Euro 2012 - Your thoughts (The Bagman)
With Euro 2012 just around the corner, and Vital England always keen to gain membership participation, it is question time with you, the Vital England members, asked to give the answers.
Next up is The Bagman
, so without further ado here are the answers given...1) Are you looking forward to Euro 2012?
Yes. But then again I'd look forward to Basingstoke vs Dartford on a wet Wednesday evening in the Conference South - I just love the game of football at whatever level it is being played.
I'm the type of guy who will just as happily sit and watch a midtable scrap from Serie A as the FA Cup final.
Although the matches are often less exciting than the Premier League etc, international football is still the pinnacle of the sport and it usually does wonders for bringing the majority of opposing fans together (briefly at least).
2) Poland & Ukraine, good selections for the finals?
Not after watching the recent Panorama documentary on racism in the two countries (watch it on BBC iPlayer if you missed it).
I understand the need to move tournaments around and FIFA/UEFA's desire to spread the game to new audiences etc but it is doubtful whether either country, Ukraine especially, would have qualified if they were not hosts.
As we have seen with Qatar getting the 2022 World Cup a lot of the decision making is based on politics and finances as opposed to the good of the game.
3) Is Roy Hodgson the right man to lead us into battle this summer, and in the next few years - if not who did you want?
I'm not sure it matters a great deal to be honest. We just don't have enough quality players at the moment regardless of who is in charge.
The national team manager gets almost no time to work with the players so he can do little to improve them individually.
Tactically Hodgson is ok, although a little negative at times, but given the players we have that might not be a bad approach as success in the two recent friendlies have shown to a degree.
It can be argued he's not the greatest motivator or man manager and that Harry Redknapp should have got the job but just look at Kevin Keegan's England reign - being a popular personality doesn't necessarily work either.
Plus he was coming towards the end of his contract at West Brom and with all the money spent on the likes of Capello and Sven over the years it is perhaps correct that the FA decided to be more frugal this time and not waste millions of £ on Redknapp's compensation.
4) What about the final 23-man squad, happy?
Micah Richards is the one glaring omission for me. He's been the best right-back in the country this season and is such an impressive physical presence it is difficult to explain his absence especially given Kyle Walker is missing through injury.
I think Hodgson was correct to omit Rio Ferdinand. The media scrutiny and lack of harmony that taking both him and John Terry would have created could have been unbearable and without doubt detrimental to our chances.
Therefore you have to take the one who you think is the better player. Neither have been great this season but Terry just edges it for me. Of course without the off-field issues they both would have gone as they are still easily amongst the best 4 or 5 centre-backs in the country.
Elsewhere I might have been tempted to take either Aaron Lennon or Adam Johnson over Stewart Downing who has been a massive disappointment this season but I can understand the decision to go with the Liverpool man.
Johnson hasn't played much at City and Lennon has had injury problems as well as continuing to frustrate with his inconsistent delivery/shooting. In addition Downing is more natural at playing down both flanks so gives better versatility to the squad.
5) Who do you see as being the 'key man' for England?
Given Wayne Rooney's suspension and my Liverpool bias it has to be Steven Gerrard.
He's had a number of injury issues the past couple of seasons but as a result of the layoffs should be coming into the tournament in good shape.
With Frank Lampard out of the equation it seems certain he will even get to play through the middle and perhaps even off the striker in the opening couple of games.
The combative presence of Scott Parker alongside should also allow him to play his natural game and I'm convinced he still has plenty to offer at the top level for a number of years to come.
6) Which player - injured or just left out - would you most have liked taken, and why?
As mentioned earlier, I cannot understand the absence of Richards. He really is a colossus.
Also it would have been reassuring to have been able to take some better goalkeeping understudies. If Joe Hart gets injured we are in serious trouble.
I cannot understand why players in their prime would retire from representing their nation. The likes of Ben Foster and Paul Robinson would have given us a much greater strength in depth.
Fraser Forster has done well at Celtic over the past couple of seasons and surely deserved a call up over Jack Butland who is yet to even feature for Birmingham City?
7) What about the player in the final 23 that you would have most liked left out, and why?
See above... No reflection on Butland - he is a talented kid but given I'm also not a big fan of Rob Green I'd have preferred better, more experienced options as back up to Joe Hart.
Although of course to a degree Hodgson's hands were tied in this regard.
8) How far do you reckon England will progress this summer?
We should get out of the group but that says as much about the quality, or lack there of, in Sweden and the Ukraine.
It will probably need a favourable draw for us to advance far into the knock out stages and I just fear a quick passing team like Germany or Spain could be too much for our basic approach to cope with.
9) If it's not England who do you think will win Euro 2012?
Germany. A few of Spain's players are getting on a little now and defensively they are looking even more suspect than usual - on paper at least.
Germany have a top coach and great players throughout the team. Particularly impressive in their positions are Manuel Neuer, Philipp Lahm, Sami Khedira, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Mezut Ozil, Mario Gotze and Mario Gomez.
Many thanks to The Bagman
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