Football is a game of opinions and the role of England boss raises more opinions than most jobs in football.
New Three Lions boss Sam Allardyce has named his first squad and there were few surprises.
The group of players he has chosen for Sunday’s World Cup qualifier against Slovakia shows that the experienced boss is looking to make the team solid again.
No Barkley, Wilshere or Rashford
The most striking thing about the squad selection was the fact that midfield ball players Ross Barkley and Jack Wilshere were omitted. The latter’s absence is no surprise considering he has spent much of his career in the treatment room.
The much-vaunted midfielder needs to be playing for Arsenal before he can play for England, although Roy Hodgson did not seem to understand that concept.
However, Barkley’s absence is rather more surprising. One hack from a national media outlet claimed that the youngster needs to do more than score a lucky goal and create a goal to get into the England team.
That was a rather ill-informed statement. Barkley’s form was poor towards the end of last season, having started the season on fire. This season he has started the campaign by taking more responsibility at Everton.
The playmaker has been a big part of the Toffees decent start to life under Ronald Koeman, even if he has only produced a goal and an assist in the league, although he did also score in the League Cup as well.
Barkley has talked about pushing on this season and he will have to do that to impress Allardyce, who favours work-rate over ball skills. The experienced boss has stated that the door is still open for the Everton star, though.
Manchester United youngster Marcus Rashford scored an injury-time winner for Manchester United at Hull on Saturday. However, the youngster had already been demoted to the under-21 squad. This decision is understandable considering Rashford has played very little football this season for United.
Players who are included
The one uncapped player to receive a call-up was West Ham winger Michail Antonio. The 26-year-old has surprisingly not been called-up in the past, as he has produced some very strong performances in the past year.
Often playing out-of-position at right-back he has managed to score eight headed goals in the Premier League since 2015, which is the most of any player. Antonio is a late developer, but he no doubt deserves his place in the squad, having scored ten top-flight goals since arriving last September from Championship Nottingham Forest.
Arsenal winger Theo Walcott has enjoyed a decent start to the campaign with the Gunners, even if he has not done it on a consistent basis, which is the story of his career really. At 27-years-old he is not a youngster and he needs to start delivering on a more consistent basis.
The former-Southampton player is lucky that the Three Lions have a dearth of consistent wide players. Ironically Raheem Sterling much-criticised at Euro 2016 with the Three Lions is one of the Three Lions most in-form players heading into the Slovakia game.
New Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has restored the youngsters shattered confidence and he has looked like a different player this season.
Have to beat Slovakia
England’s new boss Allardyce will know that his side will need to produce a convincing performance against Slovakia on Sunday if he is to avoid instant criticism. The Three Lions are favourites at evens to win their opening clash under Allardyce in Trnava.
Allardyce was not a universally applauded appointment, but in truth England had scarce options when it came to English bosses, which the FA obviously favoured to take the national team forward.
The veteran West Ham boss’ managerial ability will be put to the test in international football. He is highly experienced in club management, but international football is a different ball game.
Allardyce now has better players to work with than for much of his club career. Maybe he will be able to produce something more than the hard-working teams he has produced for the much of the latter part of his career.
Maybe he will not and England will once again be hard to beat. Whatever happens, Sam Allardyce cannot really win here. He has taken on a poison chalice and as the old saying goes you can please some of the people some of the time, but you can’t please everybody all of the time.
Has Sam Allardyce chosen the right England squad?
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