It would seem poor Roy Hodgson has to fight tooth and nail to just get a team on the park for England, such is the opposition he faces from clubs and managers not keen for their big money investments to wear the white of their country.
From the coverage, Hodgson would make a killer diplomat with the way he handles each squad announcement and the side for the meaningless friendly match against Scotland on Wednesday at Wembley was no different. He had to chat with Scot David Moyes – who loses eight players to England – to justify picking unfit Wayne Rooney and Arsene Wenger as ever is miffed that his broken star Jack Wilshire was called up.
But Hodgson can go to sleep at night comfortable in the knowledge he’s not Holger Osiek, who was last week leading a team wearing Australian shirts – not a legit national team – to last place in the East Asian Cup in Korea. His side, which has already qualified for the World Cup – something he has on England as they prepare for their final run of qualifiers – were outclassed by their Asian rivals, scratching a 0-0 draw with Korea and losing 3-2 to Japan. It wasn’t a bad effort considering only one of them, Matt McKay, played a role in the last meaningful game the Aussies played, a 1-0 win over Iraq.
This is the reality for impressive Osiek, who used the EAC as little more than a chance to see his fringe, mostly Australian-based players in an international environment. He picks his battles to get his first choice line-up for games that actually matter, and they come from all over the shop.
Against Iraq, and in the Jordan game before it, the starting 11 came from clubs in nine different countries, including the US, UK, Qatar, UAE, Japan, China, Russia and Germany (two from the A-League cracked the side). His squad of 22 for the campaign came from 13 countries. Who knows who’ll play Brazil there on September 7.
Hodgson’s squad against Scotland all play in England for one of 10 clubs (not even one from Wales!) and all in the Premier League. Should be simple, but might be their problem.
Agree or disagree? Has Osiek or Hodgson got it easier? email@example.com
Wildcats strike in London AFL finals
An impressive season for AFL London’s West London Wildcats wraps up this weekend as they contest at least two grand finals at Sir Joseph Hood Park on Saturday after all three of their teams finished top of their divisions’ tables.
In the big one at 3pm, the Wildcats will take on whoever won in the weekend’s preliminary final between North London Lions and Putney Magpies – who each finished the season on 28 points, behind the minor premiers on 32, after 10 games.
In the Conference division the Wildcats side, Shepherd’s Bush Raiders, won through to the grand final after finishing the year on top of the table on points difference. They’ll play Regent’s Park Lions or Clapham Demons in the grand final.
And if they won on the weekend, the Cats-aligned Ealing Emus also play for a title in the Social division, the most important of them all if we’re playing favourites. Well done Cats and AFL London