Paul Scholes, one of the most naturally gifted players the English natural team has had the privilege of having play for them, particularly in recent years, retired from international football four years ago.
Whilst publicly he put the decision down to his desire to focus on United and his family, it is commonly believed Sven Goran Eriksson had a big say in it. Eriksson sacrificed Scholes for the sake of Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard, allowing them to play in their preferred positions in the centre, whilst Scholes was pushed out on the left. Scholes was having none of it and rightly so. Why should he, the superior player, make way for those two?
Since then, Eriksson’s successors, McLaren and Capello, have asked Scholes to reconsider his decision, realising what the Swede didn’t, that Scholes is the best central midfielder England has. Too late for him though.
Fabio Capello seems determined not to make the same mistakes as those before him and is giving United pride of place in his team.
When Capello was first appointed as manager, he spent every week travelling the country to watch United play. His face could always be spotted in the crowd as he was looking at the English players we had on offer. Wes Brown, Rio Ferdinand, Owen Hargreaves, Michael Carrick and Wayne Rooney all wanting a place in Capello’s team.
Ahead of England’s friendly with USA, Capello wanted to focus on talking about the importance of Rooney. “Wayne Rooney is very important to us,” he said. “His potential is huge but he can do better. In my opinion, his best position is as a central striker, just behind the person who plays up front. That way he can play with his face to the goal rather than his back. You need someone more advanced but then have someone who can move around him.”
Capello has previously stated that Rooney has potential to be a future captain of the national side and has clearly taken a shine to our young player.
Four of the starting eleven players against the USA were United players, with Capello preferring the versatile Owen Hargreaves in the centre of the field, pushing Liverpool’s Gerrard out on to the left flank. Capello clearly wants his best players in his best positions, which only serves as a compliment to Hargreaves.
Whilst the England team is little concern of mine, English United players certainly are. For Capello to recognise the greatness of our players certainly means a lot. To have our players doing well for their national teams can only have positive effects on their domestic football. The boost in confidence that comes with having a World class manager praise your ability, whether through words in a press conference or action in team selection, is something I’d like as many United players as possible to be on the receiving end of.