ENGLAND manager Roy Hodgson’s decision to take John Terry and not Rio Ferdinand to the European Championship has stirred a hornets’ nest but I believe he is right; it would have been asking for trouble to take both.
I’m not talking about suggestions the pair would not get along or whether that came into Hodgson’s thinking – we can’t know that – but I certainly accept there were sufficient football reasons to leave Ferdinand at home.
Undeniably both are great players, superb readers of the game and brilliant motivators, but they also share a lack of pace that makes it too risky to use them together. At international level slow defenders get exposed, as England found to their cost at the last World Cup.
Others’ claims were very hard to ignore. Joleon Lescott has been excellent throughout Manchester City’s Premier League winning campaign, while Gary Cahill has proven his quality since joining Chelsea and, crucially, has pace.
Finally, it’s often overlooked but Terry offers much more of a goal threat. The Chelsea captain has six in 72 internationals, twice as many as Rio, who has more caps.
This season Terry has netted seven in 48 – quite a tally for centre-back – while the Manchester United man has not scored a single goal in 38 appearances.
I’ve no major complaints about the rest of the squad and agree with the inclusion of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, despite his obvious shortage of experience.
Steven Gerrard aside, there is a lack of dynamism in midfield and the Arsenal youngster offers that in abundance. He can play wide or centrally, has impressed in big games this season against top opposition such as AC Milan and looks certain to be a big part of England’s future, so phasing him in makes sense.
The only minor gripe I have is over the selection of Stewart Downing, a winger who has two goals in 52 games all season for Liverpool – with none and no assists in the league.
Manchester United’s Ashley Young would be my first choice on the left wing and Oxlade-Chamberlain can play there too, so we would have had adequate options without Downing.
Besides, the tactics I would employ would see the wide players encouraged to come in off the touchline and allow the full-backs to overlap. Glen Johnson and in particular Ahley Cole and Leighton Baines are dangerous going forward and deliver high-quality crosses for the likes of Andy Carroll to thrive on. An out and out winger such as Downing is not necessary in this system.
I would rather have seen an extra space used to bolster a light pool of forwards.
I’m sure Stoke’s Peter Crouch could have made an important contribution, especially in the first two games when Wayne Rooney is suspended.
Crouch wouldn’t have to start but I feel his experience would have helped and potential partners like Jermain Defoe need someone like him to provide chances.
Trevor Steven is a former England footballer who played in both the 1986 and 1990 World Cups and the 1988 and 1990 European Championships. He now works as a talent scout and media commentator.
My initial reaction to Kenny Dalglish’s sacking was shock, but it’s impossible to ignore that their results – indeed all of their stats – have been terrible, especially in light of the investment made in the squad.
Kenny does not come from a tactical background, and the kind of international players who populate Liverpool’s squad nowadays expect that.
I’ve no doubt someone like Wigan’s Roberto Martinez would jump at the job, but I think they’d be better off with Sunderland’s Martin O’Neill or a left-field choice with a track record of winning, such as German Ralf Rangnick. Borussia Dortmund’s Jurgen Klopp is also highly regarded but I question whether he’d give up Champions League football for Liverpool. As for Rafa Benitez – I think we’ve seen with Dalglish how successful it is to re-appoint a previous manager.
Trevor Steven’s selection to start England’s first Euro 2012 match with France
□ Goalkeeper: Joe Hart
□ Right-back: Glen Johnson
□ Centre-back: Gary Cahill
□ Centre-back: John Terry
□ Left-back: Ashley Cole
□ Midfield: Scott Parker
□ Midfield: Gareth Barry
□ Right wing: Theo Walcott
□ Att midfield: Steven Gerrard
□ Left wing: Ashley Young
□ Centre-forward: Andy Carroll
Tactics: I would adopt a 4-2-3-1 formation, with Parker and Barry holding midfielders and Gerrard pushed on to play off Carroll. Wingers would be encouraged to drift inside and allow full-backs to overlap, knowing that Parker or Barry were there to cover.