Zee Media Bureau/Dattaraj Thaly
London: Announcement of the England football squad before a major tournament is not just a formality. It`s an event that attracts a staggering number of eye-balls across the globe. Nothing represents this fact more accurately than the venue of the press conference which happens to be Vauxhall`s car plant in Luton. Of course, Vauxhall wouldn`t pay Japan to announce a squad at their factory. It`s England. It`s a big deal.
The England fans, the press and followers of the English Premier League all over the world look forward to this day out of sheer excitement. Manager of England is usually the favorite whipping boy of everybody. He generally receives more brickbats than bouquets irrespective of the choices he makes.
Last time good old Roy Hodgson sat down to perform this duty for 2012 Euro, he ended up stirring a huge controversy over the exclusion of Rio Ferdinand who was in vintage form for Manchester United that season. This time too he was faced with a tough choice of whether or not Ashely Cole should travel to Brazil. Calling it the "toughest choice"of his career, Hodgson has decided to leave the Chelsea left-back out of the squad. This sums up the underlying theme for squad selection.
Joe Hart (Manchester City), Ben Foster (West Brom), Fraser Forster (Celtic)
Leighton Baines (Everton), Gary Cahill (Chelsea), Phil Jagielka (Everton), Glen Johnson (Liverpool), Phil Jones (Manchester United), Luke Shaw (Southampton), Chris Smalling (Manchester United)
Steven Gerrard (Liverpool), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Arsenal), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Adam Lallana (Southampton), Raheem Sterling (Liverpool), Ross Barkley (Everton), James Milner (Manchester City), Jack Wilshere (Arsenal), Frank Lampard (Chelsea).
Wayne Rooney (Manchester United), Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool), Danny Welbeck (Manchester United), Rickie Lambert (Southampton).
John Ruddy (Norwich), Jon Flanagan (Liverpool), John Stones (Everton), Michael Carrick (Manchester United), Jermain Defoe (Tottenham Hotspur), Tom Cleverley (Manchester United) and Andy Carroll (West Ham United).
A squad with Barkley, Sterling, Shaw, Chamberlain and Lallana is something bound to excite the Three Lions` faithful. Hodgson has opted for youth and form over reputations. Apart from Cole, no player who has been left out of the squad can argue against those who made it. The only player whose inclusion does not align with the prevailing theme is Frank Lampard. Maybe it is the experience and the overall know-how that may have titled the decision in Frank`s favor.
In a long time, there will be a broad unanimity of opinion regarding the England squad. Hodgson has announced a bold, exciting and young team that will take the flight to Brazil. For once, he may end up getting more accolades for exhibiting the courage to take a risk and go for broke.