The Case For The Defence
Not Keeping 3/4s of the Chelsea Defence Together Was Costly Error

by Roy Dalley.

Easy to be wise after the event, as they say, so I’ll begin by directing you toward a tweet I wrote before Roy Hodgson announced his squad for the World Cup.

You probably can’t be bothered to check so here’s an action replay;

“Hart (alas); Johnson, Cahill, Terry, Cole; Gerrard, Henderson; Sterling, Barkley, Rooney; Sturridge. Job done!”

Got most of them right, at one time or another. Alas it’s the two who didn’t make the cut, Terry and Cole, who might have made a difference. A rather big difference.

Evertonians will probably protest, of course; but how many others are also bemoaning the presence of Jagielka, in particular, in the England team? And Baines, for all his quality in his opponents’ half, is not an international full-back (the key word in the sentence being ‘back’).

Yes, Terry and Cole are both getting on a bit and had issues with the Football Association, not to mention almost everybody else. But… are they any good..?

Would Terry & Cole’s experience have made all the difference to England’s World Cup campaign..?

Well those boffins in the stats office reckon so. Chelsea had the best defensive record in the Premier League last season, again, with Terry seemingly rejuvenated by the return of Jose Mourinho to Stamford Bridge. Cole, of course, played less of a starring role, and there is no doubt he can no longer bomb-on past the halfway line.

But doesn’t it make sense to select three club mates for your international team..? Three guys who have been around the world together keeping clever, quick and sometimes downright nasty opponents at bay..?

Hodgson would have been forced to employ a low defensive line but, in doing so, would have played to England’s strengths both in defence and attack.

Hodgson felt he was in a dilemna; play to his instincts or play to the crowd. If he’d only played like Chelsea in the Champions League, he could have done both – sitting back and allowing our wonderfully exciting forward line the room to use its explosive breaking potential.

Rather they were stifled trying to break down ranks of experienced and disciplined Italians and Uruguayans.

Yeah I know my tweet suggests Rooney on the left but, in truth, I would have liked to have seen an interchangeable attitude between the front four.

Certainly I would have told Rooney he is no longer the Big Man, as he declared himself before the 2006 tournament in Germany.

He’d have to put in the yards just like the rest of ’em! And, if not, then let’s see what Lallana can do…

 Roy Dalley is a former Fleet Street sportswriter (@RoyDalley)


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