You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time.
That quote comes from the medieval monk and poet John Lydgate, who (unconfirmed) uttered the famous words while selecting the 23-man squad for the monastery tournament in 1340.
The profound words will be on Gareth Southgate’s mind as he confirmed the seat reservations for the plane to Russia on Wednesday. The 23 names in the England squad list may not be the most spit-take inducing, but the fans can and very much will still quibble.
To prove that point, here are nine fans giving their take on the former Pizza Hut advertiser’s biggest oversights from the England squad announcement…
9. Jonjo Shelvey
by Will Imbo
One can only assume that the reason Shelvey has been left off the England squad stems from his perceived lack of discipline – as if past England managers haven’t taken a chance on players who can get a little hot under the collar (Rooney, Wilshere, etc.). Yes, Shelvey has had his issues with bookings – but that’s largely a thing of the past, since his last yellow in the league came in 2017.
If that is the reason, it’s a daft one, because he can provide a creative spark and passing pedigree that will unlock stubborn defences England will likely meet in the World Cup. Shelvey was the only Englishman in the top 10 of successful through balls in the league this season.
It’s insane to think that a player of Shelvey’s ability shouldn’t be at least on the bench to bring on, if and when England desperately need a goal. It may come back to bite Southgate squarely in the behind.
8. Glenn Murray
by Nathan Hilditch
Glenn Murray is England’s fourth-most prolific scorer and actually has a better conversion rate than either Harry Kane or Raheem Sterling this season.
More importantly, he offers a different, more physical avenue of attack than anyone in the current squad. For those defences that can’t be breached with pace, Murray would offer a significant plan B approach for the squad.
As a case in point, Miroslav Klose played a crucial role for Germany at the last tournament with a similar approach despite being older than Murray and scoring fewer goals in the corresponding league season.
With support from the likes of Raheem Sterling and Dele Alli, Murray could easily play that role for England, Gareth Southgate shouldn’t be afraid to win ugly. If he wins, nobody’s going criticise the performance.
7. Jamaal Lascelles
by Sean Drury
The only defender in the England squad who captains his club side is Gary Cahill, and do we really want the 32-year-old Cahill leading that defence? No, we want Jamaal Lascelles.
The towering Newcastle defender had only made 18 league appearances when he became Magpies captain in 2016, but the gamble to heap responsibility on his young shoulders turned out to be an inspired decision by Rafa Benitez.
On average, Newcastle conceded three goals per game this season when Lascelles wasn’t in the team compared to 0.96 when he was. A staggering difference, but that’s what Lascelles offers. Arguably, he should be starting for England.
6. Marc Albrighton
by Luke Pawley @lmpawley
Leicester midfielder Marc Albrighton has racked up seven assists this season, level with Roberto Firmino, Willian and Romelu Lukaku – who are all certainties for their respective squads. He was also only one assist short Aaron Ramsey and Mesut Özil, while Jesse Lingard and Marcus Rashford only have five each.
Albrighton never has anything left in the tank during his performances for Leicester and is capable of playing on either wing, as well as at right wing-back and on either side of a three-man central midfield.
In addition, Albrighton would be in the England starting lineup based on his fantasy football points score alone (107).
100 words here is not enough for the seriously underrated Marc…and I look forward to reading why Jadon Sancho’s 12 senior appearances and one goal deserve a World Cup spot!
5. Jadon Sancho
by Ben Carter @ben_crtr
The England national team are crying out for a left winger who is quick, skilful, and has a willingness to run at defenders. In former Manchester City star Jadon Sancho, the Three Lions have an ideal candidate to slot in alongside Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling.
Despite a slow start to the season, Sancho has been heavily involved for Borussia Dortmund during the second half of the campaign.
The youngster has been a catalyst in their push for Champions League qualification, and he has thrived with the pressure of playing in front of the infamous Yellow Wall.
4. Andy Carroll
by Toby Cudworth @themasterplan87
Andy Carroll – Injury ravaged and thoroughly unreliable.
Yet, Carroll offers a ‘different option’. Yep, those famous words that smack of absolute desperation when England are staring down the barrel of another catastrophic defeat.
Eternal pessimism would suggest that is a likely scenario once more for Gareth Southgate this summer, so what better tonic to have in reserve than the bruising, bullying presence of Carroll?
Three goals and 742 minutes of Premier League action would suggest he isn’t a risk worth taking, but surely offering up a ‘wildcard’ option might just help England avoid inevitable World Cup doom and gloom.
3. Ryan Sessegnon
Andrew Headspeath @Andy_Headspeath
Remember when Sven-Goran Eriksson called up a child called Theo Walcott to the World Cup squad in 2006? That was mad wasn’t it? It was also great fun.
Although I’m a little ashamed to admit it, I still back Sven’s reasons for taking baby Theo to Germany. So often do England plod, bluster and shrink (not necessarily in that order) at major tournaments that any reason to actually get excited about the Three Lions squad is absolutely fine by me.
Everyone loves a teenage wildcard and this year there is no better candidate than Sessegnon, who is racking up the awards like a Championship Mo Salah.
Ok, maybe he wouldn’t even play but it would be a hell of an experience for the 17-year-old and just rewards for an incredible year.
2. Joe Hart
by Chris Deeley @ThatChris1209
England don’t need an actual third choice goalkeeper for the World Cup. Assuming (optimistically) they make a quarters, international teams don’t go through three goalkeepers in five games.
Barring the most extraordinary circumstances, a third choice keeper won’t play, so why base the selection on whether Hart will be slightly worse than Nick Pope?
Work on what is overwhelmingly likely to happen – Hart wouldn’t play – and plan around that, rather than picking three goalkeepers with a total of nine caps.
The chance is that his experience – 23-year-old Raheem Sterling will be the England player with the second most caps at the tournament! – will add more than Nick Pope’s…what? Does he mix a really good protein shake? I might’ve cracked more jokes about Joe Hart’s actual goalkeeping than 99% of the population over the last two or three years, but…take him to the bloody World Cup, Gareth.
Joe Hart. Jart. The Hartster. Calamity Joe. The Hartbreaker. Hart Over Head. The Hartbroken. Dylan Hartley. Hart To Beat. Beating Hart Baby. Achey Breaky Hart. Bret the Hitman Hart. Joemy Clarkson. Cotton-Eye Joe. Un-Break My Hart. Quit Playing Games With Joe Hart. Joe Ventricle. Joe Aorta. Talkin’ da Hartest. Smokin’ Joe Frazier. Owner Of A Lonely Hart. Groove Is In The Hart. Sheer Hart Attack. Joe Jonas. Nick Joe-nas. Kevin Joenas. Joenah Lomu. A Good Hart These Days Is Hard To Find. Joe.ie. Andy Hartspeath. Total Eclipse Of Joe Hart.
1. Jack Wilshere
by Scott Saunders* @_scottsaunders
Gareth Southgate’s dropped a clanger.
Arsenal Golden Boy and England World Cup 2018 Hero Jack Wilshere #SuperJack will make England tick. He made Arsenal tick all the way to a sixth-placed finish in the Premier League this season, helped them not win the Europa League, and scored against failing former champions Chelsea one time.
But most importantly, Gareth, he STAYED FIT. Did you not know he didn’t miss a minute of action over the festive period, from December 14 to January 20?!
All England needed was a perma-injured, inconsistent midfield maestro hailed as England’s version of Xavi when he was 19 to line up in the middle of the park against Panama. The dream is gone. You’ve robbed us blind, Gaz.
Long Live Arsenal Golden Boy and England World Cup 2022 Hero Jack Wilshere #SuperJack.
*Scott is a Welshman and is not taking this very seriously.