Englands Best XI – Backward Step or the Way Forward?

This is an odd one....

I’ve heard many so called "football experts" have their say on this, and as yet none of them can give a reason for their opinion. What am I talking about? Older players playing for England…


The issue has once again been brought up with Paul Scholes showing the kind of form that makes you forget he’s in his late 30’s. The subsequent rumours that Scholes may be tempted out of international retirement fuelled by the his recent return (with great impact) to the Manchester United team, initially I think as squad cover. He soon showed why I, and many other people, have held the lad above players like Gerrard and Lampard for a long long time.

The one thing Scholes has above those two is not just ability to play the perfect pass, but the ability to see a pass that us mere mortals don’t, his awareness and creativity makes Gerrard and Lampard look like glorified box to box’ers, even at this ripe old age he is still proving there is a place in the game for intelligent footballers… infact there’s a big void in his type of footballer… Scholes though was special, an amazing play maker, his brilliantly timed mistimed tackles (don’t tell me he doesn’t know what he’s doing) and his ability to (even in his pomp when everyone was marking him) sneak in to the box and score with any part of the body the ball came at… not to mention his sweet, sweet strikes from out of the box… who can forget the corners tee’d up for him to volley?


Anyway I haven’t come on to blow smoke up Schole’s backside, I’m here to find out why most fans don’t want him anywhere near the Enlgand team… with the phrase a “Backward Step” used frequently.


If Scholes is still a better player than his current replacements then surely it was a step back when he retired 8 years ago and a step forward now? If there is a job to be done, and he can do that job without limitations and it, in turn, makes us a better team then how is it a step backward?


This fixation we have of “out with the old, in with the new” every time our nation fails on the international stage and our sudden need to retire everyone over 30 to play the kids is wrong… it's brilliant if the kids are all better.. but they’re not. Wilshere has potential, but really would you pick him over a fit Scholes in a one off match? If you was a club manager of course you'd rather have Wilshere being younger, but at International Lvl age shouldn't come in to it, just quality of player.


International Football is not about making better footballers… it’s about the BEST footballers a nation has to offer… if Scholes is one of those then perhaps we should flip the saying and state..


“If he’s good enough, he’s young enough”


At the clubs is where the footballers improve and it is there where they must prove they are good enough… it will not be the new England’s managers job to coach the players, it’s his job to pick the best team and work on tactics, formations and the playing style with the players… So what is this fixation with potential on the International stage? Should Oxlaid-Chamberlain is one that comes to mind, if he performs well enough he should be under consideration, but on just “potential” as some fans have said no, not a chance. Like Theo should not have gone with Sven all those years ago. Walcott hadn’t proved anything and still hasn’t consistently but he has been built up in to some sort of Henry clone (just without the ability or composure) and to this day still gets in the England squad ahead of far more deserving players. Ashley Young for instance, how long did it take him to get international recognition? And he still has less caps than a lad that can run faster…


So in my opinion age shouldn’t come in to it, the England manager doesn’t have to worry about resale values or wages, he doesn’t have to worry about bringing in players for the future now, because he can bring them in any time when they’ve proved them selves against their counter parts.


None of this “Backward Step” nonsense,  just the best 20 odd players selected for the task, irrespective of age, if they can still perform too a high level, still have the fitness, stamina and that all important will to win I say pick them.


So if that mean Paul Scholes going to the Euro’s at the expense of a younger player so be it… if that younger player feels aggrieved then they will have to improve or wait for Scholes to retire… again… it’s tough luck. No one should be picked for an international tournament in now because he has the potential to be WorldClass in 3 or 4 years time… that just doesn’t make sense… pick him when he’s good enough, not just because he might be.


So to these fans and so called “football experts” who all want to put a big boot in to Scholes, whilst pushing for Oxlaid-Chamberlain, you need to re-evaluate your Footballing ideas. The England Squad is not a Club Squad, and as such there is no need to “build for the future” through the England Team, that is there for the best players of their time, not the potential of the future unless they’re already good enough to represent their country at the highest lvl.


Should Scholes go to the Euro's? If he carries on in this form yes… and he’d get in my team ahead of Gerrard too at this point.

Should Oxlaid-Chamberlain go? For me he’s got to play a lot more in the second half of this season and show consistently good performances throughout 90mins…  so far he hasn’t, he has been very hit and miss and has lost the ball an awful lot but he is still young and learning. At the moment no he shouldn’t because he is not better then Lennon or Young.


You might not agree,  building for the future is fine, but do it when players are ready, and don’t fall in to the trap of the grass always being greener and the constant search for the next big thing… appreciate what you’ve got sometimes…

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Comment by thecityisred on February 16, 2012 at 13:58

Carrick should be the first name in midfield, but won't.

The perfect player for international football.

Comment by Cra19 - A true Red 'head' Devil on February 14, 2012 at 22:37


Just search 'Scholes vs Aston Villa 2006' on Youtube, what.a.beauty!

Comment by Cra19 - A true Red 'head' Devil on February 14, 2012 at 22:35

I think your just about spot on. I love Paul Scholes, his name can be found printed on all of my replica shirts I had as a child. I'm nippy, ginger and round around the pitch aimlessly kicking everyone, he was my idol. He is a master of passing and keeping possession and has resulted in him being nicknamed 'SatNav' in the United dressing room. The guy who we currently rely on to keep possession for England is Gareth Barry. Barry is in good form for City but Scholes does everything Barry does but better.

Sorry WC but the video below has to be one of my many favourite Scholes' moments, makes me smile every time.

<iframe width="420" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/lZRHa6AeyAI" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>


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