Opinion: England’s world cup failures set to continue with a questionable squad announced for Russia 2018

England Russia 2018 23-man world cup squad
Image credit: @england
All eyes were on England manager, Gareth Southgate as he breezed in for a press conference where he was billed to announce the men he has trusted with the mission to bring glory to the nation at this summer’s world cup in Russia, form, experience and pedigree are the key ingredients it needed to expect a call and not many expected any form of surprise, but the Three Lions manager left many bewildered with at least three of his choices.

England, who last made any meaningful impression at the world cup in 1990, since winning it in 1966 are set for yet another underwhelming showing with a team that can’t by any means rival the quality of contenders like Germany, who could afford to drop Wagner, Max Meyer, Mario Goetze and Andre Schurlle and still have an enviable squad and Brazil, who dropped Alex Sandro, the bride of the transfer window and will still deliver. The choice of Gareth Southgate as the successor to the controversial Sam Allardyce shocked many in the football fraternity and that explains why they will endure another frustration at the coming Mundial.

Goal Keepers

No surprises in goal, Joe Hart lost his place long ago and shouldn’t need a press conference to know he won’t be on the plane to Russia, the former number one wobbled and fumbled in and out of the sticks for West Ham United and contributed to the loads of goals the Hammers shipped in the just-concluded season of the world famous English premiership with loads of unforgivable howlers.

Jack Butland may have been relegated with Stoke City, but he, alongside Xerdan Shaqiri stood as the only lights in a terrible team, he faced and saved the most shots and sure deserves a chance; Nick Pope earned his call, he wasn’t even the first choice at Burnley, but Tom Heaton got injured on a long-term and he stepped in brilliantly, constantly shutting out teams with breathtaking saves, would have been a jail-able offence had he been omitted.

Step forward Jordan Pickford, the only scrap in the defunct Sunderland squad, on top form at Everton since joining, knows how to organize his defence, vocal and dives intuitively, barring any last minute occurrences, Pickford should get the nod in goal ahead of the trio.


Gary Cahill in England Russia 2018 World Cup squad

In defence, where Southgate’s problem starts to brew, Gary Cahill, who for most part of the just concluded English premiership season was shut out of the starting eleven at Chelsea by 19year old Adrea Christensen, the teenage Danish defender was trusted with high profile games including the visit of Barcelona to Stamford Bridge with Cahill watching on from the bench, whatever the criteria of Southgate was when picking his squad, quality and merit wasn’t involved; Ashley Young, Phil Jones, Kyle Walker, Danny Rose, Harry Maguire, John Stones, Kieran Trippier and teenage sensation, Trent Alexander-Arnold completes the names on the list of defenders Southgate picked.

Three right backs and four centre-halves, a certain James Tarkowski, who was nominated for premier league player of the season for his fine showing with Burnley was overlooked, Jamaal Lascelles, Newcastle skipper who stood like an efficient rock all season long didn’t make the cut, in a seventy-game season for Manchester City, John Stones only played twenty-nine. While it can be argued successfully that Ryan Sessegnon isn’t ripe yet for the Mundial, one must still point at Trent Arnold’s pick to question the Fulham wonderkid’s omission.

Talking experience, Chris Smalling missed out, he’s played more games for Manchester United this season than anyone else, he’s out and Jones is in, again you ask, isn’t Ryan Bertrand a better pick than Rose?


Midfield, where the bulk of Southgate’s failures lie, the England manager named Dele Alli, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Eric Dier, Jordan Henderson, Raheem Sterling, Fabian Delph and Jesse Lingard, shutting out Arsenal midfield ace, Jack Wilshere, direct back up to Henderson, Jonjo Shelvey, Jake Livermore and Bournemouth’s Lewis Cook. James Milner may have announced retirement, but he should have been convinced to return, an offer the former Manchester City man wouldn’t refuse. Looking at this midfield pick, in a 4-3-3 set up, Eric Dier is expected to be flanked by Henderson and Dele Alli, Lingard and Sterling sandwiching whoever is chosen to lead the line, besides Henderson, where would that overhead pass come from? Or how else does a lone striker thing work again? With two sitting anchors, Henderson and Dier, the rest of the trio are expected to roam, if anything happens to the duo, who comes on to fill the role? Ruben Loftus Cheek is a welcome development but to think Newcastle won more games to stay up when he was out injured explains why he won’t be missed if he’s not there. This midfield would be the major undoing of the Three Lions, any fleet-footed opposition would nullify their strength, and it would take a very bad team to see this weak bunch shine.


Up front, Danny Welbeck has no business in the squad, the trio of Jamie Vardy, who happens to be the form man of the lots, Harry Kane and Marcus Rashford would need to drop to the midfield in most of their games with the selections behind them, veteran striker, Jermain Defoe, in all honesty, should have been considered ahead of Welbeck who’s finishing is as pathetic as an athlete’s last-place finish in a 100m dash.


England fans would save lots of money on hotel bills as their team won’t make it past the group stage in the FIFA 2018 World cup in Russia, just like they failed in 2014 when Costa Rica, Italy and Uruguay dumped them earlier than envisaged in Rio.

This squad makes it feel like Southgate just missed that penalty again, when a Panama attacker nutmegs Cahill and lobs past whoever is in goal, England would be home on the next flight. This England squad has no pleasant surprise in store for anyone. Goodbye England.

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