11 May 2014


Actually the title to this Blog entry should read: Why Ashley Cole should go to the World Cup over Luke Shaw. A few hours early, I know, but it's been circulating all evening that Cole has been omitted from the travelling squad to be announced tomorrow afternoon, which is why I wanted to write all this down now. Before I forget.

Now, I understand that inevitably I write this with a biased pro-Cole, pro-Chelsea head, but I have a logically sound head too. I'm not suggesting Roy Hodgson isn't a logical, intelligent man either — I truly believe that he is — and it should be noted that he and I both hold a shared desire for England to do well in Brazil; our goal is the same. So naturally I totally accept that he has thought hard on his selection and has good, justified reasons for his every decision.

However, I do not agree with his rumoured snub of Ashley Cole. I think he should be in the squad ahead of Luke Shaw (or Kieran Gibbs, whichever one he's picked). Cole's experience will be sorely missed. It's true that there are other members of the squad who can boast a similar quality, but I think it's important to address Cole's proven pedigree. In all of England's underwhelming, under-performing, disappointing outings in previous tournaments, Ashley Cole has always been a reliably strong player amidst the shameful showings of the collective team. And that consistency is more than impressive, it's unbelievable and certainly unrivalled. Even if we accept that Leighton Baines has over the past year or two ousted him from the starting XI (which I'm still on the fence about), Cole is surely the perfect back-up. And this season, specifically, has highlighted that. Ashley Cole is the perfect number two. He's been practising that all term as Chelsea's second choice, being called upon when required and still producing displays as strong as any other left back, anywhere. Isn't that precisely what you want in a substitute? A quick look at the last few games of the season — and the most crucial ones at that — tells you all you need to know. He's sharp, he's fit, he knows how to be a world-class left back. You don't lose that. I know that Luke Shaw is an immense talent, especially at his age, but I don't see much reason in his favour to take him as England's second choice this summer. He's put in great performances all season, yes, but if I was to be more cynical, he's done that as a comfortable starter in a comfortable environment for a comfortably mid-table side. Should Baines get injured at the knockout stage in Brazil, let's say, would that be a good time to gamble with an internationally inexperienced 18-year-old? Probably not. I fully understand and appreciate that he'll benefit hugely from the tournament experience of being with the squad and absorbing these situations at such a young stage of his career, but our selection should be based on ensuring England has the best quality and thus the best chance of succeeding. And I also know that replacing a hypothetically injured Baines with Ashley Cole will be no-risk and seamless. In fact, forget the idea of risk altogether, because it's not like choosing Cole is low-risk low-reward, far from it. It's low-risk and high-reward, compared to Luke Shaw's high-risk and not-much-higher-than-Cole-if-at-all-reward. And what about that sentiment of involving the players who have performed over the last two years and those who helped England reach the finals in the first place. The latter point isn't so strong as an argument, but surely Cole deserves to be in Brazil more so than Shaw? A ticket to Brazil would be a wonderful way to acknowledge Shaw's brilliant season with Southampton, but I also think that a ticket to Brazil is the very least we can offer to reward a man such as Cole. That's what my logical head says. And that's why I disagree with Mr Hodgson.

But I do reiterate that I hope he's made the right decision and that I'm proven wrong somehow. Or that Baines simply has a terrific tournament and there's never even a need to contemplate using anyone else at left back. Baines and Shaw (or Gibbs) is a bright prospect for the future, but the present has somebody of Ashley Cole's calibre, and with such quality at our dispense I don't think we can afford to take a Shaw (or Gibbs). I think it'd be stupid to ignore Ash.

1 comment:

  1. Lol. Well as I posted this, Ashley Cole has announced his retirement from England duties. But my points still stand as I imagine he's made this decision having not been named in the squad for summer. The only part of my entry now made redundant is the "or Gibbs" bits, because Cole has seemingly confirmed that it will be Baines and Shaw in the squad. Right then. As you were.