England squad verdict: How City players fared
It was thought that an indifferent season at club level, where he lost his place to England aspirant Adam Johnson would cost Shaun his World Cup chance – even with Beckham and Lennon were injured.
The Tottenham flier returned just in time, but Walcott’s indifferent form culminated in a shocking 45 minutes against Mexico. It was like watching Shaun at his worst – pace used to run into defenders rather than round them, and never finding a teammate with a cross.
On came Shaun to continue a run of decent cameo performances as an England sub where, crucially, he was willing to do whatever job the manager assigned him. This appears to have won him a place as back-up to Lennon and impact sub.
If Beckham had been fit, or Walcott showed a degree of form, then Shaun would have missed out. He deserves his luck after missing out in 2006.
To make the final squad despite such limited international experience is all credit to Joe. No-one would normally suggest the number one slot at a World Cup for a keeper who has yet to make a competitive appearance in the national side. Such was Joe’s form for Birmingham, and his confidence in the friendlies against Mexico and Brazil that a case can be made.
However, with David James making a timely return to form, and Rob Green looking steady during the qualifiers, the odds will be against Joe. Italian coaches generally value experience and Fabio Capello doesn’t come across as a risk taker.
It makes perfect sense for Joe to be given the experience of attending a World Cup, even if it’s ultimately just preparation for future tournaments where he will be the number one.
It’s one of the peculiarities of football where being injured can improve your value. Never more so than with our Gareth as the ever injured Hargreaves, woeful form of Carrick and Milner’s inexperience as a defensive midfielder made Barry indispensable.
Capello waited, and was rewarded with sufficiently positive medical reports. After spending a season watching Nigel de Jong do the real shielding work at Eastlands, City fans may wonder whether Gareth is quite the defensive midfielder the nation thinks.
On the plus side, Gareth’s cultured left foot is a valuable asset in the England side, and the less frenetic pace of international football does suit his game.
The so called wildcard. Do experienced Italian managers do wildcards? We should have known the answer.
When Beckham, Lennon and Joe Cole were all injured, Adam came into the manager’s reckoning. The return of Lennon and a decent showing from the experienced Joe Cole against Japan probably did for Adam’s chances, regardless of how good he looked in training.
It was still disappointing to see him overlooked. A winger with more ability to beat an opponent and who retains possession better than Walcott, Wright-Phillips or Lennon appears suited to the international arena.
Adam’s certainly a better right-winger than Wright-Phillips is a left-winger. However the left flank became less of an issue with the return of Joe Cole, the overlapping Ashley Cole, and Barry who frees up Gerrard.
If he maintains his City form, then we can expect to see Adam in an England shirt before long. In the meantime, he could do worse than spend his Summer with Stephen Ireland’s fitness coach and improve his stamina levels to last a full ninety minutes.
- How do you think City’s player’s will fare?