England. The original birthplace of the beautiful game that we know as football. It is also the residence of the most entertaining and best league in the word, the Barclays Premier League. This is a country that is engraved into footballing history and should be up there with the likes of Brazil, Spain and Italy as one of the world’s supergiants. Instead we have a country who couldn’t win a game at a world cup in 2014 and couldn’t even qualify for the European championships in 2008, with their ‘golden generation’ with players like Wayne Rooney, Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard at their peak, and still managed not to get to the finals. Now with both Stevie and Lamps out of the international set-up, England are woefully short of talent in central midfield, so I’ve compiled a 3 man shortlist of who can be England’s lynchpin in midfield. However I must address some omissions I made to this list, such as Michael Carrick. The United midfielder seems most logical but is 34 next month and who knows how much fuel he has left to burn? Another name not on my list is Tom Cleverley, the new Everton man has been recently been brought up to the squad but I feel his reputation has been hit too many times and would take a long time to reach the level high enough. Another selection could have been Tottenham’s Ryan Mason, who I personally just think is not up to scratch and simply overrated.
Club: Aston Villa Age: 25 England Caps: 6 England Goals: 0
Delph is one of the new players being talked about in terms of being part of the longevity of the England set-up, making his international debut in September of last year, and has been in every England squad since. Dubbed as ‘Mr Consistent ‘ at club level, Delph has put out a good performance for the Three Lions, albeit the first 10 minutes of his first start, in which he was booked and could have been easily sent off. The Bradford born man started his career at Bradford City at youth level before going to Leeds United, which he joined at the age of 16. He impressed for the Northern outfit and Leeds having already rejected bids from Arsenal, Newcastle and various other clubs in the Premier League, he joined Midlands club Aston Villa for a disclosed fee in 2009. Delph has been putting in good performances for Villa ever since his arrival, and his ability has only been recognised in recent times. Fabian in his last club game, Arsenal in the FA Cup final,
Delph is the epitome of a hard-working midfielder who can do it going back as well as pushing forward, showcasing this talent many times in the Premier League for Vila and recently for England. Delph also has an eye for a pass, being able to ping a ball to a player’s feet, put a floating ball into the box and be able to do quick short intricate passes thanks to his wide range of passing. Delph is a player who can receive the ball, turn and switch the play quickly, which can be used to ease opposing pressure from the other team or to try to change the point of an attack or in which way the ball is moved around within the 18 yard box, which is a very good skill to have in a midfield such as England’s, who aren’t blessed with a true defensive midfielder with great stature. Some of Delph’s strengths in his play is his dribbling, making 2.2 dribbles on average a game in the league last season as well as making 2.1 tackles a game. However his greatest asset can sometimes be his greatest downfall, as his desire to win the ball back when dispossessed can lead to him getting frustrated and making a rash challenge, as we saw on his first full England debut.
That famous night against Barcelona. Aged just 19, Jack showed the Catalan giants and indeed the world what a player Arsenal had in store for the next 10 years. Already people were drawing comparisons to Paul Scholes due to Wilshere’s passing capabilities and more promisingly, being compared to Paul Gascoigne, one of the best England players of all time for the way aggressive way Jack pushed forward that night, bulldozing his way though the team despite his slightly small frame, much like Gazza, Jack was destined to become one of Europe’s best. That didn’t happen. Sadly, the Arsenal physio team have probably seen more of Jack than we will ever seen. He has been plagued with injuries and has never been able to stay fit enough for long enough to get a sustained amount of football to further his development. Last season Jack played just 14 Premier League games, 9 of those being starts, getting just 732 league minutes. This is nowhere enough as much as he should be getting. To be fair to Wilshere, he has impressed since his return from ankle injury and has put in good some performances for both Arsenal and England. Maybe it’s time to replace those glass ankles of yours for some real ones Jack?
Wilshere is definitely the most attack minded of the players on this list, which goes against the whole premise of a holding midfielder however, Arsene Wenger has admitted that due to Arsenal’s attacking riches, Wilshere will need to play deeper to be accommodated into the Arsenal side and has been playing in the anchor role for England, as he is slowly but surely adapting to being a number 6 rather than a number 10. Even in a withdrawn role, Jack does like to float towards the 18 yard boxes, which is exactly how he scored his first and second goals for England just recently, coming in from deep to score belters. Jack’s key strengths are his passing, dribbling and awareness, which are very important qualities for a holding player. That being said, there is quite a few things lacking in his game, such as his discipline, crossing and tackling. Wilshere made 0.7 tackles a game in the Premier League but also conceded a foul 0.7 times a game, which highlights areas he needs to improve. He also made 1.1 key passes a game and had a passing success rate of 84.2%. I personally think Wilshere is far too injury prone and attack minded to really be England’s number one anchor man, the man is more Gazza than Scholes, which isn’t exactly a bad thing, depending on how you look at it.
Club: Liverpool Age: 24 England Caps: 28 England Goals: 0
Liverpool’s heir to Gerrard. Could he be the same for England? Funny how times change. if you had said Henderson would be Liverpool’s captain after Gerrard left in 2012 you would have been laughed at just for thinking Jordan would still be at the club. But he has proved doubters wrong, myself included, about his footballing ability since his turbulent debut season for the Merseyside club and has matured to one of Liverpool’s best players and one of the most well-rounded players in the Premier League. Henderson’s career started at the Stadium of Light with Sunderland in their youth academy system before signing his first professional with the club in 2008. He made a handful of appearances before being loaned out to Coventry City in 2009, soon becoming a regular in the Sunderland after his loan stint, and for both 2009/10 and 2010/11 seasons, Jordan was voted Sunderland’s young player of the years, 2 years running. This soon prompted Liverpool to buy the Englishman for a fee of around £20m. After a slightly disappointing first season, he had rapidly improved and has proven a great understudy to Steven Gerrard, Henderson being hotly tipped to become the Kop’s new captain.
Henderson is the most used to the deep-lying midfielder role it seems, as he plays there quite often for his club. Jordan has the perfect work rate and work ethic to have a prosperous career, as he gives his all for the team and will fight tooth for tooth until the very bitter end. Since he plays for Liverpool, the obvious comparison with him is Merseyside legend Steven Gerrard, and when you see Jordan play you can see why, as he can execute a very good pass and can drive forward if needed, but will sit in front of the defence and he has a good tackle in him. Some of Henderson’s strengths are is passing, defensive contribution as a central midfielder and his ability to hold on to the ball, which can help his team out of a sticky situation or two. He is a very versatile player, being played in over 7 different positions by both club and country, more recently being played at left-back for England and putting in a very decent performance. Hendo played 37 league games last season, scoring 6 goals and clocking 9 assists, winning 1.1 ariel duels a game and making 1.7 clearances on average in a game as well as 0.7 interceptions a game.
I think any of these three players could be England’s dm, and I hope for England’s sake all three have an illustrious international career as Delph, Wilshere and Henderson are all great talents who need to be in the England set-up for us to become the super giant we should be.