In a frighteningly short amount of time, Roy Hodgson will announce the names of the 23 Englishmen who will be asked to push thoughts of a holiday to the back of their minds and turn their attention to a trip to Brazil with their national team.
Dream Team will go to its grave insisting our sophisticated statistical database holds all the answers for managers struggling with selection problems. To prove it, we took a look at the starting XIs chosen by England bosses at the team’s previous efforts at international tournaments, and gave those clueless gaffers a telling off for failing to keep their eye on the Dream Team stat page prior to their big day.
Don’t forget to also check out our assessment of England’s performance against Denmark a few weeks ago, as the run-up to this year’s big tournament continues to hot up deliciously.
Euro 2004: France 2-1 England, Sunday 13th June
ENGLAND STARTING XI: David James, Gary Neville, Ledley King, Sol Campbell, Ashley Cole, David Beckham, Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard, Paul Scholes, Wayne Rooney, Michael Owen
Sven Goran Erikssen was faced with a hefty challenge against France in the opening game of Euro 2004, but could at least call on the services of a strong midfield of Real Madrid’s David Beckham, Paul Scholes (172 Dream Team points in 2003/4), Steven Gerrard (226) and Frank Lampard (250), the game’s highest scoring midfielder that season.
England’s defence wasn’t quite as strong: David James and Ledley King claimed just 89 points between them, whilst Sven was also without Dream Team great John Terry, the game’s all time highest scoring defender who had notched 249 points the previous season, due to injury.
England were also without Alan Shearer, the striker who had scored 261 points the previous season but had recently retired from international football. In his place, England fielded Michael Owen (172) and Wayne Rooney, who despite having scored just 103 points for Everton the previous season, went on to light up the tournament. Maybe this system of team selection isn’t so smart after all…
World Cup 2006: England 1-0 Paraguay, Saturday 10th June
ENGLAND STARTING XI: Paul Robinson, Gary Neville, Rio Ferdinand, John Terry, Ashley Cole, David Beckham, Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, Joe Cole, Michael Owen, Peter Crouch
Sven Goran Eriksson had to make do without Team of the Year striker Wayne Rooney for his opening fixture in the 2010 World Cup, but injuries could not explain his decisions to leave out Darren Bent (199), who possessed a higher points total than England’s two starting strikers combined; Michael Owen (67) and Peter Crouch (111). English strikers Jason Roberts (149) and Marlon Harewood (150) also had higher scores than England’s front two, yet neither travelled with the squad to Germany.
Sven correctly picked two Team of the Year defenders, Rio Ferdinand and John Terry, at centre back, whilst in Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard he possessed two of the 2005/06 season’s highest point scorers overall. In the event, an own goal was enough to see England scrape past the Paraguayans, but they crashed out to Portugal after a penalty shootout in the quarter finals.
World Cup 2010: England 1-1 USA, Saturday 12th June
ENGLAND STARTING XI: Robert Green, Glen Johnson, John Terry, Ledley King, Ashley Cole, Aaron Lennon, Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard, James Milner, Wayne Rooney, Emile Heskey
Fabio Capello must have been paying close attention to Dream Team in 2009/10, as he picked several of the game’s highest scoring players for his side’s opening clash against the United States. Best amongst these were Wayne Rooney, who was 2009/10’s top scorer with 370 points, and Frank Lampard, who also picked up a massive 351.
John Terry, Steven Gerrard and James Milner made it into the Team of the Year, and were rewarded with selections in England’s first team of the tournament. More questionable selection decisions came in the shape of Emile Heskey, who scored just 34 points that season, and Robert Green, who had a lower points total than Joe Hart in the 2009/10 game. Inevitably, it proved that Capello should have listened to the Dream Team stats – it was Green’s howler that consigned England to a rather tame draw in their opening fixture. England lost 4-1 to Germany in the second round.
Euro 2012: France 1-1 England, Monday 11th June
ENGLAND STARTING XI: Joe Hart, Glenn Johnson, John Terry, Joleon Lescott, Ashley Cole, James Milner, Steven Gerrard, Scott Parker, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ashley Young, Danny Welbeck
Cunning Dream Team managers must have looked on in horror as Roy Hodgson unveiled his first England starting line-up in a major tournament against France. The new manager started with four players who had failed to make it into triple figures the previous season, with one of those, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, having failed to even make it past 50.
In Joe Hart, he could call on Dream Team’s highest scoring goalkeeper (193 points) for the 2011/12 season, but selected a front three of Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ashley Young and Danny Welbeck who had scored just 271 between them for their clubs.
Still, England managed a draw with the French and could look forward to the return from injury of Wayne Rooney who, with 323 points, was one of the 2011/12 season’s highest scoring players. Rooney scored the only goal in a 1-0 victory over the Ukraine, sending England into the quarterfinals as group winners, only to crash out on penalties against Italy.
Originally published on Dream Team FC