Pete Sixsmith enjoyed that goal, and so it seems did Stuart Pearce, that rare breed of England manager – caretaker though he may be – capable of seeing talent north of the north-west Midlands (ie Manchester and Liverpool) …
I dashed off an email to M Salut earlier today, saying that I would do a piece of classic spleen-venting when the England squad was announced today for the friendly against The Netherlands next week.
My ire was up after I read a piece in The Guardian extolling the virtues of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, the child who had spent the last two Saturdays at the Stadium of Light, firmly inside Kieran Richardson’s pocket and Tom Cleverley, who has played three games for Manchester United this season.
And what happens? Stuart bloody Pearce goes and spoils the whole thing by naming Fraizer Campbell in the squad.
It’s a great boost for a player who could have lost his career to injuries that, 20 years ago, would have had him buying a newsagent’s shop in his home town of Huddersfield. He has worked so hard to get back and has looked sharp and lively and, most importantly, in goalscoring form.
I thought that there might have been a place for Lee Cattermole as he is the type of up and at ‘em player that Pearce loves, but it looks as if the permanently overrated Scott Parker has nabbed that place.
Jack Colback? Kieran Richardson? Craig Gardner? Michael Turner? Ryan Noble? All of them would, in the vernacular, “do a job” for Pearce and the England team, but they were left out in favour of the likes of Gareth Barry, Micah Richards, Steven “Stevie G” Gerrard, Gary Cahill and Darren B£nt. Anyone think that Cahill is any better than Turner? I don’t.
I doubt very much that Fabio Capello would have bothered with Campbell, seeing as the myopic and geographically challenged Italian multimillionaire had no idea of where Sunderland was, so well done to Stuart Pearce for taking a look at the most improved club in English football and picking one of our players.
In fact, of the five forwards selected, three of them are either current or former Sunderland players, with Danny Welbeck and the aforementioned B£nt making up the trio. Fraizer worked well with B£nt in the full season they had together and they could make an impact at international level, although the latter’s form has slipped as his club have begun to slide down the league and risk becoming relegation candidates.
Of the 22 outfield players, only Fraizer, B£nt and Leighton Baines come from clubs outside what the media regard as the top six – City, United, Spurs, Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool – which doesn’t offer much of an incentive to players at other clubs to stay with them.
There are some decent players in the squad. I like Kyle Walker, the Spurs full back and think Cleverley has real potential.
However, I am a wee bit mystified to see what others see in Theo Walcott. At 22, he should be doing a lot more than he does for Arsenal, and he was probably the most disappointing of their players in the mini-saga played out on Wearside over the last two weeks. I can’t think of many at Liverpool who would have a good word to say about Stewart Downing.
But, by and large, this is a decent selection. No Lampard, no Carroll, no Mags, so I can at least offer some nominal support to the national team, although I shall be more interested in watching the action at the King George V Playing Field, where Guisborough Town are taking on the mighty Shildon.
Now, that’s proper football …