by Rob Shepherd.
On the day Sven Goran Eriksson named his squad for the 2002 World Cup final squad, I bumped into his assistant Tord Grip at Marble Arch and we shared a cab for the short hop to the hotel where the 23 names would be revealed.
En route, Grip told me Eriksson had decided to include Martin Keown as extra cover in defence rather than gamble on the exciting wildcard option of Blackburn forward Matt Jansen.
Although Jansen was uncapped he was in the sort of form we have been seeing from Raheem Sterling recently, who as a consequence looks to have secured a late ticket. Jansen had even been measured for his suit.
However, they wanted the insurance of an extra defender.
But it didn’t make sense for a tournament England needed to go on front foot and win, given they had the tools to do just that.
As well as Jansen, Frank Lampard was also overlooked.
Given that Eriksson has cautiously only selected four forwards, the England squad needed more attacking bodies in midfield not a stalwart defender. After all, you’re not picking a squad for a 60-game season. It’s seven games if you go all the way the World Cup final – that’s cup football.
England could have done with more attacking options when trailing 2-1 to 10-man Brazil in the quarter-finals but the ageing Teddy Sheringham and Darius Vassell failed to offer the requisite spark when they came off the bench.
I’m not saying Jansen – who that summer suffered a motor bike accident that ruined his career – would have turned the tide. Or Lampard. But either could have done.
It just seems a waste of resources to overload a squad with defenders, when as history shows, defences tend not to change that much over such a short space of time at a tournament.
So it seems perfectly sensible for Roy Hodgson to load his squad with the ‘crackerjack’ wingers that have emerged over the last year.
And I would go further: Hodgson should now abandon 4-3-3 and really go for it with a full out 4-2-4 formation rather than a cautious 4-4-2. Don’t clip the wingers’ wings, let them fly!
And I would also take both Jermain Defoe and Andy Carroll, providing he gets some games and goals under his belt for the rest of the season.
So what if Defoe is playing the next couple of months for Toronto?
Physically and mentally it could mean he will actually turn up sharper.
Both Defoe and Carroll offer obvious alternatives to Daniel Sturridge and Wayne Rooney.
Here is the squad I think Hodgson should select;
Goalkeepers: Hart, Foster, Ruddy.
Defenders: Johnson, Cahill, Jagielka, Jones, Smalling, Baines, Shaw.
Midfielders: Lallana, Townsend, Gerrard, Lampard, Milner, Henderson, Barkley, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Sterling.
Forwards: Rooney, Sturridge, Carroll, Defoe.
My starting line up (4-2-3-1): Hart; Johnson, Cahill, Jagielka, Baines; Gerrard, Henderson; Oxlade-Chamberlain, Rooney, Sterling; Sturridge.