Date: 5th September 2010 at 10:03am
Written by:

…what would they be?

Morning all.

If you are a regular reader of this page, you will know that I sometimes like to allude to the cinema of the world when describing players or teams. So we`ve had Midnight Express for Joey Barton, The Fat Slags for Frank Lampard, Octopussy for Ashley Cole and Over The Top for anybody who plays Arsenal.

So, when Gary “Gaz” Cahill appeared in the papers yesterday, as a Bolton fan you may have felt that you had wandered into Field of Dreams. You know the bit at the end when Burt Lancaster walks off the baseball field to save Kevin Costner`s wife from choking and immediately the players on the field can be seen? All of a sudden, the national press got wind of a central defender who may just be the answer to the ageing “stalwarts” who have done the country proud since 1872 and appear to have fallen over themselves to anoint him and Jagielka as the successors to Terry and Ferdinand.

Take, for instance, Paul Hayward in The Observer this morning. Under the headline “Joe Hart and Gary Cahill bring love of life to jaded England” Cahill is described as “an impressive athlete and quicker than most of Capello’s more senior centre-backs“. Funny then, that this appeared to have gone unnoticed by most of the press before the game, when Dawson and Jagielka were touted as the dream ticket to replace the “senior” men, or before the World Cup where, blood clot notwithstanding, Sol Campbell was mentioned as one to go to South Africa ahead of the Bolton man.

That’s Sol Campbell.

What Hayward says is interesting, and cocks a snook at the Evening Standard article that I spoke of on Thursday. “Champions League elitists will study the back of England’s Euro 2012 qualifying side and think it a botch job of mid-table nearly men“. This is true. The Evening Standard, home paper of three of England`s four representatives in the Champions League, probably has difficulty locating Bolton on a map let alone knowing where it is. But the more I think about it, the more I find the tone of Thursday`s article less condescending and more sneering. Why shouldn`t a player from a smaller provincial team get into the England squad? There was a time when half the England squad were made up of such players, and even if those days have been reduced to funny voiceovers in a pastiche of Pathe News, those players latterday counterparts still have to deal with quality players every week in the Premier League from all over the world.

There is a case to answer that the younger players from, say, Arsenal, like Gibbs and Little Jack, are the long term future of the national side, but neither play regular football for their clubs, be it league or European. Cahill is 24, coming into his prime and has proved himself over the past couple of years at Bolton that he can take pretty much anything that has been thrown at him, including near death. So why the great shock that he can prove himself at the national level? Another assured performance will enhance his reputation. The only downside being that once he does this well, he won`t be around for long.

The question is will another of these assured performances raise issues as to whether Rio and Terry should get their places back once fit? Now, I may be in a minority of one here, but I never reckoned Ferdinand, either as an international defender or a human being. I must admit that on the last part this is clouded by reading The Observer too much. It has always seemed to me that Ferdinand’s positional sense is sometimes let down by his concentration and this is glossed over by the media as he can usually put himself in the places he needs to be. However, as he now appears to be continually crocked, this side to his play may no longer be his saviour, speed of movement being a major part of the central defenders armoury nowadays. As for Terry, I’m not about to join the chorus of calls for him to go as I considered him to be the better defender. However, a defensive partnership needs time to build and that is what Cahill and Jagielka need. The best Terry should hope for is as back up, a kind of father figure. Which would be kind of ironic for the dad of the year.

Cahill himself has said:

I was happy to be playing and extremely proud to represent my country, but when you come back in the changing room and see him [Dawson] injured on the bed it does take the shine off it a little bit. I’ve been in and around the squad for eight games now just keeping my head down and waiting for a chance to come on and show what I can do. I was so hungry to get on there. From being a little lad you strive to play for your country. I think the opportunity is there because I’ve got maybe a bit of age on my side“.

The Daily Star Sunday, as well as mentioning that Suzie, 25 and from Lowestoft thinks that Capello should keep the back four of Gaz and Jags also quotes Cahill as saying

My dad was crying his eyes out when I went on.”

Which I`m sure a gruff son of Yorkshire is just ecstatic that his son has revealed.

I can`t really say that, due to the internationals, there is a whole lot else going on. So I won`t as there isn`t.

Enjoy your papers and your lunch. Some of us are in work. But we`ll be back tomorrow.


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