of Gabriel Agbonlahor, coupled with his decent return of 13 goals, means that Defoe’s position is far from safe.
We look forward to what these qualifiers will bring, both from England and from the Tottenham players no doubt likely to feature.