16 May 2012

Hodgson announces England squad for Euro 2012

Roy Hodgson reveals his squad for Euro 2012, which includes John Terry but leaves out Rio Ferdinand. Football commentator and writer John Anderson gives his verdict to Channel 4 News.

Rio Ferdinand celebrate's a goal with England players

One of the things England managers have to learn quickly when it comes to picking squads is that they will spend more time discussing those who have been left behind than the ones who can start checking the conversion rates between sterling and zloty.

Overall it’s a cautious selection by the new boss, even though fewer than half of the 23 names on the sheet were picked for the World Cup two years ago.

Once the news broke that Rio Ferdinand was to be overlooked, it was inevitable that this would be the main item up for discussion, especially given that John Terry, who faces charges of racially abusing Rio’s brother Anton Ferdinand, has been included.

Hodgson was patience and good humour personified as he fielded questions about Ferdinand, as he put it, “till the cows come home”. Understandably, there were suggestions that one of the two had to be sacrificed in order to prevent potential divisions within the camp.

One does sometimes wonder though whether Terry has the kind of hypnotic power over England managers that Boris Karloff displayed in The Mummy.

Hodgson refutes this, maintaining that there were justifiable footballing reasons for his decision; namely that the Manchester United defender had scarcely played for England during the qualification campaign whereas the Chelsea skipper has led his club to FA Cup glory and the Champions League final.

One does sometimes wonder though whether Terry has the kind of hypnotic power over England managers that Boris Karloff displayed in The Mummy. First Fabio Capello resigns on principle over the decision to strip him of the captaincy and now we have the new man seemingly in Terry’s thrall too.

Cold shoulder

By the same token Micah Richards must be wondering what on earth he did in a former life to warrant the cold shoulder from both Hodgson and his predecessor. With fellow right back Kyle Walker out injured, surely the in-form and versatile Richards was a shoo-in? Not so. After opting, somewhat curiously, to name only seven defenders, Hodgson was left with a straight choice between the Manchester City title winner and Manchester United runner-up Phil Jones and opted for the latter.

Compare and contrast Richards’ lot with that of Stewart Downing, who is included despite a decidedly average season with Liverpool and an England career which has borne very little fruit over 33 appearances going back seven years.

It didn’t take long for jokes to surface about Downing being a lucky competition winner whose prize was an all expenses paid trip to Poland and the Ukraine but, unlike most of my peers, I did feel Downing would be included, if only on the grounds that Hodgson likes naturally wide players and that left footers remain a rare breed in English football.

On the positive side, the manager has found room for the odd experiment, mindful of what lies beyond the summer. The inclusion of Arsenal’s uncapped 18-year-old Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is certainly a positive step; the youngster is talented, confident, intelligent and, as he showed in the Champions League against AC Milan, has a healthy disregard for reputation and tradition.

Wedding duties

Good news too is the selection of goalkeeper John Ruddy, the only other squad member without a cap, who has had a marvellous season at over-achieving Norwich. However, Hodgson will be unable to give the 27-year-old his debut against Belgium in the final warm up game at Wembley on 2 June, since Ruddy is getting married that day and the England boss didn’t want to spoil the celebrations by using international duty as a just cause or impediment.

Andy Carroll is also well worth his place despite suggestions that his late season surge papers over a fairly ropey campaign overall. I think it is always worth gambling on an in-form player, however late that form arrives, and there’s no doubt the strong, awkward and aerial Liverpool striker offers qualities others lack.

Questions Hodgson needed to ask about the former Newcastle man’s temperament were apparently answered positively by Kenny Dalglish, whose endorsement of the big number 9 turned out be one of his final acts as manager at Anfield. The irony of Dalglish spending the summer unemployed while the man he was meant to totally eclipse leads his country in major tournament is hard to escape.

Hodgson has a little less than four weeks to meld his chosen ones into a unit capable of holding their own at Euro 2012. He believes he has the right blend of performers and personalities to achieve success, but a virtual standstill in the bookies’ odds on England immediately following the announcement suggests the nation at large are rather more sceptical.

However, given the unusual circumstances and timing of his arrival as coach, I think it would only be fair to accept Hodgson’s choice and back his judgement.

At least until we face France in Donetsk on 11 June…

You can follow John Anderson on Twitter via @GreatFaceRadio

England’s final 23 for the European Championships
Goalkeepers: Joe Hart (Manchester City), Robert Green (West Ham United), John Ruddy (Norwich City) Defenders: Ashley Cole (Chelsea), John Terry (Chelsea), Glen Johnson (Liverpool), Phil Jones (Manchester United), Leighton Baines (Everton), Joleon Lescott (Manchester City), Gary Cahill (Chelsea) Midfielders: Steven Gerrard (Liverpool, captain), Frank Lampard (Chelsea), Scott Parker (Tottenham Hotspur), Gareth Barry (Manchester City), James Milner (Manchester City), Stewart Downing (Liverpool), Theo Walcott (Arsenal), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Arsenal), Ashley Young (Manchester United) Forwards: Wayne Rooney (Manchester United), Danny Welbeck (Manchester United), Andy Carroll (Liverpool), Jermain Defoe (Tottenham Hotspur)