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    The Merseyside Connection for England

    OK, so we can all agree that the England national team has been a huge disappointment. There is always so much promise and excitement leading up to tournaments, only for the team to let us down. Again. 

    Losing to Brazil at the quarter final stage of the 2002 World Cup was the last time I felt we could come away from a tournament feeling like we gave it our all. 2004 wasn't too bad either, but we should have beaten a poor Portugal side, even after losing the young, already balding Wayne Rooney. Ditto 2006. 

    We won't discuss 2008. Ditto 2010. 

    2012 we scraped through the group, only to be dominated by Italy in perhaps the most one sided 0 - 0 ever. 2014 we couldn't even scrape through the group. 2016? Ditto 2008 and 2010. 

    So now we find ourselves manager-less, licking our sizeable wounds after a laughable Euro 2016. Big Sam came along and lasted about as long as the coffee at an AA meeting. 

    Now, we are about to hire the most unimaginatively, uninspired England manager since 'Dutch' Steve McClaren in 2006. 

    I like Southgate, he's seems like a decent chap. But so did McClaren. Yes, he has worked within the FA for awhile, so everyone knows him. So had McClaren. Yes, his CV includes managing the North East powerhouse that is Middlesbrough. Guess what, so does McClaren's. Funnily enough, McClaren left the Teesiders to inherited the England job after being number two to the sex god that is Sven Goran Eriksson. Do you know who inherited the Middlesbrough job? Only Gareth bloody Southgate. (who got the sack three years later!)

    So, after failing to win anything, or even progress past a quarter final (even with a Golden Generation) and the recent managerial merry-go-round, I think it's time to abandon the usual method for picking a national team and try something different. 

    My proposal is to pick an outfield team with each player having a Merseyside connection. (outfield players only, as there is no keepers!  Honestly, go and check)

    The rules of my made up game are as follows: Players can be picked if they are born on Merseyside. They can also be picked if they play for a Meseyside club such as Liverpool or Everton (or even Tranmere?) Obviously, they have to be English, and still playing! 

    Here is mine I've gone for a midfield diamond with 2 up top:

    RB - Has to be Nathaniel Clyne (Liverpool), Quick, strong, great cross on him and great hairdo too.

    CB1 - Phil Jagielka (Everton) - reliable and a leader. Great defender. Once had a drink with him too. But it wasn't at a randomer's wedding in a hotel, and we weren't on international duty...

    CB2 - Scott Dann (Crystal Palace) - Tall, physical and will contribute with the occasional goal. I think you could make an argument for him to be called up to the England Squad for real.

    LB -  Aaron Cresswell (West Ham) Leighton Baines made the spot his own for club and country for awhile, but age is catching up and fellow Scouse left back Cresswell is ready to fill his boots. His rise from obscurity with Tranmere to where he is now is truly inspiring.

    DM - Gareth Barry (Everton) - or Garry Barry as my misses calls him. Model pro, one of a few to play more than 600 Premier League matches, his ability doesn't seem to be declining, despite being in his early fifties.

    CM - James Milner - Stolid, reliable, loves ironing and can even fill in at left back.

    CM - Jordan Henderson (Liverpool) - Come into his own since Stevie G moved on. Captained both club and country. Good player, even if he does run with a funny gait.

    AM - Ross Barkley (Everton) Has a bit of that magic and unpredictability needed in any great team. 

    ST1 - Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool) When fit, easily one of the best 18 yard finishers about. 

    ST2 - Wayne Rooney (Man Utd) - England's all time scorer. Despite current issues on and off the pitch, can still do a job up front I reckon, particularly if playing alongside someone like Studge who can relieve goal scoring pressure. 

    Feel free to play along and make suggestions, I may have missed out some incredible scouser who could slot right in!

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    Item Reviewed: The Merseyside Connection for England Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Danny Thompson
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