The UntouchablesApril 28, 2010
The golden rule of many of International soccer’s greatest managers is to select the players for the squad based on recent form. Younger players are coming through the club ranks every year. Established players with deteriorating skills are starting to give way to the players of tomorrow. Unless you’re Lukas Podolski and Miroslav Klose.
Recently, German manager Joachim Loew announced that despite their poor form, the Polish born strikers would be on the plane to South Africa. The duo that has performed brilliantly for the German side in the past has been given a vote of confidence by the manager because he believes they are still the two best options for the squad. Podolski has scored only twice this season for FC Cologne in the Bundesliga, and Klose has struggled to gain playing time for Bayern Munich. Still, Loew believes the duo will be fresh and ready to perform for Germany in South Africa, and has brushed aside criticism at his decision. The German press has called for Loew to give Kevin Kuranyi of Schalke a chance. Kuranyi has been in International exile since late 2008 when he left the German camp ahead of a World Cup qualifier after clashing with the manager. Kuranyi has been in prolific form this season and would add a strong physical presence to the German attack.
Jai, an England fan, recently commented on Loew’s decision saying “When you look at Podolski and Klose, they have a great record for there country. Sure they might not have played well this season domestically, but their scoring records are impressive. At the end of the day, these two have been in the squad for a long time now and they always come up clutch when needed.”
England coach Fabio Capello takes a similar stand on English striker Emile Heskey who rarely starts for Aston Villa of the Premier League. Despite rarely playing a full 90 minutes, Heskey is repeatedly called up for the English team ahead of goal scorers Darren Bent and Gabriel Agbonlahor. Capello angered many England fans when he snubbed Michael Owen over and over yet England was almost unbeaten in qualifiers and that is what matters most.
When asked about the Capello and Heskey situation, Jai said, “Capello once described Italy’s Antonio Cassano as “that player”, meaning you never know if you want him in your squad or not. He’s attached Owen to that view as well. In my opinion,Heskey would be a better start with Rooney. You don’t want two small guys getting bullied by the defense (an overstatement, but Heskey will be the guy to hold down the long balls). There is no doubt Owen has a great international record; 89 games with 40 goals make him the 4th time highest goal scorer, and 7th most for appearances. But Capello is the man. If he hasn’t been picking Owen through qualifying and England still got great results, it’s not too much of a loss really.”
It’s hard to argue against Capello considering the remarkable turn around he has initiated within the England squad. The point to focus on is that despite wanting to select the most on form players, International managers sometimes have to pick the players that are not as popular with the fans but better fits for the team. The German strikers have performed for Germany in the past and Loew believes they will do so again this summer. Similarly, Heskey has proved to be the best strike partner for Wayne Rooney, the most important player for England. Therefore he is given a spot on the plane, and even in the starting eleven come summertime. Whether this choices work out for both teams remains to be seen.