Since when did Spain adjust their team not to include Xavi and Iniesta or France years ago not to include Zidane or Vieira? The fact is the top teams may adjust their tactics depending
on the opposition but they won’t leave out their best players. Hodgson also said Rooney is Rooney whatever that means but deciphering that he won’t drop him for any England games if he’s fit. Well Maradona is Maradona but I can’t see Argentina picking him anytime soon! I’m not saying Rooney shouldn’t play but it is the wrong message to send out to other strikers who right now are playing much better than Rooney.
I saw John Stones playing for Everton a few weeks ago and he was playing around with the ball at the back and he got closed down but the ball went for a goal kick to Everton. When he went to retrieve the ball he had to tell the Everton fans to calm down!
Here is a young footballer who is trying to play football. He doesn’t like to pump it into ‘channels’ or ‘hit the front man’ early because he no doubt sees the bigger picture and know if he did those things, the turnaround of possession could almost be instant as the ball he is playing would inevitably be a 50-50. Yet week in week out his game gets analysed so much that people are looking for each mistake. Of course he will make mistakes not just because he is young but that is the nature of the beast when you try to play intricate football. I’ve seen Puyol, Piquet and countless other top defenders who play football from the back give the ball away. Look at the times he sets up an attack though, count all those balls he plays and imagine if he had simply ‘hoofed’ it up the pitch then and possession would have been lost. In this country he would have been told he did well, ‘cleared his area’ stopped a possible attack but the fact is he would have lost the ball. John Stones can become a great footballer and people just need to let him play, learn from his own mistakes as he is intelligent enough to do that, focus on his positives. A similar thing happened to Joe Cole when playing for England, he gave the ball away to an Italian player and Italy scored. That is all the English media and pundits focused on, losing it in the wrong area. There were four defenders and a keeper behind him incidentally! Creative players will lose the ball, they are expressive and want to make things happen on the pitch, let them get on and do that. Managers and pundits will highlight the errors but don’t keep on going on about them.
My England 11 for the Euros if everyone is fit:
BARKLEY ALLI WALCOTT
GIBBS SMALLING STONES CLYNE