After a fantastic February, I feel it has been a miserable March so far for West Ham with the defeats away at Everton and Stoke and no Hammers being called up by Roy Hodgson for England’s friendly against Denmark.
While the defeat at Goodison Park didn’t come as much of a surprise, I honestly struggled to make sense of Hodgson’s decision to omit West Ham’s in-form English players from his squad as I watched England play Denmark in what was one of the worst matches I think I have ever seen. Scrolling down the 30-man squad, I was left asking myself does Hodgson truly believe Manchester United’s Michael Carrick and Tom Cleverly and Manchester City’s James Milner have outperformed Mark Noble and even Stewart Downing over the past couple of months?
I also asked myself why Toronto FC’s Jermain Defoe and Manchester United’s Danny Welbeck were selected ahead of Andy Carroll? When will an England manager start selecting players based on their form rather than the club they play for? Would Carrick, Cleverly, Milner, or Welbeck get the nod if they played for Hull, Sunderland or Crystal Palace? The simple answer is no.
Hodgson is respecting the reputation of our bigger clubs, like Manchester United, too much. He has to start showing that he is not influenced by reputations and pick a team that is best for England. Take Cleverly for example. Despite showing early potential for United, Cleverley is nowhere good enough for either club or country. Even some Manchester United fans have stated he is not good enough for England.
It therefore begs the question what more does Mark Noble have to do to get an England call-up? This question has not only stumped West Ham fans but also fans of other Premier League clubs who have witnessed one of Noble’s many inspirational displays this season.
Danny Welbeck is another example. He is too similar to Liverpool’s Daniel Sturridge, who is by far in the better form, and shouldn’t have made the squad over Carroll. I honestly believe Carroll would give another dimension to Hodgson’s current set up that Welbeck can’t and that he and Rooney would be a force to be reckoned with. Some people have also argued that Rickie Lambert is an all-round better footballer than Carroll.
Not only do I disagree with this but I also believe there are very few strikers on the planet who can scare defenders with the sheer power and brute force like Carroll can. Again I would select Carroll over Lambert and Welbeck.
Finally the curious case of James Milner. Does anyone seriously believe he is good enough for England? There is no doubt in my mind that he should be dropped and replaced with Stewart Downing who has been in inspired form of late for West Ham. He made no secret of the fact that he hoped a move to the East End would reignite his international chances and has shown on countless occasions this season why he should be given the chance to add to his 34 caps for England in Brazil.
The most successful nations in world football do not respect reputations. Take world and European champions Spain whose boss Vicente del Bosque named his squad for their friendly against Italy and left out trio Fernando Torres, David Villa and Juan Mata. All three players have big reputations in the game, but the Spanish boss has decided to pick players who are better for the team or in-form. That is how it should be done Mr Hodgson.