Today the build up for England’s Euro 2012 campaign really begins as Roy Hodgson announces his first squad. The climax of the Premier League season has dominated the headlines these last few days, but now we can really start to ramp up the interest in this major summer tournament. Roy Hodgson’s appointment got people talking and as he appointed Ray Lewington, Dave Watson and more shockingly Gary Neville to his staff, people’s interest in Euro 2012 has increased after a reasonably low-key billing. Backroom appointments are all well and good, but it is the playing squad that will lead England to tournament glory (stay positive) that we care about.
No one is quite sure of Hodgson’s squad selection, especially now Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville has joined the party, Neville will know doubt have a strong say in the selection process, he has watched and analysed a lot of Premier League football this season and is well placed to give his two pence on the selection process , I mean come on, the man is hardly backwards in going forwards – he probably picked it for Roy!
Some previous squads have been picked on player reputation rather than performance; others have been loosely based on player form/performance mixed in with reputation. As Hodgson has dropped hints the door will be open for old faces, the debate has started about who will make the cut. So I have decided to pick a squad of Englishmen based on their statistical performance in the Premier League – this will be called ‘Moneyball England’.
The top 23 English players based on performance statistics alone include 1 goalkeeper, 7 defenders, 11 midfielders and just 2 strikers. For the purpose of this selection process, I will select the top 3 performing goalkeepers, the top 8 performing defenders, the top 8 performing midfielders and the top 4 performing strikers based on their Premier League statistical performance this season and their specific position. I will also list those who would have made it but cannot due to injury or because they are unavailable.
So this is what the ‘Moneyball’ style England squad would like. The players included were based on overall performance in their all round game rather than specifically on something like amount of goals or assists, which is why players such as Grant Holt and Danny Graham have not made it.
The notable inclusions are John Ruddy and Steven Caulker – the rest of the squad have either played or been selected for England before. It is also interesting to see those who nearly made the squad, they are the next best in each position and labeled, as a ‘reserve’; Joey Barton and Chris Eagles are the surprises here.
The players that statistically would have been selected but miss out are Ben Foster, Kyle Walker and Rio Ferdinand. Foster remains retired from England for reasons unknown, but would have made the cut as England’s third best keeper. Kyle Walker would have walked in had he not been injured and Rio Ferdinand is a victim of circumstance. John Terry has performed statistically better than Rio Ferdinand this season, however Rio would have made the plane as the fourth best performing England centre-back if the racism issues were not still prevalent in the background (well done the FA…not), but doubts have also been raised over his fitness.
The England squad seems to be picked on a basis of opinion and player reputation and it looks as though opinion in the main is right and players worthy of a place will be taken. Despite their form this season you wouldn’t expect John Ruddy and Steven Caulker to make it, even though some may say they should. Question marks remain over whether players like Micah Richards, Michael Carrick, Adam Johnson, Aaron Lennon, Jermain Defoe and Daniel Sturridge will make the cut, but statistically Hodgson’s England can rely on their performance.
The system that Hodgson has in mind to play will define the squad selection, for me there is a problem upfront with Rooney suspended for the first two tournament games, so you could expect a big target man, like first reserve Andy Carroll to be drafted in. It should be a straight choice between Welbeck and Sturridge as England have good options with wide midfielders who can player higher as wide forwards if Hodgson decides to continue with a 4-3-3/4-5-1 formation.
The debate will rage until 1pm today when the talk stops and the facts come out. It will be interesting to see how many players that have made the ‘Moneyball’ England squad make it for real and the reasons (if given) that some of the others miss out. You have to feel sorry for players like John Ruddy who continually perform well, but continue to be overlooked – perhaps it is because they don’t play at a glamourous club, but you never know that could change under Hodgson (or do I mean Neville). Whatever happens the nation will get behind the England team as we all wonder how far they can go and hope we will not all be left disappointed again. Come on England!!!
Let us know who you would have selected in your England squad and who you are and aren’t happy with when the squad is announced. Football Rascal will be bringing you the best Euro 2012 coverage around via the blog, Twitter and Facebook as we continue to grow and to deliver to you fans the best news, gossip and opinion the football world has to offer – Do not miss out!