Roy Hodgson’s World Cup squad was announced earlier this week, with Ashley Cole’s omission and subsequent international retirement dominating the headlines. Although there can be no doubting that the Chelsea left back was the most high-profile casualty, there are a number of English players that will feel a little aggrieved that their outstanding performances this season were not rewarded with a trip to Brazil. We decided to create an English XI made up of players that failed to make both the World Cup squad and the standby list. So without further adieu, we give you ‘The Aggrieved XI’.
Before we jump straight into the deep end and drown in the chorus of boos that will inevitably surround this controversial article, it is important that we outline the criteria for selection. Players must meet the following requirements in order to play for our ‘Aggrieved XI’.
- Players must be of English nationality or have declared to play for the Three Lions.
- Players that are eligible for English citizenship, but have not declared for England are not included, e.g. Mikel Arteta.
- Players that are on the standby list for the World Cup are not included, e.g.Tom Cleverley, Andy Carroll.
- Players that are missing the World Cup through injury are not included.
We have decided to to line out in a 4-5-1 formation, partly due to the lack of firepower at the Aggrieved XI’s disposal. Our central midfield selection is one that will dictate a lot of the game and tiki-taka style possession football will be a characteristic of this technically competent side, while our defence is built on strong foundations. First up is the goalkeeper.
GK: Robert Green – Queens Park Rangers
With John Ruddy making the standby list, Green was an easy choice to start between the sticks for the Aggrieved XI. Although their form hit new lows towards the end of the season, Queens Park Rangers were superb defensively for the majority of their Championship campaign.
Green has played 47 games this season, conceding just 45 goals. His heroics have seen QPR reach the Championship Playoff Final and one more big performance will see the former England international return to the Premier League at the age of 34. Green was an integral part of QPR’s eleven-game unbeaten run and with saves like this, he is a deserved member of the Aggrieved XI.
RB: Joel Ward – Crystal Palace
What an incredible season it has been for Tony Pulis and his overperforming Crystal Palace side. Joel Ward has been a leading light in an unforgettable campaign for the Eagles and deservedly scooped the club’s Young Player of the Year Award.
The 24-year-old can consider himself quite unlucky not to be named on Roy Hodgson’s standby list, with statistics compiled by WhoScored.com showing that Ward was the highest-rated English right back over 38 Premier League games. The former Portsmouth man averaged a rating of 7.27 out of 10.
LB: Kieran Gibbs – Arsenal
Arsenal fans took to Twitter to lambast Roy Hodgson following the exclusion of their beloved left-back from the World Cup squad, with many pinpointing Luke Shaw’s lack of experience as one of the reasons that Gibbs should be on the plane to Brazil.
— Carl Dickinson PT (@CTR200) May 12, 2014
There can be no doubting Gibbs’s obvious talent, but questions remain over his fitness. Although he performed well in his 28 appearances for the Gunners this season, the fact that he missed ten is worrying. The World Cup is a pressure cooker that will test the resolve of all players emotionally, mentally and physically. Playing a minimum of three games in quick succession can take its toll, especially on a player that is susceptible to injury.
The decision to bring Leighton Baines is understandable, but Luke Shaw’s inclusion over an established full back like Gibbs is questionable, and for that reason he is given the number three shirt for the Aggrieved XI.
CB: Ryan Shawcross – Stoke City
A career year for the ex-Manchester United defender saw him crowned Stoke City Player of the Year for the first time. Shawcross is in his seventh year with the Potters and wrote his name into the history books by becoming the club’s first player to make 200 Premier League appearances.
It was no surprise that the consistent performances from Shawcross coincided with Stoke City’s highest ever Premier League points haul and finish; fifty and 9th respectively. Although not yet on the same level as John Terry and Phil Jagielka, Shawcross will be disappointed he hasn’t been given a chance to add to his solitary England cap.
CB: Curtis Davies – Hull City
It has been an incredible year for Hull City, culminating in this Saturday’s FA Cup Final at Wembley. Curtis Davies has been at the heart of everything good about Steve Bruce’s side and was rightly awarded both the Player of the Season and Player’s Player of the Season awards for his performances.
The Opta Index showed that Davies won more aerial duels than any other English centre-back, had the second highest tackle count, and also had the joint highest interceptions for a centre-back in the Premier League. No wonder Hull City fans were unhappy with his exclusion.
Curtis Davies should get Phil Jones arrested for stealing his World Cup place — Matty Herworth (@mattyherworth) May 12, 2014
As we are playing a 4-5-1 formation, the engine room is filled with lung-busting, physical and technically proficient footballers. They are flanked by two pacy, skilful wingers that will provide our front man with the necessary supply for this team to win the fictional World Cup.
CM: Fabian Delph – Aston Villa
Fabian Delph is quite the enigma. He promised so much during his time at Leeds but failed to make the step up to the Premier League when joining Aston Villa. His reputation was tarnished and many questioned his ability to perform in England’s top tier. Fast forward to 2014 and a fantastic season has seen the box-to-box midfielder linked with a big money move to Newcastle.
While Villa have struggled, Delph has excelled and was Supporter’s Player of the Year. Additionally, Delph was voted man-of-the-match in 11 of his 34 outings in the Premier League. The boy’s got skills too…
CM: Gareth Barry (Captain) – Everton
Remarkable, revolutionary and resplendent is how one would describe Barry’s move from Manchester City to Everton. As one Twitter user put it,
Like to give out some Gareth Barry love. You didn’t get picked but trying to make the world cup instead of hiding on a bench took guts #efc
— Sporting Eye (@Sportingeye) May 13, 2014
Pundits are running out of superlatives to describe the midfielder’s performances for Roberto Martinez’s side and he captains the ‘Aggrieved XI’ solely because his exclusion is a farce. Having already been capped by Hodgson, one would think the experience and leadership Barry could offer to the younger members of the travelling party, such as Ross Barkley and Luke Shaw, would be invaluable.
LM: Adam Johnson – Sunderland
Adam Johnson is cut from the same cloth as a former England international by the name of David Bentley. Skill level, technique and ability cannot be questioned, but bottle and consistency can. Johnson, still just 26, played 36 games for the Black Cats, scoring eight goals and assisting five. These are great numbers considering Sunderland spent the majority of the season in the relegation zone with their backs against the wall.
Johnson’s exclusion is particularly disheartening for the former Middlesbrough star considering Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain played just 14 games, scoring twice and assisting two others. Johnson offers width to the Aggrieved XI, and provides a valuable outlet for our midfielders.
RM: Aaron Lennon – Tottenham Hotspur
The fact that Lennon’s exclusion slipped under the radar is indicative of the lack of appreciation the Tottenham winger has received in recent times. Capable of going from the sublime to the ridiculous in one fell swoop, Lennon’s flair and blistering pace would be a useful addition to the England squad.
His ability to turn on the jets would be very effective against a weak Costa Rican defence, and if England found themselves chasing the game against Italy or Uruguay, the prospect of two out of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Raheem Sterling and Lennon on the counter-attack would strike fear into defenders.
It is understandable that Lennon has not made the 23-man panel, but to include Tom Cleverley on the standby list ahead of him is laughable.
CAM: Jonjo Shelvey – Swansea
2014 has been a breakthrough season for Jonjo Shelvey and the youngster has flourished since his £5 million move to the Liberty Stadium. While six goals and six assists from midfield is a good return for a debut campaign, it is Shelvey’s overall presence in the Swansea engine room that has the greatest effect on the side.
His distribution this season has been fantastic, and Shelvey is a great reader of the game despite his youth (22). His unpredictability and youthful exuberance could have offered something different to the centre of England’s midfield, and while a starting berth is unrealistic, the experience of travelling to the World Cup would pay dividends in the long run.
A rough diamond, but one that will sparkle if given the necessary care.
CF: Danny Ings – Burnley
Before the Peter Crouch and Connor Wickham fan clubs grab their pitchforks and head straight for Pundit Arena HQ, hear me out. Danny Ings, with all due respect to Sean Dyche, has been the most important cog in the Burnley wheel that has spun its way to the England’s top tier. The importance of his 26 goals in all competitions cannot be understated.
Ings is still just 21 and, similar to Shelvey, a bit-part role in the World Cup travelling party is an investment that could have paid massive returns for the long term future of the English national team.
As is always the case with articles of this type, feel free to
lambast and abuse have your say on the Aggrieved XI. Who did we forget?
Richard Barrett, Pundit Arena.