The draft has rattled to a close, here the writers present their final teams, and try and convince you as to why they should have their side voted the best!
My team is a team full of grit, determination but still blessed with flair. Every player in my defence and eight of my eleven players have been England captain, much like Mourinho’s Chelsea, a team full of so many leaders is bound to breed success. With that in mind, this is how I’d imagine my team to play.
Barring 1958 and 1970 Brazil, name me an attack in the history of football likely to get past a defence of Armfield, Moore, Butcher and Mills? If you don’t concede then you can’t lose and all success starts from the back, so it was important for me to have a strong defence as without one, your attacking players won’t have the same freedom to excel anyway. Chris Woods kept an all-time high clean-sheet percentage for England, with 25 clean sheets in 43 games, with this defence in front of him that number is bound to be even more impressive. It’s a back four full of a” British Bulldog” spirit but players such as Moore and Armfield are equally as talented with their feet, allowing my team to play free flowing football with the ball.
In front of this defence in a defensive midfield/halfback role is Eric Dier, another player with a warrior’s spirit. His inclusion gives an already formidable defence extra protection and allows my other two midfielders to enjoy more freedom in the midfield where they can thrive. Robson was arguably the most talented English midfielder of his generation and if Bobby Robson’s opinion is anything to go by, he was. He and Wise would be the playmakers of the team, but any football fan knows, they aren’t scared to get stuck in either. Both technically gifted with lots of flair, I’d expect the midfield to pop up with plenty of goals themselves. The work ethic of my midfield in front of the defence would make my team effective in the counter-press once losing the ball, a key component of modern-day football.
My attack is rather traditional in the sense of I’m interested in one thing, goals. I want natural finishers, I don’t need strikers with formidable all-round play, I’m interested in goals. Hunt, Bloomer and Woodward provide that in clinical fashion. Hunt would be the striker with the most influence in build-up play, he was largely credited for his link up play throughout his era. Woodward and Bloomer are simply there to finish off the chances created for them. With both Bloomer and Woodward having more goals than caps for England, I’m counting this as a 2-0 head start from kick-off. That’s quite the task to come back from with a defence full of four England captains.
I’m playing a 4-3-3 formation that would be effective in the Gegenpress, we would defend from the front. The three strikers would rotate sides frequently in order to draw defenders out of position and create spaces for the midfielders to run into. While I would want the strikers to press, I wouldn’t want them to track back, they need to stay around the box where they fit best. A high-line would be played in order for the counter-press to be effective. The lack of width from the strikers would be made up for with overlaps from the full backs to provide width and I’ve chosen players adequate to do that. I chose my whole team with the matchday tactics already in mind, luckily I found players effective for this.
I’m confident that with my XI and tactical analysis, my team is the best XI.
At the risk of sounding over-confident, I'm pretty happy with the XI that I ended up with. The key to a successful team is balance, and my picks provide me with exactly that, making them a tough prospect for any side.
Every team needs a commanding keeper, and the 6 foot 4, 24 stone William Foulke is going to be a frightening presence for any oncoming attackers. Harry Maguire and Emlyn Hughes have 88 caps between them, and this centre-back pairing offers composure, defensive solidity and in the case of Maguire, a potent goal threat. Stuart Pearce is a born leader, and his ferocious style of play means that no one is going to have an easy time down our left-hand side. Kieran Trippier offers a more attack-minded option at right-back, with his unerring accuracy from set pieces sure to give the rest of my side plenty of chances to feed on.
Moving into midfield, the engine room of Glenn Hoddle and Bobby Charlton is absolutely unrivalled. Two of England's greatest ever midfielders, they bring to the table their incredible passing range and superb striking ability. They guarantee goals from midfield, and would almost certainly dictate games from the middle of the park. John Barnes brings lightning pace and an eye for goal, and with Pearce watching his back, he will have free reign to cause terror down the left wing. Ross Barkley can cause real damage when he gets on the ball, and with supply from Charlton and Hoddle, he will have ample opportunity to drive at defences and look to get the ball into the box.
Up front, Stan Mortensen and Jackie Milburn is as lethal a combination as any. As two of the greatest strikers of the 1950's, with a combined 35 goals in 38 England appearances, they are bound to cause a headache for even the most resolute of defences. With set pieces courtesy of Trippier, Barnes and Barkley driving down the flanks and creating space, and the passing ability of my midfield combination, this strike force will get plenty of service. Both were renowned for their extraordinary talent in front of goal, and the creative capability of my XI means that they will get the platform to show just how good they are.
Ron Greenwood- perhaps not revolutionary in a footballing sense, but his move to integrate black players into the international set up should not go unnoticed. With this team, all he has to do is ensure that they play to their individual strengths, making sure that those defensive players remain solid, the creative players have the licence to drive forwards and the strikers rely on their natural goalscoring abilities to help this XI to glory.
After initially going into this feeling optimistic I could get my ideal starting XI, you can imagine how naive I was when after Round 2 my team had gone. Combining the usual suspects of Gerrard, Scholes, Beckham and Moore, these players got picked pretty much straight away. I was left with some difficult choices, but I think that the team I’ve created is deserving of the title.
I’ll start at the back, with Joe Hart providing a level of experience that most England GKs can't gloat. Being the second most capped GK, he’s seen his fair share of game-time and has been with England through the good times, and the bad. Although my rock hard backline will result in fewer shots on target, the fans can rest assured that Hart will have them covered. The CB pairing of Tony Adams and Chris Smalling is all you could ask for; leadership, height and tenacity. There’s a reason why Tony Adams is rated so highly by both Arsenal and England fans alike. He’s a natural born leader, who’ll organise the defence and ensure that slip ups are to a minimum. With this leadership, Smalling will boost to his Roma form, with crunching tackles and big headers up and down the pitch. Ashley Cole is undeniably one of the best LBs to ever grace the English game, an unbelievable defender with a few unfortunate bad habits off the pitch, but a will to rectify them whilst on it. Phil Neville will also stick to a solid game plan and won’t stray far from what he knows, being a naturally gifted RB.
Moving to the midfield, I think that Barry will instil a calm, cool and collected feel to those around him. Another leader on the team, following from Adams, he’s just as capable tackling as he is lobbing the ball forward, and providing his teammates with counter attacking play. He also knows how to relax the game and, whenever he feels his team are on edge, he’ll play it back and give the lads a breather. He’s got a few fresh faces around him, however, with the likes of Alli and Lingard being desperate to run with the ball and have a few moments of class. Alli is wise beyond his years in terms of attacking play, and will regain some of his Mourinho form on the pitch. Lingard shows that mental attidue is half the battle, and will hopefully provide the lads with some laid-back vibes before the big games. Also, in wanting to see what dance moves he pulls off next, his team-mates will be looking to set him up for some easy tap in!
Moving to the attacking portion of this team, the icing on the cake, we’ve got Peter Beardsley. A strong, perhaps under-looked member of my team, he’s been labelled one of the best partners a striker can have. Playing in a nice CF/CAM role for my team, he’ll hopefully assist some of the other lads while banging some in himself. He won’t have to worry about goals too badly, as the strike force of Defoe and Rooney should catalyse together to make a force to be reckoned with. Rooney, the natural goalscorer with the most England goals of all-time, will be in prime form in this team, playing off the others perfectly and attacking with the finesse he’s done his entire career. Defoe, another experienced striker, will match Rooney’s enthusiasm, with both wanting to score more goals than the other!
While this team has a few legendary leaders, the man who started it all, Walter Winterbottom, will take this team to glory with his national pride spurring him on. The trailblazer for the England team we know and love, Winterbottom manifested his love of the game into a coaching regime which has inspired hundreds in the sport.
I think this team has what it takes. Do you?
Just look at that line-up and tell me it doesn’t blow you away. I’ve got a mixture of all sorts from England’s international history, featuring players from before the Second World War, World Cup winners, those involved in England’s “thirty years of hurt” and the next generation. Mine is a team that spans from the start of the 20th century to the present day, and it’s a bloody good line-up.
Between the sticks we’ve got Everton and former Sunderland goalkeeper, Jordan Pickford. This is a bloke who oozes confidence in an England jersey and can save a game. He also isn’t too bad at saving penalties as seen in the World Cup game against Columbia. Although he may be going through a rough patch at the moment, he rightfully earns a spot in my side as one of the best goalkeepers to have played for England.
Opting for a classic and solid back four, I’ve got a rather strong defence considering all the “big names” went rather quickly. Every side needs strong and reliable centre-halves and I’ve got two of the best to have ever played for England. World Cup winner Jack Charlton is a solid tackler at the back, he’s joined by the pacey and hard tackling Des Walker. Concerning full-backs, hardman Eddie Hapgood fits in on the left, with Phil Neal on the right, with both providing options down the wing to go up and support the rest of the team on the attack.
Moving into midfield, I’ve got a strong combination of players with different abilities. Here, captain Jordan Henderson sits in the centre of midfield, a cool and calm head, the former Sunderland lad will be keeping the team in check, providing balls to attack whilst also being able to help the defence out when needed. Alongside him sits Ruben Loftus-Cheek, a bright young star for England, Loftus-Cheek offers a more attacking option, with the ability to sit a bit up the field to Henderson and act as a playmaker. On the wings, we’ve got two of the best, Steve McManaman and England legend, Gazza. McManaman is able to deliver the perfect pass and provide opportunities for those in the box. With Gazza running ragged on the other side, his creativity, playmaking and ability to score goals makes him key on the right.
Up top, we’ve got two of the most talented strikers to have played with England, a perfect blend of old and new. Teddy Sheringham sits just behind Tommy Lawton. Sheringham acts as more of a playmaker, dropping off from Lawton and having the ability to set up Gazza or Lawton, whilst also being able to snatch a couple of goals for himself. Lawton sits at the top of the pitch as England’s main goalscorer with 22 goals in 23 appearances for his club. A classic centre-forward, the man can score with his feet, his head, his chest, wherever the ball is played to him, he’ll bang it in the back of the net.
Overseen by the man with a 100% win rate for England, Sam Allardyce, this is a team which oozes with talent and spans across over 100 years of England’s international history. It’s a team rammed with incredibly talented players both defensively and up front. This is easily the best team out of the bunch.
With the mastermind Fabio Capello as boss, providing a tactical insight and winning mentality, this side is already at an advantage compared to the other sides. Playing a 4-5-1 formation would provide balance in defence and attack, being compact and difficult to break down whilst dominating the midfield battle. Furthermore with pace on wings and a tough, physical striker providing a focal point in attack. With the six time Fifa goalkeeper of the year and World Cup winner Gordon Banks, this team will have a solid foundation. It is unlikely that the other teams presented have the quality to score past Banks.
As well as a world class keeper, the back four are all proven winners. With three of them playing for Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United and Ray Wilson a winner of the 1966 World Cup. With Ferdinand offering an athleticism and a world class ability partnered by the dominating Gary Pallister, this would make a formidable duo. With the experience of Wilson, the oldest member of the ’66 side and the resilience of Anderson, this back four would limit the opposition to very few chances as well as creating a platform to play out from. Furthermore the arial ability of this back four would also be problematic at set pieces for any opposition. This midfield contains such well rounded players it could adapt to play any style to counter the oppositions tactics.
All three central midfielders are capable of scoring goals, especially David Platt who was a prolific scorer for the Three Lions. Duncan Edwards, one of the most talented Englishmen of all time, offers composure and physicality which is key to breaking up opposition attacks as well as starting his sides own attacking moves from his own half. World Cup winner Ron Flowers also provides certainty from the spot, being Englands greatest penalty taker with an 100% conversion rate. All three central midfielders possessed the passing ability to play short and long passes with outstanding accuracy which would effectively bring the striker and wingers into the game.
In addition to the prolific scoring centre midfield, Shaun Wright-Phillips adds speed and flair which will be key in creating space as well as isolating tired defenders. Jimmy Dickinson although slightly more defensive minded, had an engine as well as great passing ability. Both wide players through their proficient crossing ability create a threat out wide complementing the goal-scoring ability of central midfield. The focal point of attack will be the iconic Mick Channon at striker. His clinical nature will result in many goals as well as his physical hold up lay providing a platform for his teammates to attack off.
All you have to do is look at my team to see the quality, with English talent stretching across the eras. With the genius of Sven-Göran Eriksson coaching the team it's hard to see where it would go wrong. I'm fielding my team in a 4-4-2 with a diamond in the center of the pitch. Starting at the back with the masterful shot-stopper in David James, he's the solid foundation of the team.
Just infront you've got the hard-men, Martin Keown and Jamie Carragher, more bully's than footballers, but that's what you need for a rock solid defence, with the speed and strength these two hold there isn't a chance in hell any forwards are making it past, at least without a kick to the shins.
At right back I have the incredible talent of Trent Alexander-Arnold, arguably the best right back in the world at the time of writing, he provides my team with strength defensively, speed and intelligence going forward, and importantly a killer cross.
In the left back role I have Danny Rose, a strong defensive pick and hard-worker. Valuable in the team for his defensive attributes but also his skill in moving forward up the left wing, not a man to be left out, looking at you Jose.
In defensive midfield I have the genius that is Owen Hargreaves, although disliked by many in England at first, his skill on the ball taught people to admire and respect his game, a class footballer and a class act on the pitch.
Sitting forward in the CAM position I have the genius that is Paul Scholes, tireless work ethic, impeccable skill, and a tough fighting attitude to boot. Disrespected in the real world by various managers of England, Scholes is the linchpin of my team, if the team win, Scholes will have had something to do with it.
Cliff Bastin is the man I've got running up the left wing, a talented footballer with a career cut short by war. The third highest scoring Arsenal man, Bastin will be a force to be reckoned with for any defence, combining with the forwards up the pitch he'll be a handful.
On the right wing is the magician David Beckham, potentially the most recognisable footballer to ever live, maybe due to his career afterwards, but that only happened because of the way he could play. When playing against Beckham a team could never quite be happy that they'd won it, all it would take would be a little space, a free-kick, a good cross and he could get his team back in the game. It's for this reason alone Beckham is in the team, his threat going forward was so significant I didn't have a choice but to pick him.
Finally to the front pair, as many Liverpool fans like to say Firmino is a defensive striker, thats the role I have envisioned for Danny Welbeck, he's there to use his pace, strength and height to hold up the ball, with his striker partner he will be invaluable not for scoring goals, but for moving defenders and creating chances for his teammates. Beside him will sit Marcus Rashford, an unbelievably talented player, only 22 years old and already a regular for the England side, his pace, athleticism and footballing brain earn him a spot in any side. With Bastin, Welbeck and Beckham all supplying him, there is absolutely no chance the Rashford doesn't score against any defence pitted against him.
There is absolutely no chance that my team isn't the best on this list, the only way in which I could've made it better is to have more Man Utd players!
Not wanting to lie to you, my team is lethal. It has it all. There is simply no weak link. It’s 2019/20 Liverpool, 2010 Spain and 1970 Brazil all rolled into one majestic English side. If this England side could ever get together and play, it would be beautiful, borderline poetry.
Alf Ramsey remains the only manager in the history of the beautiful game to lift the World Cup as England manager. He unlocked England’s maximum potential in the mid ‘60s, finding a style of play to get the best out of everyone. He would do the absolute same here and tactically outmaster inferior managers.
Now let’s turn our attention to our attack. Three of the finest strikers to ever grace a Three Lions shirt, in my opinion containing two of the best three. Lineker has more World Cup goals than any other Englishman, winning the 1986 World Cup golden boot (an almost unheard of feat) with a tally of 6, before netting 4 more at the 1990 tournament. Johnny Haynes, a.k.a. “the maestro” has 18 English goals and captained his country on 22 occasions. A natural-born finisher and a leader of men, I have no doubt that a Haynes-Lineker partnership would be unstoppable. This is only strengthened by the support of Robbie Fowler, a true team player and everyone’s aware of what he’s capable of from his Liverpool days. This strikeforce have a mighty 73 goals between them and even a top defence would have their work cut out trying to contain them.
This midfield would run the show. Steven Gerrard, Declan Rice and Colin Bell all love to call the shots and dictate the pace of the game. Gerrard is one of the greatest English talents of all time, a sporting icon recognised in all four corners of the globe. Gerrard took his game to the next level by adding a sight for goal, and will be remembered for his three Euros, three World Cups and being a long-term captain. Eager to pick top players from across the decades I chose Colin Bell to partner Gerrard. The David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne of the 1960s and 70s, Bell created non-stop chances as the team looked to him to turn defence into attack. I have no doubt that the young Declan Rice would not be intimidated by being mentioned alongside historical heavyweights. He will be one of the greatest defensive midfielders in the world over the next decade and England are lucky to have him.
The defence has a robust sense of class about it. George Cohen’s defence at the 1966 World Cup conceded just three goals all tournament. Cohen won 37 caps for England, all of them under Alf Ramsey’s leadership. Gareth Southgate and John Terry form a good cop, bad cop partnership at the back. Both of them are guaranteed to give their all, and they’re two of the English centre backs who are known to not stop until the whistle’s gone, with various high profile goal-line clearances and body blocks. Adept passers of the ball, we’d be able to play out from the back too. Ben Chilwell’s emerged through the English youth system at a time when Ashley Cole’s career was coming to an end. Since then he’s done nothing but impress and consolidated himself as Southgate’s first choice left back. Tim Flowers was playing in the late 90s, a time when competition for the #1 jersey was hot. He made the squad for a Euros and a World Cup, and has a higher clean sheet percentage than Shilton, Seaman, Banks and Pickford.
All in all, this team has timeless class, panache and remarkable determination, managed by one of the cleverest football brains in English history. An opposition would get out-hustled on the wing, crowded-out in midfield and caught short at the back. Surely the perfect combination for the greatest XI.
My team is quite frankly, awful. A mismatch of players in the wrong positions decorate the pitch with no area really having a lot of strength other than my forwards.
Joe Mercer manages my squad and therefore all blame will be passed onto him. Lets start with my front two. Owen and Vardy. Fairly solid, fairly talented, but as far as England squads go, only one of them has any merit. Unfortunately for Vardy, he's not done much for the international side. He's barely even played. Owen was a wonderkid however and i'm sure his prowess in front of goal will secure me a whole host of points. Ian Wright sits in the centre forward position, ready to assist and deliver whenever he's needed. Which with my squad, will be most of the time.
Lets move on to the middle. Why is Callum Wilson my left mid? Who knows, not me that's for sure. He's useless, my worst player, I picked him out of panic. Then we have the actual midfielders. James Milner and The Ox. Both formidable and devastating defenders, I don't doubt they'll do me proud. It's a shame about Wilson though.
Now for the partially questionable defence. We have Kyle Walker, John Stones and Phil Jones. I know what you're thinking, "That's not great, but they're all defenders at least". Wrong. Heskey finishes off my defensive four. Why you ask? No clue, panicked, thought I was funny, how wrong I was. Although solid in other areas, the left side of my defence is rather weak. Ron Springnett is my keeper, a golden oldie who has been relatively unheard of. Poor Ron. I like him, he'll do me proud i'm sure.
So that's my team, my golden 11. What a load of toss. I see the potential in this team, and consider myself the underdog. Everyone loves the underdog, I hope the same can be said for my team.
Right. So I am going with a 4-3-3. I have one of England's best keepers with Peter Shilton - just the name says enough. In front of him is a tough tackling Sol Campbell as well as the best English centre back right now - Joe Gomez. That's a central defence that can play out from the back and clear the ball as the situation requires, not to mention that it is speedy and it is strong so outmuscling and outpacing is difficult to say the least. Kenny Sansom on the left and Micah Richards on the right is an experienced duo with solid defensive prowess as well as good attacking midfield.
In midfield I have the perfect balance with a tough tackling, rough-housing Joey Barton providing cover, an intelligent Alan Ball Jr. lying deep in midfield and reading the game while Mason Mount provides a creative and goalscoring threat going from midfield into the final third.
With Darren Anderton and Jadon Sancho on the wings I have both pace and versatility as both of these quick wingers can play on either side and make runs based on their reading of the game. They are goalscoring threats as well as threats to play that killer pass through the opposition defence. Together with Mount and Ball, this is the most exciting attacking lineup by far with the perfect blend of youth and experience as well as creativity and industry.
And finally, one of the most lethal finishers this country has ever seen leads the line for me with Harry Kane. His impeccable record for Spurs and for England speaks for itself and not only has he done it with an alarming regularity, he has scored goals while shouldering the burden of captaincy (in a World cup semi-final run no less) as well. Hence, Harry Kane is both my captain and my number nine.
As for my manager, Terry Venables is one of the most tactically aware and intelligent managers there have been and he will be the perfect man to extract the full potential of a side that is both defensively and offensively capable. With both players he worked with and players he probably wished he had worked with, this side has all the ingredients to be the best he has ever coached.
I think my team would be a match for any England team that has ever taken the field together, including the ’66 side. We start with two absolute legends of the game. Jimmy Greaves has one of the most outrageous goalscoring records ever and would be odds on to put a few past any opposition. Alongside him is Kevin Keegan, another mercurial talent and a back to back Ballon D’or winner. My team isn’t going to struggle for goals.
Behind them we have a star-studded midfield featuring two World Cup winners and possibly the greatest English player of all time, Sir Tom Finney. A proud Prestonian Sir Tom could do absolutely anything, goals, assists, a turn of pace and an unbelievable technique, all whilst playing at a time when the opposition were perfectly entitled to assault him throughout the game. With Martin Peters on the left we have world class attacking threats on both wings and yet another prodigious goal scorer. I needed a player in the centre to thread pinpoint passes through to my front four, and there are few players better at this than Michael Carrick. Alongside him is Nobby Styles, providing a balance with his hard tackling and boundless energy, he’ll win it back, give it to Carrick and we’ll be away.
I’ll admit my back four is weaker than the rest of my team. However, even though there are no big names I think they're all solid defenders, and with two Italia ’90 veterans and two club captains they’ll be more than capable of doing a job against most opposition. Whatever they can’t stop will be cleaned up by Ray Clemence, one of the best English keepers of all time and a multiple European Cup winner.
My team aren’t exactly going to scrape out many 1-0s, but with an embarrassment of riches up front and Clemence keeping us in it at the other end we’d manage to score one more than the opposition more often than not.
Glen Hoddle has a team on his hands here. Exciting youth meets experienced players in my attacking outfit.
Playing a 4-4-2 diamond, my side is going with the mantra that attack is the best form of defence. Attacking midfielder Joe Cole hardly put a foot wrong in his 56 international appearances and is the engine for my team. Cole will be tasked with turning defence into attack, driving forwards from the midfield.
The man who is going to win that ball and get it into Cole’s feet is Scott Parker. The midfielder is also ever-reliable. The former England captain may have only played 18 times for the Three Lions, but man-of-the-match winning performances over those make him a solid choice.
The danger is my side is no doubt coming from the two men up top. The legendary Dixie Dean averaged more than a goal a game for England with hat-tricks coming against Belgium and Luxembourg… just imagine how important the talisman would be on today’s international scene having played before any England involvement in World Cups. Peter Crouch will be up top with Dean. Crouchy averages over one goal every two games, perhaps surprisingly deadly statistics from the lanky fella'. He’ll be vital in winning knock-downs into Dean’s feet and feasting on crosses from attacking wing-backs Leighton Baines and Glenn Johnson.
Wingers Raheem Sterling and Theo Walcott will play with a licence to cut in. Sterling is a modern legend and one of the best players I’ve seen in the England shirt. Anyone who follows the game won’t need that justifying. Walcott, however, perhaps needs explaining. This is the Theo Walcott of the early 2010s and not the fraud who dosses around on Goodison Park’s flank today. Walcott has an England hat-trick to his name and proved himself capable of changing a game after a vital assist and goal against Sweden in Euro 2012. His international showings even earned praise from Lionel Messi at his best!
I’m hoping my back four won’t have too much to do with Scott Parker in action in front of them. However, if they are called upon, Phil Jagielka and Joleon Lescott are my knights in shining armour. The former Everton pair amassed nearly 70 international caps between them and are on the same wavelength thanks to their Toffees relationship. Baines and Johnson will also track back when needs be - Bainesy on free-kicks and penalties. In goal, Nigel Martyn is a proved penalty-save for the international side so will see us through any matches decided from the spot.
The Key to the XI that I have chosen is very simply loyalty. An overwhelming majority of this team has placed themselves into the respective 'Hall Of Fame' of the clubs that they spent the majority of their careers at. This is imperative to any national side in my opinion. Yes, of course, you want talent (which by the way is in abundance in this team), but this is a football team that I feel is selfless and would command respect in any footballing era.
Starting between the sticks we have David Seaman. I personally think Seaman is one of only a select few national goalkeepers that was never really challenged for his shirt when playing for England. This, and the fact that he has written himself into Arsenal folklore, makes him an ideal choice for this team.
The great thing about the defence that I've chosen is that it is able to combat and overcome adversity in whatever form it comes in. Looking centrally, Ledley King is a top centre-half, were it not for such untimely injuries that wreaked havoc into his career. Gary Cahill knows a thing or two about winning things, playing in the conquering Chelsea side that won the 2012 Champions League, whilst also having multiple Premier League and Europa League winners medals in his cabinet at home. He, though, also knows a thing or two about playing when the stakes are down, his England career was long, but he was forced to play a lot of the time in teams that on the whole were underwhelming, being one of the few sparks in this era.
The wider flanks defensively or occupied by Roger Byrne and Gary Neville. Manchester United fans know the loyalty both of these players had in their eras, with leadership qualities and rugged defensive natures to their game that any national team would crave.
The central midfield is admittedly attacking, but being able to select England regulars such as Trevor Brooking and Ray Wilkins commanding these areas it's with little issue. Playing wide of them there is largely unsung hero Steve Coppell occupying left wing. A career that saw him pop up with all important goals, this is exactly what any team would require in the finals of any international competition. Stanley Matthews on the right offers so much attacking threat too. His raw pace and persistence, along with his long-lasting 'never give up' career, making him a perfect candidate for this team.
The attack oozes goals. Geoff Hurst is the only man to have scored a hat-trick of goals in a World Cup Final. Enough said. Trevor Francis meanwhile is also a handy striker to have around, with him netting into the double digits in his England career, whilst also having the experience of over 50 caps for England.
To lead this team, there was really only one man that worked in the best fashion for this type of comradery I believe this team would carry - Bobby Robson. One of the best 'man managers' to have graced the game, Robson has influenced an endless list of players throughout his managerial career, to the extent that top managers today often reflect on the philosophies that he'd influenced them with. Along with this is the fact that he was a handy manager to have in international tournament finals too, leading England to an agonising penalty shootout loss to Germany in the Italia '90 World Cup. Choosing Robson rounded off the team perfectly.
So, overall I believe this team has the quality to succeed. That's fine and well and I think everyone else's has this too. What makes this team a step further, however, is the fact that the players within it enjoyed long England careers and much success at club level, with this largely being down to the huge teamwork and leadership qualities these players possessed, with a spirit that any England side of yesteryear could take inspiration from.
1966 was England’s one and only World Cup win and it was a glorious day for English sporting history. Since then it’s been pain and heartbreak. However, if my squad had been entered into a tournament I’m fairly sure that the golden trophy would be coming home to England! In the technical area I have current England gaffer Gareth Southgate who will be working his magic on the 4-4-2 diamond- famous for it’s epic failure under Nathan Jones at Stoke City. Up top are Alan Shearer and Nat Lofthouse, two relentless finishers who really knew where the net was. Shearer was a dead ball specialist too and will be on free kicks and penalties for my team.
Sitting behind the front two in the number 10 role will be Frank Lampard. A clever midfielder with a keen eye for goal, Lampard will be looking to play the strikers in on goal or go for it himself. On the wings are Paul Merson and Chris Waddle. The right sided Merson will be the goalscorer of the two, using his skills to shoot from distance. On the left expect Waddle to be skinning defenders, with his mullet waving in the wind he’ll be using his pace to create chances for the other attackers. Sitting deep in midfield is Paul Ince who will be winning the ball back for my team and spraying passes forwards.
The back four consist of Wayne Bridge, Neil Franklin, Billy Wright and Lee Dixon. The fullbacks Bridge and Dixon will make darting runs forward on the overlap and use their power to shoot from the edge of the box, but are also reliable in defence. My centre back pairing actually played together for England, as Wright and Franklin commanded the England defence through the 40’s and 50’s. Both were equally skilled footballers as defenders and will hopefully be keeping goalkeeper Paul Robinson out of trouble. In goal Robinson will be hoping to be at his shot blocking best to keep opponents out and close out some wins for my team. But what do you think? Does this team have what it takes to bring success to England?
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