How to Forms a Football team?
Infographic: WhoScored Photograph: WhoScored
Gareth Southgate didn’t want to be considered for the England job before the FA appointed Sam Allardyce, but this week he has spoken passionately about leading his country while the search for a new permanent manager takes place. The England U21 boss will be in charge for four games and has named his first squad for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Malta and Slovenia.
Southgate has gone for experienced players. He even picked Glen Johnson, whose last game for England was their defeat to Uruguay at the 2014 World Cup. Johnson has been ruled out through injury but Southgate seems to be aiming for continuity. The stand-in manager says he is reluctant to veer from the side that “did very well” against Slovakia and his first squad has a familiar feel to it, aside from the inclusion of Jesse Lingard.
But what if the England team was picked on how the players have performed this season? Below is an English XI based on the players’ ratings, not including those who are injured or retired from the international game. The familiar faces are few and far between by comparison.
The highest rated goalkeeper in the Premier League so far, Jordan Pickford might have expected a call-up given his work with Southgate in the U21s. The Sunderland keeper has been a bright spark in an otherwise dismal few months under David Moyes. Their season would be even bleaker but for the 22-year old’s 5.4 saves per game – a league high. With Joe Hart’s form for the national side leaving a lot to be desired and Jack Butland out injured, one would think Pickford can’t be too far away.
Walker is undoubtedly the first choice right-back in the absence of the injured Nathaniel Clyne. Southgate’s decision to bring Glen Johnson back into the squad was bizarre. The Stoke City defender has secured the lowest rating for any English defender with more than two appearances this season (6.59). Considering that John Stones, Chris Smalling and Michail Antonio can all play at right-back his inclusion was baffling to say the least.
The highest rated Englishman in the Premier League this season, Curtis Davies’ performances for Hull so far have been exceptional. The 31-year old, who hasn’t received a call-up to the squad in a decade, has made at least 15 more interceptions (43) than any other player and is in far better form than Gary Cahill, who keeps his place despite a poor start under Antonio Conte.