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Rooney: With Guardiola, England ‘could have won everything’

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Between 2000-2008, the England National Team had some of the best individual players in their positions in all of world soccer. Yet they never made it past the quarterfinals in any tournament they competed in, and the “Golden Generation” came to a relative end with England failing to qualify for the 2008 European Championship all together.

According to Wayne Rooney, in a sit down with Roger Bennett from Men in Blazers on the Wayne Rooney Podcast, had England had a better coach, they would have won it all.

[READ: USMNT Roundtable from the PST Staff]

“You look at our team ten years ago and we arguably had the best group of players in world football,” Rooney said. “Rio Ferdinand, John Terry, Ashley Cole, Gerrard, Scholes, Lampard, Beckham, Myself, Michael Owen. Our team then, if we had Guardiola, with that group of players, we would have won everything. No doubt about it.”

If you’re like me and you’ve enjoyed Rooney’s honest chats with Rog, it’s not super surprising to hear him speak this off the cuff about a major moment earlier in his career. There’s a lot to break down from this comment, though.

Rooney’s first manager for England was the Swede Sven-Goran Eriksen. Eriksen, when he took over England in 2001, was coming off leading Lazio – yes Lazio – to the Serie A title, and had previous success with Fiorentina, Roma, and Benfica in Portugal.

He was ultimately criticized for his lack of fire and emotion on the touchline, as he watched England get knocked out of the quarterfinals at both the 2002 and 2006 World Cups, and the 2004 European Championships. The 2004 Euros and 2006 World Cup exits were both on penalty kicks, both to Portugal.

Rooney of course was injured against Portugal in the 2004 tournament, and had been injured in the run up to the 2006 World Cup and wasn’t at his best for that tournament either.

Perhaps the biggest indictment against Eriksen’s leadership – and that of the managers before him – was that Paul Scholes retired from international duty at just 30-years old, despite being one of the best holding midfielders in the world. Eriksen had tried, repeatedly to somehow fit Gerrard, Frank Lampard and Scholes into a 4-4-2, with one forced to play along the wing, and Scholes apparently decided if he wasn’t valued enough, he’d quit while he was ahead.

You wonder if Guardiola, or any coach today, with the value played on a good holding midfielder, would have made Scholes the first name on the teamsheet.

Things didn’t get much better for England after Eriksen, and Steve McLaren failed to qualify England for the 2008 Euros and was run out of town, but the damage was done.

So could Guardiola have won the World Cup with the former Golden Generation? Perhaps. But Guardiola would have struggled to get all these individual talents – many of whom were rivals for their club teams – to play together and play for the flag on their chest.

Listen to the rest of Rooney’s chat with Rog below.

Kane, Sterling, Sancho headline England squad for UEFA Nations League finals

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Harry Kane is fit to play for Tottenham and thus, Gareth Southgate expects him ready to feature for England.

Kane, Raheem Sterling and Jadon Sancho headlined a 23-man England National Team squad for the UEFA Nations League Finals. England will face the Netherlands on June 6, with a second game in either the final or third-place game against Switzerland or Portugal. All the matches will take place in Portugal.

“We have got exciting players and picking a squad is really difficult because we have lots of depth of talent, not only the squad we have picked but the U21s as well,” Southgate said in a statement on the FA’s website. “There’s been some difficult decisions to make and we are obviously a little bit complicated with so many players involved in the Champions League as well but we are really excited by the squad and the players that are around it.”

While Kane, Danny Rose, and Eric Dier all made the squad, Southgate cut Harry Winks and Kieran Trippier from the original 27-man squad he named earlier in May. Southampton midfielders James Ward-Prowse and Nathan Redmond were also cut from the squad, but Southgate will keep them training with the group until the players involved in the Europa League and Champions League finals arrive.

With this squad, Southgate has on-paper a pretty decent team to contest the title.

Goalkeepers: Jordan Pickford, Jack Butland, Tom Heaton

Defenders: Danny Rose, Danny Rose, Eric Dier, John Stones, Harry Maguire, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Joe Gomez, Ben Chilwell, Michael Keane

Midfielders: Jesse Lingard, Jordan Henderson, Declan Rice, Fabian Delph, Ross Barkley, Dele Alli,

Forwards: Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling, Jadon Sancho, Marcus Rashford, Callum Wilson

Jack Wilshere watches Xabi Alonso highlights on his iPad

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At 22-years-old, Jack Wilshere still has a lot to learn.

If you’re going to learn from someone, Xabi Alonso is a pretty good choice.

Wilshere has been given a new role for the England national team, sitting deeper in the center of midfield in more of a holding position.

[ MORE: Xabi Alonso breaks touches record ]

That’s the exact role Xabi Alonso has played throughout his career, currently dominating the midfield for German giants Bayern Munich.

In an effort to learn more about his new role for the Three Lions, Wilshere said he has been studying video clips of Xabi Alonso on his iPad.

I have been watching Xabi Alonso on video in the past couple of weeks. He had a record number of passes in one game, 200 in one match, which is ridiculous.

I get clips of Alonso through on my iPad. The analyst guys here send them to me and they highlight some of his key points, his key strengths. It’s a 20- to 25-minute package.”

While Wilshere has definitely chosen the right player to learn from, he has quite a ways to go before his name can be mentioned with the greats like Xabi Alonso. Coming from the attack-minded offense of Arsene Wenger with Arsenal, Wilshere will have to adapt to his defensive role under Roy Hodgson with England.

[ RELATED: Roy Hodgson names England squad for matches vs. Scotland, Slovenia ]

Luckily for Wilshere, he has many years ahead of him as a central midfielder for England. If he can maintain his health, he has the potential to develop into one of Europe’s premier midfielders.

Jack Wilshere has similarities to a young Wayne Rooney, a player with loads of talent but questioned for his maturity and leadership. Rooney has grown, now the captain of England and closing in on the all-time goalscoring record for the Three Lions.

[ RECAP: Swansea City stuns Arsenal with 2-1 victory ]

If Wilshere learns to grow up on and off the pitch, there is no doubt he will become one of the most important players for England.

Learning from Xabi Alonso is a good start.

Nathaniel Clyne waiting for first England cap

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After playing four years in the Championship with Crystal Palace, Nathaniel Clyne was touted as a talented back with offensive potential.

Now in his third Premier League season with Southampton, Clyne is challenging for a starting role with the England national team.

[ RELATED: Clyne earns first England call-up ]

Still only 23-years-old and with over six years of professional experience in England’s top flights, Clyne could be set to make his first appearance for the Three Lions as they take on Slovenia and Scotland during the upcoming international break.

Clyne got his first-ever call-up from Roy Hodgson earlier this month, but did not feature in any matches for England.

[ RELATED: Ryan Bertrand open to permanent Southampton move ]

But with his recent run of play and Southampton’s stellar defensive record, Clyne could challenge John Stones on England’s back line.

Through ten matches of Premier League play, Southampton have only conceded five goals, half as many as any other team. They have also outscored their opponents 15-1 at home, making St. Mary’s a feared destination for traveling teams.

England manager Roy Hodgson was at the KC Stadium to watch Clyne, who put in a strong performance in Saints 1-0 win over Hull City. After the match, the right-back said he is ready to represent his country.

[ RELATED: Latest Premier League standings ]

Hopefully I’ve done enough to get a call-up. I feel fit, I feel strong, I’m getting a lot of game time and I’m enjoying it.

It’s always good to play for your country. If you play well then you get picked up. Last time I did. Hopefully I can get called up again and receive my first cap.”

If Clyne were to get a call-up, the 23-year-old would be one of the older defenders on England’s squad, joining a group of talented youth including Luke Shaw (19), Calum Chambers (19) and John Stones (20).

Gareth Barry shares views on MLS, Everton and international duty

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Gareth Barry and Frank Lampard starting in the central midfield with David Villa at striker.

That could have been New York City FC’s lineup had Gareth Barry chosen to join the MLS after his last campaign at Everton.

[RELATED: David Villa not fully fit ]

Barry remains at Goodison Park, a seasoned veteran with over 500 Premier League appearances. In a piece from The Telegraph, the 33-year-old Barry said he wasn’t ready to “retire” from the game.

 

America was an option and there was a conversation about it but when I spoke to the coaches here they said, ‘If you are going there, you are retiring.’

That was in my head. Obviously I did not agree it was retiring but I sort of agreed it would have been going to a league that is up and coming and not as big as the Premier League so I could see their point.”

In the midst of the war of words between Jurgen Klinsmann and Don Garber, it is interesting to get the take of a current player as well respected as Gareth Barry on the state of the MLS.

[RELATED: Garber calls Klinsmann’s comments ‘frustrating as hell’ | Klinsmann responds ]

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Barry has had trouble maintaining a consistent spot for the Three Lions.

After signing a three-year extension with Everton, Barry is now looking to regain a place in the England side.

“It’s good to see so many young players in the squad, but that is not to say you feel you still cannot do a job. I’m not hung up on it now. The manager made his decision and I was overlooked. I still feel I could do a job, it’s just that time has moved on and others are getting their chances.”

Barry has earned 53 caps for England, but has had a mercurial international career after breaking into the first-team as a 19-year-old in 2000. As Roy Hodgson continues to usher in a new generation of young English talents, Barry’s window of opportunity may be closing.

While the defensive-midfielder is trying to earn an England call-up as a 33-year-old, he believes his lack of consistent international appearances have helped him stay fresher, as balancing club and national team duties can take a toll on a player.

[ RELATED: Raheem Sterling felt ‘tired’ for England ]

“I think playing international football burns players out, but I was in and out of the England squad so never felt that.

It must be tougher for a young player to take it all in now then it was when I was 17. There are so many sports scientists around now giving their opinion. They were not there when I was 17. You had a doctor and physic and that was it.”

Roberto Martinez will hope Barry’s fresh legs can help Everton, who sit just two points clear of relegation.