“Right-back has become England’s new left wing since the retirement of Gary Neville, with an apparent lack of options beyond Glen Johnson.” The words of a moron: a moron that epitomises the ignorant views of England Manager, Fabio Capello, and the majority of sporting journalists’ in the country. Said moron is Dominic Fifield, of the Guardian, who was commenting on the most recent squad selection for England’s friendies against Spain and Sweden.
The omission of Manchester City right-back Micah Richards from Capello’s squad was simply astounding given the youngster’s outstanding form this season and the majority of last season. If not more astounding was the general air of acceptance of this travesty, from the media. For Fifield to claim that “right-back is England’s new left wing” is farcical. England have a number of choices at right-back and to compare this to the period in the late nineties and early noughties where England had no left sided midfielders represents incredibly slack journalism.
Simply put, Richards is the best right-back in the country at the moment. Based on his current form, he could even be considered the best in Europe at the moment. Glen Johnson, on the other hand, has been little more than anonymous in recent months. It begs the question, how can Capello omit Richards from his squad entirely? Moreover, how can Fifield so boldly proclaim that there is a shortage of right-back options in England?
Infuriatingly, Fifield categorises Capello’s right back options in such a manner that suggests he agrees with Capello’s dire squad selection. Fifield wrote:
“First choice: Glen Johnson
Young contenders: Chris Smalling, Phil Jones, Kyle Walker, Martin Kelly
Also hopeful: Micah Richards”
“Also hopeful: Micah Richards”? How disgraceful. According to Fifield, Richards is ranked below two centre-halves (Smalling and Jones) in the pecking order. That just doesn’t make sense. The recent Manchester derby was surely enough evidence to suggest that Richards is far superior at full-back than Smalling and Jones. Smalling and Jones are, without doubt, promising centre-halves but are not worthy of comparison with Richards in right-back. Glen Johnson, on the otherhand, may well have been first choice two years ago but times change.
To top off Fifield’s farcical claims, he refers back to the Gary Neville England era in such a way to suggest it was some kind of utopia. Neville may have been a regular right-back for England throughout the years but you will find few who will hark back to the times when England could rely on the ever dependable days of Gary Neville. Top quality right-backs come in the shape of Brazillian legend Cafu, Spanish phenomenon Sergio Ramos and, dare I say, Micah Richards. Not Gary Neville.
It is little surprise that most people I speak to are disillusioned with the England national team. The combination of idiotic squad selections like this and moronic journalism only serve to alienate the supporters. Throw the fat-cat bureaucrats from the Football Association into the mix and that is enough to make me feel sick.
Words by Rob Toole