England’s Greatest Ever Team?

Greatest England Team

Having followed the ups and downs of England over the years, the heartaches, the misery and the occasional joy. Here is My Greatest Team of the Three Lions. There will no doubt be a lot of debate and you would be hard to find a list of bookmakers uk who would agree on my team!

Goalkeeper: David Seaman

Sadly, whenever you mention David Seaman to fans nowadays the abiding memory will be him tumbling back into the net in the 2002 World Cup as a free kick from Ronaldinho flies over his head.

However, prior to his error ridden decline, when he was at the top his game David Seaman was untouchable. An imposing figure who inspired confidence in the defence, penalty saving maestro and an experienced set of hands gave England a number 1 to be proud of. The troubles at finding his

replacement is evidence enough that Seaman remains the safest pair of hands England have ever had.

Right Back: Gary Neville

Love him or hate him one thing is clear Gary Neville has been the most trustworthy and dependable right back in the history of England. Since cementing the position in the late 1990s

Neville provided stability and class to the position he made his own. Always one of the first names on the team sheet Neville was as solid at the back as he was going forward and produced a partnership with David Beckham that led England to many a victory. In latter years he became a great leader and yet again England have trouble replacing him since.

Left Back: Ashley Cole

Always a controversial figure, even those who loath Ashley Cole for his off the field antics or “car stopping” wage demands have to admit that for a number of years he was the only World Class player in the England side. Pacey, intelligent and persistent Cole had an engine like no other and even in the dire minutes of matches would still be pacing up and down the left hand flank long before others had given in. Cole was a danger going forward, easily able to beat a band but was also tough to beat at the back. Solid, reliable and tough.

Centre Back: Bobby Moore (Captain)

Bobby Moore will always be remembered for two things 1) lifting the 1966 World Cup at Wembley and 2) that Pele Tackle. But beyond that Moore was one of the best, most intelligent and most effective defenders ever to grace the pace. Not many men beat Moore to the tackle and his leadership qualities inspired a generation. Dependable, as good in the air as on the ground and an all round world class defender, Moore captains My Greatest Team and leads by example.

Centre Back: Sol Campbell

At his peak Sol Campbell was unbeatable. Physically dominating, aerially superb and great with the ball at his feat any England team with Campbell at the back knew they had a last line of defence that was tough to beat. A threat offensively in the air as well as a leader on the pitch, Campbell was the

perfect centre back.

Right Midfield: David Beckham

His one man show to lift England from the depth sof despair to qualification for the 2002 World Cup is prove enough that England runs through this mans blood. The heart and engine of a true warrior on the pitch Beckham also possessed a crossing and dead ball ability second to none. His free kick ability alone is enough to make i’m worthy of a place in My Greatest Team but as an all round footballer, Beckham had it all.

Left Midfield: Stanley Matthews

Always a troubled spot for England but Stanley Matthews could play anywhere and with his trickery, ability to beat a man time after after time and his ingenious skills with the ball, Matthews would add unpredictability and excitement to the left flank and trouble anyone who dar ed come near!

Centre Midfield: Bryan Robson (Vice Captain)

Captain Marvel himself. Bryan Robson was a tough talking, inventive and creative footballer with the ability to score from anywhere on the pitch. Every team needs a man like Robson at its heart to drive forward play, get stuck into opponents and pop up in both boxes. Robson never got the England career he deserved for one reason or another but he coasts into My Greatest Team.

Centre Midfield: Bobby Charlton

Another easy choice. One of the Englands most prolific scorers with many of is goals coming from outside the area, when the ball was at Bobby’s feat anything could happen. Genuinely World Class over most of his career Charlton was the driving force in the centre of the England team that won the World Cup and although clips these days show mainly his 30 yard screamers, Charlton also offered creative passing, tough tackling and a never say die attitude that is at the core of My Greatest Team

Striker: Gary Lineker

For the sheer amount of times Lineker popped up in the box and scored out of the blie he deserves a place in the side. Never have the Three Lions had a more prolific poachers in the 18 yard box than Linker. Whether it was dealing with crosses, heading goals, using his pace to chase down long balls…Lineker was n effective and ruthless figure and if I want the ball to fall to anyone in the 18 yard box, it would be Lineker every time

Striker: Michael Owen

For the sheer way he burst onto the scene with the wonder goal in the 1998 World Cup through to the years of terrorising defences, Michael Owen completes the line up. His pace caused fear in even the most experienced back fours and his ability to find the net was unrivalled. At his peak Owen was amongst the worlds greatest strikers and with the likes of Beckham and Charlton to supply him, the Greatest Team would have a potent threat.

Subs

Nobby Stiles

Able to play anywhere along the back four and experience of the big matches. Could be crucial if we need defensive back up

John Barnes

Tricky, able to find the net under any circumstances and a player who no defender would like to see warming up, Barnes gives that flair and extra danger that could be needed during the match.

Geoff Hurst

Who better to bring on in big matches when in need of a goal? Been there, done that and got the t shirt!

Rooney and England

Rooney

The dust has now settled on the final appearance of Wayne Rooney for the England national team. Although controversial, Wayne Rooney was handed the Number 10 shirt for a farewell swan song against the USA, the country in which he now plies his trade. Given that such a ceremonial and high profile send off was carried out, it begins to beg the question of the place of Wayne Rooney in the history of English football. Where does he rank against the greats? Check this site out to see what the internet thinks.

For Wayne Rooney, the lack of real achievements in terms of tournament football in his era will also overshadow his England time. He was very much in focus at the end of the so called Golden Era, when world class players for their clubs failed to produce world class performances for England on the big stage. Yes, the qualification records were impressive and Wayne Rooney did of course end up as England’s all time leading goal scorer….but surely that would be expected by a man of his talent leading a front line against the minor nations we often encounter in the qualification stages?

Indeed, a general poll by a national newspaper asked people what word they would most attach to Rooney’s career and words such as “let down” “overhyped” and “disappointment” came near the top of the poll…and in all honesty it is not hard to see why. When Rooney first burst onto the scene, much like Michael Owen in 1998, there was an optimism that this was the player who would lead us to glory and take us from wannabes to real contenders.

But it didn’t happen….

What did happen though is Wayne Rooney scored goals! Whenever Rooney pulled on the England shirt, he tended to be the biggest goal threat in the team. Without him in the side, would we have scraped the 1-0 or 2-1 wins in which he provided the goals?  On the other hand….when you compare his to the Harry Kane who won the Golden Boot and scored the goals to take England to a World Cup Semi-final, or to the Golden Boot winning Gary Lineker or the Euro 96 star Alan Shearer….can you really rank Rooney in that company?

In a ranking of the overall Top 50 England players of all time, I suggested that Rooney would struggle to be considered other than the very lower ranks. The 1966 team must, nearly all, be considered above him, as well as the pioneers in the early days when England rocked the world and were ranked as the worlds finest! Then throw into the mix the strikers who performed on the big occasions…Shearer, Lineker, Kane and even Owen plus the driving forces behind sides Rooney was in…Beckham, Adams, Terry. What about the genuine players who, during their time, could have been considered the best in the world in their position….Gary Neville, Ashley Cole, Steve Mcmanana, David Seaman.

Hence, although Wayne Rooney should be applauded and recognised for the goals he has scored, his place among the greatest England players of all time remains questionable.

A Closer Look at England’s World Cup Opponents

England World Cup

As we have now just passed the 50-day mark until the World Cup, can we officially say it is time to get excited? For England fans, so disheartened by the last few major tournaments, let’s say that any excitement is also mixed with a little trepidation. However, there are some good signs coming from the recent performances of Gareth Southgate’s men that suggest they could leave a more positive impact in Russia.

Before getting into the possibilities of how far England could go, they will, of course, have to navigate the group stage. When the draw was made, Southgate would have been reasonably happy with Belgium, Panama and Tunisia. However, it might be a little trickier than it looks. Here is a quick run-down of those three opponents:

Belgium

They are the favourites (5/6) to top Group G, and even the most ardent England fans would find that difficult to argue against. There is so much to like about this Belgium side: a world class keeper in Courtois; brilliant defenders in Vertonghen and Kompany; the midfield of De Bruyne, Nainggolan and Hazard; the attacking options offered by Mertens and Lukaku. In fact, Belgium’s stock has risen so much in recent years that they are considered the value bet at 12/1 to win the World Cup. You can check out thebookiesoffers.co.uk for the latest free bets to back them, England or anyone else.

Key man: Kevin De Bruyne – it’s his time to stake a claim to be the best player in the world.

Tunisia

England play Tunisia in their opening fixture and they may be in for a tougher game than most believe. The North African side are now ranked as high is 14th in the world, England by comparison are 13th. It would be nevertheless a huge shock if they beat England and went on to qualify from Group G (5/1 odds). However, don’t be completely shocked if the Tunisians come away with a point from that first game. They are hard to break down and could sucker punch England if they are not careful.

Key man: Wahbi Khazri – something of an enigma at Sunderland, but now much improved at Rennes (on loan). He is one of those players who can make a goal from nothing. Beware.

Panama:

Panama have qualified for the first World Cup in their history, so it is likely their biggest aspiration will simply be to avoid being the group whipping boys. Can they cause an upset? Probably not. They are priced around 50/1 to win the group and up to 2000/1 to win the World Cup. However, they will likely draw inspiration from fellow Central Americans, Costa Rica, who confounded the odds to reach the quarter finals in 2014. That, of course, came at the expense of England, so you can guarantee that Southgate won’t take the Panamanians lightly.

Key Man: Gabriel Gomez – 143 caps and counting for the midfielder whose main job will be to screen the defence. He will likely be very busy in Russia.

And a quick note on England:

KaneThis Photo by Unknown Author is licensed under CC BY-ND

England should qualify with Belgium to reach the Last 16, where one of Colombia, Poland, Japan or Senegal will await them. After that (if successful), they are likely to come up against the likes of Brazil or Germany. The question for many fans is what will constitute success? You could argue that a run to the quarters would give Gareth Southgate’s young side something to build on. 16/1 if you fancy the Three Lions to go all the way.

England at the 2018 World Cup

In my life time of watching football, I am used to pundits, fans and the press hyping up the England teams chances of excelling at a major tournament. But this time around things are different….with new players, a new manager and a long term plan seemingly in place, there is a feeling this World Cup is a stepping stone to greater things. But I assure you not one fan, player or management staff will be thinking that come the big day….just how will England do?

Despite the relative inexperience of the players and manager, England breezed through the qualifiers and whilst never being outstanding, rarely looked troubled. It is the same old story you may say, but the qualifiers can give you a hint. England struggled in the run up games to Euro 2016 and looked vulnerable at times, but not in this campaign.

Gareth Southgate has been to the big tournaments in the modern era and understands what they are all about. The little touches he will bring, as a man of experience, may be the difference in keeping the squad focused. He has quietly built his own system, introduced his own players and got a team functioning as a team. The criticism always levelled at the previous “Golden era” was that we have a collection of individuals rather than a unit….that can no longer.

The wing back system Southgate seems to favour, is one that will be unique in the tournament. Southgate saw that system function superbly under Glenn Hoddle and seems to be set on imitating it. Opposition may not be used to such a style and we say indeed see it work to England’s advantage. The core of the defence remains strong, the wing backs we have offer great potential both defensively and going forward and the system is very flexible.

Even the most pessimistic England fan must sense qualification is likely. Tunisia and Panama are weak sides, and lack the quality and experience to frustrate England for long. The Belgium game will be key and that will tell us all we need to know. Playing against a team unbeaten in 17 matches, with world class players in every position on the big stage will test any team. A victory in that match may allow England to dream big! That will get the nation dreaming and probably thinking about having a flutter perhaps even on NetBet Sport World Cup Betting.

Should the group stage prove passable, Senegal and  Colombia await in the Last 16, both of which England would start as favourites. If that occurs and England earn a Quarter final berth, then that will be mission accomplished for Southgate and company. Anything before the Quarter Finals will be labelled a disappointment, anything after it will be an over achievement.

With Kane, Ali, Sterling and co, along with a solid defence and a dependable set of goalkeepers, any of the opposition who England may face in the latter stages would have to take them as a serious threat.

Will going into a tournament without the hype, as something of an underdog, help the team achieve? Only time will tell

If you have a little time on your hands in the build up then why not check out our England or  World Cup Quiz

The England Outsiders Who Could Still Make The World Cup Squad

Gareth Southgate’s recent England squad caused quite the stir among Three Lions fans and pundits alike. There were a few surprise additions to the team and some faces missing that really didn’t warrant the snub.

It’s all making for an interesting end to the Premier League season as Southgate looks to pick his final 23-man squad. His side didn’t do themselves any harm against the Netherlands on Friday night, with the likes of Jordan Pickford, Harry Maguire and Kieran Trippier all getting ever closer to booking their spots on the plane. But who’re missing? And who could be the outside shots to make it to Russia 2018?

Jack Wilshere

 It was a huge shame for Jack Wilshere, who had to pull out of the recent squad due to injury. He’s worked so hard to get back into both the Arsenal and international fold and fully deserved to get a start in the heart of England’s midfield.

He’s certainly one of most pundits World Cup tips to go still if he’s fit as almost every England manager he’s played under has appreciated his quality with the ball. It’s something they could very well need, with Eric Dier, Jake Livermore and Jordan Henderson the other likely contenders for that central midfield spot.

Gary Cahill

While Gareth Southgate said he’d only pick players who were playing, it was still a surprise to see Chelsea’s Gary Cahill miss out on a place in Southgate’s recent squad. He’s struggling to get a game at Chelsea but his leadership and experience could be a valuable asset to England.

Managers of the nation do usually pick an experienced man within their squad and with only Joe Hart having more than caps than in and around the England set-up, Cahill could be the likely choice.

Glenn Murray

 A lot of fans were hoping to see Glenn Murray put on an England shirt in the recent friendlies but instead Southgate opted for Danny Welbeck. What Murray offers is something different, but it will now take great courage from the manager to drop someone in place of a player who is yet to be tried or tested at international level.

The England strike force does currently look a little one dimensional though. They have Kane as an all-round talent and then on top of that just a number of pacey forwards who like to get in and behind defenders. What happens when England need to go direct? Or Southgate needs someone to hold the ball up at the other end of the pitch? It’s a worry and Murray could be the answer.

Ben Mee

 James Tarkowski was given a call up in the recent squad by Gareth Southgate and it can be argued Ben Mee deserves one just as much. The centre half places are well and truly up for grabs in this squad and Mee could be an outside bet if he continues to shine.

He’d be an ideal replacement should any injuries occur as he’s been a shining light at the heart of Burnley’s defence all season. We’re sure many would love to simply pluck both Mee and Tarkowski from the Clarets back line and place them straight into the England team they’ve been that sound defensively. Of all the players England fans may argue about being in or out of the squad, we doubt any would argue against Mee warranting a place.

England Warned against Complacency after 4-0 Win over Lithuania

England moved one step closer towards Euro 2016 qualification after a 4-0 thrashing of Lithuania at Wembley. The victory helped Roy Hodgson’s team established a six-point advantage over Slovenia in the table. England cannot still remain complacent about an automatic qualification spot given that there are still five matches left in the campaign, but it realistically puts them on the verge of a place in the finals. The win over Lithuania was also the national team’s seventh consecutive victory across qualification and friendly matches. Despite this form, England are placed at a distant 12/1 for the title in the latest Euro 2016 odds from Betfair.

Germany, France, and Spain are seen as the favourites for the tournament in France.

Wayne Rooney and the rest of the team celebrated each of the four goals with passion. Later, the Manchester United striker said that other teams will be frightened about the form shown by England is their early exit from the World Cup 2014. However, there is a danger of the nation once again becoming complacent just before a major tournament. England have come up against only one team in the top 30 of the world FIFA rankings – Switzerland – in this period. A more accurate assessment of the team will be available as they take on the likes of Italy and France in 2015.

Despite the lack of top quality opposition, it is fair to say that the team has been playing with a lot of speed than before. The team now enjoys bundles of energy through the likes of Raheem Sterling and Jordan Henderson. After having been a team that relies excessively on the finishing skills of Rooney, England may have a great alternative in the form of Harry Kane. The Tottenham striker has scored an impressive 29 goals in all competitions for Tottenham this season. He announced his international debut in style after scoring within 76 seconds of being introduced as a substitute in the game against Lithuania.

Welbeck may not necessarily have the finishing skills to be a top player at international level, but it appears as if Kane can certainly be moulded into one. Aside from Kane, manager Roy Hodgson will also be looking forward to welcoming Daniel Sturridge back to the team. The quartet are certainly a huge upgrade in terms of quality over the previous crop of England strikers like Peter Crouch or Andy Carroll.

Hodgson was expected to be sacked from his role after a very disappointing World Cup, but he has certainly given himself a lot of positive reviews in the last few months. England’s biggest test in the short-term will come in the form of a friendly against Italy at the Juventus stadium in Turin on April 1. Just like England, Antonio Conte has also been able to infuse some life into the Italian team after a disappointing World Cup. They have won all but one match since their early departure from Brazil 2014.

A disappointing result against the Italian team will not be the end of the world for England, as Hodgson will be without a number of his important players. James Milner, Raheem Sterling, Danny Welbeck, and Leighton Baines are some of the players could not be involved against Italy. Instead, backup players like Ryan Bertrand have been drafted into the squad for this trip to Italy. Hodgson confirmed before the international break that he did not intend to overwork the players, who have already played a lot of games for their clubs, in friendly matches.

Before the match against England, Italy will be concentrating on their Euro 2016 qualifying match against Bulgaria. The Group H is far tighter than England’s group with both Croatia and Italy still fighting for a top spot. The trio of Norway, Italy, and Croatia are almost certain to qualify following the latest round of results, but it is still unclear if Italy will be able to secure an automatic qualification spot. The three teams are separated by just one point. Betfair still backs Italy at 2/1 to top the group and they are closely followed by Croatia in the second spot with odds of 2/1.

Hodgson confirmed after the win over Lithuania that Sterling’s absence from the squad to face Juventus has nothing to do with the reported controversial request from Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers. Sterling has suffered a toe injury, but he is almost certain to feature against Arsenal next weekend when the Premier League returns.

Youngest Lions

With Liverpool’s Raheem Sterling set to make his debut at the tender age of 17 we have taken the time to add a Young Lions quiz to our ever expanding databank of questions.

Here are a few to get you started:

Q. Thurston Rostron was aged just 17 & 311 days when he made his debut against Wales in 1881. Which club did he play for at the time?

Q. Who did Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain make his debut for England against on the 26th May 2012?

Q.How old was Theo Walcott on 30 May 2006 when he came on as a sub vs. Hungary to become Englands Youngest ever player?

Check out our site to have a go at our full quiz: http://www.footiequiz.co.uk/

Euro 2012 Predictions

With the Euro 2012 now underway I thought I would take the time to give you my predictions for the Competition.

Winners: Holland – Despite last nights performance!

Runners Up: Germany

Top Scorer: Fernando Torres!

Group A Winners: Russia
Runner up Poland

Group B Winners:Holland
Runner up Germany

Group C Winners: Spain
Runner up Italy

Group D Winners: France
Runner up England

European Championship Quiz

Roy Hodgson Quick Question

So, Roy Hodgson takes charge of England for the first time this weekend as the Three Lions take on Norway in Oslo.

Of the 23-man squad Hodgson has selected for Euro 2012, how many players has he managed previously at club level?

Answer: Three (Glen Johnson, Stewart Downing and Steven Gerrard). Andy Carroll was signed by Liverpool after Hodgson left and no players from his time at Fulham, West Brom or Blackburn are included.

England  Football Quiz
England Football Quiz