Is it the end of the road for Hope Powell ?

After the heroics of the Group stage, yesterday’s defeat and the lack of reaction from the manager at half time and in the second half, questions must be asked.

There is absolutely no doubt the girls gave everything they had and were superb throughout the tournament. But the problem was obviously somewhere else.

Let’s go back to the game : 2 goals conceded due to defensive individual mistakes. We all make mistake it happens, all was needed was a quick reaction to going 1 then 2 nil down. I certainly believe the England/Team GB mentality is well suited to a team level on score or even better with a lead to defend. We have seen it many times, taking the lead nearly guarantees a win every time for England. But what about going behind ? How many times did England manage to come back from 2-0 down ? Twice against Spain and Russia. How many times in a knock out game at a tournament since 2005 ?

So back to the quarter final. You are 2-0 down, it is half time. You want to energise a team that is chasing the game, get a more attacking set up to have a more attacking creative platform as Canada are defending well. Feeding off second ball scrap and chasing diagonal ball down the wing does not work at top top level, where the opposition rarely makes silly mistakes.

So how about sending Fishlock or Chapman to press higher in midfield, put Beattie, Sanderson or Dowie up front to add a physical presence to disturb Canada’s defence or send a flying winger like Davison ? Well none of them got selected for reasons no one knows about. Fail.
Strange squad choices will come back to haunt you.

White and Little being substituted, Yankey and Rachel Williams introduced too late. Need I say more ? Was it a recipe to make a fighting comeback ? Granted the referee didn’t help and forgot a penalty and it could have changed everything but…

We know that the England staff is at the top of the class in term of sport science and investment. Players fitness is well monitored, defensive work is an important feature in training. The basics are right and well taken care of. It is all good to be able to work hard and do everything right when you don’t have the ball but what about when players are on the ball ?

Where is the work on creativity ? Offensive play, off the ball movement, technical skill. I read that quote : “hard work beat talents when talent doesn’t work hard.” So when talent works hard, hard work needs to reach a new level ? Where is that new level ?
Why does the decision making process seem to be blurred when in ball possession ? Why can’t players express themselves and seem to have stifled creativity ?

If you look at the gameplans developped by teams like Japan or France, they seem to think it is easier to win games with ball possession same with Barcelona or Spain in men’s football. I undersand Chelsea won the champions league this season with defensive football and Mourinho won many trophy with a defensive mentality. But that defensive mentality has not served England right through the years alongside picking players who failed in important games on regular basis. So time to ditch the defensive football and philosophy surely ?

So what do I know, being just a fan I don’t have much credibility for sure ūüėČ except from those who value my judgement lol I am sure if those question were put to her, the usual “who are you” trademark would come out.

Anyway, no one should blame the girls, they have done their best. The FA should really get their act together now. Keith Boanas or Emma Hayes would be good candidates for England.


A quick Team GB squad analysis

As a women’s football fan who attends as many games as I can, I can only feel sorry for all those girls who worked very hard towards getting a place in the Olympics. Many of them played really well and actually outperformed some of the players selected. You do wonder if those not there are members of the rumoured “face don’t fit” club. In term of players who fully deserve to be there and no questions to be asked : Alex and Jill Scott, Dieke, Asante, Rafferty, Carney, Yankey, Little, Ellen White.

Let’s start with the main example/controversy in the defensive midfield position :
Jessica Fishlock has been in superb form for more than a year for club and country. She is probably the best WSL player this season. Jo Potter with her superb vision and sublime skill has also been fantastic for Birmingham in the last 2 seasons. So who has been selected ahead of those 2. A player who had a poor World Cup and has had a poor 2011 season and a slightly better one in 2012?
Where is the logic here ??

Then you have the unusual selection of 3 center forwards with exactly the same tactical profile :¬† All are fast players who like to run into space and defenders. One of them is not a goalscorer though, as her record is awful as seen in world cups. You also do wonder why at least one of the sub does not have the profile of players like Dowie and Beattie in order to have a plan B in case plan A doesn’t work as seen at the Cyprus Cup v France. Helen Lander being overlooked besides being the in form striker is also worth questioning because she has exactly the same profile as the 3 strikers.

There are questions marks about goalkeepers with Bardsley not playing many games in Sweden and Brown records in term of kicking and handling speaks for itself. To have Telford and Chamberlain instead of those two would have been logical due to form and class.

Other question that need to be asked is why 4 center backs. You can argue that Stoney deserve to be there for her experience and Asante/Dieke as well because they are class player. Then Bradley could be compared to Davies who is as good as her IMO or to Flaherty who ahs been¬† a cornerstone of the Arsenal defence for the last 3 years and has won every title available has much more champions league experience and doesn’t even get a look in, why ?

Another case is Kelly Smith. Quality is not doubt, just fitness really. At the time of squad announcement she had played 15 minutes of club football. Her 30 minutes cameo with 2 goals against Chelsea proved, she can do a job as a supersub but to be a starter would be surprising. Jordan Nobbs who has been superb for her club since her arrival could have been an alternative to Kelly Smith.

You also have 2 wingers in excellent form who arguably should have been there as a back up for Carney and Yankey. Dunia Susi who is flying this season with many goals and assists and Gemma Davison who has won every club trophy in England plus the european one added the WPS title to her collection but doesn’t even get near the squad?

Stephanie Houghton is a superb player who can play anywhere in the back 4 and therefore is an excellent cover for any of those players, she can play also in midfield although her recent club performance there suggest she is a much better player at the back. Strangely enough her main competiton for this multi tasking place was her club team-mate Jenny Beattie , who  has the same profile and can cover all 11 positions on the field as she has actually done this season for club, country and university side.

A quick look at the 4 reserves player : Emma Higgins preferred to Carly Telford and Siobhan Chamberlain and rated a better goalkeeper as per Hope Powell word of “no political selection”.

Jess Clarke and Dunia Susi two wingers one of them deserving to be in the 18 while the other one is not the most consistent performer ranging from sublime to average.

Jane Ross a  forward who was superb performer with Scotland recently.

Overall no defender or midfield at all in the 4 reserves except if you count Susi as a defender which is not her primary position.


So is it a squad that can bring back a medal, yes definitely can it be gold or silver maybe not but Bronze is surely a target.¬† it is just a shame that form players and class players have been discarded for no explaind reasons and make way for the usual coach’s favorite really.¬† It is also a shame that there are no explanation given to public/fans¬† on why players are left out but that kind of opacity is the usual modus operandi for the England women side. So good luck to team England +2 and hopefully they won’t let their fans down.

Team GB squad named

My initial  reaction was :  it could have been worse actually, this is  not too bad. It is a bit unbalanced but obviously many players can play in different positions.

The squad list  :

2 goalkeepers Bardsley  Brown

4 center backs Stoney, Bradley, Dieke* Asante*

1 right back A Scott*

1 left back Rafferty*

1 player covering all back 4 positions Houghton

1 defensive midfield, F Williams

1 central midfield  J Scott*

2 playmakers, Little* and Smith

1 right winger Carney*

1 left winger Yankey*

3 center forwards E White*, Aluko, R Williams


Center forwards are mono typed ie fast and like to play in space. No back-up option there with a different profile for a plan B, which is strange. The reserves have 1 goalkeeper Higgins 2 wingers Clarke and Susi,  and 1 striker Ross. I think 9 players in the squad are debatable choices  while the other 9 thatI have  starred out are quality players  and should clearly be in the starting 11.

On the questionable choices :

Bardsley does not seem to get many games with Linkopings and her performance level has not been great with England recently.

Brown has an history of mistakes at club and international level in important games and not performing well really. A puzzling choice although she has been in form with Everton in 2012.

Bradley has very good organising skills but could do better in term of ball passing and struggles against fast players.

Stoney has a lot of experience and splendid leadership but again she is not very fast and you cannot have two slow center backs together

Houghton is excellent at right back and center back. She can cover for left back as well, if she used in midfield her season with Arsenal there has shown she has work to do in term of final ball and creativity.

F Williams I don’t think her performance level has been very good¬† in the WSL 2011, 12 and with England for a couple of seasons.

K Smith is an exceptional player but selecting a player with  15 minutes of club football ( plus probably 90 against Chelsea)  in the last 6 months before a tournament where the team will play 6 games in 16 days, I believe this is a big gamble.

Aluko well 3 center forwards with exactly the same profile seems strange to me. She is obviously the less efficient one from the 3.¬† Her poor performance against Netherlands recently with a lack of composure in the finishing and the final ball doesn’t help. Her¬† 0% chance conversion rate in 6 world cup games can only raise questions.

R Williams it is good to see her getting a chance but she has the same tactical profile as Aluko and E White so trebbling up that position is just bizzare.

The 4 reserves player

Dunia Susi has been in great form and deserved a place in the 18

Emma Higgins is better than Telford and Chamberlain according to Hope Powell’s saying : “I took the associations out of the equation and it was just about trying to pick a squad of players that I felt would do the best job possible….I am not in agreement with that unless Higgins has improved a lot since we played Northern Ireland in the qualifiers and beat them 6 and 4.

Jane Ross is quality and I have seen her having a very good in a recent euro qualifier against us.

Jess Clarke currently injured and typically capable of having an excellent game or an awful one, you never know what level of play she will bring, a bizzare choice compared to other English wingers around.


And just for fun here is an alternative 18 of rejected players that looks as strong as the one selected : players that are  fit and have  more skills and form than some of those selected actually

Telford, Chamberlain

Rose Flaherty Bassett Harrop Ingle

Chapman Potter Fishlock Nobbs Buet

Lander Davison Taylor Dowie Beattie Sanderson

Team GB 3 players selected revealed…or not (article was incorrect)

This is an extract from article published in the Belfast Telegraph :

“Northern Ireland will have three footballers at the London 2012 Olympic Games ‚ÄĒ despite the Irish FA‚Äôs opposition to a Great Britain team taking part.

Northern Ireland women’s captain Ashley Hutton, goalkeeper Emma Higgins and Sarah McFadden, who plays her club football with Sunderland, will all be part of a history-making team, as GB has never been represented in women’s football at the Olympics before.

The trio have been told they will receive call-ups when the squad is named within the next few weeks.”

It is very interesting, we now know that it won’t be an all English side and also we can hope that a number of Welsh and Scottish players will be selected as well. If 3 places go to NIR and the equivalent number to Wales and Scotland that would leave 9 places for England and I think it is a very fair repartition actually. It is a lot better than having the old favorites selected over more deserving players.
Regarding the 3 players, we did beat NIR 6-0 and 4-0 in March 2010 and NIR has improved as the victory over Norway has clearly shown and I don’t remember seeing anything spectacular in those games besides a very compact and well organised defensive team …

Unfortunately that article was full of lies and those 3 players not in the squad as of today. Don’t trust papers they print a lot of rubbish…

Team GB squad list on 26th of June

Good news the squad list will be disclosed on the 26th of June. Who will be the lucky 18 players ? Will they all come from the England team or will there be any Welsh, Scottish or Northern Irish.

Any players on from or consistently good for years but still not called up ?

So let’s have a guess on who will be selected for the tournament :

First those guaranteed a place as they have been regulars with England :

Brown, Stoney, Unitt, Fara Williams, Alex Scott, Jill Scott, Yankey, Carney, Aluko, Ellen White.

Then those who are nearly there :
Chamberlain, Telford, Susi, Houghton, Rafferty, Bassett, Asante, Bradley, Moore, Rachel Williams

The currently injured Clarke, Bardsley, Kelly Smith. We already have 24 players for 18 places.

Let’s add a few scottish players like Evans who has just signed for Turbine Potsdam which indicates she is a top quality player, Corsie Beattie and Little. Plus a few Welsh player who do well currently like Fishlock, Ingle, Sherwood, Harries, Lander.

If you add all those England U23 players who could be in contention because they play well or those in form like Taylor, Potter or Davison, there is a pool of a lot of quality players to choose from and it won’t be easy to choose from those.

The way it has been set-up with last minute squad announcement and 1 friendly only, the core of the team will be english.
So here is a 22 players squad based on recent form + consistency over the 2 WSL seasons + experience because there is a need for old heads + skills ( currently injured players not selected )

GK : Brown, Chamberlain, Spencer
DF : Stoney, Rafferty, A Scott, Ingle, Susi, Flaherty, Beattie
MF : J Scott, Little, Fishlock, Potter, Asante, Nobbs
FW : Carney, Davison, Yankey, R Williams, E White, Lander

Clearly Hope Powell’s 22 will have about 12 different players :p

Team GB 49 players shortlist, what’s the big secret ?

Players have come out saying the list has been shortened to 49 players. I have asked the FA if they would publish it because it is interesting to know who has a chance and who hasn’t made it. Well only the final 18+4 players will be announced. For some reasons, it is not in the public interest to divulge who is in the shortlist.

As far as I know 5 players publicly said they were in : Jill Scott, Alex Scott and 3 players from Bristol Academy were named in the last game program : Chamberlain, Fishlock and Dykes. That’s about 44 to guess now lol.

The original very long list rumoured to be between 100 and 150 players actually had missed a couple of good players.

Let’s say if you have won the US League (WPS) last season, plus in the past the WPL, the League Cup the FA Cup and the UEFA Cup and being a regular in your side you are not a bad player and should be in the long list.

Also if you have been the most consistent center back for your team for the last 3 seasons and that team won a treble the previous season and you also have collected winners medals through the previous years in the League Cup, FA Cup, County Cup and even the UEFA Cup (without playing to be fair) well you are not a bad player either.

So those two players who have done it got t-shirt and are eligible did not even make the long list ? While some clearly inferior quality player made it, some questions should be ask really.

As we all know coaches will always prefer players who fit their system. So for example tall or slow or limited technical ability and passing skill players have been chosen at center back. Another example is fast players at center forward with not so much goalscoring skills.

We will probably have to guess who the other 44 players are. Guessing list to come later ūüėČ

Team GB : what about out of favors English players?

As team GB is not the same as England, I am thinking those who have retired or been left behind by Hope Powell deserve toget a chance. The question is as we have no idea of the parameters in the selection process, it is hard to know if some girls will be given a fair chance. What we know is there is a long list with players from England, Scotland, Wales and Northen Ireland. The men’s¬† long list is said to have 141 listed so you would expect at least 150 names for the¬† women’s list ( 25 for SCO, NIR, WAL and 75 for ENG)

So let’s start with the two retired players Katie Chapman and Lianne Sanderson. There is no reason to believe they would pass on the chance to play for team GB. Both are extremely skillfull and have quit England due to disagreement with the management.¬† I certainly think they would add value to the side with their experience and tactical profile although we know players with the same profile as Lianne don’t get a look in either (Dowie). The main problem is would they play under Hope Powell ?

Then you have for example 2 players who played with England youth teams and then moved to another country to play at senior level.  For example Kylie Davies and Helen Lander. You would think Kylie Davies is in direct competition for a place with Sophie Bradley and if you compare what Dvies with Wales and Chelsea and what Bradley does with Lincoln and England, there is not much difference.  Then if you look at individual skills well Davies has a bigger range : Bradley is a defender-defender-organiser while Davies is a defender +so brings more to a team.

You can also compare Helen Lander with Eni Aluko, again two very similar kind of forwards. Definitely not much difference between those two except one plays for England and the other one for Wales. Both rely on pace and movement and like to play with space in front of them.

And then 2 names I can mention that are currently out of Hope Powell interest for some reason and you would think had nother manager been selected for team GB, they would at least have a chance to get in the squad. Because at the end of the day, some players will simply miss out on this unique events without even getting a chance and that is totally wrong.

So Gilly Flaherty nearly 100 games with Arsenal, has won every trophy available in England and a starter for 3 years in the best english team ? In term of football limitations, she has a lot less than the current England center backs in general.

Then you have Gemma Davison a typical winger who also has won everything with Arsenal has been a regular for a couple of seasons, went to the USA won the WPS title playing with Marta, Sinclair, Morgan, Seger and co. She has clearly no problem taking on beating defenders with her pace and she can cross the ball as she has been giving between 20 and 40 assists per season in England. If you compare her with the wingers for England well…

Two typical cases of players who deserve to get a chance and won’t unless 5 to 10 players in their podition get injured in the run-up to the Olympics.

No doubt out of 18 players selected for the Olympics, you will get at least 13 English ones if not more, it could even go up to 18, if the fitness of the non-english players is deemed too low regardless of their football ability?