Club loss is Country’s GainApril 21, 2010
Fifty days away from the start of the World Cup and no English teams remain in the Champions League competition. What is wrong with this picture? As an England fan would say “Absolutely Nothing!” After all of England held its breath while Wayne Rooney limped off for the second time against Bayern Munich, the benefits of such an injury became crystal clear. The bullish striker that has literally carried Manchester United on his shoulders all season would finally be getting a rest longer than four days. As many know, Rooney will make or break England’s World Cup chances, and having healthy English players come June will make the tournament brighter for England. With most English players now only playing in the domestic competitions, England will be sure to have fresher legs heading into South Africa.
Besides Wayne Rooney, Manchester United and England players Rio Ferdinand and Michael Carrick will also benefit from time off from the stresses, both physical and mental, of the Champions League competition. Every player would prefer to still be playing for the Championship trophy, however all three of these players have already won the competition and can afford to rest up a little for the summer. Outside of Manchester and down to London, Chelsea players John Terry, Frank Lampard, Ashley Cole, and Joe Cole can also solely focus on the Premiership race as well. Being knocked out by Inter Milan in the quarterfinals was a tough blow for the Blues but it bodes well for England’s chances that four important players, and potential match day starters, are able to maintain their form and fitness without the worries of a Champions League campaign. This holds especially true for Ashley Cole and Joe Cole, players that need to prove their health to Three Lions manager Fabio Capello in order to be taken on the plane to South Africa. Ashley Cole is arguably a top three full back in the World recovering from a broken ankle suffered in February. Not rushing back to play in crucial Champions League games means that Ashley can take his time and get back to 100% before June. Joe Cole has slowly been recovering and rediscovering his game since major knee surgery earlier in the season. He was a huge player for England in 2006 in Germany but he needs to recapture his adventurous playing style to reserve a spot in the England team this time around, especially with younger players like James Milner and even Jack Wilshere catching the manager’s eye.
A die-hard England fan can see the positive in not having a Premiership team in the latter stages of the Champions League. The so-called Golden Generation has its last chance to prove itself worthy of the nickname this summer. Having a healthy squad that is not blighted by injuries or controversies will go a long way to improving England’s chances.