Written by Henry Clark
I think that one of the biggest challenges facing a manager is managing the balance of a squad between form and quality. Playing players who are currently at the very top of their game versus those who may be struggling but have repeatedly shown their class in the past. This is the exact problem that Roy Hodgson has left himself with in my opinion.
During the course of the Premier League season there’s regularly a moment in a match when the cameras pan out to the crowd and pick out Roy Hodgson keeping an eye on the England hopeful’s and those who may not have been the first name on his England team sheet a couple of months ago but who have now shown their class in the League.
The inclusion of Jack Wilshere and Fabian Delph in England’s Euro 2016 provisional squad, with injury eventually forcing Delph to pull out of the squad, surprised many. The injury-stricken Wilshere only returned to first-team action at Arsenal in April after nearly 18 months out with a knee injury. Wilshere has shown himself to be a class act in the heart of the Arsenal and England midfield, but an injury record like that certainly held him back in progressing as others like Eric Dier have stepped up to the plate almost out of nowhere. With Wilshere and Delph both missing fair amounts of the season through injury it was slightly surprising to see them included in the squad.
Others like Jamie Vardy, who’s fairy-tale, record breaking season has captured the hearts of all Premier League fans, Dele Alli and many other members of the squad have had great seasons at their club sides and forced themselves into contention when many England fans may not have even heard of them at the time of the last major international tournament in Brazil that went infamously sour for the Three Lions.
There are many other players who have had an outstanding season for their club in the Premier League but who still missed out, perhaps controversially on making it into the England team. West Ham trio Michael Antonio, Mark Noble and Aaron Cresswell have all had magnificent seasons and must count themselves to be unlucky as players like Raheem Sterling, who has struggled for the blue side of Manchester this season, made it into the team. Danny Drinkwater, a man who plays an almost identical role to Wilshere, was influential in Leicester’s title success this season and although he started near-on every game this season he must be slightly bitter that the injured Wilshere got the nod over him.
This raises the question of whether you pick and play your in-form players, no matter their experience. Obviously the likes of captain Wayne Rooney offers some much needed experience for a young English side but if your good enough why should experience stop you? It must be disheartening after a long season when you’ve tried all you can to force your way into contention to represent your country at a major tournament; what else are they to do if they play well but still don’t make the cut?
In truth taking players in similar situations to Wilshere when they haven’t played their best football regularly enough for their clubs gives the critics an easy path to criticise Roy Hodgson if, fingers crossed not, it does all come crashing down in France. But Hodgson has made his selection, and England fans have no option but to get behind the chosen players, whether they deserve to be there or not.
Has Hodgson made errors with his squad selection? Let us know in the comments below!