England Football Team: P.Neville was never a 59-cap player
Tareq Quiroz looks back at the England careers of Stan Collymore and Matt Le Tissier as examples of what might have been and wonders why exactly it was that Phil Neville has represented his country on 59 occasions and counting...
There are twists and turns in every season. That is inevitable in a competitive season that lasts all of nine months. As a punter it is key to try and judge just when they are going to happen. Anyone backing Man Utd to win the Premier League at [1.07] just a few weeks ago will be sweating heavily on that bet as they are now out to [1.4]. The question now is will this turn around and if so when?
The upcoming International break is not usually a welcome addition to the schedule at this stage of the season as all teams fighting for something fear a top player returning injured whilst representing his country. Many of the top clubs in particular have virtually their entire first eleven away on International duty. Clearly most of these players deserved to have worn the Three Lions but there is also a definite littering of players who are amassing caps by association. You have to be a decent player to get a call-up but so many average players have racked up lots of England caps in recent years it's embarrassing.
The most obvious players who have fallen into the caps-by- association category in recent years are from Man Utd. I would not argue that Gary Neville is an excellent player in terms of what he does but his brother Phil is another matter. He has somehow got himself an amazing 59 caps , a feat that can hardly be achieved overnight. His team mate Nicky Butt is another who has ridden on the success of his team and despite never being better than average he has also got a ridiculous 39 caps. These pair shouldn't have ten between them and are damning indictment of the trend to reward players just because they play for the most successful clubs.
Through the years we have plenty of players who will argue that they didn't get the recognition they deserved. We will all have our favourites and I am sure arguments have raged on about the credentials of many of these players. For me the biggest example of recent years is Matt Le Tissier. How did someone that talented only earn eight England caps?
A truly remarkable statistic from a player who scored 162 goals for his club side - hardly a team that carved out numerous chances every match. This is clearly where the problem lay, had Le Tissier played for a more high profile club than Southampton then he would surely have had many more caps. Both Terry Venables and Glenn Hoddle constantly overlooked him and only those two alone will know why they rejected one of the most talented players this country has ever seen.
As the current England team go into this week's double header of games they will be desperate for their goal shy strikers to fire. They have an easy warm-up game on Saturday that should give the team confidence if they get the expected comfortable win. They are currently trading at [1.3] for that game in the Match Odds market and should have no problems with the lackluster Slovakians.
Many people have argued how on earth Emile Heskey still gets called-up after having only scored five goals in fifty one England appearances. A difficult argument to counter. Many strikers down the years will look at that stat and wonder how they didn't get the nod. One that springs immediately to my mind is Stan Collymore.
For four years he was banging the goals in for Forest and Liverpool with a superb strike-rate and yet he only got a miserable three caps. Collymore had such fantastic potential as he was six foot three, had good speed and could score goals from twenty five yards out with either foot. He could have been a great but at the crucial time in his career he wasn't given the opportunity he deserved at international level.
This current England squad has plenty of players with potential and there are many more that are eagerly waiting on the sidelines. There is some incredibly exciting talent that will surely be the future and with any luck an exciting and successful one. Theo Walcott has just six caps but he could be an England great. Should he stay clear of injuries I firmly believe he could be the player England look to to lead them to tournament success that has now deserted England for 43 years.
Villa stars Agbonlahor and Ashley Young also have great potential and whilst Gabby may not quite make it, surely Young will get many more than his current tally of four caps. He is a rare talent and quite how anyone expects Stewart Downing to terrorise international defences is beyond me. Ditch the relegation- threatened Boro man and give Young a run in the team would be my advice to Mr. Capello.
Saturday may be a warm-up but next Wednesday is the real thing and Capello will need his team firing on all cylinders to defeat Ukraine in the World Cup qualifier at Wembley. Current predictions are for England to trade around the [1.6] mark for this game. With Capello at the helm it seems this England team is one to be reckoned with, so oppose them at your peril.
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