Date:Thursday February 8 2007
Whilst watching another farcical performance from England`s stale and clueless team in their friendly defeat against Spain last night, one thing that struck me above all other was the impact that a young man who is consistently tidy and at times mesmerising could have had made on such an unimpressive spectacle.
What with Phil Neville, who can be decent enough when in a defensive midfield role or on the right-hand side of the pitch, starting the game despite there being no intention of including him in a competitive match in the future.
Add to this the fact that he was playing out of position, with no left foot what so ever and question marks already high above his head relating to his previous England performances, as a left back.
This begs the question; why on earth has the most under-rated left back in England been overlooked for an international friendly in which the objective is to bring new players to the fray and to give individuals their chance to shine and stake their own claim? Not to go back in time and give the likes of Neville another cap to hang on his already stupidly over-decorated wall of honours.
The England boss, who has been widely regarded as the 'cheap option` as the successful candidate as Sven Goran-Eriksson`s successor, has recently admitted that he has not seen Reading play this season.
How, I hear you ask, can he possibly be selecting the appropriate players for his England squad when he hasn`t even been to watch an exciting new team to the division who are currently defying the odds and sit in the fantastic position of sixth in the Premiership table?!
Anyone would struggle to find a better left back than Nicky Shorey based on this season`s form. And with Chelsea`s Ashley Cole and Wayne Bridge both unavailable, the field is decreased even further. Shorey has been, without doubt, one of the stars of this Reading side and it must come as a massive kick in the guts for him to not have even been considered.
The new Scotland boss, Alex McLeish, has taken the time to watch our own captain and Shorey`s opposite, Graeme Murty, and I personally applaud that.
Murty has been away with Scotland this week for a training get-together under their new manager, and the ex-Rangers boss has been highly impressed.
McLeish said, 'Murty has had a brilliant season and Andy Watson [McLeish`s assistant] assessed him against Man City where Graeme was instrumental in their victory.
'He is playing in a very high calibre division in terms of world club football and Reading are having a fantastic season.
'We have to take note of that and monitor their progress. We'll be out and about watching the progress as much as possible.
'Murty's a regular and when I've seen him on TV he's acquitted himself well."
So where was McLaren, his assistant, or even one of his England scouts during this game or indeed any other this season? As Royals fans, our cry of "Shorey for England" has been loud, but this proves it has not been nearly loud enough.
Nicky Shorey would have definitely brought something to England`s team last night, not only his composure, his intelligence, his work-rate, and his phenomenal left foot and set-piece delivery, but also balance.
With a right footed Phil Neville, and then a midfielder in Gareth Barry filling the left back void, with Frank Lampard playing ahead of them, the flank was ineffective, lacking, and was, on the whole hopeless. It came as no surprise that Spain`s goal and eventual match-winner came from the man that Phil Neville should have been marking.
This whole situation is not only disappointing for Shorey himself, but for Reading as a club also. Will the likes of Steve Sidwell, Leroy Lita, or Nicky Shorey ever be rewarded for their fine weekly performances with the chance to represent their country at senior level? Under the current England management, I fear not.
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The Opposition View - Wolves (Saturday September 27 2014)
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