Monday, 7 May 2012

The Hunger Games: England

When I lived in a land Down Under I was intrigued by an idea that the All Blacks used pre-Lions tour 2005: the probables versus possibles game.

Trials may be viewed as a thing of the past everywhere. In Kiwi rugby they are still used from time-to-time and I think they have their worth as preparation for an international tournament. If such a trial game is properly put together it can be a real contest and allows a coach to see different combinations.

It gives players a direct opportunity to shine against their rivals and impress their manager in a game that is more heated than a friendly. It widens the England squad out temporarily and shows where back-up can come from if needed at short notice. It gives younger players a chance to put their hand up and say ''I want it''. Those marginal calls towards the bottom of the 23 could be made on an evidential basis.
These factors would all normally be pertinent but, given the hand that Hodgson has been dealt, it might be enormously important. He has little preparation time, little time to see how players gel and link-up, no opportunity to try out his thinking and so forth. A probables versus possibles game would help a little.

Given the hand that Hodgson has been dealt (little preparation time, little time with the players, no chance to try things out) such a game might be useful.

So here's a suggested probables versus possibles 11 (and subs):

Probables Possibles
1. Hart
1. Carson
2. Richards
2. G. Johnson
3. Cole
3. R. Taylor
4. Lescott
4. Smalling
5. Cahill
5. Jagielka
6. Parker
6. Milner
7. Walcott
7. Oxlade-Chamberlain
8. Carrick
8. Cleverley
9. Welbeck
9. Sturridge
10. Gerrard
10. Carroll
11. Young
11. A. Johnson
Subs Subs
Bent (if fit)


Some of you may quibble with this. Some may say that x should be in the probables and y should be in the possibles. That is what the comment box is for after all.

There were a few individuals who narrowly miss out (Shawcross, Downing, Kelly, Bertrand, Sinclair, Moses, Graham, Crouch etc). A few more miss out for obvious reasons. Rooney is banned so there is little point in playing him in such a game. Terry is left out because I have a sneaking suspicion he won't go. If my suspicion is wrong bump each centre-back down a place.

Scholes and Wilshere miss out because - sadly - neither will play (both would have been probables). 
I was sorely tempted to put Joe Cole in but, on balance, have resisted that. My 18-year-old self will hate and despise me. 

This game will not happen due to boring reasons like fixture congestion. It won't happen but there are lots of reasons why it should occur as I outline above.

Given that the FA could even flog yet more tickets at their debt-laden, enormo-dome in North-West London I'm just amazed that they haven't already done it.



routeone said...

Great concept and good post! I've been writing one this evening myself on potential England squad. Interesting to see your picks though

dearieme said...

Well said: I can't remember the last Probs vs Poss I read about. Mind you, my experience at work has been that no sooner does someone come up with a bright idea than some naysayer explains that it can't be done for reasons connected with insurance.

P.S. I infer that you view the case for having splurged money on the new Wembley with the same baleful eye that I do.

Rob Marrs said...

I should add - I was remiss not to include Gary Hooper. I'd have him, narrowly, ahead of Defoe.


dearieme said...

Who Gary Hooper?

Anyway, no Terry, minor roles for Lampard and Ferdinand but a place for Gerrard. You, sir, are biased.

dearieme said...

Henderson????? I refer m'learned friend to the comment I made earlier.

Anonymous said...

And you dearieme are a United or Chelsea fan. And thus *totally* unbiased.

Anonymous said...

why why why welbeck ahead of sturridge?

dearieme said...

"And you dearieme are a United or Chelsea fan."

How dare you, Sir? Withdraw, withdraw!

I'm not really a fan of any side, though the last few weeks have seen me develop a temporary partiality for mighty Wigan.

dearieme said...

Goodness gracious me: have you seen this?

Rob Marrs said...

Not biased this time.

I'd start Terry but I think he won't go for a number of reasons. If it wasn't for external reasons he'd be a starter.

The probables are a 4-2-3-1. That system suits Gerrard better than Lampard. Maybe once we can let Gerrard shine given that, unlike Lamps, he usually pulls it out at tournaments. If we played another system, I'd pick Lampard.

Henderson is Liverpool's Carrick. He's a long way off that but long-term, as Hamann has pointed out, he will be a phenomenal player. He's been very under-rated this year - when he's played in CM he's done very well.