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Archive for the ‘2014 FIFA World Cup’ Category

Captain Rooney, Goldenballs on bench and Rio at the back spells a winning formula for Wenger’s United England

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BY JOHN GUBBA

Let’s be honest. It is hard to tackle Gary Lineker’s defeatist attitude when he declares: “England do not have an earthly of winning the World Cup.”

So how about thinking outside the box and doing something radical. Cue the professor of football, Frenchman Arsene Wenger, who champions the idea of building the national team around the country’s most successful team. Add the influence of England’s most loyal servant David Beckham, the leadership and vision of Wayne Rooney, the panache and style of the world’s best footballing defender Rio Ferdinand and the new crop of kids from Old Trafford.

The professor earned the respect of United fans and players when he saw red at Old Trafford

Respect – Professor won hearts of United fans when he saw red at OT

In other words let’s build the next England team around Manchester United – past and present – and put Wenger in charge to see if he can turn his vision into reality with the help of players who still know how to win trophies. No.2 Gary Neville will make sure the Frenchman does not neglect his defence – and Roy Hodgson can be the player liaison officer. During matches he can sit with the suits. Just don’t ask him to make any team talks because his Plan B is the same as his Plan A

Much that I admire Steven Gerrard, his leadership in Montenegro was undermined by a performance littered with sloppy mistakes. Like Frank Lampard his best days are behind him. But these golden oldies have an important supporting role to play on the bench along with Mr Golden Balls himself David Beckham.

Becks is back in the frontline with Champions League quarter-finalists Paris St-Germain. He’s the only English player still in the competition. And Carlo Ancelotti has made it clear he still thinks Beckham can deliver at the highest level by offering him another season’s contract that will take him up to the FIFA World Cup in Brazil.

Let’s remind Stuart Pearce what an idiot he was by leaving the former Manchester United star out of his Team GB squad for London 2012 and make him Wenger’s assistant player-manager. We all know that Wenger loves Becks and he struck up a friendship with the Essex boy when he invited him to train with Arsenal.

Becks is an admirer of England’s great Arsenal protege Jack Wilshere having watched him at close quarters in training. He knows the boy will be magical supporting frontmen Rooney and Danny Welbeck, in a midfield surrounded by Ashley Young, Tom Cleverly and Michael Carrick, the most consistent performer at Old Trafford this season.

Everyone can see that Chris Smalling and Phil Jones are the future rocks at the back for England and even Roy Hodgson admits he got it wrong backing John Terry instead of Ferdinand. So how about Ferdinand and Smalling as centre backs with Jones pushing forward from the rightback berth. That leaves a space for Ashley Cole on the left. I am sure he can kiss and make up with his old pal Rio. Even the Chelsea man must have seen the tongue-in-cheek humour of that choc ice twitter jibe.

The goalkeeper has to be Joe Hart- an advocate of a United Manchester and good friends with Ferdinand and other players at Old Trafford – so there is no reason he will not fit into a United England. Former Reds keeper Ben Foster, meanwhile, is an outstanding deputy for the No.1 shirt.

So who will the captain be? I thought that was obvious. Rooney will revel in the role. Judging by the way he is starting to find his form again for England and the confidence boost he will receive from such a vote of confidence will bring out the best of a player yet to fulfil his true potential on the world stage.

It may be April Fool’s Day, but am I really joking here? Think about this formation and you tell me . . .

ENGLAND (4:1:3:1:1) – Hart; Jones, Smalling, Ferdinand, A.Cole; Carrick; Cleverly, Wilshere, Young; Rooney; Welbeck. Subs: Foster, Baines, Cahill, Beckham, Lampard, Gerrard, Defoe. Manager: Wenger. Assistant: Neville

ROAD TO BRAZIL BEGINS WITH KIND DRAW FOR ENGLAND – BUT WILL HARRY REDKNAPP BE THE NEW MAN IN THE HOT SEAT?

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England avoid France in 2014 FIFA World Cup qualification

England avoid France in World Cup draw

BY JOHN GUBBA

England often fare better in qualification than they do when they reach major tournaments, and whoever succeds Fabio Capello was given a golden ticket for Brazil with a lucky escape in the draw for the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

Second last to be drawn out of the pot, England narrowly avoided the fate of being placed in a five-team group with France, a fate which instead fell to World Cup holders and current European champions Spain when their ball was last to be pulled out.

It meant England were paired with Montenegro, Ukraine, Poland, Moldova and San Marino, leaving Spain with the trickier task of negotiating a group comprising France, Belarus, Georgia and Finland.

Even so, nothing is ever straight-forward with England, who must complete the process of choosing their next manager before qualification begins.

As Fabio Capello – who steps down as England manager after Euro 2012 – warned, shortly after the draw was made in Rio de Janeiro : “It is not an easy draw. You have to be really, really focused and play every game like a final – but that will be another manager’s job.”

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The stand-out favourite to get the job with most bookmakers is Harry Redknapp, who is clearly the popular choice among fans – not least because he is English. Redknapp has fared magnificently since he took charge at Tottenham, who were the dazzling surprise package in last season’s Champions League. But you can never take anything for certain with the FA, who have a previous history of overlooking the best man for the England ever since they stubbornly refused to give the legendary Brian Clough the top job.

My bet is that the FA will keep their options open until the last minute and I would not be surprised if Jose Mourinho is high on their list. It is easy to make a strong case for the former Chelsea boss who has broadened his experience and reputation at Inter Milan and Real Madrid since leaving Stamford Bridge. But, in my book, the national manager must be English.

England’s claim to be a force in world football is nothing more than a fraudulent whim if we can’t find a manager to lead our country, and there is no shortage of candidates who could do the job just as well as Capello has done at the staggering cost of £6 million a year.  Roy Hodgson is another top boss who has the experience and the stature, despite his failure at Liverpool. But Redknapp is surely the outstanding English manager of the current generation.