Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard should no longer be considered as automatic choices for England’s midfield. While their performances for their clubs are usually first rate that has never been the case when they play for England.
Frank Lampard in particular has had trouble in replicating his performances for Chelsea with England. Indeed, during last summer’s world cup they were both disappointing and with Owen Hargreaves arriving on the scene he should be given one of the central midfield positions and let Lampard and Gerrard fight it out for the other.
Great players play great when it really matters.
Neither Lampard nor Gerrard had good world cups but as we all know Owen Hargreaves was outstanding in the big matches and was the only England player to convert a penalty in the shoot-out with Portugal. He’s got what it takes to perform top class in important games as he showed at nineteen years old when he starred for Bayern Munich in the Champions league final against Valencia (2001).
McClaren, who I don’t expect to be around too long as England manager (he’s mediocre at best and was a typically political choice by the FA) must pick the players that produce for England.
In goal Paul Robinson has shown some weakness this season (and during the world cup) and Ben Foster – currently on loan at Watford from Manchetsr United – is probably our best in-form keeper right now and it would be good to see him get another chance in a game that matters.
Here’s a good formation that could represent England against Israel on March 24th (assuming 4-4-2):
Ben Foster (Watford, ManU)
Gary Neville (ManU), Jonathan Woodgate (Middlesbrough, Real Madrid), Rio Ferdinand (ManU), Ashley Cole (Chelsea)
Aaron Lennon (Spurs), Owen Hargreaves (Bayern Munich), Steven Gerrard (Liverpool), Kieron Dyer (Newcastle)
Jermain Defoe (Spurs), Darren Bent (Charlton)
This assumes John Terry and Peter Crouch are unavailable through injury or lack of match practice.
As always – it will be interesting to see the team McClaren actually does pick — for a must win game.