As jobs go becoming manager of the English international soccer team has no equal. Paid around £6m each year the incumbent is expected to go forth and conquer everything that’s in front of him regardless of the troops he has on offer. A bit like asking Caesar to take over the world with the cast of Dad’s Army at his disposal.
Current boss Fabio Capello was supposed to be different but again proved that the best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men often go awry. You almost forget amongst all the murmurings over whom the England captain should be that the national team actually plays soccer – tonight’s friendly with African side Ghana the latest opportunity for a number of players to stake their claim for a place.
Chief amongst these is an honorary inductee to the drinkin’ club, Andy Carroll. The 20-year-old centre forward only has one cap for the full squad but being part of England’s unofficial “B squad” will give him an opportunity to impress. Apparently being bought for £35million isn’t enough in itself to guarantee selection for every international.
Gareth Barry has been controversially selected as captain and the vast majority of Saturday’s team won’t be present after the Italian manager dropped seven starters from the game in Cardiff.
Ghana’s visit is their first to Wembley and the omens aren’t good for The Black Stars. Of sides who have debuted at the national stadium since Hungary humbled the hosts 6-3 in 1953, one (Sweden) has achieved a victory, 12 picked up a draw, whereas a huge 41 teams came away with nothing more than a foam hand and overpriced hot dog. The African side are perhaps as well placed as any visiting side in recent years and against an under-strength England side, they could easily pull off an upset.
In terms of the betting it might be best to stick to something along the lines of getting a view of Carroll supping on a half time pint of warm watered down lager. Then still, the odds aren’t likely to be particularly favourable even for that.