Declan Rice – England Over Ireland

Ireland under 16, Ireland under 17, Ireland under 19, Ireland under 21 and Ireland senior team have all selected and nurtured midfielder Declan Rice over the years.

The West Ham midfielder has now decided that his international future lies away from the Arriva and with those at Wembley.

The promising West Ham man has chosen birth place over grandparent eligibility, he has chosen England over Ireland.

Declan-Rice

Born in London, Rice became eligible for ROI as his grandparents were from Cork.

After receiving 3 full caps (all in friendly matches) under Martin O’Neill the youngster asked to be omitted from a squad to play Wales back in August 2018.

All-in-all Rice has pulled on the shirt of the boys in green on 23 occasions.

In the last few days he has released a statement that has confirmed the decision that could define his footballing future.

“I have equal respect for both England and Ireland and therefore the national team I choose to represent is not a clear-cut, simple selection.”

“Ultimately, it is a personal decision that I have made with my heart and my head, based on what I believe is best for my future.”

It is a big risk but one that could be full of reward should he nail down a place in the three lions’ squad. You’d have to suggest that England’s recent success at various age levels will have played a huge part in Declan’s decision. Perhaps a group stage elimination at the recent World Cup would have nullified any thoughts of a switch?

Whilst there has been the odd Irishman make noises of discontent – it is worth noting that Ireland, like many other nations have benefited from similar situations.

Look back to the late 90’s and you’ll see the Englishmen of Cascarino, Townsend and Aldridge.

The mid 2000’s would find the likes of McAteer, Holland, Kinsella and Clinton Morrison switch allegiance.

Perhaps the Scots could consider themselves equally hard done by with the losses of James McCarthy and Aiden McGeady to their near neighbours in recent years?

Kevin Kilbane who is 3rd on the list for all-time record caps was born in Preston and their most recent squad features a massive 9 non-Irishmen.

It’s a sore one for those across the Irish sea to take, as they have missed out on a player with a lot of potential but like it or not Rice has not broken any rules.

This doesn’t make it right, but Ireland will have to move on quickly and focus on the upcoming Euro qualifiers after suffering relegation in inaugural Nations League competition.

Declan Rice image sourced from; www.thetimes.co.uk

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England Manager – The FA have chosen

Precisely 25 days since Roy Hodgson sat in a post match press conference telling all of Europe that his time was up as manager of the England team, they have found his successor.

Just over 3 weeks since FA CEO Martin Glenn told everyone “we’re going to harness opinion and wisdom from the wider part of the game, it’s really important that we get this right. It’s really that we get England into a situation where we can build on the strength that we’ve got. I think we’ve got a lot of strength in this squad and taking it forward with the view to the World Cup in Russia. It’s important that we make the right decisions. So we will be canvassing opinions from former managers, current managers, clubs and players to make sure we get wisdom on to this area” to name their man.

It taken less than a month of “looking abroad”, “looking for the best person for the job” and “not ruling out a foreign manager.” To get as far as Sunderland…and appoint Sam Allardyce.

Mr Glenn himself has declared that he is “not a football expert” and whilst that is acceptable he is clearly attempting to rid himself of full responsibility if this goes wrong.

Sam-Allardyce-Image

Now it’s is obviously difficult to predict just how Big Sam will fare in the Wembley hot seat but it is at this stage easy to cast our opinion.

England have settled for what was available at the level they are currently operating on and off the pitch, mediocrity!

Having a look at the positives:-

  • Yes, England will be a more organised unit
  • Yes, England will be harder to beat
  • Yes, he may actually have the bravery to drop under performers not matter which club they play for
  • Yes, he may pick players that suit him and not sponsors or reputations (James Tomkins anyone?)
  • Yes, you would imagine “yes” is not a word he will utter to the top brass at the FA’s every request

Surely though…these are the basics of football management?

Is he even qualified for the job of National Manger?

  • No major trophy win
  • No trophy win since 97-98 (3rd division title)
  • A mere 33.6 PL win %
  • A total of 5 games managed against European opposition (1 win)

England’s failing have been in the cup competitions, they qualify relatively unchallenged from the seeded groups pre any major tournament. You just have to look at the 100% record pre France.

Taking a look at Bolton, Newcastle, Blackburn and West Ham under Allardyce’s command in the last 10 years hardly provides optimism.

Other than 2 League Cup Semi Final appearances where his sides have conceded a bucket load, he is a 3rd round exit specialist, bear in mind that most of these clubs would have entered at this stage and you have a manager who struggles to navigate through knockout football.

Club

Season League Cup FA Cup

Bolton

2006-07 3rd Round

4th Round

Newcastle United

2007-08 3rd Round

3rd Round

Blackburn Rovers

2008-09

N/A

5th Round

2009-10

Semi Final

3rd Round

SF – Conceded 7 to Villa over 2 legs

2010-11

3rd Round

N/A

West Ham

2011-12 1st Round

3rd Round

2012-13

3rd Round

3rd Round

2013-14

Semi Final

3rd Round

SF -Conceded 9 to City over 2 legs

2014-15

3rd Round

5th Round

Sunderland

2015-16

3rd Round

3rd Round

Manchester-City-Semi-Final-Image

Sam Allardyce it has to be said, is a fire fighter and perhaps that is just what the FA need to extinguish the flames created by a group of over-paid, under-performing multi-millionaires at Euro 2016.

There will be a good indication of his credentials very early on in his reign. England are arguably in their toughest qualifying group for a number of years with Slovakia, Slovenian and Auld Enemy Scotland to contend with.

However much the majority of the media dress this up as a fantastic appointment i.e. “how it’s just what England need” and with the  backing from the likes of Sir Alex and Jose etc etc. But let’s be honest…

IT’S ONLY SAM ALLARDYCE!

Sam Allardyce image sourced from; www.thetelegraph.co.uk
Manchester City Club Semi Final image sourced from www.thetelegraph.co.uk

A Round of Applause for Leicester City

Rewind to just 7 months ago and you’ll find Leicester City lining up to play against West Ham United at the King Power, a team without a win in 8 matches and certain of relegation from the Premier League.

A 2-1 win that started a miraculous escape from the bottom 3 and a run of 7 wins from their final 9 matches!

A 14th place finish with a summer of managerial and key player departures later, the dubious choice of Claudio Ranieri was appointed in the East Midlands.

Claudio-Renairi-Leicester-Manager

The Italian former Chelsea, Inter Milan and Monaco gaffer arrived after an extremely unsuccessful spell as the Manager of the Greece National team. In this role he oversaw a home qualifying defeat to the minnows of Faroe Island.

Arrivals in the relatively unknown form of Shinji Okazaki, N’Golo Kante and Yohan Benalouane would have done little to raise the hopes of the Foxes fans.

Okazaki-Leicester-City

However, all of this aside……What a start they have made to this season!

6 wins and only 1 defeat in the 1st 11 games of this season currently see City cemented in 3rd place, there does seem to be a touch of Keegan’s Newcastle about Leicester this year and that is refreshing for the sometimes too “tactical” top division.

I, for one, love the “you score 2, we’ll score 3 mentality” that has seen Leicester score nearly as much as City but yet concede a similar amount to Villa.

Leicester will need the fine form of England International Jamie Vardy and rumoured Man Utd target, Riyad Mahrez, to continue if they are to still be in contention towards the top end of the table come 2016. An extremely tough December that consists of home games against Chelsea and Man City with away days to Swansea and both sides of Stanley Park will produce difficult opportunities for points.

Special mentions also need to go to West Ham and Southampton but it’s the Foxes who have captured my imagination and long may they continue to provide us with entertainment for the rest of this season.

Riyad-Mahrez-Jamie-Vardy-Leicester

Claudio Ranieri image sourced from; http://www.telegraph.co.uk
Shinji Okazaki image sourced from; http://www.lcfc.com
Vardy & Mahrez image sourced from; http://www.express.co.uk