England’s Number One?

Most of the International sides travelling to Russia this summer know who their first choice goalkeeper will be, but nothing could be further from the truth in England’s case. Joe Hart, Jack Butland, Jordan Pickford and Nick Pope are all competing to see who should start at this summer’s World Cup. Against Lithuania we saw Jack Butland take up the position between the sticks despite Joe Hart having seemingly  cemented his position as the number one during the past 6 years.  The West Ham stopper having played 9 of England’s 10 World Cup Qualifiers.  I’ve decided to put myself in Gareth Southgate’s shoes and would like to know what you guys think too…

To some Joe Hart is still the obvious choice being England’s most experienced keeper (and by some distance). For others, the 33 goals he’s conceded in just 15 EPL games this season is, in fact, reason enough for Hart to miss out altogether. That’s far too many goals conceded in not nearly enough games. I personally rate Joe Hart as both a goalkeeper and a personality and believe that on his day he can be one of England’s key men.  Unfortunately, those kind of days I’m referring to seem nothing more than a distant memory.  Of course, experience counts for a lot, although playing consistently throughout a season counts for even more. It may sound contradictory that I would start both John Stones and Jack Wilshere, but that’s because ball playing centre backs and creative deep lying central midfielders are few and far between for England. The same cannot be said for the goalkeeper situation. That all being said I’d take Joe Hart to Russia and he’d be my substitute keeper.

Nick Pope has kept more clean sheets and conceded fewer EPL goals than any of the other 3 goalkeepers in Gareth Southgate’s latest squad. Looking at form alone it’s difficult to see past Pope considering he’s saved just over 80% of the shots on target he has faced in the league. The argument against him is a lack of experience having only made his EPL debut a few months ago, but I’d take him to Russia to get the feel of being around the squad. In my opinion this is one World Cup too soon for the Burnley man to be a considered a starter.

Of the 4 goalkeepers Jack Butland is the most capable of both producing outstanding saves but also the most intermittent in his form. There is just something I don’t trust about Jack Butland and that’s why I’d leave him out of the squad travelling to Russia. Last weekend he was culpable for both Everton’s goals, which supported my thinking that he would be the one to be watching England from home soil.

Jordan Pickford, for all intents and purposes, is still an inexperienced goalkeeper. Last season, while at Sunderland, Pickford made more saves than any other keeper in the EPL (118). That form hasn’t deserted him as he tops this season’s stats for Everton (95). Not just a shot-stopper, Pickford has by far the best distribution of the 4 men in contention. England, have to play counter-attacking football with speed due to the players at their disposal. In my opinion, that’s where you need a keeper with Pickford’s ability to distribute the ball effectively, to kick start (literally) the counter attack. Pep Guardiola swears by keeper’s that can play, which is good enough reason for me. When shot-stopping between the competitors is reasonably similar, the distribution factor is why I believe Jordan Pickford should start as England’s first choice goal-keeper.

Words: @Alavi_SSN

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Why Big Sam is NOT the man for England – Harry


Big Sam is definitely NOT the man for England.

Big Sam? come on, the England managers job is regarded by football fans up and down the country as the top job in the land. I suppose you could argue that leading your nation out at a World Cup or European Championship is one of the greatest honours for any football manager.

It differs greatly from club management, the day to day involvement simply isn’t there and you could go months at a time without seeing any of your players. Good or bad? That’s just the way it is.

It may be the same sport with the same rules and basic concepts but in reality club management and international management are two totally different things.

The Premier League is certainly one of the most competitive leagues in the world. Top players are often attracted here and it doesn’t take a genius to see how big the premier league brand is right across the globe.

Common sense would tell you that having a strong domestic competition would mean a strong and competitive national team but that’s certainly not the case here.

Often I hear England fans talking about how young English footballers are unable to progress because of the influx in foreign talent. That’s simply not true. The top clubs often search the globe to find young, undiscovered talent simply because £35m buys you Andy Carroll on the ‘English market’!

Would clubs continue to go to the trouble of acquiring work permits or housing and God knows what else is required to bring young players here if the talent was already on their doorstep?

The inflated prices for English talent were there long before the ‘home-grown players’ rule came in and so it’s ludicrous to blame that solely. It’s mostly down to the hype that surrounds most of these average players. Raheem Sterling, Andy Carroll & Fabian Delph are just a few of the flops who have cost their clubs a fortune just because they have British passports.

The top English clubs have embraced foreign talent and only good can come out of the home grown youngsters training with the likes of Aguero, Sanchez, Bergkamp, Ronaldo, Henry or Zola etc (just to name a few over the years).

English football has lost its identity and now, more than ever needs an innovator. Someone who will implement a philosophy to run right through the England set up. A way of playing, a mentality, a togetherness that the current England set up is clearly missing.

That is definitely NOT Big Sam! Mr Allardyce would be a disastrous appointment and nobody could ever persuade me otherwise. A 25 year managerial career that has been mediocre at best. An outdated style of football with an ‘ugly’ philosophy that is no longer welcome in the modern game.

If Big Sam was to get the job you may see Kevin Davies and Kevin Nolan coming out of retirement to spearhead England’s attack!

A manager like Big Sam with zero honours, zero class and zero pedigree simply cannot be given a job of this magnitude.

I don’t believe there are any English candidates at the moment. I’ve heard rumours around Steve Bruce, Eddie Howe & Alan Pardew but even they are nowhere ready or good enough to step into this job.

The media would crucify them at the first opportunity and none of them are any more qualified than the last manager.

The FA simply need to look at a foreign coach, they’re in need of educating and appointing the likes of Allardyce just because they don’t want to go foreign is like cutting off your nose to spite your face.