Fabio Capello announced his team selection on Saturday, his version of England Redux for this week’s friendly against Hungary that no one seems to want. The thinking was the game would prove to be cathartic for players, fans and the gaffer himself… a chance for brave Albion to regain their dignity and confidence.
But of course, no one is happy. Capello brought in several players who didn’t make the trip to South Africa, including something we haven’t seen for years: the selection of more than one Arsenal player. However Theo Walcott, Kieran Gibbs, and Jack Wilshire weren’t exactly starters last year. None of them played more than 16 games apiece. It’ll be interesting to see how Capello uses them, especially after Walcott’s uninspired performance this summer.
The media had called for wholesale change after the Bombing of Bloemfontein. But Capello was as defiant of the pundits as he was of John Terry’s “rebellion”, keeping Captain Schtupping and Co. in the side despite his insolence. Don Fabio also tried to soothe feelings… but some players didn’t forget their World Cup snub. Both Wes Brown and Paul Robinson said “Thank you, no”. In this writer’s opinion, no big loss.
Capello has found out that being England manager is a thankless task… trying to appease a nation full of unrealistic expectations with a team of mediocre millionaires. Some sections of the media already believe that Capello is a dead man walking.
O'Neill's Villa frustration boils over
Those rumours are given even more weight because his supposed successor is suddenly free of his club obligations now that Martin O’Neill has quit Aston Villa just five days before the start of the Premier League season. The bookmakers have him at two-to-one odds that he will be next to lead the Three Lions. But he may find Randy Lerner’s stinginess preferable to the smothering expectations of the top job in England.
Down the Lane these days, our ’Arry has apparently used up all his goodwill saving Russian donkeys (not named Pavlyuchenko) from parasailing pratfalls, and is lambasting the powers the be for scheduling an England friendly against Hungary too close to the start of the Premiership season for his liking.
With some glaring holes at the back and his club’s inaugural Champions League qualification looming large, the Tottenham boss would rather have his team on the training ground than traipsing around the world for preseason friendlies, or losing players for a few days of international duty. If he wants something else to worry about, Redknapp can wonder whether Spurs will have their plans for a new stadium approved when Haringey Council says yea or nay on Sept. 13.
Tottenham aren’t counting on having Jonathan Woodgate on their 25-man roster when new squad rules take effect this season and, with Ledley King as gimpy as ever, ’Arry is reportedly after Villa’s Curtis Davies, Everton’s Phil Jagielka or Man. Citeh’s Micah Richards to slot into the centre of his back line. As long as they’re not donkeys, ’Arry, you can bring in whoever you like.
City may not be quite ready to let Richards walk, but it seems the new roster rules could force a shocking 30 players out the door at Eastlands, with some paid off by the deep pocketed owners to get the hell out. So much for Welcome to Manchester.
Switching to the Red Mancs, United went south of the border to Mexico but came out a 3-2 loser to CD Chivas in the final game of its North American tour in what must have been a bit of a confusing night for newly-signed Javier Hernandez, who said goodbye to the Goats by scoring a goal for Chivas in the first half, then switching shirts and suiting up for his new team after the break.
Finally, while the departing Diego Maradona makes claims of betrayal against his former employers in Argentina, the AFA has reportedly sets its sights on former Sheffield United midfielder and current Estudiantes manager Alejandro Sabella to take over the pressure-packed post of national team boss.