Date:Tuesday March 20 2007
Now don`t get me wrong, I have absolutely nothing against Preston`s striker Dave Nugent. In fact I, no doubt like many others, believe him to be one of the best strikers outside of the Premier League. But an England call-up?
Now its not that I don`t believe Nugent worthy of a call-up; no, McClaren could do a lot worse then to call up a few more like him; hungry young players who play with their hearts on their sleeves rather then some of these so-called superstars that occupy the England positions the ones who would rather play with their cheque books in their hands.
But the thing that really gets to me is McClaren`s bare-faced cheek the audacity he shows. He would rather play an out of position player at left back then a real left back, Phil Neville, Jamie Carragher or Gareth Barry will be played ahead of a real decent left back such as Reading`s own Nicky Shorey or Pompey`s versatile Matty Taylor.
Now I used to think, this is fair enough, McClaren is looking for players of a certain standard, (this is meant as no disrespect to Shorey or Taylor) but he is looking for players who are experienced in the top flight of English football, distinguished and established players and, more often then not, players who are playing at the highest level of club football - so if your club is in Europe then all the more chance you have.
Still I remained naively befuddled as to why consistent performers such as Kevin Nolan never quite made it into the team, but I clung to my ignorant thought that perhaps McClaren didn`t think him suitable at a higher level, maybe Gerrard and Lampard and Hargreaves could not be budged because every season they will be pitting themselves against Europe`s elite.
But for me Nugent`s inclusion in the England squad has changed all this.
The fact McClaren has neglected talents like these, Joey Barton and even Leroy Lita, (a striker who has scored against three of the big four clubs this season, amassed a total of 7 goals in the league and scored more goals then he has made appearances in domestic cups this season!) and yet he can pick a Championship striker make him the same type of hypocrite as his predecessor who choose the inexperienced Theo Walcott over Jermaine Defoe.
Nugent`s inclusion means McClaren cannot keep picking the same old underachievers anymore. For me this was a statement of intent and it has to be something McClaren acts upon. Now he has included a player from the Championship in his squad I think we deserve to see more unsung talents in the England squad.
But I think we all know what will happen in reality; McClaren won`t even have the balls to give Nugent time on the pitch, England will go a goal down to Israel and to save the day he will bring on the enigmatic (wait for it) Stewart Downing…
Same old England…
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