Who is better Ashley Cole or Leighton Baines?

The left back spot for England has been one of those positions that in the last 10 years nobody has questioned who should play there.

But in recent months in particular that has changed with the form of Leighton Baines who has arguably been the best left back in the country for a number of seasons now. However, the problem is he is behind Ashley Cole who even though he is now 32 is still one of the best and most consistent fullbacks in world football. This is the first time that Cole has faced serious competition since he became an England regular. There have been other players that have been included in England squads that can play in the position but to most people they weren’t good enough to replace Cole. By this I mean players like Wayne Bridge, Stephen Warnock, Nicky Shorey and more recently Kieran Gibbs. Two of these players, Bridge and Warnock now play in the Championship and unfortunately their careers have gone downhill very fast. Finally Leighton Baines is getting the credit he deserves and there is a very good chance he could become the top English left back.

I am certainly not writing off Ashley Cole but I think that after he has won hiss 100th cap he may struggle to pick up many more caps from the starting line up after his recent outbursts against the FA. However, Roy Hodgson may not care about this and keep him as first choice at least until after the next World Cup. Not that this would be a bad thing as he is still a fantastic player both going forward and defensively. He may not get many goals or assists but he always makes himself available and lets the player in front of him cut inside and this has no doubt let Eden Hazard and Juan Mata be more creative in the middle of the pitch. Nobody would be annoyed or be against Cole being England’s left back for a few more years yet.

Cole has 99 caps for England

Cole has 99 caps for England

However, if a change was to be made I don’t think anyone would be against Leighton Baines becoming England’s left back for the rest of qualifying and the next World Cup. The 28 year old has 13 caps so far and already has more goals than his rival for the position and if Hodgson wanted a different option for taking set pieces then Baines would be perfect to have on the pitch. This season he has six goals in 27 games and has been arguably one of the best players in the Premier League even though he may not get as many plaudits as he deserves. If he could replicate his partnership with someone at international level like he does at club level wit Steven Pienaar then it will be very profitable for England. His goal against West Brom just proved how clever he is and his composure on the ball is fantastic. Plus, he can also take penalties and everyone in the world knows how bad England are at them.

Baines scored against Moldova

Baines scored against Moldova


So who would you choose?

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Does Wayne Rooney deserve to be captain against San Marino?

Wayne Rooney has been named as England captain for the next qualifier against San Marino but is he the right choice?

With Steven Gerrard ruled out of the game through suspension, manager Roy Hodgson had to make a decision on who should lead the team out and maybe he decided to give it to the Manchester United striker as a bit of a confidence boost. He hasn’t made the greatest starts to the season as he has suffered with a few injuries and has had to play second fiddle to summer signing Robin Van Persie so maybe he is feeling as though he is not the top man anymore at Old Trafford. If, Hodgson has give him the armband for this reason, to make him still feel like he is the best English player then it is quite good man management because it is the first time in a number of years that he hasn’t been the main striker at club level.

But does he actually deserve to be captain? He has matured over the years but he can still be a liability at times as all England fans found out when he was suspended for the first two games of Euro 2012 which meant a lot of people didn’t even want him to go to the tournament. Looking back, he probably shouldn’t have because he was very poor and it meant that players that had just started to get a bit of form in their game were dropped, in particular, Andy Carroll, who seemed to have a good understanding with Danny Welbeck and it could have been the start of a good partnership.

However, he is experienced and has 75 caps so there is no doubting his commitment to England and everyone knows that when he pulls on the shirt and give 100%. Plus, you have to consider the fact that both Gerrard and Frank Lampard are out so the obvious choices are not available. Maybe, this was the only real appointment Hodgson could have made, and he is partly to blame for it but it is the players’ faults that they won’t have this honour. Rio Ferdinand isn’t in the squad anymore because of ‘footballing reasons’ according to Hodgson but we all know it is because he backed John Terry over him and I’m not calling Terry a racist but he said a racist term and was rightfully in the end found guilty by the FA, and because of this Terry quit England so that leaves Hodgson with even less options.

Ashley Cole was linked with the role to mark his 100th cap but because of his tweet I don’t think Hodgson would be allowed by the FA to make him captain, even if he really wanted to. So, that doesn’t leave England with many options as there isn’t really anyone else in the squad that has been a captain at club level never mind internationally. Possibly, the only other real alternative to Rooney is actually Joe Hart and that is simply because he is the only guaranteed starter for club and country every week.

So what do you think? Does Rooney deserve the armband or was he the only real option under the circumstances?

 

Who will be Crawley Town’s next manager?

Crawley Town are looking for a new manager after recently appointed Sean O’Driscoll decided to leave for Nottingham Forest.

Crawley Town start their league campaign against Scunthorpe United on the 18th August

O’Driscoll was given the job on the 16th May and left on 19th July without managing them in a competitive fixture which must have been frustrating for the board who had put a lot of faith in their new man and now their preseason could be in pieces. The new man that comes in won’t have a lot of time to stamp his authority on the side and maybe he won’t want some of the players that O’Driscoll thought were good enough. There will be a number of candidates that want the job but the newly promoted League 1 club will need to make a good choice to make sure they stay in the division, under O’Driscoll I thought they would challenge for the playoffs but now I am not so sure.

So who will be a good choice? At the minute the clear favourite is current Aldershot Town manager Dean Holdsworth. Holdsworth has been working his way up the leagues and has one very well wherever he has been but he doesn’t have the managerial experience in my opinion to lead Crawley next season because he hasn’t worked higher than League 2 and has only joined the Football League in January 2011. Another thing that will put Crawley off going for him is the fact that he signed a new contract in the summer and they will probably have to pay compensation.

Also in the frame for the job is former Aldershot manager Gary Waddock who unlike Holdsworth has managed in higher divisions, however he hasn’t always been so successful. In June 2006 he was appointed manager of QPR but after a poor start to the season and with the club bottom of the table he was replaced by John Gregory. Waddock, has managed in League 1 for two seasons but unfortunately for him they have both ended in relegation with Wycombe Wanderers. Obviously, this means he has gained a promotion with them and he has been relatively successful over the years with him also gaining promotion to League 2 with Aldershot gaining over 100 points.

Finally, Gareth Southgate is linked with the job and this would be an interesting decision because he had a very good career as a player but as a manager he hasn’t had it easy. His only job so far has been at Middlesbrough where he managed 150 games so he has quite a lot of experience and most of these games were in the Premier League. He won 44 of his games as manager but he, like Waddock also has a relegation on his CV but at a much higher level. It is good timing for Crawley as he has recently left his role in the FA as their Head of Elite Development and you would expect him to want to get back into football as soon as possible. He would be a good choice because he will have a lot of contacts in the game and will be able to bring in some good players either on loan or permanently and the board will surely back him in the transfer market.

Newcastle United’s Nile Ranger signs for Sheffield Wednesday on loan

Nile Ranger has been given yet another chance by going out on loan to Sheffield Wednesday from Newcastle United.

The troubled striker has been in the headlines for all the wrong reasons and some people may actually know him for his court appearances rather than his time on the football pitch. But the player definitely has the potential to be successful and has actually made over 50 appearances for Newcastle with 24 of them coming in the Premier League. He has only scored three goals for the club though but in his defence most of these appearances have been off the bench where he hasn’t had much time to make an impact on the game. However, one game in particular sticks in my mind where he did have a positive impact on a game. He came on against Liverpool for Newcastle and he bullied their defence leading to a mistake which allowed Newcastle to take the lead.

Ranger signed a new 5 year contract at Newcastle in 2010

Ranger has all the attributes to be a good striker and a consistent goal scorer because he is quick and has a lot of strength, add this to his size and you have a very promising player on your hands and hopefully Dave Jones can change his attitude and give him an opportunity to show his abilities for the rest of the season. Maybe that is all the 20 year old needs, a new start in a new location. When he was on loan to Barnsley he didn’t make as much an impact as he wanted because he got injured after only five games which must have disappointed everyone involved in the transfer.

Even from a young age Ranger was involved in controversy when he was released by Southampton after being sent to a Young Offenders Institute for his part in an armed robbery. But after a successful trial with Newcastle it seemed like he was going to get his career back on track and their relegation to the Championship gave him the opportunity to showcase his talents. But in 2011, he returned to his old ways and was arrested on suspicion of assaulting a man in the city centre leaving the victim unconscious, then a few months later he was charged by police for being drunk and disorderly and was handed a six month conditional discharge.

Ranger has also not used the social network site Twitter in a responsible way as he posed with a gun and was questioned by police for his actions. He then made homophobic remarks which got him in trouble with the FA and had to pay a fine.

This signing seems a little ridiculous in my opinion because he is clearly not someone you want in your dressing room as he seems to attract trouble and media attention of the wrong kind which is exactly what Wednesday don’t need right now as they try and challenge for automatic promotion. Only a few days ago, he was back in court for breaching the terms of his bail.

There is no doubt there is a good player in there and if Wednesday can utilise him properly he could help get the team promoted and it may be beneficial to the player himself. If he grows up, he could become a very useful asset in the Premier League for Newcastle as he does still have three years left on his contract at the club. Time to grow up Nile Ranger and make a name for yourself in the right way.