23 Carra Gold and still not flash enough for England

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Motivating yourself for an England international these days is about as easy as listening to an entire McFly album. Indeed, an insistent hype surrounding the dullest of affairs has become infuriatingly familiar. Almost without exception, England talk the talk but inherently fall-short when it comes to delivery.

The side has morphed into the archetypal unknown boxer in this respect. You know the kind … those brought-in to challenge Amir Kahn and other big names in a dress-rehearsal for a true title bout. Tuning into the prolonged build-up, many actually begin to believe the propaganda spoken. This is however in spite of the individuals in question standing as much chance as Peter Beardsley in a beauty contest. ‘˜This guy is a genuine threat, he’s gonna cause a big upset tonight’. Almost without exception ‘“ we are punished for our gullibility with a 30 second knock-out.

One cannot help but make comparisons with the England National Team. All voice but no punch. In fact, that shred of patriotism that remains aside, the only additional reason for watching Steve McClaren’s men now is to track the progress of Liverpool’s finest. Astoundingly, the latter constructs another bone of contention.

Forgetting all club allegiance, the ridiculousness of Jamie Carragher’s exclusion is beyond absurd. Forgive me, he is not totally omitted is he ‘“ but instead treated like a disposable commodity. Gary Neville’s injured ‘“ let’s throw Carra into right-back. Ashley Cole’s suspended ‘“ Carra won’t mind filling in on the left. Owen Hargreaves needs a rest ‘“ Carra can adopt the holding role then. What next? Cover for Paul Robinson between the sticks!

The country’s best defender is a victim of his own class. Versatility proves an invaluable asset, but in Carragher’s case this is forever being abused. We are cajoled into believing he is little more than a utility man ‘“ back-up in case any of the real stars are ineligible. The truth is … Bootle’s finest is a bigger star than any of his peers.

Consider this, if the guy worse dreadlocks and spoke with a typical cockney accent, he would be coveted as England’s saviour. Furthermore, he would finally receive a starting birth in his natural environment of central defence. And maybe, just maybe – provoke a squad rebellion if banned for nine months after his stupidity conspired the missing of a drugs test.

It is paramount not to sound completely biased. Of course, universally accepted is John Terry’s status as a superb centre-half. I am also amongst a growing number who appreciate Jonathan Woodgate’s attributes. But the unquestionable fact of the matter is ‘“ for three years now, Carra has outplayed both of the aforementioned and more. Why then, are we subjected to watching Ledley King ahead of him in this department? Moreover, Rio ‘˜Plug’ Ferdinand ‘“ quite possibly the most overrated defender in Premiership
history.

When making his way through the West Ham youth ranks, we were told this guy was the next Moore. We thought the scouts meant Bobby, they obviously meant Roger. Because let’s face it ‘“ Ferdinand is an actor whose hyperbole has aided his career for over ten years.

At 29 the harsh reality is Jamie Carragher will never maintain a pivotal role in the heart of England’s defence. It is seemingly a case of if your face does not fit, something Gordon Brown may soon discover. But ‘“ this inspires the query ‘“ do we really care?

With every international break this puzzler comes to the forefront of our minds. Carragher is at home in Liverpool and an integral part to a wider objective. At Anfield he excels within an ambience where he is fully appreciated and not the loser in a politically charged circus. Rafael Benitez, unlike the FA, does not do showbiz.

The sooner Steve McClaren and his staff grasp the fact that football is not about the number of premieres you attend but your consistency on the field, the sooner England may emerge from this grey cloud of stagnancy.

Aaron Cutler