I’m sure Jonathan Stevenson is a good person – he probably enjoys a drink every second hour or so, and a smoke every 15 minutes. He’s probably likes some gambling on the side too, and has a fondness for the ladies. All in all, a decent chap.
As a journalist though, he’s a lazy ass-hat and tarnishing the reputation that BBC have worked so hard to build for themselves.
And similarly, I’m sure that Mark Lawrenson was a decent defender and is a good person, but as a football pundit, he’s an ass-hat as well.
Fearmongering and panic-spreading aside, are England REALLY any worse off than they were at the end of the last qualifier?
Let’s look at each injured player individually and see if there’s any real need for concern:
Wayne Rooney – He’s a class act but England have won (and lost) without him for the last two years and despite his quality he hasn’t been properly used in the England lineup, so you can’t expect him to suddenly change on the drop of a hat (or the whim of an asshat).
David Beckham – He’s a match-winner but one, there’s a chance of him being fit so why are we crying right now and two, with SWP now getting more games this season surely he is up to replacing him against Israel, at home? Worst-case scenario, Gerrard can play there 🙂
John Terry – Worrying because Campbell has been out for a long time and Carragher in his infinite wisdom has quit international football (PR stunt or not?), and Woody and King are always injured (surprise surprise). Possible replacements? Brown has partnered Rio admirably in central defense for United and he’s capable of doing that for England as well.
Michael Owen – He’s been out for two years, England have learned to live without him.
Gary Neville – McClaren should be fired if he doesn’t have replacements lined up for Neville – Micah Richards is fit, I think, and at a stretch there are other players who play at right-back too. And hasn’t Nev been ‘missing’ games for a while now?
Ledley King – Unfortunate but hardly a crisis.
Wayne Bridge – Oh damn, our backup left-back is crocked. What are we going to do?
Aaron Lennon – Again, unfortunate but there are other players who can play there.
Jonathan Woodgate – Anyone who was relying on Woody to be fit and therefore solve England’s injury-crisis is an ass.
Peter Crouch – Will be back for the tougher game against Russia, which is good.
Yes, England will miss all these players from the squad, but even combined, it is hardly cause for panic. Panic would be if Gerrard, Lampard, Rio, Robinson and Joe Cole were also injured, and Carrick and Hargreaves were suspended. Then that would be a genuine cause for worry, because David James and Sol Campbell would be coming back 🙂
Also, Ben Foster, England’s ‘#2’, is also injured, but no one remembered that.
asshat columnist John Stevenson asks whether McClaren will be forced to make the following decisions:
Does he beg Liverpool’s Jamie Carragher to come out of international retirement?
It’s a simple thing – Carragher is old enough to realise the situation, and if doesn’t want to represent his country when they need him because his ego disagrees, there’s no need for any begging.
Does he recall Portsmouth defender Sol Campbell?
Yes, he does. And put him on the bench, because just having Sol’s experience in the squad during training will do the squad’s nerves a lot of good but the younger players NEED to play ahead of Sol.
Does he gamble on the fitness of Terry/Beckham/Owen?
Terry – no, give him a rest. Owen – no, give him a rest. Beckham – yes, because he is the most likely of the 3 to get you goals.
Does he risk relatively untried strikers in the shape of West Ham’s Dean Ashton and Portsmouth’s David Nugent?
Defoe and Bent should be fit, so a Bent/Ashton combo would be an interesting and welcome option to see up front.
There you go, problems solved.
Potential starting XI for England:
Robinson, Richards, Brown, Ferdinand, A. Cole, SWP, Gerrard, Hargreaves, J. Cole, Ashton, Bent
I strongly doubt that McClaren will pick this team though – probably Lampard in midfield and a 5-man midfield with Bent up front.
It’s a good side, and with a good manager this side should beat Israel at Wembley. They should also beat Russia away, although that will be a bit difficult.
Still panicking, asshats?