Should Steven Taylor have been called up to the England squad?

Steven Taylor has been in very good form in the last couple of weeks and possibly deserved a call up to the England squad this month.

Against Anzhi, he was yet again sublime particularly when Lassana Diarra looked certain to score not once but twice. The 27 year old put in two blocks and his contribution was arguably as important as Papiss Cisse’s last minute winner. This season it has been no surprise that when Taylor has been in Newcastle’s starting 11 they have performed better and looked a lot more solid with him at the back. One thing that does go unnoticed though a lot of the time is his passing accuracy, in recent games he has been close to 100% and he clearly has learnt a lot from his regular centre back partner Fabricio Coloccini in being composed at the back and building attacks from there rather than just sending it long and pointless as others do so often.

Taylor has been around the squad for a long time now since making his debut in the 2003-04 season and may feel that in that time he has deserved a call up to the full England squad. His record at youth level has been good for England and he even has a cap at B level but that full England cap still seems to allude him. He is everything you want in a centre back, he is brave and rarely loses the ball when it is in the air and has improved immensely when strikers or quick wingers are running at him.

With England struggling for options at the back these days it is a surprise to me that he didn’t get called up this time but if he keeps his current form for the rest of the season there is no doubt in my mind that the calls for him to be included in a squad will get louder and louder. There are only a few reasons why I think he won’t get called up and they are simply because England managers, including Roy Hodgson seem reluctant to come to the North East to watch Newcastle and Sunderland games so there is very little chance of a call up from either squad. But, possibly another reason is because he sometimes does things that are very strange and his antics could be costing him. He seems to do some things to get the crowd going and to get a cheer rather than just being more professional, an example of this is when he has laid on the ground to header the ball instead of just clearing it with his foot. Also, his actions towards Stoke goalkeeper Asmir Begovic in the recent win showed a different side to him and if he did that on a national level it would be much bigger news and he would be criticised for it.

For me though, Steven Taylor should be in this England squad and could have even started because he is in better form than Chris Smalling. With Michael Dawson and Gary Cahill given opportunities already and not really making the position there own it may have been better to try someone like Taylor. Then there is Rio Ferdinand, is he still good enough? He probably is and I think Taylor and Ferdinand would have formed a great partnership.

Where did it all go wrong for David Bentley?

England beat Moldova 5-0 last night with James Milner playing on the right wing but things could have been so different had David Bentley lived up to his tag of David Beckham’s replacement.

The former Arsenal youngster was tipped for greatness and his attributes were similar to the former England captain with him only needing a yard to put in a cross and not relying on pace or trickery to beat his marker. But where did it all go wrong and why is he now playing in Russia for FC Rostov instead of in the England squad? He has picked up seven caps for his country and did have the talent to be a success but maybe it was his transfer to Tottenham Hotspur that slowed his career and may have effectively finished his international career.

At Blackburn Rovers he was one of their best players and even scored a hatrick for them against Manchester United which not many people have managed to do. In the 2005-06 season he helped the club finish sixth and qualify for the UEFA Cup as it was called at the time. This just shows how far both player and club have fallen away. Bentley followed this up with two more very impressive seasons, playing 97 times, scoring 15 goals and contributing 26 assists for his side and this obviously lead to speculation that he would be leaving the club and there were even rumours that he could be joining Manchester United and in the summer of 2008 he would leave the club for Tottenham Hotspur.

Just looking at the stats of his time at the North London club you can see the problem he only played 42 times in the league in his four years at the club which makes you wonder what the problem was with him because they also splashed out £15 million for him and with his experience and quality in the Premier League it wasn’t seen as a gamble. Although they may have overpaid but that is expected because at the time he was in and around the England squad so his price tag was always going to be high. Other than a few brief moments of quality, in particular his volley against Arsenal in the 4-4 draw and a couple of other goals there isn’t much to say about his time at Spurs, he just didn’t really get the chance and after his first season where he played 35 times he was always behind Aaron Lennon in the pecking order for both club and country.

He has had two loan moves in the last two seasons but neither of them have been particularly impressive, with him spending a lot of time on the substitutes bench at Birmingham City and after agreeing a season long loan move to West Ham United he got injured after only five games and returned to his parent club.

Bentley was always a player I thought highly of, especially at Blackburn where he was a constant threat but there must be a reason why it hasn’t worked out for him since and I hope he can recapture some of his form and come back to England after his spell in Russia and at least be a decent Premier League player.

Why Grant Holt handed in a transfer request?

Grant Holt has had a transfer reject request at Norwich City rejected and it is unclear why he wants to move on.

Grant Holt has scored 70 goals for Norwich

Holt has had a terrific first season in the Premier League and finished with 15 league goals from his 36 games and was linked with a call up to the England squad for Euro 2012. So, I am going to look at the reasons why he potentially wants to leave the club.

The first thing that sprang into my mind when I heard the news was, is he doing this because manager Paul Lambert is leaving? Lambert has been linked with numerous clubs since the end of the season including Aston Villa and Liverpool. If Lambert leaves maybe the new manager will want to play a different style of football and won’t need Holt anymore. This may have been his way of thinking and after all of his hard work to get to the Premier League he will not want it taken away from him by a new manager and by handing in a transfer request teams will look at how well he has done this season and take a chance on him. So, basically this argument is that he wants his Premier League career secure and as he has found out in the past, new managers don’t always like a strong physical striker. Obviously, this may be completely wrong because Lambert hasn’t left and doesn’t look like leaving at the minute, although in football things can change quickly.

The second reason he may want to leave is because he didn’t get called up to the England squad and maybe he feels it’s because he plays for Norwich however some people will point to the fact that John Ruddy was called up. I believe goalkeepers are a lot different to outfield players and there isn’t a lot of options especially when you consider Paul Robinson and Ben Foster do not want to be called up. He may feel that if he had scored 15 goals for a team like Everton or Fulham he may have had more of a chance. But then again this argument is flawed because Darren Bent has continually scored goals for a number of clubs including Tottenham Hotspur and has still been overlooked by England managers when he has been the top English goal scorer. It is obvious looking at the England squad they do look at the best teams but if Holt did move to a team like Everton, he still wouldn’t get a call up even though I personally think he should have went to the Euros.

Finally it may simply just be because he wants a new contract and a lot of players do this sort of thing to make the chairmen and the board hurry up to get round to their contract situation rather than focusing on other things. Now I don’t think Grant Holt has a big ego and is doing it because he thinks he is bigger than the club, irreplaceable and will give into his demands, I think he is simply doing it to get his future sorted as he does have young children and would like to know where he will be in a few years. Every time he has spoke about Norwich it has always been positively so I cannot see him getting annoyed by the fact they rejected his request unless they don’t get round to sorting out his contract in time.

Should Grant Holt be in the England team and go to the Euros?

Grant Holt has had a fantastic season and is currently the second top English scorer in the Premier League so does he deserve to be in the England squad?

Grant Holt has scored over 150 goals in his career

In my opinion, yes he does, I would take whoever is scoring the goals and whoever is on form and right now is there a better striker than Holt. Wayne Rooney is obviously the best English striker but will be missing for the first two games of the tournament so England need another option. Peter Crouch has been coming into form at just the right time but he has already been tried at an international tournament and I am sure a lot of England fans want the team to go in a different direction and try out new players especially when it seems that they are not very optimistic about their chances of winning the tournament which is quite strange seen as though England are usually one of the favourites.

Holt had the chance to impress the favourite to take over as England manager in Harry Redknapp in Norwich’s last game and he yet again caused the defence a lot of problems. Ledley King, who many people believe would have been one of the best centre backs in the world had he not had so many injury problems struggled all day against the big target man and should have given away a penalty when they were grappling in the box.

With this being Holt’s first year in the Premier League, he probably couldn’t have wished for a better start. He has scored 15 goals in all competitions with 13 of them coming in the league but it is not only his goals that are catching people’s attentions, it is his all round game as he is very powerful and causes defences problems every time he steps onto the pitch. You know what you are going to get from him but still it seems that nobody can deal with him effectively. His work rate is outstanding and he may lack some abilities at times but he makes up for it by chasing every ball down and battling for every ball.

It is remarkable rise for the man seen as though he was playing in League 2 for Shrewsbury in the 2008-09 season scoring 28 goals which secured his move to Norwich who at the time were in League 1. Two consecutive promotions and 53 goals has put got him to the position he is in and he had many doubters at the start of the season like many of the other Norwich players.

Why not take him to the Euros? I can’t imagine many European defenders will have faced anyone like him and he is more than just a bully as he has been labelled by some people therefore he could add something to the squad and a real alternative. England will probably take Danny Welbeck, Danny Sturridge and Wayne Rooney leaving space for one more striker at least. Crouch has the height but he lacks the power and with Andy Carroll out of form, I believe Holt should go just to give England a different option if they need a goal in the last 20 minutes.

Stuart Pearce’s first England squad

So Stuart Pearce has selected his first and possibly only England squad and the main surprises are the inclusion of Frazier Campbell and Tom Cleverley.

He knows both these players well from their time in the under 21s and will obviously feel they have the potential to step up and make a big impact on the international stage. However, both these players are just coming back from injury and although they have performed quite well, particularly, Campbell it does show a lack of experience and quality from Pearce. Surely they won’t be 100% at the minute so what is the point of taking them just to sit on the bench or not even be included in the squad. Pearce did comment saying that Campbell was a very good squad player and was a big character in the dressing room when he was in the under 21 squad. If the caretaker England manager believes that he will have the same effect in the full squad then he is sadly mistaken because no offence to the Sunderland striker but there are better players than him in the squad and I cannot imagine high profile players will have much time for him if he tries to take control of the group. The experienced players like Steven Gerrard and Wayne Rooney will take control and tell him what is expected and he will have to listen to them whereas in the under 21s there will not be as many big characters so he could control the group.

So maybe he has got a few selections wrong but at least he has brought Micah Richards back into the squad as he has been the best right back in the league and should have been our right back for years. I don’t think we have looked solid in that position since Gary Neville retired and Richards should have filled his boots but Capello obviously didn’t fancy him and preferred playing Glen Johnson who looks good going forward but is a very average defender. In the midfield he has basically done what all England managers have done and selected who he is expected to with him leaving out exciting players like Alex Oxlade Chamberlain and leaving the inconsistent Theo Walcott in his side. However, he has dropped Frank Lampard which to most England fans should be a fantastic thing because he has never really performed when it mattered and has been terrible at big tournaments. Add this to the fact that when he plays Steven Gerrard also underperforms, you have to wonder why he hasn’t been dropped sooner, maybe Andre Villas Boas has done England a favour by leaving him out of the Chelsea side.

In attack he has probably chose the right options with Rooney, Bent, Sturridge and Welbeck as they are the most in form and should probably be the four that go to the Euros. It will be interesting to see if he plays two up front because he will have to consider what he will do in the first two games of the Euros when Rooney is suspended.

The most worrying part about the England squad is the goalkeepers, if Joe Hart gets injured, England are struggling, Robert Green and Scott Carson are good enough for the bench but in a big tournament I would not trust them. All in all Pearce has not done what we expected, I was hoping he would bring in a lot of youth but no he has stuck with the players that have failed over and over again.