Our Gift To The FA: The 23-Man Squad England Should Take To Euro 2012

Chris Wright

26th, April 2012


By Chris Wright

Yesterday came the news that interim coach Stuart Pearce may (rather farcically, we might add) find himself railroaded into selecting England’s 23-man squad for the European Championships of 2012 if the FA don’t pull their stubby fingers out and get around to swearing in Harry ‘Tottenham Hotwho?’ Redknapp by May 10th. This, naturally, turned Pies’ thoughts Poland and Ukraine-wards.

Fancy being in attendance when Pies’ stellar squad reach the big one in Polkraine this summer? In that case, you better get a wriggle on and start snaffling yourselves some Euro 2012 final tickets quick-smart!

“Right,” we bloody well thought, “we need 23 English men; stout of stature, ruddy of cheek and stiff of upper lip to do Queen Victoria proud over in the UN’s East Central and South-East Europe Division this summer. If we’re going to do this, let’s do it properly shall we? Like El Alamein were it sponsored by Mastercard.”

An English national team should be both the reflection and pinnacle of the world famous, much-envied English style which has been handed down from Sunday league manager to nicotine-stained Sunday league manager since the dawn of time.

Breathe it in, you can almost smell the dog turds

At nearly every single level of amateur and adolescent football across Britain, the exact same ‘route one’ protocols are regimentally adhered to. It’s beautifully simple and sometimes upwards of 50% effective. We like those percentages.

Brawny, thick-necked, day release centre-backs hump thoughtless clearances up into the strata for assorted teammates to either chase like packhounds, ‘get on the end of’ (risking severe spinal compression) or, if my experiences of Sunday league football are anything to go by, ignore completely.

Like the undying allegiance to the rigid 4-4-2, the ever-present threat of match-day salmonella and the now quarterly day-shift/B-team hooker scandals, ‘long ball’ football is an ingrained staple of the English game.

It’s time for the English national side to forgo their increasingly desperate delusions of grandeur and join the rest of us in the stagnant rut. Obviously, it will need a bit of refining (this is the continental stage after all), but why fight the inevitable? Fill the box with meat and then sling salvo after salvo into that mutha.

Less Messi, more Heskey

Whilst the breeding and proving grounds of the global game have almost entirely shifted their focus to cultivating the perfect agile blend of magic forest pixie and malnourished street urchin, the English staunchly maintain their propensity for producing 6’5” elbow swingers and stubby-legged midfield agitators whose attributes can only be measured in ‘bags’ (passion, commitment, etc).

Lord knows we’ve tried to transcend from the mire over these past few years with National Football Centres, tailored kits and the odd Adam Johnson appearance – but the masquerade has proved to be ultimately translucent.

What we need to do as a national collective is begin to carefully deflate our ludicrously pompous dreams of tournament domination, pack away the empire, the Raj, the village green, and begin to proudly embrace the mediocrity that we have blindly peddled for so very long – embrace pre-game hangovers and withering lager breath, embrace having to play in borrowed boots, embrace those strange bristled boot cleaners outside the changing rooms, embrace a warm can of Strongbow at half-time. It’s in our DNA. This is what Xavi was talking about people.

Enlightened pundits and tag-along fawners may continue to lactate over Barcelona’s particular brand of final-third dry-humpery but, lest we forget, Pep’s developmentally stunted pixies haven’t won anything for going on five months now.

Conversely, the Cat & Fiddle are currently nine-tenths of the way to successfully defending their Fray Bentos Northern League crown – need I say more?

England: Pub team without the half-time cigarettes.

* * * * *

So, after all that waffling, here’s Pies’ pick: Assuming Emile Heskey won’t reverse his international retirement, before ye lie the 23 very best (English) hurly-burly battering rams, gritty six-foot-plussers, stud-happy enforcers and sly gamesmanshipmongers fit for active service this summer…plus Joe Hart.

Goalkeepers: Joe Hart, John Ruddy, Ben Foster

Defenders: John Terry (c), Gary Cahill, Ryan Shawcross, Mike Williamson, Ryan Shotton (the English Delap), Paul Robinson, Tony Hibbert (his time has come)

Midfielders: Lee Bowyer, Michael Brown, Karl Henry, Lee Cattermole, Emmanuel Frimpong (forget Ghana son, you’re coming with us), Joey Barton, James Milner, David Beckham (who better to sling an endless slew of free-kicks and corners into the box?).

Forwards: Wayne Rooney (for emergencies), Andy Carroll, Peter Crouch, Kevin Davies, Grant Holt

Manager: Neil Ruddock would obviously be the preference.

Starting XI vs France (4-4-2, naturally)…

Hart – Shotton, Terry, Cahill, Robinson – Cattermole, Henry, Beckham, Milner – Holt, Crouch

The bastards won’t know what’s hit ’em until they come round in l’hopital the next day. Someone get us the FA’s number, pronto!

Fancy a crack at picking you’re own 23-man England squad? Feel free to leave them below the line…

Fancy seeing how this lot (should the FA see sense and appoint Pies as England manager) get on in Poland and Ukraine this summer? Tickets are available for all England’s Euro 2012 games over at TicketBis – an online tickets exchange that specialises in helping football fans buy and sell tickets online for just about any match in Europe.

Posted in Euro 2012, Featured, International football, Opinion

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  1. one england captain says:

    Terry as captain, nice choice!!

  2. Terry Shedingham says:

    No space for David Wheater?

    • Chris says:

      @Terry: He made the defensive longlist, but sadly Wheats (along with Carragher, PNev and every CB in the Championship) just missed the cut.

  3. JDS says:

    As a Bolton fan I have to say Paul Robinson is the poorest footballer i’ve ever seen (and being a wanderer i’ve seen some stinkers!)

  4. Milkchew says:

    Wow…..just wow.

    The entire squad would be banned should we make the knockouts…..aptly named.

  5. aaron says:

    “6’5” elbow swingers whose attributes can only be measured in ‘bags’”

    god save the queen.

  6. Josh says:

    Cattermole? no chance, hes terrible, surely theres someone who can stick in a harsh tackle followed by a crafty stamp that has more ability than him!

  7. Professor Erno Breastpinchd says:

    I’d like to see Martin Taylor given a try out. Give him a free role (run around kicking people in the shins).
    Graham Westley could do the business in the dugout. He’d mould them into a team the likes have never been see outside of Stevenage Town.

  8. Binnsey says:

    All jokes aside there are some players in this squad that we should look at taking… We, England, probably need to decide what type/style of football we should play… I’m all for 4-4-2. 2 giants at the back, a thug in midfield, 2 wingers – proper wingers, a tall guy who can head and a little s**t to poach.

    XI: Hart, Richards, Terry, Not Cahill, Baines, Parker, Barton, A Johnson, Walcott, Holt, Defoe

  9. Al says:

    Andy Gray is a big elbow swinger and is out of work so available but I heard a rumour he’s Scottish

  10. Alex says:

    This article was quite difficult to read as I was stood erect with my hand over my heart whilst gazing down at the screen.

    has anyone actually watched a Karl Henry interview? he’s actually a well spoken and well presented young gentleman, tis very odd…

  11. Pkhakheria says:

    no micah richards? no Lescott? no Barry ? no oxlade chamberlin? no phil jones?

  12. Markell says:

    I think John Sitton’s free to manage…

  13. jim says:

    that squad is shit, wheres richards or walker? johnson?

  14. Al says:

    @ Jim and Pkhakeira, did you read the article or just skip to the squad? Oxlade is only a boy and would be eaten up by all the antics that would surely go on with a group like this and Richards and Walker are too comfortable on the ball by far for defenders in this squad

  15. Professor Erno Breastpinchd says:

    Good shout Markell, but he’s in work currently (driving taxi’s in east london i believe). could buy out his contract though.
    Jon Parkin is another I’d like to see given a chance. Needs to bulk up a bit though.

  16. Andy says:

    I like the look of that squad, but would rather Kevin Davies was captain, and Steven Gerrard was there instead of Frimpong. He has the anarchic stupidity to truly take foreign sides by surprise (why would he try that pass there? a two footed tackle on his own keeper? what’s up with his forehead?), and I can just see him in the final, 30 yards out, latching on to a Davies knock down with 3 minutes to go and nil-nil on the board and absolutely leathering it into row Z, right into some tiny child’s face, smashing their ice cream and dreams and nose. Beautiful.

  17. Andy says:

    Also, Leighton Baines for Robinson. I know Robinson is a horrible little bastard, but then so is Paul Konchesky and noone is suggesting him, thankfully. Baines on the other hand has a name from a Dickens novel, looks like a character from a Dickens novel and can provide the crosses needed from the left flank, which Milner certainly won’t. Finally, and underlying his selection is the feeling that he’s not actually that good, a player who relies on puff and feeling and the middling expectations of his team to get by, and after all, isn’t that what this is all about.

  18. Al says:

    If this is really going to be done properly then Ben Thatcher needs to be coaxed out of whatever hole he is now in, it’s the first five minutes of the final against Spain, you need someone to poleaxe Xavi with a cross between an elbow, shoulder and hip leaving him in a crumpled heap then he’s your man

  19. TY says:

    You know, it just may work….

  20. TY says:

    Andy, I literally laughed out loud at the bit about Gerrard. hahaha

  21. Hutchy says:

    @Al… Maybe not Ben thatcher, i think hes welsh, but another former Manchester City left-back, namely Michael Ball (he of tap-dancing-on Cristiano-Ronaldos-chest fame) might be worthy of selection

  22. me says:

    Why not Walker? PFA young player of the year.

  23. pray4muamba says:

    while i’m glad holt and crouch got the official pies nod, i must say leaving welbeck and sturridge out would be foolish. andy carrol isn’t gonna be scoring against the defensive likes of spain, italy, holland etc

  24. mal says:

    Taylor tried this in ’92. Curle, Pearce, Keown, Mark Wright,Palmer, Sinton, Batty and Alan Smith…ouch ! OK I’ll buy it. It can’t be worse than South Africa.

  25. Joe Totale says:

    You know what though? These kind of tactics were basically how Greece and Denmark won the thing…

  26. lol says:

    This is obviously a joke list, I can’t believe people are taking this seriously. But then again, who cares about England, they’re shit anyway.

  27. Not a 23, but I’ve had an England 18 man team nailed down for a while: http://twitpic.com/96rec2

  28. Papi says:

    Props to @Binnsey for mentioning the ever underrated Adam Johnson.

  29. 4-4-toon says:

    Haha, love it. Great article as usual!

  30. George says:

    Liverpool fan, gotta agree, andy’s comment was hillarious.

  31. Michael says:

    Absolute Genius. Could I suggest the inclusion of Ben Thatcher (if it’s elbows you want, he’s your man) and Micah Richards (built like 2 brick sh*t houses side by side). Has Vinny Jones ever gone into management?

  32. The69ersFC says:

    Would love to see that team / squad representing England at the euros.
    Bring in Julian Dicks as “sports psychologist”.

  33. KingEric7 says:

    I laughed out loud at the Frimpong comment on the squad list. You’re absolutely right though, this is the kind of grit the England squad needs instead of the current namby-pamby boys club i.e Lampard, Terry, Cole, Gerrard, Barry etc.

  34. Franklin says:

    I say we go to Hollywood and coax Vinny Jones out of retirement!

  35. Del says:

    Can’t say I agree with all your choices. Carroll over Agbonlahor? Really?

  36. Guillaume says:

    Guys, you’re killing me!!! Too bad we have to meet that early in the competition…but hey, french squad might not make it…if so, my prayers will go with the Three Lions ;)

  37. a says:

    Aaeron Lennon ?

  38. Owen says:

    This is a shit squad it should be:

    GK-Joe Hart

    RB-Micah Richards
    CB-John Terry
    CB-Joleon Lescott
    LB-Ashely Cole

    LM-Ashley Young
    CM-Frank Lampard
    CM-Scott Parker
    CAM-Steven Gerrard
    RM-Theo Walcott or Stewart Downing
    ST-Danny Welbeck

  39. jim ellis says:

    haha that was pretty funny

  40. Mark says:

    That awkward moment when people take this article seriously…

  41. Sex God says:

    @ Mark, referring to a certain chap named Owen perhaps?

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