OTP’s English team of the season so far
After the dross served up at Wembley Stadium Fabio Capello received media lambasting, again. I can’t really see the logic in clamouring for the Italian to blood young talent and then criticising him when the under perform. Instead of constantly putting down the manager, is it not time to question why our players are simply not performing?
Well looking at the following list, it is because they are not performing in domestic football either. In OTP’s list of the best-performing English players in the Premier League this season so far, only two are playing for teams that finished in the top five in the Premier League last season. If the best performing players are not of international class, can we really hope to succeed?
The one position in which genuine positivity can be forgiven. Joe Hart, Paul Robinson and Rob Green have all performed well, but Foster has been a man inspired. After failing to impress at Manchester United, it would have been easy for Foster to become stagnant, but the opposite has happened. £6million looked a lot of money, but without the goalkeeper Birmingham’s mixed start would have been disastrous.
If we are being frank, Ashley Cole is the only English player that would get into a World XI. Cole has consistently performed for Chelsea, and this season has been no different.
It is a tragic testemony to the psyche of our modern media and plastic fan that England’s only true world-class player is also amongst its most hated. A sad state of affairs.
After becoming something of a forgotten man at Eastlands, Sunderland have reaped the benefits of his loan spell. A youth sprinter for England, Onuoha is arguably a more defensively stable version of Micah Richards, although Onuoha is less comfortable going forward.
Despite this, last weekend’s wonder goal at Stamford Bridge will give Nedum the confidence to carry on marauding forward.
As this list is compiled, Bolton sit in the Champions League places in the Premier League. Johan Elmander and Kevin Davies have performed admirably, but it is Cahill who is the club’s most valuable asset, providing the security in central defence.
Although Bolton have not kept a clean sheet since the opening day, Cahill has marshalled his defence. Trotters’ fans will hope that financial problems do not mean that the 24-year-old is sold in January or the summer.
Although it would be easy to scoff at Terry’s inclusion, England’s former captain is still very much the leader at Stamford Bridge, constantly prepared to put himself on the line to protect his goal.
It is no coincidence that Chelsea’s defensive issues in the last two games have coincided with Terry’s absence. If reports are true, it could be a while before Mr Chelsea returns.
The start of the 2010/11 season has not been Gerrard’s vintage, but he has still risen above the mediocrity (at best) that his teammates have served up, often being forced to grab games by the scruff of the neck. Gerrard’s England form is a large cause for concern, however.
Gerrard resembles a Sunday League player that is much better than the rest of his side, and should leave, but stays because the ground is quite near his house. It would be a shame if this was the lasting Gerrard legacy.
Nolan’s chance in international football may well be over, but the midfielder should be more than happy with his reinvention as a Premier League player of genuine class. It would have been easy for Nolan to leave St James’ Park upon relegation, but he instead captained his side to the title, top-scored and won Football League Player of the Season.
This season the Scouser has seven goals in 12 games, a fabulous return for the 28-year-old.
I have said previously that there is no English player that has put in more effort without reward. Etherington was Stoke’s top assist provider and top scorer last season, and has taken this form into the current campaign. His time at West Ham ended under a cloud thanks to his love of online betting sites, but Etherington seems a far happier character at the Britannia Stadium.
Stoke City have an unfashionable reputation of being a club that merely hoofs the ball up into the area. Whilst at times this is can be deserved, players such as Etherington allow the team to score goals of genuine quality.
West Ham have been Barry White this season (for fans of rhyming slang), and deservedly prop up the table. But Scott Parker doesn’t. The man that must have harmed Fabio Capello in a previous life has had to play as attacker, defender, holding midfielder and goalscorer for the Hammers.
Five goals in all competitions, bucketloads of blood, sweat and tears, and a performer that West Ham simply do not deserve.
Kevin Davies is a series of illogicalities. He fouls and he is fouled. He is an old fashioned centre forward and a great finisher. He is likeable and yet unpopular.
Whichever side of the Marmite fence you sit on with Davies, the facts this season are there: Six goals, four assists and a first England call up.
For Kevin Davies, simply read Andy Carroll. But with brushes with the law thrown in too. But what must be said is that the pressure of being Newcastle’s number nine is huge in a town that lives for Saturday 3pm.
Carroll is at times dislikeable, combining the brute presence of the old-school centre forward with the modern footballer’s penchant for off-field shenanigans, but he is the top scorer in the Premier League, and has also assisted four goals. In all he has directly contributed to 12 goals, more than West Ham and Wigan.